Living the Spirit of Damietta in Pakistan

The encounter between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamal in Damietta 800 years ago is a legacy that our Brothers in Pakistan live every day. Our Brothers share, “These great MEN OF PEACE were a source of peace and harmony between two great religions. In today’s world, nations and religions often try to prove that each alone is true and great. Together Christians and Muslims must promote dialogue. We believe in one God, the creator of heaven and earth. On the basis of our commonalities, we must be instruments of peace for people of every nation and faith.”

It is in this spirit that our Brothers in Pakistan, together with their friends and dialogue partners, are making the 800th anniversary of the meeting between St. Francis and the Sultan al-Malik al-Kamal a special occasion to commit themselves anew to being instruments of peace for their country and for the world.

Our Brothers are planning programs of dialogue between Christians and Muslims in Sindh and in Punjab. They will also invite people from the Hindu, Sikhs and other faith communities to similar programs in order to broaden awareness of peace and harmony among all people of different faiths. In fact, such programs have already begun.

The Commissions for Mission and Evangelization and for Interfaith Dialogue of the Custody of Pakistan organized an evening of prayer and dialogue with the Muslim community in Dar-ul-Naim Lahore on 22 October. Together with representatives from the Franciscan Family in Lahore, our Brothers and their Muslim neighbors prayed and reflected on the need for peace and harmony in a country marred by intolerance, disrespect, violence and killing in the name of religion.

For some participants, it was the first time they had encountered a Christian or a Muslim in such a setting. As one Brother said, “We meet our Muslim brethren every day – for shopping or work – but this was a unique experience for me.” A Muslim participant commented that such programs “bring the people of God together, where each one recognizes and starts appreciating one another’s religion, belief and their way of living.”

 

Brothers and Provinces throughout the Order are invited to share stories of many ways that they will commemorate the 800th anniversary of the encounter between St. Francis and the Sultan. These stories, and accompanying photos, videos, etc, should be sent to the General Secretariat for Missions and Evangelization, evangen@ofm.org.