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Indonesia

Reflect on simplicity of Christmas, Indonesian Christians told

Catholics, Protestants urged to tone down celebrations due to pandemic and look at event's true meaning

Reflect on simplicity of Christmas, Indonesian Christians told

A simple nativity scene is installed this year in St. Joseph Parish Church in East Jakarta. Christian leaders in Indonesia are calling on people to celebrate Christmas simply this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: Katharina R. Lestari/UCA News)

Catholic and Protestant leaders in Indonesia have stressed the need for Christians to reflect on the simplicity of Christmas celebrations amid the Covid-19 pandemic still gripping the country.

Father Vincentius Adi Prasojo, secretary-general of Jakarta Archdiocese, told a Dec. 21 discussion hosted by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency in Jakarta that Catholics should be able to find the true meaning of Christmas celebrations in such a situation.

“Christmas celebrations are a momentum of faith for us to return to the basic meaning of Christmas, which is simplicity. Let us leave old habits such as hedonism,” he said.

He said all parishes in the archdiocese should hold simple Christmas celebrations in churches with a smaller congregation of up to 20 percent of their capacities.

“We have so far held public Sunday Masses under tight health protocols. So, for Christmas Masses, there will be no difference as we all know what the situation in the capital is like,” he said.

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As of Dec. 21, Indonesia had recorded 671,778 Covid-19 cases and 19,880 deaths. Jakarta has recorded the highest number of cases with 164,577 and 3,087 deaths.

“Together with health workers, religious leaders, public figures, government officials and the Covid-19 task forces, as well as all related parties, I call on every Catholic to hold heart to heart prayers to break the chain of Covid-19 transmission,” Father Adi said.

Meanwhile, Reverend Jacklevyn Frits Manuputty, general secretary of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, said his group has called on Protestant churches to hold virtual Christmas celebrations.

“Christmas celebrations this year will be much different from previous ones. We have told our members that celebrating Christmas in their homes will not weaken their faith,” he said.

He also said the birth of Jesus will strengthen “our solidarity and spirituality.”

Calling on Protestants to be optimistic, he said: “We must not fear the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, we must have the spirit of love, hope, and optimism to see better days in the future. We believe that Jesus is with us. Have faith!”

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