A Dominican priest on March 19 bagged the “Martin Luther King Jr. Award, 2022” from Rising Christians Union (RCU) for his contribution to society in Pakistan.
Father James Channan, director of the Peace Center in Lahore, received the award for his “dedication and outstanding performance towards to community,” said RCU chairman Shakeel Jahangir.
In his address, Jahangir said, RCU is proud to honor the priest for his promotion of harmony, solidarity, and understanding in Pakistan, a Muslim-majority country, where Christians are a minority.
Christians make up 1.27 percent of Pakistan's population of 207.68 million as of May 2021.
The award consists of a plague. It is named after Martin Luther King Jr. an American Baptist minister and activist and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.
In his acceptance speech, Father Channan thanked RCU, a Christian organization based in Lahore, for the award urging all to work for the common good in society.
RCU promotes the unity of Christians around the world with a massive weapon of education against injustice and discrimination against Christians and humanity.
Father Channan, director of the Peace Center in Lahore and the regional coordinator in Pakistan for the United Religion Initiative (URI).
He was appointed by Pope John Paul II to work with the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims for five years and as a consultant to the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue for 10 years.
He studied at the Pontifical Institute for Islamic Studies and the Arabic language in Rome from 1982-85.
He also obtained a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Emmanuel College, Boston, USA, received graduate credits from Harvard University, the USA, and a course on Peace Building from the American University, Washington DC, USA.
The priest has received an Honorary “Doctor of Divinity” Degree from Norway. He served as executive secretary of the National Commission for Christian Muslim Relations for 17 years. He was the organizer of the URI's 1,500 Miles Journey for Peace (Karachi to Khyber).
He has authored four books—two each in English and Urdu.
He has devoted his life to promoting dialogue among religions in Pakistan.
Encounters between Muslims and Christian religious leaders and people with gestures of respect and acceptance can bring many positive results in society, Father Channan said.
One of his recent contributions, together with Caritas Pakistan, the social service wing of Catholic Bishops in Pakistan, and the Peace Center in Lahore, was to distribute relief goods to people affected by Covid-19 lockdowns in the country.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.