Lahore, Pakistan, Nov 14, 2017 / 12:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Amid national challenges, the Pakistani Catholic Bishops’ Conference has announced a “Year of the Eucharist,” to focus on renewal and service.
The year will begin on the Solemnity of Christ the King, Nov. 26, 2017. It will end on the same feast day next year, Nov. 25, 2018.
“The 'Year of the Eucharist' is meant to be a time of spiritual growth and inner renewal and to share the love of Christ with all humanity by our dedicated service to our country,” the bishops said in a statement published by the Pakistan Christian Post.
“As our country is going through difficult times we urge all people in Pakistan to pray more fervently for peace, harmony, progress and prosperity of our beloved country.”
The statement was issued during the bishops’ second annual plenary meeting, which took place in Lahore, Pakistan on Nov. 9-10.
In the statement, the bishops lamented the social problems that have arisen from corrupt politics. They expressed hope that the next election would be free and fair, and would “strengthen the democratic process.”
“We have to be honest in our dealings and be free from all stains of corruption,” the bishops said. “There must be an honest interim government that will bring in fair practices and not interfere with the election campaigns and the voting process.”
The bishops called on the Election Commission of Pakistan to be completely impartial, and encouraged the political parties to be attentive to the struggles of the country’s minorities.
“We feel that the current electoral system for minority candidates being appointed by political parties on reserved seats does not represent the community and so we urge the government to create a just and fair system,” they said.
The bishops also warned that “the educational system in Pakistan is suffering.” The weaknesses in the system must be addressed, they said, noting that the local Church has worked hard to offer high-quality, affordable education.
“Education is the basic right of every human being. It has power to drag a human from darkness of illiteracy into the light of knowingness. A country can never progress without appropriate educational system,” they stressed, calling on the government to work for a system that promotes peace and religious harmony.
Looking at the situation of the Church in the country, the Pakistani bishops thanked the government for showing respect for Sister Ruth Pfau, a beloved sister who spent more than 50 years working to eradicate leprosy in Pakistan.
Pfau died Aug. 10 at age 87 and was given a state funeral, the first Christian woman in the country to receive one, according to CNN.
The bishops thanked government leaders “for making the funeral of Dr Ruth Pfau a national event,” but said that Pfau’s legacy must continue.
“This must further inspire the clergy, religious, lay faithful and all people to a renewed commitment of serving our neighbor, especially in the poor and the marginalized,” they said.