The Archbishop of Karachi will soon be appointed to Cardinal by Pope Francis.
The Vatican announced last week that Archbishop Joseph Coutts will be among a group of new cardinals elevated next month. Coutts’s appointment is particularly historic because he will become only the second Pakistani archbishop to become a cardinal and the first since the death of Cardinal Joseph Cordeiro in 1994.
“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,” Pope Francis said in his St. Peter’s Square address announcing the appointments.
In an interview with Vatican News on May 21, Coutts expressed both surprise and pride in the upcoming appointment. “I am only hearing it from media and friends. I am yet to be officially notified by the Vatican. However, if the news is correct, I will be traveling to the Vatican in June to receive the red hat,” he said.
Coutts became the Archbishop of Karachi in 2012 and since then has become known for his interfaith work. Vatican News notes that he founded the first-ever diocesan commission devoted to promoting interfaith harmony in Pakistan and has made educating the country about its Christian minority a major part of his work. “Christians who live [in Pakistan] should promote a culture of harmony,” he said.
According to his official biography, Coutts was born in Amritsar in 1945 and was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1971. He speaks English, Italian, German, French, Urdu, Punjabi and Sindhi.
The news of Coutts’s upcoming appointment was greeted with praise by both his fellow Christians and government officials in Pakistan. Pakistani Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique tweeted that the archbishop “is a pride both for Christians and for our beloved Pakistan. Congratulations to the Christian community.”
Coutts’s fellow Catholic priests are also hoping that his strong record on human rights and interfaith dialogue will also help the Christian community move forward when it comes to the rights of minority religious groups in Pakistan.
“The great pastor will boost our morale and will be the reason for progress of the local church,” Father Pascal Paulus told Vatican News.