MUMBAI, India – An interreligious memorial service was held in Pakistan to honor French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who died July 5.
Tauran, a longtime diplomat for the Holy See, was the head of the Vatican’s office for interreligious dialogue for over a decade.
The August 10 memorial in Lahore was presided over by Archbishop Sebastian Shaw and was attended by Muslim and Christian interfaith leaders.
Shaw – who serves as the chairman of the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism – said Tauran never gave up working for healing and reconciliation among religions around the world.
“During his last days, although he was very sick, he went to Saudi Arabia starting a new direction of relations among Muslims and Christians. We have outstanding examples of working on humanity of the cardinal. We should learn and teach a message of love, care and respect as Jesus teaches us,” the archbishop said.
Sohail Ahmad Raza, the director of Interfaith Relations for Minhajul Quran International also attended the memorial.
“We really lost a great man of courage, a peacemaker and interfaith relations builder,” he said.
Raza recalled spending six months in Rome and said Tauran was always a “very kind and loving person.”
“He played a wonderful role to build peace. The visit of His Eminence to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to build good relations among the Christian and Muslim world will be remembered with great esteem,” he said.
Dominican Father James Channan, the Director of the Peace Center Lahore, said Tauran played a vital role in bringing people of different religions closer together.
“He was a man of great integrity and a pillar of the Church in the modern world. He was a man of great vision. He read the signs of the times of reaching out to the people of all religions, especially Muslims. He was a very courageous man and he dared to speak the truth,” Channan told Crux.
Channan said Tauran did not hesitate to strongly condemn when Christians were persecuted in places such as Pakistan and the Middle East.
“I recall when a 13-year-old Pakistani Christian girl Rimsha Masih was accused of blasphemy, the cardinal expressed strong criticism against this false accusation,” the priest said.
(Masih was charged after she was accused of burning pages of the Quran. Weeks after her arrest, the imam who accused her was arrested for planting the pages in the schoolgirl’s bag. After her acquittal, Masih and her family fled to Canada.)
Tauran visited Pakistan in 2010, and during his visit officially opened the offices of the Peace Center.