A postscript to Babette Francis' article in the February issue of 'AD2000' about present-day martyrs in India and Pakistan is the following extract from a letter written at Christmas 2009 by His Grace Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore, Pakistan.
Christmas is here once again, a time to reach out and renew contacts with old friends and dear relations. For me, 2009 has been a year of contrasts, a year of recovery and progress but also a year of shocks and disappointments.
First of all I am happy to announce a significant recovery of my health. After the surgery of last year I had to use a cane to get about but the Lord be praised that I have fully regained the use of my legs. What a relief, these renewed knee caps!
My living quarters in Lahore (110 years old) also saw a renovation. They were severely damaged by a suicide bomb blast last year. This year, the tiled roof was completely dismantled and replaced by reinforced concrete slabs and the walls were properly plastered and painted. I sincerely thank all my friends and benefactors for their kind help.
But, sorry to say, this year has also been a year of anxiety and distress. Our nation has lost its sense of stability and tolerance. There is a general feeling of fear and insecurity and the Christian community feels isolated and despondent. Two armed attacks by extremists carried out close to our church damaged some more stained glass windows. Two Christian villages had to suffer violent attacks by fanatics. What will the future bring? Please pray that the wave of terror will pass away and the New Year will usher in real peace and harmony.
I am happy to tell you that I have a new Auxiliary named Bishop Sebastian Shah whom I ordained on 25 April. He is 51 years old with a pleasant and gentle personality. He is a great help and support to me in the pastoral care of the flock.
On 16 January 2010, I will be celebrating my Golden Jubilee as a priest. This is a special milestone for me, a time to look back and thank God for the inestimable blessings of being his priest, serving his church for 50 years. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for all you good people who have supported and encouraged me in my vocation. Please join me in spirit, if not in the festive spirits!
Dear folks, remembering you at my Christmas Masses I warmly wish a happy and blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones and a New Year of blessings and good health.