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Updated: May 27, 1990 05:00 PM GMT
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Diocesan Father Alex Paat of Ujung Pandang, South Sulawesi, Celebes, works in Jakarta for the National Board of the Guidance Office for the Full Comprehension and Practical Application of Pancasila.

He studied education at Harvard University in America and holds a doctoral degree in moral pedagogy from the Salesian University in Rome. The following commentary appeared in the May 26 issue of ASIA FOCUS.

Jesuit Arcbishop Leo Soekoto of Jakarta once said the values of Indonesia´s state ideology Pancasila (five principles) are not only in line with Church teaching, but also prevail in Church teaching.

The Bishops´ Conference of Indonesia has even published a book, "The Indonesian Catholics in the Pancasila Society," as a guide on how Catholics should behave as members of both the Church and the nation.

During his visit to Indonesia last October, Pope John Paul II called on the country´s Catholics to be 100 percent Indonesian and 100 percent Catholic.

A 100-percent Indonesian should also be a 100-percent Pancasilaist, since Pancasila is the philosophical basis of the state.

Pancasila consists of five inseparable and mutually qualifying principles: belief in the One and Supreme God; just and civilized humanity; the unity of Indonesia; democracy guided by the inner wisdom in the unanimity arising out of deliberations among representatives; and social justice for the whole of the people of Indonesia.

The Indonesian nation is identical with Pancasila. The existence of the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia depends on Pancasila as it is Pancasila that unites all the people of various ethnic groups, religions and races.

Since the 1945 proclamation of independence, there have been several attempts by radical groups, both leftist (communists) and rightist (Muslim rebels), to replace Pancasila with their own ideologies.

The communists launched coup attempts in 1948 and 1965 but failed to establish a communist regime. The Muslim radicals have also failed in their efforts to make Indonesia an Islamic state.

The old order government under the late President Soekarno failed to reconcile the different groups under its slogan Nasakom (an acronym of the Bahasa Indonesia words for nationalists, religious groups and communists). Could the religious groups ever be united with the communists? Impossible.

The threats from the communists and the Muslim extremists still exist. Therefore the state ideology of Pancasila, which, evidently, has been able to unite the pluralistic Indonesian society, is continually promoted so that all the people of Indonesia can comprehend and implement it in their daily lives.

The deepening of Pancasila values is done through courses organized for the entire population at all levels. The course on the "Guidelines for the Perception and Practice of Pancasila" (P4) is obligatory for all Indonesian citizens. It was decided by the People´s Assembly and stipulated in the State´s "Broad Guidelines."

Based on my study, reflections and experience as a lecturer and staff member of the P4 Presidential Advisory Body, I am of the view that for us Catholic Indonesian citizens, comprehending and practicing Pancasila is part of our faith since we -- the Church, God´s community -- are based in a social, cultural and political context.

We must deepen our faith in the context of our locality´s characteristics. This nation is now in an era of development toward a just and prosperous society, one that cares for people´s material and spiritual welfare.

In this context the Church is taking root and developing. It becomes an integral part of the nation. And as such it must participate in national life.

The Vatican Council II declaration Gaudium et Spes asks all Catholics to join in politics and work for public welfare. Politics is not "a dirty field." Our duty is not only to "bring Christ to the world" but also "to meet Christ in the world." Our real world is our developing country and the Church appreciates those who participate directly in the state´s affairs, since those people are working in a very difficult but noble field.

According to reports from Rome, Pope John Paul II recently briefed Vatican diplomats on Pancasila as an example of a national ideology that creates interreligious harmony.


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