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Indonesian archbishop joins mosque groundbreaking ceremony

Mosque to be located next to Catholic chapel as a 'symbol of diversity and brotherhood'
Indonesian archbishop joins mosque groundbreaking ceremony

Archbishop Agustinus Agus of Pontianak encourages interfaith harmony. (Photo: Katharina R. Lestari/UCA News)

Published: August 24, 2020 06:53 AM GMT
Updated: August 24, 2020 06:57 AM GMT

A Catholic archbishop has taken part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a Muslim mosque in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province, calling it “a ‘groundbreaking’ symbol of interreligious harmony.”

Archbishop Agustinus Agus of Pontianak was among five local officials and religious leaders to attend the event on Aug. 21 in Landak district.

West Kalimantan police chief Remigius Sigid Tri Hardjanto laid the first stone for the Nur Aman Mosque located on the grounds of the district police headquarters.

The ceremony took place before the inauguration of St. Ignatius of Loyola Chapel, also located at the police headquarters.

“I’ve been invited to groundbreaking ceremonies for places of worship several times, but this was the first time for me to go to one for a mosque,” Archbishop Agus told UCA News.

“I did not expect it, though. I think they regarded me as a leader of society, someone who embraces people regardless of their religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds.” 

Archbishop Agus believed his participation in the mosque ceremony would improve interreligious harmony, particularly in his archdiocesan area.

“Clearly, it symbolized interreligious harmony. It was a good example as we live in a diverse society,” he said.

Indonesia has six recognized religions — Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam and Protestantism — and more than 1,300 ethnic groups.

The prelate said he has encouraged interfaith harmony among Catholics since he became archbishop in 2016.

“Catholics must be positive with others,” Archbishop Agus said. “And as an archbishop, I must embrace all people and unite them in brotherhood.”

“Our challenge now is overcoming division as many still disrespect others. Everyone wants to be dominant over others. This is not good.” 

In her speech at the ceremony, Landak district chief Karolin Natasa said she hoped that the two places of worship, located next to each other, would be symbols of diversity in the area.

“It is hoped they will strengthen faith and brotherhood among religious followers in this district as well as in the police headquarters. It is hoped that they will be a symbol of diversity here,” news portal Tribun Pontianak quoted her as saying.

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