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Indonesian cardinal urges fraternity this Christmas

Seasonal message promotes brotherhood among all Indonesians in the face of challenges presented by pandemic

Indonesian cardinal urges fraternity this Christmas

Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta delivers his Christmas message. (Photo: screenshot)

Published: December 20, 2021 08:15 AM GMT

Updated: December 20, 2021 10:40 AM GMT

Indonesia’s top churchman, Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, has called on Catholics to nurture fraternity in the country’s secular society using Christ’s love.

“Celebrating Christmas must not stop only in the Christmas season. Celebrations this year must be filled with activities to maintain and nurture fraternity. This is very important for our nation, which is very plural and diverse,” the prelate said in his Christmas message released on Dec. 19.

“Building a brotherhood with Christ’s love as an inspiration during this Christmas season is very important and meaningful for our nation. This can be done by promoting a spirit of love for the nation and a spirit of caring.”

Cardinal Suharyo, who is also chairman of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, said a sense of unity will hopefully help all people to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic which has affected every aspect of life.

Indonesians, like many others around the world, have had to endure strict social restrictions during the pandemic. Christmas this year will again see restrictions in place.

Christmas activities involving mass gatherings in public places such as carol concerts or events in shopping malls are banned.

Nurturing fraternity is the most beautiful Christmas gift for Jesus. It is because fraternity is far beyond races and regions, religions and cultures, and social status and local customs

However, church services will go ahead with Jakarta Archdiocese saying attendances at Christmas and New Year Eucharistic celebrations in parishes will be cut to 40 percent of church capacity.

In a letter issued last week, the archdiocese called on parishioners to stay at home as "a form of abstinence" and to help prevent the spread of the Omicron variant, the first case of which was recorded in Indonesia last week.          

As of Dec. 19, Indonesia had recorded 4,260,544 Covid-19 cases and 144,002 deaths.

“Merry Christmas to all Christians. Let us welcome the New Year. Stay healthy and stay blessed,” Cardinal Suharyo said.

Similar calls were made by other Indonesian prelates in their Christmas messages.

“Religions teach the faithful that fraternity is a virtue that makes us capable of living together in peace. Islam mentions three dimensions of fraternity, namely fraternity with fellow Muslims, fraternity with fellow citizens, and fraternity with fellow human beings,” Franciscan Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar of Jayapura said.

“Nurturing fraternity is the most beautiful Christmas gift for Jesus. It is because fraternity is far beyond races and regions, religions and cultures, and social status and local customs.

“Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus this year by tearing down dividing walls of hostility, greed, arrogance and anger.”

Archbishop Agustinus Agus of Pontianak in West Kalimantan said in his Christmas message that Catholics “are called to become agents of peace who help and care for the suffering people and who are humble and willing to sacrifice for others.”

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