2017-11-10 14:42:00

Indonesian bishops favour interfaith dialogue against radicalism

Some 37 Bishops  of Indonesia on Tuesday and Wednesday discussed on how to promote deeper relations with other religious groups and their leaders. 

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia is holding its Plenary Assembly in Jakarta from 6 to 16 November focusing on the theme "To become a relevant and significant Church: the Church's call to purify the world".

Fr. Felix Supranto of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (SS CC), addressing the bishops spoke about his experience of reducing religious tensions through sound communication and mutual respect. In his view, every Catholic has three steps to take to develop good relationships.  To him the first is a strong commitment to leave the 'comfort zone' of one’s community, which always creates a sense of 'emotional insecurity'. This, he said leads to a second step, which is the growth of an eagerness to meet other communities. Lastly, the time when friendly encounters generate a sense of mutual respect and brotherhood.

Fr. Felix who is involved in interreligious meetings or classes in Islamic schools said socializing can help reduce negative perceptions about Catholics and eventually see goodness. Expressing his views about the growing radicalism in today’s Indonesian society, he said that this probably also happens because Catholics are inward-looking, enjoying their comfort zone, and never showing empathy towards others.

He urged Catholics to be creative in establishing relationships, especially when they are called to defend the nation's values ​​as a secular state. He encouraged them to get involved in such a social movement so that they feel a part of the nation and are proud of it.

Fr. Peter C. Aman, director of the "Justice and Peace" Commission of Friars Minor and professor of Christian Moral at the Philosophy School of Driyarkara, Jakarta, the Catholic Church in Indonesia does not lose hope and the idea of promoting unity, justice, integrity and religious social harmony of the nation. To him the Church must remain 'lumen gentium' and live its role in the modern world by integrating the joys and hopes, pains and anxieties of Indonesian society.

Allisa Wahid the daughter of the late Abdurrahman ‘Gus Dur’ Wahid, a former Indonesian president and an iconic figure for interfaith dialogue in the country spoke of growing religious exclusivism in Indonesia.  She regretted that  the government officials cannot differentiate between religiosity and religious extremism. 

Supporting Fr. Felix’s view she urged the bishops to get involved in social movements and exercise their influence to protect the nation’s pluralist values​.

The more Indonesian society believes in these values, the less people practice intolerance she concluded.  (AsiaNews, Fides)

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