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Indonesia

Indonesia appoints new Catholic affairs chief

Bayu Samodro to head the Directorate-General for Catholic Community Guidance for the next five years

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Indonesia appoints new Catholic affairs chief

Yohanes Bayu Samodro (right) poses for a photo after his installation as head of the Religious Affairs Ministry’s Directorate-General for Catholic Community Guidance on Aug. 10. (Photo supplied)

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Indonesia has appointed a new head of a government department that looks after the affairs of the country’s Catholic community.

Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi installed Yohanes Bayu Samodro, 48, as head of the Directorate-General for Catholic Community Guidance, or Bimas Katolik, on Aug. 10.

Samodro will serve in the high-ranking position, which had been left vacant since the July 2019 retirement of Eusebius Binsasi, for the next five years.

Razi called on the new director-general to uphold the truth. “Many take the wrong path. Yet they feel comfortable with it as they have allies. So be brave and speak up for the truth even if you are a lone voice.”

He also stressed the need for the new director-general “to serve society and not individuals or elites with vested interests.”

In a statement received by UCA News, Samodro thanked the more than seven million Catholics in the predominantly Muslim country for placing their trust in him.

“This is a trust to serve and to make Catholics an integral part of the Indonesian nation as well as to encourage them to participate in developing Indonesian human resources,” the father of four said.

Samodro, a former head of human resources development at the Jakarta-based Holy Heart Foundation — a charity dealing with displaced children — said he will draft a catechesis program based on information technology and change Catholics’ perception that religion serves as a medium instead of a goal.

He said he aims to build a good relationship between the Catholic Church and the government as “Catholics are an inseparable part of the development of the country.”

Vincentius Hargo Mandirahardjo, who heads the Jakarta-based Association of Indonesian Catholics Intellectuals, welcomed the new appointment and Samodro’s aims.

“As Catholics, we must not close our eyes to progress and information technology as it affects all aspects of our lives,” he told UCA News.

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