Politicians reassure new Archbishop of church property
Christian schools, colleges and hospitals were nationalized in 1972, but were de-nationalized thirty years later during the rule of Pervez Musharraf.
Political leaders have assured the new Archbishop of Lahore that the state will respect the rights, property and status of Christian Churches.
The leaders who met with Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw of Lahore included Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, chairman of the National Assembly and Khalil Tahir Sindhu, minister for human rights and rights of minority groups in Punjab government.
Sadiq, a Muslim educated at the Church-run St. Anthony’s High School in Lahore, said, “The education I received gave me self confidence, taught me discipline and how to develop my personality.”
He referred to government’s confiscation and demolishing of a local Caritas centre Gosha-e-Aman (home for strangers) two years ago, which shocked the Catholic community in Lahore. Sadiq affirmed the action appeared to have been motivated by persons anxious to acquire and sell the land on which the home stood. He promised that truth would be established in the investigations.
Confirming his commitment to further social harmony, Sadiq said, “The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees equal rights for all the citizens of our country, including citizens who are members of a religious minority.”
Sindhu, a Catholic, confirmed to Archbishop Shaw his personal commitment to attend to the difficulties encountered by minority groups especially Christians.
Sindhu announced that, with the case closed now, the land where Gosh-e-Aman centre once stood will be the site for a new girls’ high school to be run by the local Church.
The issue of Saint Francis High School in Lahore’s Anarkali district still remains to be resolved. Despite paying the de-nationalization fees to the Punjab Government, the transfer of St. Francis School to the diocese has not been done yet. A land mafia’s interest in the prime property is alleged to be the reason for the delay.
Christian schools, colleges and hospitals were nationalized in 1972, but were de-nationalized thirty years later during the rule of Pervez Musharraf. The government returned 16 of 17 schools belonging to the Archdiocese of Lahore after six months advance salaries of the staff were paid to it.
At the time of nationalization of missionary institutions by Zulfikar Bhutto, it was agreed that the properties shall be treated as rented by the government and only administration would be under the government.
Source: Agenzia Fides