Catholic Church in Pakistan

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The Catholic Church in Pakistan is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the pope in Rome.

There are over one million Catholics in Pakistan, which represents less than 1% of the total population. There are 7 ecclesiastical units in Pakistan comprising 2 archdioceses, 4 dioceses, and one Apostolic Vicariate, all Latin Rite.

The Catholic Church in Pakistan is also active in education managing leading schools like Saint Patrick's High School, Karachi, health and other social aspects of daily life in addition to its spiritual work. In 2008 the Catholic Church runs 534 schools, 53 hostels, 8 colleges, 7 technical institutes and 8 catechetical centers.[1]

Joseph Cordeiro, Archbishop of Karachi, became the first Pakistani Cardinal elevated to the position by Pope Paul VI on 5 March 1973.

Pope John Paul II visited Pakistan on 16 February 1981.[2]

Pope John Paul II received the President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf in a private audience in the Vatican on 30 September 2004.[3] In 2004 President Pervez Musharraf began hosting an annual Christmas dinner as an expression of seasonal goodwill. [4]

For the first time in the country’s history, Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, became the federal minister for minorities in 2008.[5] Bhatti was assassinated on 2 March 2011.[6]

Pope Benedict XVI met the Catholic bishops of Pakistan on 19 June 2008. The bishops were in Rome for their ad limina visit.[7]

On 20 May 2018, Pope Francis announced he would make Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, a cardinal in the consistory scheduled for 29 June.[8]

List of Catholic provinces and dioceses in Pakistan[edit]

Ecclesiastical Province of Lahore[edit]

Ecclesiastical Province of Karachi[edit]


Arch/diocese/vicariate Catholics Priests
Karachi 149,350 36
Hyderabad 48,991 7
Quetta 27,000 1
Lahore 502,619 28
Multan 98,500 11
Faisalabad 135,879 44
Islamabad-Rawalpindi 122,443 19

Source:"The Catholic Church in Pakistan Directory 2002". Archived from the original on 7 October 2011.


The Catholic Church continues to be persecuted. As recently as April 2009 armed men attacked a group of Christians in Taiser Town, near Karachi. They set ablaze six Christian houses and injured three Christians, including an 11-year-old boy, who was in critical condition in hospital.[9]

The minorities in Swat Valley are fleeing the area as the Taliban have imposed a tax on non-Muslims, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference president Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha has said, urging the Pakistani president and prime minister to intervene. The government has recently allowed the imposition of Sharia laws in parts of the North West Frontier Province much to the detriment of non- Muslims.[10]

In 2009, Pakistan is the only country in the world with a "blasphemy law". The constitution also ensures that a non-Muslim cannot become president, prime minister or any of the 11 senior most government positions in the country.[11]

On 30 July 2009, tensions arose in the Christian village of Korian after pages containing Islamic inscriptions were found in front of a Christian home. Muslims then accused a family there of blasphemy against Islam. On 1 August 2009, a Muslim mob raided a Christian settlement in Gojra vandalizing and looting houses and causing the deaths of eight people and injuries to many others. Fifty Christian homes were destroyed. Pope Benedict XVI has expressed profound sorrow at recent anti-Christian riots in Pakistan and appealed to everyone to renounce violence and take up again the path of peace. He communicated this message in a telegram to Faisalabad Bishop Joseph Coutts.[12]

St. Thomas’ Church, Wah Cantt was attacked by a group of armed men on 28 March 2011 which resulted in damages. It is believed that the incident was related to the recent episode of the burning of the Quran by Pastor Terry Jones in the U.S.[13]

The situation in Pakistan deteriorated to such an extent that by 2013 large numbers of Christians started to seek asylum overseas.[14][15]


Over the years a number of Catholics have been recognized by the Government of Pakistan for their contribution to education, community service, health and public service.

In 1965 Brig. Mervyn Cardoza was honored with the Tamgha-e-Khidmat by President Ayub Khan.[16]

Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry was awarded Sitara-e-Jurat (1965) and Tamgha-i-Jurat (1971).

Justice Alvin Robert Cornelius, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan from 1960–68, was the recipient of Hilal-i-Pakistan in 1967.[17]

Hermanegild Marcos Antonio Drago was honoured first with Tamgha-e-Pakistan in 1967 and then with the Sitara-e-Imtiaz posthumously in 2002 for his services for the betterment of the community.[18]

Sister Ruth Pfau is perhaps the most decorated Catholic having received:

Sister Gertrude Lemmens FMCK - In recognition of her work for the homeless, the needy and the handicapped, on 23 March 1989 she received the Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam (Order of the Great Leader), one of the highest honors given to foreign nationals.[22]

In 1999 Major General Julian Peter was the recipient of the Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military).

Father Francis Nadeem OFM Cap. a parish priest and author from Lahore, was awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz on Independence Day, 15 August 2000 for outstanding service to the country.[23]

Sister Mary Emily FC - On 23 March 2009 was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz which she received from the Governor of Sindh. This was in recognition of her services to education.[24]

Sister John Berchmans Conway - On 15 February 2012, the President of Pakistan approved conferment of Sitara Quaid-e-Azam on Sister Berchmans for her services towards education and promoting interfaith harmony in Pakistan.[25]

Father Robert McCulloch - On 15 February 2012, the President of Pakistan approved conferment of Sitara Quaid-e-Azam on McCulloch for his services to Pakistan in health and education.[26]

Brother Emmanuel Nicholas - The President of Pakistan conferred the civil award of Tamgha-i-Pakistan (Medal of Pakistan) on Bro. Emmanuel Nicholas in recognition of his outstanding and meritorious services to the education sector in Pakistan.[27]

Norma Fernandes - The Government of Pakistan honoured Mrs. Fernandes on 23 March 2014 with the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz for her services to education.[28]

Pakistan Bible Society - In 2013 Pakistan Post issued a commemorative postage stamp on the 150th anniversary of the Pakistan Bible Society.[29]

History of Priestly Service[edit]

The Pakistani Catholic Church has a long tradition of service with many Priests who have completed 50 years or more of service in the priesthood:

  • Fr. Canisius Mascarenhas (1950- )
  • Fr. Melito Dias (1954- )
  • Fr. Ignatius Pinto † (1945-1996)
  • Father Anthony Mascarenhas
  • Father Augustine Fernandes OFM † [38]
  • Father Gasper Mendes OFM
  • Father Joe D’Mello (1961- )
  • Father Ken Viegas OFM (1964- )[43]
  • Benjamin Joseph (1967- )

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " October 5, 2009".
  2. ^ UPI 16 February 1981
  3. ^ "President Musharraf will meet the Holy Father". Archived from the original on 14 June 2011.
  4. ^ "Local churches find direct contacts key to Catholic-Muslim relations". Archived from the original on 2005-06-22.
  5. ^ " 4 November2008".
  6. ^ "Pakistan minorities minister shot dead in Islamabad". The Times Of India. 2 March 2011.
  7. ^ "Pope: Gospel Still Growing In Pakistan". Archived from the original on 20 June 2008.
  8. ^ AFP (20 May 2018). "Pope to appoint 14 new cardinals including one from Pakistan". Dawn. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Taliban attack Christians in Karachi".
  10. ^ "Christians, Hindus, Sikhs forced to flee Swat: Catholic Church 25 April 2009". [permanent dead link]
  11. ^ " 11 October 2009".
  12. ^ UCANews 4 August 2009 Archived 13 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Agenzia Fides, 8 November 2011 Archived 12 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ UCANews 6 January 2014
  15. ^ Jillani, Shahzeb (1 September 2015). "New cross symbolic for Pakistan's Christians". BBC News. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  16. ^ Herald Review Goa, 28 October 2012
  17. ^ Dawn 4 September 2011
  18. ^ Rotary Club Newsletter, January 2008
  19. ^ Doctor of Science (DSc), honoris causa, awarded to Dr. Ruth Katherina Martha Pfau Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine Aga Khan University, Karachi Retrieved 6 July 2010.
  20. ^ Doctor of Science (DSc), honoris causa, awarded to Dr. Ruth Katherina Martha Pfau Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine Aga Khan University, Karachi Retrieved 6 July 2010.
  21. ^ List of civil awards Archived 16 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "Pakistan German, Dutch Sisters Get Pakistan National Day Awards April 4, 1989". [permanent dead link]
  23. ^ " August 15, 2000". [permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "Daily Times 24 March 2009". Archived from the original on 7 June 2011.
  25. ^ The Express Tribune 15 February 2012
  26. ^ From Australia, with love: Father McCulloch finds his true calling in Pakistan, Express Tribune
  27. ^ Dawn 13 April 2012
  28. ^ The Express Tribune 14 August 2013
  29. ^ The Express Tribune, 28 December 2013
  30. ^ " December 17, 2009". Archived from the original on 30 October 2017. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  31. ^ "147 years of St. Patrick's High School". Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  32. ^ "Indian Express December 06, 2004".
  33. ^ "Catholic Hierarchy - Trindade".
  34. ^ "Catholic Hierarchy - Pereira".
  35. ^ Christian Voice - 31 August 2008
  36. ^ " November 10, 1993".
  37. ^ "Catholic Hierarchy - Paul".
  38. ^ Business Recorder 8 October 2008
  39. ^ Catholic Hierarchy
  40. ^ Dawn 18 December 2005
  41. ^ Catholic Hierarchy - Lobo
  42. ^ UCANews 10 January 2012
  43. ^ "UCANews April 1, 2004". 2004-04-01. Retrieved 2014-01-03.
  44. ^ "Pakistanis Celebrate Priest's Service To Marginalized People". Archived from the original on 2018-04-02.

External links[edit]