In Pakistan, Muslim and Christian Students Fast Together

Initiative at St. Lawrence Catholic School in Lahore

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LAHORE, Pakistan, MARCH 10, 2004 (Zenit.org).- At the St. Lawrence Catholic School here, even Muslims fast for Lent -- at least for a day.



It is part of a reciprocal program, whereby Christian youths share a day of fasting and a "friendship dinner" with Muslim during the month of Ramadan.

"The initiative taken by the Muslim pupils with regard to Catholic pupils was deeply appreciated," Father Francis Nadeem, secretary of the Pakistani bishops' Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue, told the Fides missionary agency.

The priest was referring to a sharing of religious practices at the school which has about 150 students.

Last year Christian pupils joined Muslim pupils in breaking the Ramadan fast with a meal of friendship. And recently, during this season of Lent, the Muslim pupils decided to live a day of fasting with the Catholic friends and to share a meal of breaking the fast in a climate of brotherhood.

"This sharing will bring God's blessings upon all, and it will help us to live our shared values which bring us closer to each other and to God," Father Nadeem told the young people.

Speaking at a students meeting on behalf of the Muslim pupils, Azam Khan said he hoped that the Lenten season of prayer and fasting for believers in Christ will promote peace and harmony in Pakistan and all over the world.

"Our dream is to send a message of peace and reconciliation to all peoples," Khan added.

Tariq Faiza, representing the Christian pupils, said that the initiative taken by the Muslims was most appreciated and he said that St. Lawrence's Christian pupils want to continue to work side by side with the Muslims to "build a country which is tolerant, liberal and moderate."

Headmaster Peter Bhatti told Fides: "It is part of the specific mission of our school to build relationships of tolerance, respect, dialogue and esteem among pupils of different religions." He said the school will continue to educate its pupils to be "heralds of peace and reconciliation in society."