Published Date: November 26, 2010
Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue President Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran is making a visit to Pakistan as tensions rise over the Asia Bibi blasphemy case and other issues.
“The visit of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran is a great encouragement to Christians in Pakistan. It comes at a critical moment, in which there are increasing social and religious tensions, for the matter of Asia Bibi and for other reasons,” Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore and President of the Episcopal Conference of Pakistan told Fides.
The trip, set for some time, coincides with a delicate moment in time when the country is facing and discussing, at all levels, the case of Asia Bibi, the Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy.
In the next three days the Cardinal will meet with the Catholic community, with various Commissions of the Episcopal Conference and will also speak at an interreligious meeting.
He was also slated to meet with the civil authorities, including the Minister for Religious Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, and the President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari. To Zardari Card. Tauran will convey the Holy See’s intentions for the matter of Asia Bibi, carrying the hopes expressed in recent days of the appeal by Pope Benedict.
“Right now we are concerned about the growing climate of intolerance. The tension has risen, following the manifestations and appeals of radical Islamic groups who wish to exacerbate the social and religious polarization. We hope that the mission of Cardinal Tauran may serve to calm tempers and contribute to a solution for the case of Asia Bibi,” Archbishop Saldanha said.
“For the Church” – the Archbishop noted – “the fairest way for the final settlement of the case is a new trial before the High Court, to unequivocally establish her innocence. A clear legal pronouncement of innocence is the only way to silence the protests.”