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Indonesian archbishop invites Pope Francis to Papua

Archbishop Mandagi of Merauke says a papal visit would go a long way to building peace in the restive region

Indonesian archbishop invites Pope Francis to Papua

Sacred Heart Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Merauke (front, center) and AM Putut Prabantoro (front, right), from the ISKA’s political communication desk, pose for a photo with an archdiocesan official and seminarians following a meeting on June 1 at the archbishop’s residence in Merauke. (Photo supplied)

Sacred Heart Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Merauke has called on the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference (KWI) to invite Pope Francis to visit his archdiocese in Papua to help create peace in the country’s restive easternmost region.

He expressed his wish to have the pope visit during a meeting with officials from the Association of Indonesian Catholic Intellectuals (ISKA), his archdiocese and seminarians on June 1 at his residence.

“An official invitation must come from the KWI. I hope it and the Catholic Church in Indonesia will give it a go,” he told UCA News over the phone on June 3.

“I do not want to break the rules. But I really hope it will not take too long. It would be great if a visit can be arranged soon after the Covid-19 pandemic ends,” he said, adding that an official invitation to the pope should be sent through the Indonesian ambassador to the Holy See.

The prelate, who also serves as apostolic administrator of Amboina, later noted that, according to diplomatic sources, Pope Francis had planned to visit Indonesia as well as Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea in September last year. But the trip was canceled due to the pandemic.

“It would be great if Pope Francis can come to Merauke Archdiocese, which has the largest number of Catholics in Papua. Papua is often marginalized and beset by violence ... Pope Francis can help bring peace to this region,” Archbishop Mandagi said.

I see that the Vatican is paying much attention to promoting tolerance between religious communities

Such a visit has nothing to do with politics, he said. “Just like Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq, there was no political agenda. He visited the country only to build peace amidst violence. Pope Francis would do the same if he visits Papua.”

Pope Francis made a four-day apostolic journey to Iraq in March to seek peace, fraternity and reconciliation in the war-torn country.

AM Putut Prabantoro, from the ISKA’s political communication desk and who was at the meeting with the prelate, said ongoing issues in Papua are increasingly worrying the international community.

“In this context, I agree with Archbishop Mandagi. As long as it is about the interest of our nation, I must give him strong support,” he told UCA News.

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Indonesia's ambassador to the Holy See, Laurentius Amrih Jinangkung, said inviting Pope Francis would be a good gesture.

“We, indeed, are hoping Pope Francis will reschedule his plan to visit Indonesia after the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether or not this invitation is accepted, let the pope decide,” he told UCA News via text message.

“We do hope that Pope Francis will soon visit Indonesia if possible. His visit will surely have meaning not only to Catholics but also to the nation. I see that the Vatican is paying much attention to promoting tolerance between religious communities,” he added.

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