Pakistan: bishop calls for release of detained missionary

2012-01-26 Vatican Radio

In Pakistan, Bishop Andrew Francis of Multan, has appealed to authorities over the arrest of a missionary priest on charges of not having a valid residence permit.

Fr. Christi Silva is a Missionary of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate from Sri Lanka, who has been in the service of the Diocese of Multan for over 8 years. He requested a visa renewal last May and is still awaiting response from the authorities.

The missionary’s arrest appears to be the result of a decision issued by Punjab police chief Javed Iqbal to order the arrest and expulsion all "illegal immigrants" whose visas have expired but who have not left Multan.

On January 19 in Multan, two foreign aid workers from a German NGO, Italian Giovanni Lo Porto, 36, and his Dutch colleague Bernd Johannes, 45 were kidnapped. There police investigation has not yielded any results.

Bishop Francis told Emer McCarthy of his concern for the priest and other foreign missionaries who serve Pakistani society: