Thursday, March 3, 2016
Pope Francis accepts invitation to visit Pakistan.
Pope Francis accepts invitation to visit Pakistan. (AN).
The Pakistani government has invited Pope Francis to visit the country and the pope has accepted, this according to a government press release that also noted that the pontiff prayed for “Pakistan and the victims of terrorism”.
Some Pakistani political leaders spoke to AsiaNews confirming the report, but the bishop of Faisalabad warned that it is not likely to happen this year.
Pakistan's Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Yusuf and the Minister of Ports and Shipping Kamran Michael passed on the invitation during a meeting with the pope in Rome. On that occasion, Francis offered special prayers for Pakistan and its people. Pakistani media welcomed the visit.
Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a Member of the National Assembly and head of the Pakistan Hindu Council, confirmed the news with AsiaNews.
"We welcome the Catholic spiritual leader,” he said. “This is a good omen for our country. The pope himself has mentioned the news about his visit. The security situation is now favorable”.
Still, Bishop Joseph Arshad of Faisalabad believes that it is hard to say whether Pakistan’s Christian minority will see the Holy Father in person this year.
"Usually a team from the Vatican starts visiting the destination country a year ahead,” said the Bishop Arshad who served for 14 years in the diplomatic service of the Holy See.
“There are lots of arrangements before the arrival of the pontiff. We have not received any written information from Rome", he added.
Still, "If he comes, it will be a great encouragement and show of solidarity to Pakistan where people have been facing terrorism for years." Read the full story here.