The Church of Pakistan is presently within the focus of the Churchmen all over the world. Unfortunately there are no Church historians who would help the Christians Community all over the world for a neutral analysis of the events that led to the scenario where millions of the members of the Church of Pakistan are suffering because of the disputes amongst the leadership within the Church of Pakistan.
Coming into existence in 1970 on All Saints Day through the union of the Anglicans, the Lutherans, the Methodists and the Church of Scotland the Church of Pakistan was further divided from four into eight Dioceses mainly due to the disputes of property rights between the Dioceses of Lahore and Multan.
The Cause of the Crises:
Although united the Church of Pakistan remained bitterly divided over two main issues.
Although the uniting Churches agreed to form a Trust of the Church in its constitution in 1970, they did not transfer the properties to the Church of Pakistan Trust or the respective Dioceses.
Disputes at an early stage bitterly dividing the Church mainly because the Bishops of Multan and Lahore who could not provide mature and spiritual leadership to their flocks. Gojra (Faisalabad Diocese) became the main battlefield as most of the property held by Lahore Diocesan Trust Association in this area headed by the Bishop of Lahore was under the Episcopal authority of Multan.
These disputes were resolved by creating new Diocese within the Church of Pakistan, Gojra (Faisalabad Diocese) being one of them.
After the death of late Bishop Inayat Masih of Lahore Diocese the new Bishop of Lahore Alexander John Malik rapidly took two bold and secret steps.
(A). He re-registered the Lahore Diocesan Trust Association in the year 1985 with strange and dynamic changes in the Articles of Association of the Trust originally registered under Companies Act of 1913 in the year 1942.
The original Diocese of Lahore had a legal standi under the Indian Church Act of 1927 and was overviewed by the Metropolitan of Calcutta, the Secretary of State in Council and the Governor General of India in Council. The Executive Committee of Lahore Diocese formed the governing board of LDTA (Lahore Diocesan Trust Association) and had properties all over Pakistan, from Karachi to Peshawar under its administrative control. Two big property-holding bodies namely THE CHURCH MISSIONARY TRUST ASSOCIATION and ZANANA MISSIONARY TRUST ASSOCIATION transferred their property assets to LDTA (Lahore Diocesan Trust Association) in 1956/1957. The Government of India and Indian Church Trustees also transferred the properties vested in them in 1947/1948.
The cleverest Bishop of Lahore Alexander John Malik sold a number of valuable properties during 1980 to 1997 keeping the major portion of the sale consideration in his own pocket by under-invoicing the figures, which is easy in Pakistan. These properties were sold all over Pakistan and there is no resolution on record regarding prior permission of respective Diocese or the LDTA (Lahore Diocesan Trust Association) or the Diocesan Council.
(B). The Bishop of Lahore Alexander John Malik further strengthened his grip on LDTA (Lahore Diocesan Trust Association) by making the amendments in the constitution of the Lahore Diocese in 1982 and then again in 1996. It is interesting to note that nobody in the Diocese of Lahore had a copy of its constitution to make comparisons.
In the year 1996 a new constitution contrary to the pervious and that of the constitution of the SYNOD, Church of Pakistan (the Supreme Supervisory and Legislative body of the Church of Pakistan) was registered under Societies Act without the approval of the Executive Committee of the Lahore Diocesan Council and that of the Lahore Diocesan Council. This particular constitution denies the supremacy of SYNOD of the Church of Pakistan. The only reason being that be should not be accountable to any forum whereas the main portion in the Diocesan Council and the Executive Committee of the Lahore Diocesan Council consisted of Diocesan employees who were under consistence threat of removal from services with a single stroke of pen and had to be Yes-Persons.
(C). While these practices were going on in the Lahore Diocese the Bishop of Sialkot Diocese Pervaiz Samuel was busy playing his own games with the properties of the Church of Scotland. Even here the main portion of the money coming through the sale of properties was illegally and criminally shared under the table amongst the Attorneys of the Church of Scotland and the Bishop of Sialkot.
A Christian lawyer of Supreme Court of Pakistan conducted an investigation quite recently and the Attorneys were removed for some time in 2003/2004. Later they got restored in spite of the evidence against them for reasons best known to the Church of Scotland.
(D). In a similar fashion the Bishop of Raiwind Samuel Robert Azraiah gave power of Attorney to one of his very close associates to dispose-off the properties at his disposal.
2. Personal values of the Bishops/Pastors of the Church of Pakistan:
A close study of the personal lives of the Bishops elected after 1980 would reveal lack of maturity and commitment, abuse of power and resources, poor ethical and moral values, illegal sale of properties and dirty politics.
Unfortunately the whole system of the Church of Pakistan has vested in the hands of a few who monopolized the affairs because they were aided by the Pastors and Laymen who either were ignorant of the facts, were cowards or were so weak that they could not speak the truth or take stand thus becoming the basic fabric of the corrupt Church.
Following few examples will show the point.
(A). In 1994 Pastor Mano R. Shah was elected as the Bishop of Peshawar Diocese, although he was not properly adopted in the Church of Pakistan by the process of unified with the Church of Pakistan. At the time of election of the Bishop of Peshawar the bishops of Raiwind and Sialkot facilitated him by (1) getting a forged letter of unification from the former Bishop of Peshawar (2) Nomination papers of a particular candidate were rejected through conspiracy to facilitate the success of Pastor Mano R. Shah. (3) The issue of his second marriage was overlooked in spite of constitutional restrains.
Later when he went to work with United Society for the Propagation of Gospel, London (USPG) as fulltime Secretary, Samuel Robert Azraiah of Raiwind Diocese dumped his resignation against the rules and constitution of the Church of Pakistan.
(B). Bishop of Raiwind Diocese Samuel Robert Azraiah after been defeated in the election of the Moderator in the Synod of 1995 joined hands with the Bishop of Lahore Alexander John Malik to keep themselves away from the Synod until Samuel Robert Azraiah was re-elected as Moderation in 1997 by the Executive Committee of the Synod of the Church of Pakistan. Samuel Robert Azraiah wanted to become the Bishop of Karachi thus he delayed the elections of the SYNOD supposed to be held in the year 1997. He further funded the Court cases against the Bishop-elect of Karachi Diocese Ijaz Inayat Masih and supported the cases against him at all levels. He thus laid the basic of the crises within the Church of Pakistan.
It would be interesting to note that he has applied for American nationality, (which demands a nine months stay in States in one year), while he is taxing his poor Diocese whose constitution says that the Bishop of the Diocese can not stay out of the Diocese for more then six months. He is also accused of sharing women with Marvin Pervaiz (Director Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan) and Bishop of Sialkot Pervaiz Samuel in the same room in each other’s presence.
(C). Bishop of Sialkot Pervaiz Samuel the so-called Chief Sahib is notorious for women, alcohol and selling Church properties. At one time Bishop of Lahore Alexander John Malik used to say about him that it is a Sin to call him a Bishop but these days Bishop of Lahore seems to have forgotten his statements regarding the Bishop of Sialkot.
In the year 2002 Pervaiz Samuel sold the valuable premises of St. Andrews Church at Abdullah Haroon Road Karachi through the Attorneys of the Church of Scotland through an agreement. The market value of the said project at the time of sale is over 4 billion rupees, whereas it was given away at a nominal cost of 400 million rupees only. How much went in his personal pocket?
(D). Pastor Sadiq Daniel was illegally and unconstitutionally made Bishop of Karachi by the present so-called Moderator of the Church of Pakistan and the Primate of Pakistan Alexander John Malik who does not even accept the Church of Pakistan in his prevailing constitution of the Church of Pakistan Lahore Diocesan Council and at the same time this so-called Synod and its officers have been challenged in the Honorable High Court of Sindh at Karachi wherein a restraining order against the Bishop of Lahore Alexander John Malik and his associates is still operative in Civil Suit no 970/2003.
The Rules for the Elections and Appointment of the Bishops of the Church of Pakistan and the constitution of the SYNOD of the Church of Pakistan prescribed a quorum of 16 out of 20 voters, in order to hold an election, whereas not even 12 valid voters could be listed on the day of the so-called election vide which Pastor Sadiq Daniel claims to be a Bishop. His office and election is disputed and pending adjudication before the Honorable High Court of Sindh at Karachi in Civil Suit no. 379/2002. Another order dated 25/02/2004 passed by the Civil Court of Karachi in Suit no. 150/2004 is also operative against Pastor Sadiq Daniel vide which he can not exercise any power as a Bishop of the Church of Pakistan.
(E). The Executive Committee of the Synod in 1997 had passed rather clarified the constitution that only the Pastors between the ages of 30 to 60 years are eligible to contest the elections for a Bishop. The so-called SYNOD of the Bishop of Lahore Alexander John Malik even passed those minutes in its meetings held in June 2003 at Lahore, which demanded respect of those minutes by all those participating in that Synod of 2003.
Yet Pastor Rafique Masih of Hyderabad Diocese participated in the elections of the Bishop of Hyderabad Diocese held on 07/09/2003, although he had passed the age of 60 years on 23/06/2003. This so-called election vide which Pastor Rafique Masih claims to be a Bishop of the Church of Pakistan is also challenged in the Honorable High Court of Sindh at Sukkur and Karachi and an order passed by the Learned Judge of the High Court of Sindh at Sukkur is still effective against him against which Pastor Rafique Masih has filed an appeal in the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan where his appeal is still pending without being admitted.
The Bishops reconciliation of October 30, 2004:
Afraid of the growing awareness amongst the members of the Church of Pakistan all over Pakistan who have now started to demand the accountability from all the Bishops of the Church of Pakistan, the Bishops decided to reconcile and joined hands with each other and entered into an agreement on 30/10/2004 at Sialkot.
The only motive of this so-called reconciliation is to rub each other’s back by allowing each other to sell the church properties lying within their respective Dioceses.
Bishop of Faisalabad Diocese John Samuel who once wanted the permission of LDTA to sell a piece of land in Gojra (Faisalabad Diocese) upon refusal had filed a law Suit under Section 92 CPC against the LDTA for declaration that LDTA is defunct.
This bargain resulting an agreement between the Bishops of the Church of Pakistan dated 30/10/04 was reached through the efforts of the Bishop of Sialkot Pervaiz Samuel who is facing tough resistance in Karachi against the sale of St. Andrews Church at Karachi. He had already joined hands with Pastor Sadiq Daniel of Karachi were as Bishop of Karachi Ijaz Inayat Masih had refused to be a part of this bargain and also refused to enter into any agreement that allows the Bishops of the Church of Pakistan or anybody else to sell the Church properties. It is also important to note that the Bishop of Karachi Ijaz Inayat Masih has filed a Civil Suit no. 970/2003 in the Honorable High Court of Sindh at Karachi where he has been able to obtain a Status Quo against the sale of all the properties of the Church of Pakistan.
At the same time Bishop of Lahore Diocese Alexander John Malik wanted to get-rid of the case pending in Court of the District Judge, Lahore regarding LDTA. The first section labeled as “A” in the reconciliation agreement facilitates the Church property sellers. Thus some consideration and right to sell the land has been given to John Samuel of Faisalabad, thus this so-called reconciliation. It is also noteworthy that the Bishop of Faisalabad John Samuel has brought huge agricultural estate in his native village CHAK # 48 of Sahiwal, although he always complains of shortage of Money in his own Diocese.
In the present situation Bishop of Karachi Ijaz Inayat Masih who no longer wishes to stand in line with the present Episcopal leadership of the Church of Pakistan has termed his efforts as a ‘Reformation Movement’, creating awareness among the masses so that accountability takes its course in a democratic manner.
Much encouraged by the response he feels that the Church of Pakistan has to go a long way for the restoration of its ministries. People from all over Pakistan have responded positively to the ‘Reformation Movement’, where as Bishop of Karachi Ijaz Inayat Masih wants more time to take his mission to the people at large. In many ways there are good signs of maturity among people, which may one day turn the tide in the Church of Pakistan.