Muhammadiyah chairman Ahmad Syafi’i Maarif
Leading Muslim and Catholic scholars say Pope John Paul II made a significant contribution in promoting peace and inter-religious dialogue in Indonesia and the world.
They were speaking ahead of the late Pope’s beatification, which is scheduled for May 1.
“Pope John Paul II was a humanist. He was a brother of people from all religious backgrounds,” Ahmad Syafi’i Maarif, a professor of history at the state-run University of Yogyakarta, said.
According to the former chairman of Muhammadiyah
, the country’s second-largest Muslim organization, the pope was an extraordinary charismatic leader and always spoke out whenever there was injustice.
He recalled that in 2003, he and other inter-religious leaders had met John Paul II at the Vatican to ask his help in urging U.S. president George W. Bush not to invade Iraq.
When the Pope died in 2005, he said, he and Jesuit Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja went to his funeral. “His death was not only a loss to Catholics but to people all over the world,” he continued.
Jesuit Father Thomas Aquino Deshi Ramadhani said the late Pope was inspirational, especially to young people.
“Pope John Paul II was a great person. He contributed much to the Catholic Church and the young,” he said.
The lecturer at Jakarta’s Driyarkara School of Philosophy
said the Pope’s book Theology of the Body
provided messages which should be echoed today.
According to Harry Tjan Silalahi, a Catholic intellectual, the Pope was not only a spiritual leader but also “a leader of humanity.”
Stefanus Gusma from the Union of Catholic Students of Republic of Indonesia said John Paul II taught people, especially youths, about love, simplicity and peace.
“These lessons should be followed by all leaders in the world, including Indonesia,” he said.