KARACHI: Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Pakistan’s second cardinal, returned to the country on Tuesday.
Cardinal Coutts was warmly welcomed as he landed at Karachi airport after being appointed cardinal at a meeting of the Church’s top council at the Vatican on June 29.
Dozens belonging to the Christian community had gathered at the airport to receive him.
A ceremony has been organised at the Saint Patrick’s Church in Saddar in honour of the cardinal.
Cardinal Coutts was among 14 new cardinals Pope Francis had named in May this year to be appointed to the post.
The 73-year-old is the second Pakistani to be honoured with the position after the death of cardinal Joseph Cordeiro in 1994.
In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Coutts said he was surprised at his nomination.
“For us, in a poor country like Pakistan and in a small, young Church, historically, where we all, as bishops or archbishops, spend a lot of time with the people. And thank God we don’t have that lifestyle which takes us above the people. We try to be with the people most of the time.”
Cardinal Coutts said he was unsure whether his new job would reduce the time he has available to spend with people.
“So to be a cardinal, I don’t yet know what the implications are. But I fear there will be a gap. I won’t be able to give so much time to the people,” he said.
For the last six years, Cardinal Coutts served his community as Head Bishop at Saint Patrick’s Church in Karachi with focus on inter-faith harmony.
The Lahore-based archbishop previously served as a bishop in Faisalabad and Hyderabad.
During his 13 years as bishop in Faisalabad, Archbishop Coutts established a committee to solve the religious differences between Muslims, Christians and Hindus.