LONDON: Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a member of the British Government has lauded Pakistan Government’s decision to confer Sitarai-e-Quaid-i-Azam, Pakistan’s highest civilian honour, on the inspiring Sister Berchmans.
“I met Sr Berchmans at the Convent of Jesus and Mary School in January and was moved by the fact that she has devoted 58 years of her life to teaching young girls in Pakistan,” she said in a statement to The News, congratulating Sister Berchmans.
It was part of a wider visit to the country’s Christian communities that I promised the late minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti I would undertake, just weeks before he was assassinated. Sr Berchmans is the very embodiment of what Shahbaz Bhatti stood up for during his career: minority and majority faiths co-existing and enacting the common good in the name of religion.
After witnessing the Catholic Nun teaching Muslim girls - leading their morning assembly in prayer before they sang the Pakistan national anthem in Urdu - I used her example in my speech to the Pontifical Ecclesiastic Academy in the Vatican in February to illustrate the power of different faiths.
As I said during my speech, with Sister Berchmans rooted in her beliefs, and the Pakistani community she serves unwavering in its, I saw not the diminishment of faith but the ultimate enactment of the common good.
It was remarkable to see and to think of the practical and silent, discreet witness that Sister Berchmans and her fellow Nuns have shown to generations of young Pakistani girls, many of them Muslim, including one who grew up to become a Prime Minister, the first female to govern in the modern Islamic world: the late Benazir Bhutto.