HomeLatest NewsPope Francis prays for peace in Pakistan, voices concern over war in Gaza

Pope Francis prays for peace in Pakistan, voices concern over war in Gaza

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, sent a message of peace to the people of Pakistan and expressed concern over the situation in Palestine while discussing interfaith harmony during a meeting with interior minister Mohsin Naqvi, according to a statement issued Tuesday.

Pakistan’s Christian community has faced several instances of mob violence in recent years, driven by allegations of blasphemy amid societal tensions. In 2022, a mob in Jaranwala attacked and burned the homes of several Christian families as well as churches in the city, following such accusations against local residents.

Last month, the city of Sargodha witnessed similar violence when a Christian man was accused of desecrating the Holy Qur’an, leading to significant unrest and damage in a Christian neighborhood.

“My message to the people of Pakistan is one of peace,” the pope was quoted as saying in the statement. “We all must work together for peace.”

The interior minister maintained the protection of minorities was the government’s top priority in Pakistan.

“Our religion, our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), our founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and our constitution emphasize the protection and care of minorities,” he said. “Minorities in Pakistan have equal rights.”

Naqvi briefed Pope Francis on his country’s “sacrifices” and actions in the fight against militancy in recent years.

“The sacrifices of the Pakistani nation and its armed forces in the fight against terrorism are unparalleled,” he said.

The statement said the pope appreciated the immediate reconstruction and repair of churches after the Jaranwala incident.

He also voiced concern about Israel’s war in Gaza, saying interfaith harmony and dialogue were the solutions to such problems.

“The situation in Palestine is concerning,” he told the Pakistani minister, “and I communicate daily at 7 PM with workers involved in welfare activities there.”

Naqvi also thanked Pope Francis for adopting a firm stance on the Palestine issue.

“Your services in making the world a cradle of peace are commendable,” he said. “Your courageous stance on the Palestine issue has been praised by everyone.”

The Pakistani minister extended invitation to Pope Francis to visit the country on behalf of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

“I will make every effort to visit Pakistan,” he said in response. The pope also prayed for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan and expressed good wishes for its people. AFP

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