Archbishop Joseph Coutts
Archbishop Joseph Coutts

Amidst mistreatment of Pakistani Christians, Vatican elevates Karachi Archbishop as cardinal

ANI | Updated: Jun 30, 2018 14:15 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], June 30 (ANI): Pope Francis on Thursday elevated Archbishop Joseph Coutts from Karachi as a cardinal.
The appointment of Pakistan's first cardinal in 24 years has come at a time when atrocities against the Christians in the country continue unabated.
The Muslim-majority nation is home to nearly 2.5 million Christians, who often bear the brunt of draconian anti-blasphemy laws.
In December, suicide bombers blew themselves up at the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in the western city of Quetta, killing nine Christians and injuring dozens.
Two months later, 24-year-old blasphemy suspect, Sajid Masih, leapt from the fourth floor of Federal Investigation Agency building in Lahore to escape police atrocities.
The appointment of Pakistani prelate as a cardinal at The Vatican is likely to internationalise the mistreatment of Christians in Pakistan.
According to Kansas City-based The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company, the Karachi Archbishop on June 25 spoke at an event in Rome and said, "Our (Pakistani) government is not strong enough to control the kind of extremism that has developed in the country," adding that "It is enough to accuse someone of blasphemy ... and you're finished."
However, Islamabad has welcomed the pontiff's decision of inducting a Pakistani in the group of cardinals, who elect a new Pope when the position becomes vacant.
"The appointment of Archbishop Joseph Coutts is an honor for the entire nation." read a statement from Pakistan's Foreign Office.
Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, Muhammad Yusuf Shaikh, led the Pakistan delegation to the ceremony, which was held at St. Peter's Square in The Vatican City on Thursday.
"Ministerial participation underscores the importance Pakistan attaches to the elevation of Archbishop Joseph Coutts to a Cardinal. It also recognises his contribution and services to the Catholic Church and promotion of inter-faith harmony in the country," the note from the ministry added.
In the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, Cardinals come immediately after the Pope. (ANI)

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