We are presenting our conversation with Bishop Inayat Masih for our readers who is only Bishop of Church of Pakistan, openly comapagianig against sales of church properties in Pakistan.
Bishop Ijaz Inayat Masih was born in 1948 in Punjab. He studied in the institutions of Lahore and Rawalpindi. His father Inayat Masih was a high official of the Pakistan Postal Services who during his own service earned reputation and distinctions while serving all over Pakistan and also served as the Chief Postmaster of Lahore. The grandfather of Bishop Ijaz Inayat Masih was a Pastor and has been performing pastoral services in the Parishes of Anglican Church at Narowal.
Bishop Ijaz Inayat Masih served as Manager and Associate Pastor in Religious Education Center, Raiwind. He also served in Rawalpindi as Vicar / Presbyter In-Charge of St. Andrews Church and Vicar and District Superintendent of Youhanabad Lahore. He has a history of developing Parishes and buildings Churches. The Christ Church Youhanabad, Lahore, is a magnificent building constructed on his own visionary drawing. He also started the Christ Church School Youhanabad, which is now an institution of a good standing.
Bishop Ijaz Inayat Masih has served on the Bible Translation Committee of the Pakistan Bible Society in the 70’s. He served on the Constitution Committee of Raiwind Diocese, which gave the first constitution to the Diocese of Raiwind. He also designed the official seal of Raiwind Diocese.
He has served on the Executive Committees of Lahore Diocese, Church of Pakistan. He has also been on the Constitution Committee of the Church of Pakistan for many years.
He was elected Bishop of Karachi on October 1st 1997 and took the vote of confidence from the Executive Committee of Karachi Diocese on October 10th 1997. A few days prior to his Consecration a Status Quo was taken against him on the basis of false affidavits and points to a high profile conspiracy in the Church of Pakistan. The litigation is still pending in the Civil Courts regarding the office of the Bishop of Karachi.
In year 2002 Bishop Alexander John Malik of Lahore, Bishop Samuel Robert Azraiah of Raiwind and resigned Bishop John Victor Samuel (Former Bishop of Multan) consecrated Rev. Sadiq Daniel as Bishop whereas Bishop Smart K. Dass the then Moderator Church of Pakistan and the Bishop of Hyderabad Diocese, Bishop John Samuel the then Deputy Moderator Church of Pakistan and the Bishop of Faisalabad Diocese, Bishop John Victor Mall Bishop of Multan Diocese and Bishop Pervaiz Samuel Bishop of Sialkot Diocese consecrated Bishop Ijaz Inayat Masih as the Bishop of Karachi Diocese in the Church of Pakistan.
At present Karachi Diocese is split into two factions and has pastors in both groups but Bishop Ijaz Inayat Masih has earned respect among the common congregations because of his love, abilities and reach in slum/bastie congregations of Karachi Diocese.
Q. What was the reason of joining Ordained Ministry?
A. My family was active Church member, so, I was also actively involved in Sunday Schools and Youth groups. One day I felt as Lord was telling me to join the Ordained Ministry and I decided to be servant of my Lord.
Q. What have been your achievements during these years?
A. I must not say much about my achievements as the Lord in fact works through his people. I must remind all that Bishop Alexander John Malik announced during one of his Diocesan Council meetings and also on 1st October 1997 in the Holy Trinity Cathedral at Karachi after my success in election of the Bishop of Karachi “I am giving you my best Pastor”. These comments are acceptance of my services by my foes even.
Q. Why the cases against you?
A. There are three things: -
1. On the day of my election I announced, “We will not sell properties and not let anyone sell them”. My these intentions forced all forces involved in this business have joined hands against me.
2. Bishop Samuel Robert Azraiah wanted to become the Bishop of Karachi dioceses. Firstly he tried to block both Rev. Sadiq Daniel and me and for this reason he became the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan and kept on delaying the Synod to achieve his ambitions. He funded the Court cases against me and as he belongs to Karachi, his relatives, friends and groups played as the fifth column.
3. I was a candidate for the Bishop of Peshawar Diocese but my nomination papers were engineered to rejection to make way for Bishop Mano Romal Shah. Bishop Alexander John Malik initiated a civil case through me in a Court at Lahore and paid for it. He wanted to show his resentment against Bishop Mano Romal Shah but was in fact with Bishop Mano Romal Shah through Col (retired) K. M. Roy.
All these factors motivated the forces to join hands against me, resultantly Sadiq Daniel was heavily funded and I had no financial support, which is needed for litigation in Pakistan.
Q. We heard that you do not accept Bishop Alexander John Malik as the Moderator/Primate and the member of the Church of Pakistan. Why?
A. This is true because during these cases astonishing facts and evidences have come to my notice.
1. All these years he has been helping Bishop Sammy Azraiah secretly. The main reason is that he sold many valuable properties throughout Pakistan and wanted that nobody should question him at any forum.
2. He had changed the Articles of Association of Lahore Diocesan Trust Association (LDTA) in 1985 without bringing it in the notice of the General Body and Lahore Diocesan Council.
3. He had made changes in the constitution of Lahore Diocese in 1982 whereby he had made many employees of Lahore Diocesan Board of Education (LDBE) as permanent members of Lahore Diocese. As these and the Pastors were under his thumb he maneuvered them to make managing bodies of his own choice.
4. He separately registered LDBE (Lahore Diocesan Board of Education) and Lahore Diocesan Bookshop with the Registrar Joint Stock Companies so that the management and finances of all the institutions are never compared by the few who are willing to raise questions and he should feel free to utilize the funds to his choice.
5. He alienated himself from the Synod Church of Pakistan in 1995 along with Bishop Samuel Robert Azraiah and got a fabricated Constitution registered in 1996 as that of the Lahore Diocese, without bringing it in the notice of the Diocesan Executive Committee or the Diocesan Council.
All these elements are enough to convince me that he wants full control of everything belonging to the Diocese of Lahore and would never work on merits.
Although he had alienated himself from the Church of Pakistan, he used his money and influence to illegally plant Bishops in Karachi, Peshawar and Hyderabad Dioceses. There was a time when he used to say that it is a sin to call Bishop Pervaiz Samuel even a Bishop. For each other’s convenience they are one now. He even used to say, “Sammy can stoop down to any level”. I would like to know to what level he has stooped down himself?
Q. Why are you so strong in your expressions?
A. I know by now what episcopacy means in the Church of Pakistan. It is no more a question of episcopacy now. Now it is a Reformation Movement. I do not have enough resources but the massage is spreading to wider range of people and a time will come according to my belief when the Pastors and members of the Church of Pakistan will wakeup for their rights and start questioning the dishonest Bishops. The Bishops may run away from Pakistan, but we want the Pastors and members of the Church of Pakistan to wakeup. We may even put all the facts with proofs before the Courts but still we are praying that the Bishops should in fact repent and give back to the poor Christian community what originally belongs to them.
Q. What was the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury in this sad situation of the Church of Pakistan?
A. In fact the former Archbishop has not played his role wisely. We had put our trust in him so that the divided Church should be united once again. His Commission had agreed to this proposal and he had even written to all the Bishops of the Church of Pakistan to come to him for this purpose vide the letter of the former Archbishop dated 19th April 2001 in which he had said that he is still to decide about the Karachi issue. While the Bishops were on their way another letter dated 18th April 2001 advising the Court to decide against the interest of the Church came in.
Later we learnt that Bishop Alexander John Malik, Bishop Samuel Robert Azraiah and Humphrey Peters had specially gone there and got the antedated letter written.
Q. How is Sadiq Daniel working?
A. His working is before everybody. He has an illegal Diocesan Council and Executive Committee of handpicked Yes-men. He has illegally taken huge amounts from St. Mary’s School, Quetta, Trinity Methodist Girls High School Karachi and other Diocesan resources. He is taking and spending money without constitutional authority. During this time he put the Pastors under detention of Police to pressurize them and succeeded in two places but now we are careful enough, strong in Courts and would not let him do it again.
Q. Why has Bishop Pervaiz Samuel left you?
A. In actual fact he did not leave me but I in consultation with the members of our group broke our relationship with him. The reason is that he sold St. Andrew’s Church, Karachi through an agreement using the Attorneys of the Church of Scotland. As we did not like to be identified with him we alienated from him.
On the other hand Sadiq Daniel has joined hands with him over this deal of St. Andrew’s Church.
The agreement of the Bishops dated 30th October 2004 is a compromise over the sale of properties.
Q. What do you think is the solution?
A. Justice is needed for Peace. There have been numerous unconstitutionalities and illegalities
committed by the Bishops, which have changed the basic fabric of the Church of Pakistan. Repentance and undoing the unconstitutional and illegal actions is the only way out.
Q. We have heard that you were approached for reconciliation?
A. In fact attempts were made time and again to buy me out. Even Sadiq Daniel came to my house with an offer of a huge amount to quit.
For me the moral question is that I have taken a stand on principles and there are friends all over Pakistan with me. How can I divert on principles and for the sake of people who have supported me with their prayers, resources and with hopes. I am confident that we shall over come at the Lord’s appointed time who is still giving time to all of us in His own love so that all should repent and the Church be glorified.
Q. Last year you launched an Inter-Faith Friendship Forum, please tell us about it’s working and also about your vision of creating such a forum?
A. Yes, Inter-Faith Friendship Forum is a Forum of friendship for the people of all religions and sects, even for people of different political parties.
We believe in building bridges. We have successfully spoken and made known that we all must respect the liberty of religious freedom, which the Lord has given to each and every individual.
All in inter-action at this Forum have accepted this philosophy so far which has resulted in good relationship and understanding amongst each other and has developed respect and trust.
We have a mission to teach and reach people in order to create tolerance and friendship among the different and hostile groups.
So far we have seen encouraging results and hope to see more.
Q. A prominent majority of the members of the Church of Pakistan all over Pakistan supports you.
Why do the common members specially the members of the other Dioceses support you?
A. People understand the language of love. The second most important thing is that over the years people are watching you and at the end of the day they compare you with the contemporary counterparts and we must respect their feelings.
Q. What would you say regarding the permission of drinking liquor in Christianity and that of the acceptance of Gays and Lesbians in the Church?
A. We must strictly follow the Word of God for our guidance. I strongly and openly condemn all these evils.
Q. It is believed that the Pastors working under your administration are the most active Pastors of the Church of Pakistan.
A. They are active because they are mentally active and alive to their conscious. These days we need pastors of strong faith and character.
Unfortunately most of the pastors all over everywhere are either not very clear about the vision, meaning and understanding of the ministry or they are cowards as to oppose the wrong functions of their superiors and specially the Bishops. There are some who are working as if it is a job and they will be fired if they do not agree with their superiors. At the same time most of the superiors do not share each and every thing with the pastors and most of the evils of the superiors do not come in the knowledge.
It is the duty of the superiors to share each and every thing with their pastors. This practice will make the pastors mature and the church will grow in stature.
Here in Karachi in our group we take all the matters to the entire group and discuss everything to reach decisions which has built trust and confidence between us that has strengthened them.
Q. It seems that you are more concerned for the Reformation of the Church of Pakistan rather then your episcopacy. Why?
A. The Church is more important for me than the interest of the Bishops. I am also a part of this Church, which has definite and specific purposes.
The Reformation Movement is in line with the directions of Jesus Christ who says it is the need of the hour to repent in order to enter the Kingdom of God.
Secondly, it is not the Church of the Bishops only that they or their associates may be allowed to do their will against the Word of God and the constitution of the Church.
This Church belongs to all of us and we are responsible both to the Lord and His people for the life of the Church, its offices, its governance and its ministries.
We are following the Jesus way to pray and keep on stressing without compromising with sin even if it means to go against the Bishops of the Church of Pakistan.
Q. What massage would you like to give to the members of the Church of Pakistan living within and outside Pakistan?
A. My first appeal to all the believers is that all should pray for the Church of Pakistan so that it should come to life and starts obeying and glorifying the Lord.
My second submission is that the people all over must put their hearts and minds to find the truth about the root causes of the situation of the Church of Pakistan and to learn to work on merits without taking sides on face value.
My third point of stress is that we all need a strong Christian character in order to survive as a Church and as a community.
My very important request to all the pastors and people is that each one of us has role to play for the restoration of the Church and no one must hesitate to play the respective role in some cases it may a prophetic role.
Q. Please comment on the services being rendered by the Pakistan Christian Post.
A. I have always admired the role of Pakistan Christian Post and its founder Dr. Nazir Bhatti who have provided awareness across continents, countries, cultures, denominations, religions and sects on the contemporary issues. I also respect the entire team, which is working with them. I earnestly wish I should have a position and resources to encourage them but I know the Lord has a reward and place for all of them and their services. Therefore I pray that the Lord should bless them mightily with wisdom, knowledge, resources and more well-wishers.