As a Malaysian in Indonesia I’m always caught between a sensation of familiarity and distance. I’m simultaneously a participant and an onlooker, a “local” yet an alien all at the same time. (Karim Raslan, The Star) Indeed, as I read of newspapers being burnt, churches raided and inexplicable backroom deals, Malaysia – my poor Malaysia – was never far from my thoughts. ... I hadn’t expected much from this northern Sulawesi city (of Manado). ... I (understood) that the majority of the province’s 2.27 million population were Protestant, and that it was located on the upturned, extended finger-tip of the island. It’s in fact closer to Davao in the Philippines’ than to Jakarta, some three hours to the southwest. ... As I spoke with local leaders, such as Father Nico Gara (former secretary of the Gereja Masehi Injili di Minhasa, Manado’s largest church), I was struck by their determination to manage religious relations amicably. Indeed, Father Nico was also a key member of the province’s inter-faith network (incorporating Muslim and Christian leaders). ... “We have well-established networks that can intervene to calm down any religious provocation. In fact, sometimes it’s easier for us to talk to the various Muslim groups rather than the other Christian denominations! “Still, we act quickly and responsibly. There are times when people deliberately feed lies to the two different religious communities in order to create trouble. We have to step in, calm the situation down and tell the truth.” This is in contrast to the bouts of sectarian strife much of eastern Indonesia has suffered over the past decade, with clashes in Poso, Maluku and Ambon. Manado, conversely, has been largely peaceful, an enviable record that locals are very proud of. FULL STORYManaging religious relations amicably (The Star) PHOTO CREDITWorld Economic Forum on FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0
….As we enter the first months of 2022, 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.