Father Paul Budi Kleden, the new general superior of the Divine Word Society. The Indonesian priest will lead over 6,000 members across the globe. (Photo supplied)
The Divine Word Society (SVD) elected Indonesian priest Father Paul Budi Kleden, renowned as a human rights defender, as its general superior in Italy on July 4.
Father Kleden succeeds German Father Heinz Kulueke.
SVD was founded by German Saint Arnold Janssen in 1875 and currently has over 6,000 members.
Born on Nov. 16, 1965, on the Catholic-majority Indonesian island of Flores, Father Kleden joined Divine Word soon after he graduated from the local San Domingo Minor Seminary in 1985. He was ordained as a priest in 1993 and then worked as an assistant pastor in Switzerland until 1996.
In 2000, he earned a doctorate degree in systematic theology at Albert Ludwig's University, Freiburg, Germany, and a year later became theology professor at the society's St. Paul Major Seminary of Ledalero on Flores. There he encouraged students to fight against inhumane conditions in order to build a just and peaceful society.
Father Kleden, who has written dozens of books as well as numerous newspaper articles, became an SVD council member and moved to Rome in 2012.
Father Otto Gusti Madung, a professor at St. Paul Seminary, said Father Kleden had been very active on a wide range of public policy areas, including in relation to education, gender and corruption.
That had included advocating on behalf of a domestic worker who was impregnated by a regent on Flores.
He also took up the cause of coffee farmers who were killed by police when they opposed the policies of local officials.
One of Father Kleden’s former theology students, Gusti Adi Tetiro, described him as smart and humble.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.