Pakistani Bishop Decries Theft of Church Land

Government Takes Over Property, Destroys Buildings

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LAHORE, Pakistan, MAY 25, 2012 ( A Pakistani bishop is decrying the government take-over of Church-owned land, and the destruction of properties — including a homeless shelter — at the site.

The center was confiscated and razed in January, Aid to the Church in Need reported.

Bishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, apostolic administrator of Lahore Archdiocese, said that the land where the center stood still had not been returned – despite promises from the provincial government.

Talking to Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Shaw said: “It looks like empty promises. Even after a meeting with a government official who assured us of an immediate return, nothing happened.”

The centre in Lahore’s Garhi Shahu district housed a day centre for the elderly, a sewing school for girls and other projects run by the Church – as well as a chapel.

Bishop Shaw said: “If the provincial government restores the property to us, they won’t compensate us for tearing down the building. We have to pay for the reconstruction ourselves – this is unjust.”

The government has demanded that a Church-run school be built on the land – as a precondition for its return – and insisted this should be financed by the diocese.

Bishop Shaw said: “It’s not impossible that this is just another method of delaying restitution, as the government may be hoping that we can’t fulfil this condition.

“As Christians, we’re an easy victim for the government, as they don’t have to fear any outbursts of violence.”

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