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Indonesian bishops seek human fraternity

Conference ends with a call for the Church to leave its comfort zone and strengthen interfaith brotherhood

Indonesian bishops seek human fraternity

Indonesian bishops and apostolic nuncio to Indonesia Archbishop Piero Pioppo (center) pose for a photograph before their conference's concluding ceremony at Jakarta Cathedral on Nov. 14. (Photo: Katharina R. Lestari/ucanews)  

Indonesia's bishops’ conference wrapped up its annual 10-day meeting on Nov. 14 with a message highlighting the importance of spreading human fraternity among Catholics and non-Catholics, particularly youths, in the country.

The meeting in Bandung, West Java, was held under the theme “Human Fraternity for Peaceful Indonesia.”

The theme took its inspiration from the document “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” signed on Feb. 4 by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyeb, in Abu Dhabi during the papal visit to the United Arab Emirates. 

A document signed by the conference chairman, Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, and its secretary-general, Holy Cross Bishop Antonius Subianto Bunyamin of Bandung, said Indonesia needs to learn the message of the Abu Dhabi document.

Cardinal Suharyo said religious leaders were acutely aware of the social issues facing the world, such as poverty, corruption, extremism, terrorism, discrimination and environmental destruction.

In the context of Indonesia, he said, one issue which has become a tough challenge for the nation is emerging extremism morphing into terrorism.

“The Church must open up, leave its comfort zone and be present in the midst of society to strengthen interreligious brotherhood. The Church must spread peace and benevolence, respect human rights, cultivate dialogue, promote equality and justice, improve public health, raise awareness of scientific developments and maintain harmonious coexistence in diversity,” the bishops’ message said.

“Human fraternity must bring goodness in human life in its dimensions and be a witness to the greatness of faith in God who unites divided hearts and becomes a sign of the closeness between those who believe that God created human beings to understand each other, work together and live like brothers.” 

The bishops, it said, “consider the Abu Dhabi document very important to be spread among Catholics and in society, particularly among the young generation in various ways, also using social media.” 

Juventus Prima Yoris Kago, chairman of the Indonesian Catholic University Students Association, said his group takes pride in the fact that it does open up to all people from different religious backgrounds.

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“We take an active part in various activities, including discussions on social issues. We must not be apathetic. This is what the Abu Dhabi document talks about,” he told ucanews.

Talking about the use of social media, he said: “It’s a very powerful tool. Youths can help spread the [Abu Dhabi] document’s message and become social media influencers.” 

Dewi Kartika Maharani Praswida, a 23-year-old Muslim woman from Semarang, Central Java, who met Pope Francis in Vatican City early this year, suggested that the Abu Dhabi document should not be spread merely through social media but also through formal education.

“It can also be introduced through interreligious activities among youths,” she said. 

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