LAHORE, Pakistan, APRIL 4, 2011 (Zenit.org
A pastoral letter citing Luke 12:32, titled “Fear Not, Little Flock,” was read at Sunday’s Masses. It was signed by Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad, newly elected president of the Episcopal Conference of Pakistan.
The Fides agency reported that the letter acknowledged the “current situation of our country [that] has caused among our people feelings of fear, uncertainty and insecurity.”
It referred to the murder last month of Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, as well as the slaying of two Christians in Hyderabad and other recent episodes of intolerance.
In this context, the prelates made an exhortation to “listen attentively to the voice of Our Lord Jesus Christ who says: ‘Take courage! … Don’t be afraid.”
They recommend the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. “Aided by the grace of the Holy Spirit,” they wrote, “let us bring steadfastness in our daily lives,” even in times of tribulation.
The Pakistani prelates referred to Easter, the greatest feast of Our Lord, which “assists us to come out of darkness, despair, fear and hopelessness” and gives strength for “a courageous Christian witness.”
Like the first apostles who were given the gift of the Holy Spirit, the bishops added, “we too with courage and faithfulness must build the culture of peace, harmony and tolerance so that the light and healing of the Good News may reach every human being and foster mutual relationship and understanding and respect among peoples of different religions instead of hatred and fundamentalism.”