Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, chairman of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference, has said the seeking of money, power and prestige is challenging the national unity of Indonesia. (Photo by Katharina R. Lestari/ucanews.com)
Money, power and prestige have become serious challenges to national unity in Indonesia, according to Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta.
"Many Catholics make the effort to build good relations with religious leaders in their own areas by meeting them. They do it to promote unity, which now seems to be being torn apart" to serve political interests, he told reporters after Easter Sunday Mass on April 1 at St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral Church in Jakarta.
He was referring to a number of bribery cases involving politicians in recent months ahead of upcoming regional and local polls in June.
Graftbusters have arrested at least six candidates since last September for allegedly taking bribes.
"[Many] want money, power and prestige. These three things, I think, are very evil and could become an enemy of the unity in Indonesia," he said.
"Money is spent to gain power through bribery and corruption. Once gained, what [do they] look for? Money again," he said.
It continues like this over and over again with the ultimate goal to get prestige and power, he added.
"If politics doesn't uphold the values of the national philosophy of Pancasila [five principles], this is what happens. How many election candidates have become suspects in bribery and corruption cases? This is terrifying," he said.
One of the candidates arrested was Marianus Sae, a Catholic district head in East Nusa Tenggara.
Sae was arrested on Feb. 11 for allegedly taking bribes from a contractor working on infrastructure projects in the district since 2012 and for using the money to finance his bid to become the provincial governor in June.
Yohanes Handoyo Budhisedjati, who heads Vox Point Indonesia, a Catholic lay organization, said Catholics "need to uphold the spirit of a good governance which can unite all social elements."
The threat of "disunity cannot be ignored anymore," he told ucanews.com.
"Catholics should go out and mingle with people from different backgrounds. This is a very important thing to do right now," he said.
Hargo Mandirahardjo, chairman of the Association of Catholic Graduates and Intellectuals in Indonesia, said the prelate's message "comes at the right time."
"National unity is above all. We must continue to promote our national unity. If we don't, then who will?" he asked.