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Interfaith deal helps pandemic-hit people in Indonesia

Catholic and Muslim leaders will collaborate to provide food and medicines for the needy irrespective of religion

Interfaith deal helps pandemic-hit people in Indonesia

Nassarudin Umar, chairman of Istiqlal Mosque, and priests from Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral Church present a bag of rice to a Jakarta resident after their meeting at the mosque on Aug. 13. (Photo supplied)

Catholic and Muslim leaders in Indonesia have agreed to work together to provide people with food and medicines during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral Church and Istiqlal Mosque in capital Jakarta have agreed that the worship places should act as epicenters to provide humanitarian aid to people regardless of their background.

The agreement was made in a meeting at Istiqlal Mosque on Aug. 13 attended by leaders from both religions and national youth organizations such as the Islamic Students’ Association, Catholic Union of University Students Association of the Republic of Indonesia and the Indonesian Islamic Youth Economic Forum.

Nasaruddin Umar, a Muslim cleric and chairman of Istiqlal Mosque, said the collaboration is “an inner wealth for us to share.”

“We can’t be alone in handling our followers and nation. It has to be synergy,” he added.

The collaboration will show unity and interfaith harmony while providing concrete actions for Covid-affected people, he said.

It is a good example from Istiqlal Mosque and the cathedral, so other groups may follow up and act on it

It is a good example from Istiqlal Mosque and the cathedral, so other groups may follow up and act on it

Father Antonius Suyadi, chairman of Jakarta Archdiocese's ecumenical and interreligious affairs commission, said he supported the initiative.

“It is a good example from Istiqlal Mosque and the cathedral, so other groups may follow up and act on it,” he said.

The initiative was also supported by the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference as a way of building harmony and brotherhood.

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“The action shows universality of interfaith brotherhood,” Father Agustinus Heri Wibowo, secretary of the bishops' commission for ecumenical and interreligious affairs, told UCA News.

He also quoted a statement by Pope Francis that a worship place is “a hospital on the battlefield.”

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