Lahore (Jan. 12, 2019) It was a historical moment to see a Franciscan Archbishop and the Custos of Capuchin Friars to inaugurate the ceremony in commemoration of the meeting of St. Francis with the Sultan of Egypt, AL-Kamil in the year 1219. This ceremony was organized by the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue & Ecumenism (Catholic Bishops’ conference Pakistan) and the Capuchin Friars in Pakistan. His grace Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw OFM (Chairman NCIDE) was the chief guest of this inaugural ceremony where as Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, (Executive secretary NCIDE) was the organizer of this event. A big number of Franciscan Brothers and sisters and eminent Muslim scholars from Sialkot, Lahore, Gujranwala and Islamabad were present to mark the occasion.
The purpose of the celebration was to renew the memories of the historic event of the meeting of these two great leaders who stood for peace and tolerance amidst the atmosphere of war and conflict during the crusades. They set an example of Interfaith Dialogue and mutual understanding.
In the beginning of the ceremony the portrait of the historical encounter of St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al-Kamil was unveiled by the Christian and Muslim leaders, while balloons and pigeons were set free in the air with the hope that they will spread the message of peace in all the countries, especially in the areas where religious and political conflicts are separating people and causing harm to life.
The organizers of the programme, Qaiser Feroz OFM Cap and Fr. Faisal Francis OFM Cap welcomed all the guests whereas Fr. Shahzad Khokher OFM Cap presented the background and the impact of this historical meeting.
In his message, His grace Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw OFM congratulated all the participants and encouraged them to be ambassadors of peace as the example shown by these great leaders. He admired the passion of St. Francis who went to Sultan amidst the wars just with a white flag in his hands and told him that wars can occupy and win only a piece of land and territory Not the hearts of people.
Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap while expressing his views admired this historical moment. This event has inspired all of us to live in peace, harmony, tolerance and solidarity. He further announced that this year will be celebrated all across Pakistan; Seminars for Children, youth, College, Madrisa and University students will be organized. Rev. Francis Nadeem expressed his commitment that during this year he would try hard to reach out to that 30 % of hard-line Muslim clerics who hate Christians; like St. Francis, without any fear he would like to go out, with the help of his Muslim friends who has always been at his side to promote peace and harmony in Pakistan, and meet them to convince them to believe in peace and make peace possible for all humanity.
Maulana Muhammad Asim Makhdoom, a renowned Muslim scholar and leader said that we shall promote the mission of St. Francis and Sultan. He promised that as St. Francis went to Sultan keeping aside all the fatal consequences, we would also approach all the weapons’ dealers and to those who spread hate and prejudice among the religions. He urged all the participants and leaders to work hard during the year 2019, to convince 800 more people to join this movement of interfaith dialogue, peace and social harmony as we celebrate 800 years of the historical encounter. The ceremony ended with the Peace prayer recited by Fr. Clarence Hayat OFM Cap.
The following speakers were present in this inaugural ceremony: Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw OFM, Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, Moulana Muhammad ASIM Makhdoom, Allama Sajad Husaan Naqvi, Allama Muhamad Sulman Shaker,Mufti Ashiq Hussain, Dr. Badar Munir, Moulana Abdul Sattar Niazi, Qari Ahmad Shakeel Saddiqui, Allama Asghar Arif Chishti, Moulana Muhammad Asghar Arif Chishti, Sahibzada Mustafa Chishti, hafiz Muhammad Nouman, Sahbzada pervaiz akbar, Pir S.A. Jaffery, Pervaiz Akbar Saqi, Qari Khalid Mahmood, Qari Anam ul Raheem, Alhaj Pir Sayyed Wali Allah Shah, Sohail Ahmad Raza, Qari Muhammad Yaqoob Raheemi, Fr. John Jospeh, Fr. Henery Paul, Fr. Qaiser Feroz, Fr. Francis Sabir, Fr. Ashfaq Anthony, Fr. Fiaz Rafiq, Fr. Aqeel Ashiq, Fr Sunil Irfan , Fr. Adnan Kashif, Fr. Clarence Hayat, Fr. Masam Illays, Fr. Atif Alphonas, Fr. Shahzad Khokher, Fr. Emmanuel Mushtaq, Fr. Faisal Francis, Fr. Sunil Irfan, Fr. Baber Shahzad and Br. Ayub Thomas.
Fr. Francis Nadeem OFMCap, Pakistan