Home Muslim culture Why visiting Indonesia should be at the top of Pope Francis’ list

Why visiting Indonesia should be at the top of Pope Francis’ list


Pope Francis was due to visit Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea at the end of last year, but the trip was canceled when the world succumbed to the Covid-19 pandemic.

August 07, 2021

A file photo of Indonesian bishops with Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo at the 2018 National Catholic Religious Music Festival. (Photo by AsiaNews)

By Siktus Harson
Pope Francis was due to visit Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea at the end of last year, but the trip was canceled when the world succumbed to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Pope’s eagerness to make the trip was revealed to respected Muslim cleric Yahya Cholil Staquf of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, after meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican in early 2019 to discuss ways to resolve conflicts interreligious.

This prompted Indonesian President Joko Widodo to send a formal invitation to Pope Francis in January of last year.

All of the hopes raised have suddenly vanished due to the pandemic, but people’s enthusiasm for welcoming the 84-year-old pontiff to Indonesia remains high.

Assurances from Vatican representative in Timor-Leste, Bishop Marco Sprizzi, last month that the Pope would visit the predominantly Catholic nation next year, rekindled hopes that he would visit Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world and is on its way. become the epicenter of the global Islamic movement.

There is no specific timeframe for a visit, but Monsignor Sprizzi told reporters that Pope Francis hopes to visit the small nation next year on the condition that the Covid-19 situation improves and everyone has been vaccinated.

Almost a third of Timor-Leste’s 1.3 million people have been vaccinated, while Indonesia, as of August 1, had vaccinated 67 million people, or 24.5 percent of its population. The government hopes to vaccinate 181 million of its 270 million inhabitants to obtain collective immunity.

An opportunity to strengthen Muslim-Christian ties
Aside from the pandemic, there are important reasons why Pope Francis should visit Indonesia.

Indonesia is important not only because it is the largest Muslim-majority nation in the world, with 87.2% of its population following Islam, but it also has a long-standing relationship with the Vatican, established after independence in 1947, and vibrant Christian communities.

Pope Francis has repeatedly emphasized brotherhood with Muslims. During an apostolic visit to the Middle East in early 2019, the Pope and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, signed the Document on Human Fraternity and Living Together in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates .

The document is a historic milestone in the relationship between Christianity and Islam. He declared the adoption of a culture of dialogue, cooperation and mutual understanding. Above all, it unites Christians and Muslims around a mission to rediscover and promote the values ​​of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human brotherhood and coexistence which have been neglected by violence and terrorism.

It was quickly picked up by Christian and Muslim communities around the world, including Indonesia.

It did not take long for Nahdlatul Ulama to adopt the document. President Said Aqil Siradj said his organization is committed to supporting the Vatican-Al Azhar deal. He said the nature of the document is fundamentally in line with his own mission to promote not only Muslim brotherhood, but also national unity and universal human brotherhood.

Muslim and Christian leaders in Indonesia later organized a series of meetings on how to make the ideals contained in the document touch the lives of ordinary people.

The Indonesian bishops dedicated their time at their annual meeting in November 2019 to study the document and how to apply it.

Due to the special nature of the document and the contribution of the two leaders to humanity, the Sunan Kalijaga Islamic State University in Yogyakarta has planned to award Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb with honorary doctorates.

The government supports this decision and could see the two leaders invited to the country to receive their doctorates.

Whether or not this is possible, it shows that the Pope is highly regarded by the Indonesian people and should take this opportunity to visit to strengthen Muslim-Christian ties not only in Indonesia but around the world. A visit would help improve the position of Indonesian Muslims in the world.

Pope’s visit is necessary to strengthen faith
Indonesia has a long-standing relationship with the Holy See which began shortly after Indonesia’s proclamation of independence. The Vatican was among the first nations to recognize Indonesia’s independence from the Dutch.

In return, President Sukarno authorized the Vatican to open an apostolic mission in Indonesia in 1947. Sukarno even visited the Vatican three times: in 1956 to meet Pope Pius XII, in 1959 to meet Pope John XXIII and in 1964 to see Pope Paul. VI.

Another Indonesian president to visit the Vatican was Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur in 2000.

If Pope Francis comes, he will be the third pope to visit Indonesia after Pope Paul VI in 1970 and Pope Saint John Paul II in 1989. The latter also visited Timor-Leste, which was still under Indonesian rule. at the time.

Previous papal visits have promoted interfaith harmony, social justice, religious freedom, democracy, human rights and the development of religious and cultural pluralism in Indonesia.

Pope Francis’ visit is much more needed now to strengthen faith in these values ​​and help stem the tide of extremism and terrorist threats hanging over Indonesia and other parts of the world.

His visit will also underline the Universal Church’s particular appreciation for the Indonesian government’s efforts to prioritize interfaith dialogue and harmony in order to avoid conflicts in society often triggered by ethnic, racial and religious issues. .

It would be better if the Pope came to Indonesia soon after the pandemic is over. Reporter could mean wasting a great opportunity to make the most of Abu Dhabi’s human brotherhood document and its encyclical Fratelli Tutti, which calls for human brotherhood and solidarity between the Christian and Muslim communities in Indonesia.–ucanews.com


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