The Church of Pakistan on brink to split. PCP Report.
15 Nov 2003
Karachi. November 24. The Church of Pakistan is on verge of split and it seems that union formed in 1970 among Methodist, Anglicans, Lutheran, Presbyterian and other small Protestant churches in Pakistan shall return to their original identity with f
It was learned in very beginning that clergy in Pakistan representing different religion theologies should not make up with this unity for long term but political situation in Pakistan forced the Bishops to dine on one table for such a long period.
The formation of Church of Pakistan was only way of survival for the component small churches in 1970 when country was taking new turn in political ideology and smaller denominations feared of nationalization of missionary schools, colleges, hospitals and churches by the Pakistan Peoples Party PPP manifesto, led by late premier Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto. The catholic Church of Pakistan with 72% of membership of total population of Christians in Pakistan with strong organizational structure were ready to face the political pressure of the expected PPP government but smaller churches with more valuable property were not in position to stand alone in Pakistan.
It was blamed by the PPP leadership that missionary schools, colleges and hospitals are run by churches like business concern and 98% of Muslim population and 99.9% of Christian population was not beneficiary of these institutions and nationalization of these institution with other business industries was eminent.
No doubt, the clergy in Pakistan have been counted among the Muslim feudal lord class in Pakistan. As the Muslim feudal lords have been enjoying posh residences, sedan cars, large line of employees and influence in government to protect their vested interests. The Christian clergy was the perfect match to these Muslim feudal lords with unlimited resources and valuable church properties in Pakistan. The poor Christian community was never beneficiary of western development funds nor from the institutions established under the church leadership.
These smaller churches united under banner of Church of Pakistan were never united in the funds and property issues but kept control on their properties and funding from western sister organizations separately.
The unity of these churches under unavoidable circumstances in 1970 had first blow in 2000,when Bishop Samuel Azriah of Raiwind dioceses of Church of Pakistan ordained two women deacons, which was not approved by some other member churches of this union.
The differences among the Bishops of Church of Pakistan on petty matters always remained but a Norwegian origin Bishop, who controlled the most important dioceses of Karachi which expands to cover the Balouchistan province, played leading role to keep unity among Pakistani national Bishops on this forum. The second major set back emerged on administration sector when elections of Bishop of Karachi Dioceses were held in Quetta after retirement of this Norwegian bishop, where Synod of church of Pakistan openly divided in two groups and pressure groups entered in the election campaigns launched by the Bishops for the success of their candidates.
The divisions among the Bishops of church of Pakistan more deepened when the opponent groups challenged elections in the higher courts of Pakistan with accusations of malpractices on each other. The ordinations of women in Ministry were also challenged but injections from courts were requested on plea that courts have not jurisdiction to interpret the Christian teachings of Bible to up held the decision of women ministry by the Bishop Samuel Azriah to make the Presbyterian church USA happy to secure funding for his group in Pakistan. The approach on Bishops elections with Higher courts in Pakistan made mockery on clergy and churches again where Muslim justices are presiding the Benches.
The recent issues of Gay marriages and consumption of liquor on religious grounds discussed by Bishop Malik of Lahore diocese have stirred the general Christians in Pakistan who are not ready to absorb these terms in Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The dreams of Bishop Malik to lead in political field and Bishop Samuel Azriah to westernize the Christianity are important factor to damage the image of unity in church of Pakistan.
Talking to Secretary of Bishop Ejaz Inyat of Karachi dioceses it was revealed, "situation in Karachi is not very good as Rev. Sadiq Daniel and his group is going to every possible extent to forcefully take the Diocese in their control".
Its on record that High Court of Sindh has restrained Bishop Malik and his Synod group, including Bishop Samuel Azriah, Rev. Sadiq Daniel, Rev. Rafique Masih and Humphrey Peters from acting and claiming themselves as the Synod of the Church of Pakistan. When PCP tried to contact this group of church of Pakistan, no one was available on phone to comment.
More than 1,000,000, members of church of Pakistan are worried on this grave situation when bishops are at full swing to capture properties and institutions in Pakistan, which have been again denationalized and returned to the churches by this government. The touch of feudalism is back among the clergy of Pakistan when general Christian fears that if this power struggle among Bishops of Church of Pakistan is not brought to an end the moral of Christian teaching shall drop in Islamic Republic of Pakistan where fair and true practice with sincerity is very important for revival of faith and struggle launched by the social and political leaders for equal rights in Pakistan shall damaged by the clergy roles.