Starting in the month of June, ALL Forum organised online course on Synodality for 32 participants from Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP). This online course is currently ongoing and has completed all of its 4 sessions. During this course we have been mainly discussing on Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church (SLMC) the document released by the Pontifical International Theological Commission in 2018.
During the first 2 weeks we have discussed chapter 1 to 4 of the SLMC document, covering Meaning of Synodality; Synodality in the Bible and early church; Vatican IIand Synodality; Theological basis of Synodality; Implementing Synodality; People of God and Synodality; Synodality on AllLevels; Synodal Renewal of the Church; Spirituality and CommunalDiscernment. In the 3rd week we engaged in learning about “Synodality in Amazon synod and Thereafter” understanding the Preparation of Amazon Synod and Its “Working Document”(InstrumentumLaboris); Final Document and Its Significance; Opposition to the Synod:Vatican’s Response to the Synod: Foundation of ECA, Ecclesial Conferenceof Amazon.
During the 4th week we observed the “Possible Cases Synodal Churches in the World” diving deeper in understanding the Cases of Infanta and PCP II in Philippines & CCRI in India; Chilean Churchand Peoples’ Synod; Sex Scandals and Peoples Synod in the US; Womendriven Synod “Root & Branch” in the UK; Synodal Path in Germany;Synodality as a Way of Church Reform. We will also be having a 5th week session which be dedicated mainly for discussion so that we reach a better understanding of Synodality. Until now the recording of the sessions are available on our Youtube channel. Please be subscribed to it so that you will receive updates as and when new content is available.
Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP) organized a Four Days Live-In Seminar on Art and Spirituality in collaboration Hast-o- Neest (Institute of Traditional Studies and Art) from 9- 11 December 2021 at Theological Institute for Laity (TIL), G. T. Road Sadhoke, Distt: Gujranwala. The main theme of the seminar was “Sacred Art and Spirituality”. Total 45 participants from different places and religions attended the seminar.
The Aims and Objectives of the program of the seminar was led by Mr. Kamil Khan Mumtaz. He said that prejudice is far from spirituality and through these seminars we can bring people towards spirituality. Nowadays, when it comes to religions, everyone is running to kill each other. But when it comes to art and science, everyone agrees and accepts each other.
The main purpose of every art in all societies and all over the world is to bring it to reality. The purpose of art is to draw mankinds attention to reality, which leads us to follow to God. Adding on He said that according to Christian tradition, respect for other religions is a common duty of all of us and through it, we can reduce violence.
The role of religion in society is to bring God among the people with its reality. The creator of the universe from the beginning has called the environment heaven (Firdaus or Aden). God has given it to mankind as a protector. This land is turning into barrenness of unrest. We have to perform our responsibility sincerely with God. We have to strive not only for peace but also to play an important role in reforming and modernizing humanity. No religion in the world can monopolize God. No religion can discriminate against God by measuring its beliefs, principles, rules, acts of piety, and faith truths.
Doing these kinds of actions that religious exploitation of God and religious violence. Such platforms help us to become better human beings and believers. We human beings must strive for interfaith understanding, human unity, solidarity and cosmic balance and peace.
The seminar was divided in five Sessions as follows:
Remembering the Great Sacrifice of Bishop John Joseph
Active Youth Group
Born in 1932 to a Punjabi Catholic family, he made history by becoming the “first native bishop” of Pakistan. He played a key role in changing the perception of Christianity as a colonial religion. Indeed, it can be argued that it was through people like Joseph that Christianity found its roots in South Asia.
On May 6, Bishop Joseph went to the Sahiwal court and took his life in protest against Blasphemy law. His suicide note read: “I shall count myself extremely fortunate if in this mission of breaking the barriers, our Lord accepts the sacrifice of my blood for the benefit of his people.”
The symbolism of Bishop Joseph’s sacrifice was not lost on Pakistan’s Christian community, which regarded him highly. It was the ultimate sacrifice, not unlike Jesus Christ’s, for his community. The bishop’s suicide brought global scrutiny towards sacrilegious and discriminatory laws.
He dedicated his life to social organisation and political activism at a time when Pakistan was changing drastically. Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamisation project had started to alter the very fabric of the society in the 1980s, with religious groups gaining such power they were openly challenging the state’s writ.
Pakistani catholics commemorating his day every year on 6 May where they renew his vows to protect the sheeps and keep struggling for equal rights in Pakistan. Fr. Nadeem Joseph OP, Superior Dominican Community Sahiwal, said that Bishop John was the voice of the voiceless, an example of courage and evangelical devotion,” and his sacrifice “was a cry in the wildness that lifted the veil of silence surrounding extremism.
Bishop John was the voice of discriminated Pakistani,” said Ashiknaz Khokhar, Human Rights activist and Secretary of Active Youth Group. “He broke the culture of silence and spoke out, when no one dared to, against the extremists of the country. We should not minimise his great struggle by reducing it to seminars or anniversaries; we should instead bring it into our daily lives”.
Active Youth Group (Pakistan) Celebrates International Women’s Day 2021
Active Youth Group conducted different events in reference to celebrate International Women’s Day. The purpose of these events was to give awareness to women’s rights and to talk on different problems they face. This year in Pakistan and especially in Punjab, this day was celebrated with more zeal but one thing to underline is very important that this year much more people opposed to celebrate this day too.
One side the media of Pakistan was eagerly showing the efforts and desires of people to empower the women, on the other hand on the same media many popular journalists were opposing the Woman March. Pakistan is one of those countries in which there is the violence against women, they are killed at the name of izat (honour killing), they are deprived of education, and millions are lack of the National Identity Card (otherwise the family is obliged to share their inheritance with them). Pakistan is on the top of the list in underage marriages and highest death rate during maternity. Breast cancer and tuberculosis is very common in Pakistani women because of improper nutrition. Despite all these issues, there are many government institutions in Pakistan which are the hope and consolation for women.
On 7th March women’s Conference was arranged, in which all the representatives of Christians of all around the Sahiwal were present, the teachers, the advocates, students, religious leaders, workers, home based domestics, professional women, illiterate ladies, house wives and all different back ground representation was there. The theme of this get-together was to make them special in society and aware of how and on which platform make their voice be heard.
To show the efforts of the Vatican for the promotion of women, the photo of Sr. Nathalie Becquart (Nathalie Becquart is a French Catholic religious sister and member of the Congregation of Xavières. She was appointed a consultor to the Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church in 2019 and named one of its undersecretaries in 2021.) was put on the banner of this event. Rev. Fr. Zahid Augustine OP, the parish priest and the Dominican School Missionary Sisters were also present for this event.
Most beautiful of thing of this event that females performed the cultural dance and performed publicly on stage with young girls. We invited women from villages and different part of the district to join the event which was held in parish school hall.
We awarded two brave ladies with souvenirs award who are active in society for promotion of women’s right and also challenging male society to give rights to women. One lady (Shamsa Anwar) is law graduate and practicing as high court lawyer and other (Shagufta Noel) one is Young Christian Nurses association president in Pakistan. Both are inspiration for others ladies as we have very low average of education within females and rarely they have chances to come out from their own home.
As Christians and Hindu minor girls are kidnapped, raped and forcibly converted to Islam so our focus was to save our minor girls. According to a data, more than 1000 girls of Christians and Hindus are forcibly converted after converting. These ratios are going high every year as we are finding attacks on churches and worship places of other non muslim believers.
Through these events, we strengthen the voices for positive change within church and put first the stance of our 5 points agenda. We gave voice to females to ask questions and let them aware about their rights and realize them to not tolerate with violence and torture. How to report them in police station and regarding institutions. Misogyny is also taking lead here as there is trend on twitter in Pakistan after women march attack that religious leaders putting blasphemous blames to these women rights activist.
I am very glad to share my views about ALL Forum Online Course 3: Interreligious Dialogue and Catholic Teachings. In this course Fr. Bagus from Indonesia is our rescores person. In this course we discussed why the interreligious dialogue is important and why the interfaith dialogue is necessary. ALL Forum is playing its role very well during this pandemic situation by training the Asian Lay Leaders through this online course. Talking is important for life no one can live alone in this world we all are depend to one another.
Peace is the world’s most urgent need. All human beings are a human family and God wants all human beings to live happy and healthy lives. Today our world is divided in the face of different types of discrimination. I feel it is time to preach the Gospel of peace and development, without any discrimination, and it’s not possible without interreligious dialogue.
Interreligious dialogue is a challenging process by which believers of differing religious traditions encounter each other in order to break down the walls of division that stand at the center of most wars. The objective of Interreligious Dialogue is Peace.
Interfaith dialogue means the communication, dialogue and cooperation between different faiths and religious groups. Since 1964 the Catholic Church has had the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue established. This council aims to promote respect and collaboration between different faiths and religions. It also aims to promote dialogue to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among peoples of different faiths.
In 2019 His Holiness Father Pope Francis visited United Arab Emirates (UAE), and while leaving UAE His Holiness “I am about to leave for the United Arab Emirates. I am visiting that Country (UAE) as a brother, in order to write a page of dialogue together, and to travel paths of peace together. Pray for me!” Pope Francis.
As I live in Pakistan religious pluralism can exist here and this course will help me to understand the different faiths and beliefs to promote peace in this world. We all are one in Christ and sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. Peace starts with a smile.