Members of the Community of Sant’Egidio distribute rice boxes to homeless people. (Photo courtesy of Eveline Winarko)
Catholic and Protestant leaders in Indonesia have issued a joint Christmas message calling on Christians to foster solidarity within society so that the country can better overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bishops’ conference chairman Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta and secretary-general Holy Cross Bishop Antonius Subianto Bunjamin of Bandung signed the three-page message released on Dec. 1 on behalf of the Catholic Church.
Reverend Gomar Gultom and Reverend Jacklevyn Frits Manuputty, from the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, signed on behalf of Protestant denominations.
“This year we celebrate Christmas in a situation in which we see the Covid-19 pandemic hitting the whole world, including Indonesia. The virus has destroyed many aspects of life,” they said.
As of Nov. 30, Indonesia had recorded 538,883 coronavirus cases and 16,945 deaths.
“Many families are in deep sorrow after losing loved ones, many people have lost their jobs, children have to study at home, while the faithful are frustrated at not being able to attend prayer services properly,” they said.
Such a situation is a reminder to all people that “we are weak both physically and psychologically and easily feel desperate because of our burdens in life,” the message said.
“Christmas means the Good News and the proclamation of love as the King of Peace was born. The power of love and God’s companionship should enable us to foster solidarity within society and to show willingness to serve marginalized and suffering people.”
The message concluded with a call for all Christians in Indonesia to be witnesses of love amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Let us do this with the government and all stakeholders that have worked hard to deal with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic for the sake of our common welfare,” it said.
Eveline Winarko, coordinator of the Sant'Egidio Community in Indonesia, said she was touched by the joint Christmas message.
“It shows that Christians are sensitive to the situation faced by the nation right now. It is not the right time for us to think only about ourselves or our communities,” she told UCA News on Dec. 1.
“We are distributing rice boxes to the homeless during these difficult times. Many are young people who have no choice but to live on the streets after losing their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”