Archbishop Saldanha: What Pakistani Christians Teach Us

Photo courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need.

Photo courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need.

Recently, I had the honour of meeting Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha, the retired Archbishop of Lahore, Pakistan. I interviewed him for an article in an upcoming print issue of Catholic Insight Magazine. I was thrilled to spend time with such a gracious, patient gentleman. Given my absence of journalistic training, I was intimidated by his background as a newspaper editor and media producer but he was very accommodating and the hour I spent with him was informative and pleasant. He is an intelligent, soft-spoken man, very easy to talk to and full of anecdotes of life in Lahore, Pakistan.

We talked about the difficulties faced by Christians and other non-Muslim groups in Lahore; things, he said, that we in the Western world can’t imagine. He made a point of saying that most Muslims want to live in peace with the minority groups but are afraid to speak out against the relatively few, militant, violent extremists. Not only does violence exist against non-Muslims, but fighting between different Muslim groups such as Shi’ites and Sunnis is also prevalent.

Christians praying in a church in Pakistan

Photo courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need.

A small number of Christians convert to Islam, usually because of pressure to do so, but most Christians would rather die as Christians. Although they know that they can be killed, they continue to attend services and Holy Mass. They remain active in their faith communities and look to the Christian church as a source of consolation knowing that they live in constant danger because of their Christian faith.

I asked him what we can learn from the situation in Pakistan and other parts of the world where Christians suffer persecution. He replied that we ought to be more appreciative of our Christian faith. People in the West just go through the motions, he said. Don’t just go through the motions; we must really live our Faith. Volunteer. Get involved in our church communities. Stop complaining. Educate ourselves about what is going on in the rest of the world. He has observed that we have too much stuff and states that there is no need to have so many things. We need to live a simpler life.

Archbishop Saldanha has experienced  things that most of us will never know. His life is a witness to his unshakeable belief in the One True God.

Instead of finding fault with our churches, pastors and each other; instead of thinking that we are more Christian than those other people, perhaps it’s time we all got down on our knees and thank God for putting up with us. Our persecuted brothers and sisters remain steadfast, fervent witnesses to the love of Christ Crucified. It’s time we follow their example.

Deo Gratias

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10 Responses to Archbishop Saldanha: What Pakistani Christians Teach Us

  1. Sounds like quite the guy to meet. I can’t imagine the danger they face over there in fiercely muslim countries. It would really be tough to live over there and see that danger of being persecuted and killed for a religion, but it would be a truly amazing thing that teaches most Christians more about life and faith. Great post!

  2. SaintlySages says:

    A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree good fruit (Mt 7:18). The pope is a cheerleader, a motivator, and some clergy have quickly assimilated his style. Time will tell whether this technique will effectively inspire people around the world to live more virtuously and charitably with each other. Have a great weekend. God bless!

  3. Anabelle @Written By The Finger of God says:

    Oh yes stop complaining and thinking were better Christians and thank God for putting up with us! love it.

  4. ‘…Don’t just go through the motions; we must really live our Faith. Volunteer. Get involved in our church communities. Stop complaining. Educate ourselves about what is going on in the rest of the world.’…we are so lucky to be free to worship. We have so much to be grateful for.

  5. reinkat says:

    I’m glad you tackled this subject, and had this opportunity to hear it directly from someone like Archbishop Saldanha.
    I read with horror the suffering that Christians are undergoing in Muslim countries. It really makes me think about my commitment to the Lord and my faith–it’s easy to talk big while living here where the occasional sneer is the worst that I have to endure. But there are real, true martyrs in the Middle East and Northern Africa. To stick with your faith there can mean death–certainly it will affect what jobs you will ever have, where and if your children can go to school, bullying and ostracizing and ridicule for you and your family.
    I like to think my faith is strong and true, but hope that it is never tested as it is for our Christian brothers in those regions.

  6. Reblogged this on theraineyview and commented:
    It’s easy to forget how much easier it is here in the West. We should use our relative freedom and ease here, to do all the good we can.

  7. Thank you for sharing this with us. I have been struggling with the moderate Muslims in America, feeling a lot of anger and resentment towards them lately. This is my personal struggle and one I am woking on with God on a daily basis. This article has been very humbeling for me, something I needed to hear right now. God teaches us in wonderfully surprising ways.

  8. “Although they know that they can be killed, they continue to attend services and Holy Mass. They remain active in their faith communities and look to the Christian church as a source of consolation knowing that they live in constant danger because of their Christian faith.”

    This describes the same threatening environment that the Apostles and all of the early Church Christians lived within (Acts & beyond in Church History) and faithfully endured through beatings, imprisonments, and martyrdom for the love of Christ Jesus. May God bless and protect our brethren in Pakistan and elsewhere who are true witnesses to love and faith in our Lord Jesus and His Church at the real cost of their lives.

  9. dgcree says:

    Totally concur with the final paragraph !

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