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13 November 2019 – The Bishops: "The Indonesian Church must open up, leave the comfort zone and be present in the midst of society to strengthen interreligious brotherhood. The Church must spread peace and benevolence, respect human rights, cultivate dialogue, promote equality and justice, improve public health, raise awareness of scientific developments and maintain harmonious coexistence in diversity": is what the Indonesian Bishops say in the message released at the end of the annual meeting of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference (KBI), held in Bandung, which ends tomorrow, November 14, 2019. The message, signed by the President and the General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta and Bishop Antonius Subianto Bunjamin OSC of Bandung, is the result of the intense study days lived by the Indonesian Bishops who discussed the theme "Human fraternity for a peaceful Indonesia".

The Bishops had the opportunity to study and deepen the Abu Dhabi document entitled "Human fraternity for world peace and living together", signed jointly by Pope Francis and the Great Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi in February. Some Muslim and Catholic scholars contributed to the analysis, which the Bishops listened to with interest.

The Message, sent to Agenzia Fides, states that "the study days helped the Bishops to better understand the contents of the Abu Dhabi Document", "in the awareness of the existence of extremist movements in Indonesia", in order to "find opportunities to strengthen brotherhood among human beings".

The Indonesian Bishops "thank God for the Indonesian nation based on the Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution imbued with the spirit of 'Bhinneka Tungus Ika' (unity in diversity), within the framework of the unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, which are all the main pillars to build a harmonious common order of life amidst the diversity of religions, tribes and groups". In this framework the Bishops affirm that "the Indonesian Catholic Church is called to participate in the promotion, struggle and realization of fraternity as shared prosperity". "Diversity is a necessity and a divine gift that must be cultivated and developed with an attitude of mutual acceptance, respect and mutual cooperation", they continue.

The text sent to Fides states that "human fraternity must bring goodness in human life in its dimensions and be a witness and greatness of faith in God who unites divided hearts and becomes a sign of closeness between those who believe that God created human beings to understand each other, work together and live like brothers".

"Coexistence as the basis for realizing human fraternity does not only mean finding common points but it is the willingness to accept and appreciate the differences in beliefs and religious teachings", notes the text, stating that the current challenge of the Indonesian nation is to "contain extremism that often generates acts of terrorism".

The Bishops consider the Abu Dhabi Document "very important to be spread among Catholics and in society, especially among the younger generations in various ways, also using social media". Thus, "new meeting spaces will be born in the community to rethink, redesign, build new hopes and finally act with novelty in religious life". It is important "to live an inclusive religious life without losing one's identity", they underline, so that "men take care of each other and they are passionate about building human fraternity based on respect for human dignity".

The message, then, recommends the government to "adopt wise policies based only on the values of Pancasila, such as humanity, unity, wisdom and justice to reduce social inequalities, prevent conflicts among the children, put an end to forms of prolonged violence, block the rate of environmental damage, give equal opportunities for access to resources and create a more dignified system of coexistence".

Finally, religious leaders, intellectuals, artists, media experts, economists and all the people in their respective sectors of life are asked "to find ways to revive human values for the realization of public welfare, through human fraternity". "We will only be able to live peacefully in this country if all the parties, without exception, always strive to join hands and work together for the common good", the Bishops write in conclusion, (PP) (Agenzia Fides, 13/11/2019 )

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25 October 2019 - Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko of Semarang meets 1,857 catechists to thank them for their commitment. The Archdiocese of Jakarta hosts the recitation of the rosary and a procession of the statue of the Virgin in the cathedral. Palembang Catholics trace the history of the Christian presence in Sumatra.

Meetings, conferences and spiritual retreats: these are some of the initiatives that the Indonesian Catholic Church has organized throughout the country, to celebrate the extraordinary missionary month announced by Pope Francis.

Between 17 and 20 October, hundreds of priests, nuns, catechists and faithful gathered at the Rumah Retret of Tirta Ria, in the archdiocese of Pontianak (province of West Kalimantan). Speaking with the guests and participants at the meeting, the Jesuit theologian and sociologist Fr. Haryatmoko firmly argued that consecrated persons can no longer remain "on the margins" of modern society. "A productive group work with the laity is increasingly necessary," said Fr. Haryatmoko during a seminar – because on their own the clergy cannot accomplish too many things ".

On October 20, Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko of Semarang (Central Java), brought together 1,857 catechists from every part of the archdiocese for an event dedicated to them in the minor seminary of St. Peter Canisius in Mertoyudan (in Magelang).

Bishop Rubiyatmoko expressed his appreciation for the commitment of all catechists in spreading the Christian faith, both in state schools and in parish courses. "I am really moved - said the archbishop - by such a great and truly proud participation of all of you. I am also convinced that the Semarang Catholic Church will always have a solid foundation, thanks to your contribution and dedication in spreading the Gospel and Catholic doctrine".

The Archdiocese of Jakarta hosted a recital of the Holy Rosary and a procession of the statue of the Virgin in the Cathedral of the Assumption. These were followed by a Mass celebrated by the archbishop Card. Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo along with several priests.

Celebrations for the extraordinary missionary month in the archdiocese of Palembang (South Sumatra) took place at the parish of St. John the Baptist in Bengkulu (in the homonymous province) - about eight hours' journey from the bishop's see. Many initiatives involved catechists and active members of the Pontifical missionary works focused on the history of the local Catholic community. The Archbishop, Msgr. Aloysius Sudarso, has retraced it since the beginning; from 28 January 1703, the day of the landing in Fort York, on the coasts of Bengkulu, of the Theatine missionary Fr. Martelli.

In the diocese of Bandung (West Java), a long demonstration took place between September 21 and October 20 called "Pekan Misi Nasional IV" (National Week of Mission IV). To organize it, the Indonesian Bishops Conference (Kwi). Among the proposed activities, there were lectures and conferences to explain the Maximum Illud of Pope Benedict XV to the faithful in different cities of the diocese.

Added to these was a "Procession of the Cross" and a solemn Mass in the Cathedral of St. Peter. Fr. Markus Nur Widipranoto, national director of the Pontifical Missionary Society in Indonesia, spoke to AsiaNews of how the local Church prepared for the extraordinary missionary month with the National Missionary Congress, held in Jakarta between the first and the 4th of August. With the theme "Baptized and sent to proclaim the Gospel", the event attracted 400 people from the 37 dioceses of the vast archipelago.Mathias Hariyadi, Asianews

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20 July 2019 - Infrastructural development, strengthening the ethical value of human capital and foreign investments to create more job opportunities: these are the three points of the new growth plan for the country renamed "Indonesian Vision"  presented by President Joko Widodo and his deputy Ma'aruf Amin, during a meeting in Sentul, a city in the Bogor district of West Java.

For the leader of the most populous Muslim nation in the world, some "steps" are essential for growth and development in terms of human development, work ethic and public administration efficiency.

The first point to be addressed, he warns, is infrastructural development, which will undergo "a much greater acceleration" than initially expected.  First of all with regard to roads, airports and ports, plus greater interaction between local, small and medium enterprises.  "This is our goal - Widodo warns - and in this sense we must operate".

Another key challenge is the "development of human capital", which is fundamental to change "ethics in work" especially with regard to "bureaucracy" in government and public administration.  "A rapid and effective service - the president continues - should be our way of acting".  At the same time, he announces drastic measures against less productive agencies or with an attitude that is poorly suited to the public.

The third and final point concerns foreign investment, to create new jobs, by facilitating the start-up of businesses and activities without fear of fueling the phenomenon of corruption and bribes.  "Anyone who creates obstacles - Widodo warns - not respecting the ethical principle of work, will be hit hard".  And, in this sense, a reform of the bureaucracy is "urgent".

Addressing his fellow citizens, the head of state asked them to "change mentality", promote a greater aptitude for service, controlling "the budget" and using it "appropriately so it can have maximum return".  Our common dream, he emphasizes, can only come true if "we are united as a nation" made up of 17 thousand islands and 267 million inhabitants.

This unity  is founded on the Pancasila, the inspiring principles of the State, and also those who are in opposition must express their ideas refraining from speeches of hatred and violence.  "I will not tolerate - he assures - those who oppose Pancasila.  There will be no one who can question the value of "unity in diversity" [Bhinneka Tunggal Ika] ", in a nation that registers violence against Christians, Muslims (Shiites) and Ahmadis."  The president promised to target "those who foment hatred and divisions on an ethnic, religious and confessional basis, undermining the common "harmony and good".  Because, he concludes, "everyone is equal before the law". (Asianews)

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Friday, 05 April 2019 08:52

INDONESIA Upcoming elections

4 April 2019 - " Catholics in politics to build the common good. Our position is clear: as Indonesian citizens, Catholics participate in politics in a broad sense. We hope that a legal and transparent process is respected in the electoral campaign and during the elections, looking at the themes and candidates with discernment, in the perspective of good governance and the common good of the country": this was declared to Agenzia Fides by Father P.C. Siswantoko, Executive Secretary of the Commission for the Apostolate of the Laity in the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia, as the country prepares for the April 14 elections when the new president, and the Parliament of 575 seats, several regional assemblies will be elected.

"The Catholic Church judges with the government and the action of the Parliament starting from its patrimony of evangelical values and from its social doctrine - he explains - without directly supporting any party".

But this, says the Secretary, does not mean disengagement: "The political field should be a field of apostolate, in which Catholics, with active and direct political commitment, or as activists in civil society can contribute by bringing a vision of the common good, proposing a perspective with which to address the various socio-political issues, which is the perspective of the centrality of the person and of human dignity, where all the people and the whole Indonesian nation can benefit from".

"The Episcopal Conference of Indonesia - clarifies the priest - considers politics as a 'good thing', as the highest form of charity, since its original nature is that of contributing and building the common good: this is why in politics the contribution of Catholics with their heritage of values of honesty, transparency, solidarity, respect for human rights is also necessary".

This is why Fr. P.C. Siswantoko encourages the 151 Catholics present on the electoral roll throughout the nation (out of about 8,000 candidates) and concludes: "As Christians we are called to engage in politics: we cannot ignore the opportunity to exercise our civil rights in society. The elections trepresent one of the moments in which to demonstrate our commitment to become salt and light of the world. It is not easy: the main challenge for lay Catholics today is to get involved, being willing to leave their comfort zone. As Catholics we are less than 10 million people out of about 270 million inhabitants, the vast majority Muslims - the elections represent for us a moment in which we can demonstrate our social responsibility and also our love for the nation". (MH-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 4/4/2019)

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26 March 2019 - A seminar was held in East Jakarta on implementing standard operational practices (SOP) in reception centres. The event saw the participation of 35 nuns from different religious communities, as well as some priests and experienced educators. For Sister Kristina Fransiska, "Goodwill is not enough to carry out this humanitarian mission."

For years, the Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral Care of Migrants (KKP-PMP) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (KWI) has coordinated humanitarian agencies and Church organisations to deal with problems such as migration and human trafficking.

The KKP-PMP has also undertaken various initiatives to raise awareness among religious institutions. The latest took place last week in East Jakarta, organised together with the Commission against trafficking in women (CWTC) and the Union of Nuns of All Indonesia (IBSI).

Fr Eko Aldianto, executive secretary of the Commission, told AsiaNews that the KKP-PMP’s priority is "to get the Catholic Church to implement a national campaign to end modern slavery."

"We need to educate migrants before they leave to pursue their luck in other countries," said the Carmelite clergyman; for example, through programmes to promote "friendly gestures" towards immigrants like those in Ruteng and Ende, on Flores Island, East Nusa Tenggara province.

Some 35 nuns from different religious communities attended the East Jakarta seminar, as did some priests and experienced educators.

The workshop’s main topic was the implementation of standard operational practices (SOP) in reception centres in which the IBSI has long performed its service for the victims of human trafficking and domestic violence.

"During the three days of work, we were briefed by our partners – such as the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) – on the minimum requirements to make the centres a 'safe place' for those who suffered from these practices,” said Sister Kristina Fransiska, a Passionist nun originally from Malang (East Java).

For her, "Goodwill is not enough to carry out this humanitarian mission.”

Mathias Hariyadi, Asianews

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12 February 2019 - In April, Indonesians will pick their president, vice president and lawmakers. Political, religious and civil society leaders are worried about voters’ apathy. The archbishop of Semarang issued an appeal for national unity: "Our opinions and political choices may be different, but Indonesia is us".

 As Indonesia’s general election approaches, Mgr Robertus Rubiyatmoko, archbishop of Semarang (Central Java), warns Catholics against not voting or casting a blank (white) ballot (Golongan Putih). Such "practices are inadvisable”, writes the prelate in a pastoral letter titled ‘express your nationalism by becoming a smart and wise citizen to vote’. Instead, “Catholics in Semarang Archdiocese should exercise their political rights by going to cast their ballot.”

For the first time in the country's history, 190 million eligible voters will elect the president, vice president, Members of Parliament (DPR) and regional representatives (DPD) on the same day, 17 April.

However, political leaders, top clergy and civil society movements are afraid that a large number of Indonesians will not go to the polls.

One possible reason is the fact that the election will be held on the country’s only long weekend of 2019, just two days before Holy Friday (19 April), which is a statutory holiday.

According to some analysts, there is also widespread disillusionment towards politics following two recent events that attracted the attention of public opinion.

One concerns the former governor of Jakarta, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, an Ethnic Chinese, who was released from prison on 24 January after purging a two-year sentence for blasphemy.

Considered by progressives as a "fighter for democracy" and a role model for every public official, he shocked many of his supporters by divorcing his wife and immediately announcing that he was going to wed the woman who was his wife’s former female bodyguard.


Another issue that has divided Indonesian society is the release on “humanitarian” grounds of radical Islamic leader Abu Bakar Baasyir, which was eventually cancelled because of mounting criticism.

The 80-year-old spiritual guide of Jemaah Islamiah is considered the mastermind behind the 2002 Bali attacks. Baasyir was sentenced in 2011 to 15 years for funding a training camp for extremists in the province of Aceh.

The leaders of the Catholic Church of Indonesia are deeply concerned about voters’ apathy. For this reason, Mgr Rubiyatmoko is appealing to Catholic voters and politicians.

The archbishop of Semarang wants Catholics to vote after looking at candidates, political programmes and their work, avoiding vote trading.

With respect to political leaders, he reminds them of their “moral duty to apply ethical rules of conduct, and that their goal must be the country’s prosperity."

"The election campaign should be seen as a form of political education in which programmes, visions and missions are shown to the public. We urge you to promote social justice for all."

Mgr Rubiyatmoko ends his letter with an appeal to national unity. "Our opinions and political choices may be different, but Indonesia is us".

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20 November 2018 -The Bishops denounce. The death toll of the massacre perpetrated in Alindao on November 15, has risen to 48, according to a UN report. The Vicar General of the diocese of Alindao, Mgr. Blaise Mada, and Don Celestine Ngoumbango, parish priest of Mingala and the people in the nearby camp for displaced persons were killed in the assault on the local cathedral.

The Central African Episcopal Conference stated that the Catholic Church "has become the target of armed groups in Central Africa". In a statement the Bishops ask the government and MINUSCA (UN stabilization Mission of the Central African Republic) to "coordinate their actions so that the perpetrators of these crimes and their instigators are arrested and brought to justice".

The men of the UPC (Unité pour la Paix en Centrafrique), an armed group formed by former members of the Seleka guerrilla coalition, which took power in 2012 overthrowing President François Bozizé, triggering a civil war that assumed a confessional character, are accused of the massacre.

The Bishops have urged Christian communities to remain calm and to pray for peace, avoiding to seek revenge that would trigger a cycle of violence that is difficult to stop.

In an interview with Agenzia Fides, His Exc. Mgr. Juan Jose Aguirre Muños, Bishop of Bangassou, said that "foreign forces want to make Central Africans fight each other in order to get their hands on the wealth of the country and open the road to radical Islam in the heart of Africa". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 20/11/2018)

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Monday, 10 September 2018 20:42

INDONESIA Religious intolerance is growing

10 September 2018 - Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country with more than 82% of its roughly 260 million people following Islam. Around 10% of the population is Christian. Until mid-2018, on 30 June 2018, SETARA Institute recorded 109 incidents of religion/belief freedom violations with 13 actions. These incidents of violations were spread across 20 provinces

Indonesia has been increasingly experiencing cases of intolerance, according to a think tank and research institute. The SETARA Institute for Democracy and Peace, an Indonesia-based that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights, released a mid-2018 report on the condition of the religion/faith freedom on August 20. It provides a record of the actual conditions of freedom of religion/faith. Recently, lots of interesting events to convey the progress of the data compiled by the observers of SETARA Institute considering the spirit of independence are covering the heart of the people of the archipelago, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, Deputy Chairperson of SETARA Institute told Fides.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country with more than 82% of its roughly 260 million people following Islam. Around 10% of the population is Christian. Until mid-2018, on 30 June 2018, SETARA Institute recorded 109 incidents of religion/belief freedom violations with 13 actions. These incidents of violations were spread across 20 provinces. (…)

Allegati all'articolo

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6 July 2018 - More than 1,300 Catholics in Pontianak. Titled ‘Disseminating the joy of the Bible within diversity", the event opened on Tuesday until tomorrow. Music and traditional dances animated the opening ceremony, followed by a solemn Mass. For Archbishop Agustinus Agus, "pluralism and diversity are in the nature of the Indonesian nation and Church".

The Pontifical Society of Young Missionaries (Serikat Kepausan Anak Misioner, SEKAMI) organised a youth meeting (3-6 July) in Pontianak (West Kalimantan) that has attracted more than 1,300 Catholics from 35 dioceses in Indonesia, but also neighbouring countries like East Timor (Timor Leste) and Malaysia.

Titled ‘Disseminating the joy of the Bible within diversity’, the jamboree is centred on education, celebration and growth of faith. The young participants were welcomed by Mgr Agustinus Agus, archbishop of Pontianak.

"We are all brothers in the Catholic Church of Indonesia,” the prelate told AsiaNews, “and it is my duty to welcome the participants to the SEKAMI national jamboree and treat them as distinguished guests."

Speaking before the opening ceremony, SEKAMI’s director reiterated the true spirit of the initiative. "Our mission is to keep up the morale of children and teenagers, so that they put into practice the Prayer, Donation, Sacrifice and Testimony (Indonesian: Doa, Derma, Korban and Kesaksian or 2Ds-2Ks). All this is based on the principle of 'Children helping children'," Fr Markus Nurwidi Pranoto said.

Fr Elis Handoko SCJ, a member of the steering committee, noted that this mission is being held in a social context in which all participants live and follow SEKAMI’s commitment to Indonesian pluralism.

The kids who came to Pontianak for the jamboree were divided into three "villages": Nazareth, Galilee and Bethlehem.

The opening ceremony took place Tuesday afternoon, with a marching band and traditional dances in the playground of the the Maria Tak Bernoda School. The dances symbolise the diversity of cultures that make up Indonesian society.

Many local officials attended the event along with Mgr Pius Riana Prapdi (bishop of Ketapang), Mgr Samuel Oton Sidin (bishop of Sintang), and Mgr Simon Peter Poh Hoon Seng (archbishop of Kuching, Malaysia).

A solemn Mass took place in St Joseph Cathedral, officiated by five bishops and dozens of priests. In his homily, Mgr Agus stressed that "pluralism and diversity are in the nature of the Indonesian nation and Church".

"We are called to experience these concrete facts,” he added. “And this national jamboree will become our showcase.

“Through this event, our Catholic children and teenagers will learn and experience new things; they will meet and learn to know each other, even if they come from different regions of the country and with a cultural heritage that is so different in terms of language, culture and values.

Mathias Hariyadi, Asianews

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Saturday, 02 June 2018 19:01

INDONESIA Festival Youth and Mission

31 May 2018 - The young Catholics of Jakarta have begun to prepare the "Joyfest 2018", a Youth Festival which intends to reinvigorate faith and increase the missionary dimension of their Christian life, as Genia Gusky, public relations officer of the Joyfest 2018 reports to Agenzia Fides. The event will take place on 11 September 2018 in Serpong, in the province of Banten, in Jakarta. More than 10,000 young Catholics from the 67 parishes of the Archdiocese of Jakarta and 2000 from the countries of Southeast Asia will take part.

The event also responds to the appeal launched by Pope Francis for World Mission Day, centered on the theme of youth and mission in the Church. Young Indonesian Catholics feel the responsibility of living and witnessing faith in this historical moment, in which the nation is crossed by unrest due to Islamic extremism, and in which there is a need to live and strengthen "unity in diversity", typical of the Indonesian nation. Young people, together with all the other baptized, intend to contribute to harmony, peace and coexistence in society.

The first part of the Festival will focus on the "joy of faith", "on unity in diversity" and "on understanding the current problems" that affect the country. Experiences of spirituality, catechesis, testimonies of faith, prayer, seminaries will take place. The second part of the Festival includes talk shows and concerts, and with the special presence of Italian nun Cristina Scuccia, a famous singer, and of Jesuit musician Andang Listya Bainawan, originally from Canada.

About 10% of the 261 million Indonesians are Christians. The country has the largest Muslim population in the world, about 227 million people. (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 30/5/2018)

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