Pope Francis to elevate Pakistani archbishop to cardinal

Pakistani Roman Catholic archbishop Joseph Coutts. (AP)
Updated 22 May 2018

Pope Francis to elevate Pakistani archbishop to cardinal

  • Joseph Coutts will be the second archbishop from Pakistan to become a cardinal.
  • Coutts is actively involved in interfaith dialogue with Muslims.

KARACHI: Pope Francis on Sunday said he will elevate Pakistani Archbishop Joseph Coutts from Karachi and 13 others to the rank of cardinal. 

Francis will appoint them as cardinals in a ceremony known as the consistory in Rome. “I am happy to announce that on June 29 there will be a consistory meeting to appoint 14 new cardinals. Their origins reflect the universality of the church,” Francis said.

Coutts will be the second archbishop from Pakistan to become a cardinal after the late Joseph Cordeiro.

“I am very surprised at my elevation as cardinal,” said Coutts, who was appointed archbishop of Karachi in 2012, replacing Evarist Pinto. 

Coutts is actively involved in interfaith dialogue with Muslims, and is president of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference.

He was ordained a priest in Lahore in January 1971, after receiving his training at Christ the King seminary in Karachi.

A doctor of philosophy, he speaks several languages, including English, Italian, German, French, Urdu, Punjabi and Sindhi.

Francis said he will elevate 14 churchmen from five continents to the rank of cardinal, picking candidates who work with the poor or where Catholics are a minority, Reuters reported.

Making the surprise announcement during his weekly Sunday address, he said the new cardinals come from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Iraq, Pakistan, Japan, Madagascar, Peru, Mexico and Bolivia. They will be given their traditional red hats at the consistory.

Eleven of them are under 80, the age limit for entering the secret conclave that will be called to elect a new pope once Francis dies or retires.

The new appointments will bring the number of elector cardinals to 125, five more than the limit established by Pope Paul VI for a conclave. Francis will have named almost half of the group since becoming pontiff in 2013.

It will be his fifth consistory, and he has used each occasion to show support for the Church where Catholics are a tiny minority, in this case Iraq, Pakistan and Japan.

Christians in Iraq and Pakistan have faced death and discrimination in recent years, something Francis has repeatedly railed against.

By elevating prelates from those two nations, he is sending a strong message of support to local churches.


India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killed

Updated 15 October 2019

India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killed

  • Security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate
  • Indian authorities had only restored call and text services for mobile phones

SRINAGAR: Text messaging services were blocked in Indian Kashmir just hours after being restored when a truck driver was killed by suspected militants and his vehicle set ablaze, authorities said Tuesday.
Separately Indian officials said that a 24-year-old woman died in the latest exchange of artillery fire with Pakistan over their de-facto border dividing the blood-soaked Himalayan region.
Security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate.
Indian authorities had only restored call and text services for mobile phones on Monday, following a 72-day blackout in the restive northern territory imposed after New Delhi scrapped the region's semi-autonomous status.
The seven million-plus people of the Kashmir Valley — the main hotbed of resistance to Indian rule — are still cut off from the Internet, however.
Authorities said SMS services were cut again on Monday night following the attack on the driver of a truck carrying apples in Shopian.
Residents said two masked gunmen told the driver to use his truck to block the road, but it skidded and got stuck.
“The gunmen then fired at the truck and set it on fire,” a witness told AFP.
Apples are a sensitive issue in Kashmir, which exports vast quantities of the fruit to markets across India.
Many orchard owners say they are refusing to harvest this year to protest against the government’s move to scrap Kashmir’s autonomy.
Indian authorities say that militants — backed by arch-rival Pakistan — have been intimidating farmers and businessmen.
The latest death from Pakistani artillery fire over the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir brings the number of fatalities on the Indian side to three in the past four days, the Press Trust of India reported.
Two Indian soldiers were killed in two separate incidents on Friday and Sunday, PTI said. It was unclear if there were any fatalities from Indian fire on the Pakistani side.
Also on Tuesday, police arrested 13 women activists in Srinagar after they staged a protest calling for civil liberties and the release of detainees.
The women, wearing black armbands, were arrested for “breaching the peace” and for a contravening a ban in place since early August on public gatherings of more than four people, police said.
They included the sister and daughter of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, one of several hundred local politicians, lawyers and others in custody since early August, mostly without charge.
Abdullah, 81, was formally arrested in mid-September under the highly contentious Public Safety Act (PSA) that allows someone to be held for up to two years without charge, and which has been used widely in Kashmir in recent years.
Rebels have been fighting for three decades some 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or to join Pakistan which also controls part of the region and, like India, claims it in full.