CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 December 2018

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Pakistani families denied visas to Ireland for World Meeting of Families

LAHORE (UCAN): Catholics in Pakistan are reeling after the Irish government denied them visas to attend the upcoming August 21 to 26 World Meeting of Families in Dublin.
 
About 10,000 families applied from all over the country. All were refused visas.
 
Father Anthony Abraz, parish priest of Good Shepherd Church in Karachi, is among six priests whose visa applications were rejected for providing no evidence of a connection with, or of travelling to, similar events in the past. The Irish consulate also expressed dissatisfaction at their purpose for travelling to Ireland, financial situation, family circumstances, employment details, travel history, host in Ireland and itinerary.
 
Joseph Cardinal Coutts of Karachi, said, “We had carefully selected potential pilgrims, including school principals and NGO directors, from the executive class (and) only granted letters of recommendation to those who were not interested in seeking asylum.”
 
Samuel Sarfraz, sold a residential plot to raise the 300,000 rupees needed ($19,000) for non-refundable visa applications and registration fees for his family of three children to attend the event.
 
“This is a conspiracy to mint money from people who are already marginalised and discriminated against in a Muslim-majority country. If the policy was to reject all Pakistanis, why did they accept visa and registration fees for the world meeting?” he asked.
 
“We only wanted to see our beloved Holy Father. The refusal affects our prospects of visiting any European country.”
 
The Henley Passport Index ranks the Pakistani passport as the fourth worst in the world for international travel.

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