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> 2011-10-13 12:42:15
The Church in Indonesia: vibrant witness to Christ’s love
Promoting inter-religious dialogue, and being witnesses of Christ’s peace and brotherhood in a majority Muslim nation – that’s what Pope Benedict wants to see from Catholics in Indonesia. Speaking to the country’s 37 bishops here in Rome for their Ad Limina visit in the Vatican this October, the Pope praised the local Church’s ministry and its charitable, social and educational efforts in Indonesia, where 7 million Catholics live among more than 200 million Muslims. In bringing “the tender compassion of God to many members of Indonesian society,” in all that the Church and her members do, the Pope said, helps “make the Triune God known and loved through Jesus Christ.”
“This will not only contribute to the spiritual vitality of the Church as she grows in confidence through humble yet courageous witness;” the Pope explained, “it will also strengthen Indonesian society by promoting those values that your fellow citizens hold dear: tolerance, unity and justice for all citizens.”
Pope Benedict also noted that Indonesia’s constitution guarantees the fundamental human right of freedom to practice one’s religion and stressed that such freedom should never be taken for granted.
“The freedom to live and preach the Gospel can never be taken for granted and must always be justly and patiently upheld. Nor is religious freedom merely a right to be free from outside constraints. It is also a right to be authentically and fully Catholic, to practice the faith, to build up the Church and to contribute to the common good, proclaiming the Gospel as Good News for all, and inviting everyone to intimacy with the God of mercy and compassion made manifest in Jesus Christ.”
The Holy father encouraged the bishops in their continuing efforts to promote and sustain interreligious dialogue in Indonesia and asked them to urge the faithful there to act as agents of peace and charity.
“Your country, so rich in its cultural diversity and possessed of a large population, is home to significant numbers of followers of various religious traditions. Thus, the people of Indonesia are well-placed to make important contributions to the quest for peace and understanding among the peoples of the world. Your participation in this great enterprise is decisive, and so I urge you, dear brothers, to ensure that those whom you shepherd know that they, as Christians, are to be agents of peace, perseverance and charity.”
“Believers in Christ, rooted in charity,” the Pope said, “ought to be committed to dialogue with other religions, respecting mutual differences. Common endeavours for the up-building of society will be of great value when they strengthen friendships and overcome misunderstanding or distrust.”
“By encouraging everyone to be open to dialogue in the service of peace and harmony” and “by doing everything possible to ensure that the rights of minorities in your country are respected,” Pope Benedict stressed, “you further the cause of tolerance and mutual harmony in your country and beyond.”
In an in-depth interview with Emer McCarthy, the president of the Indonesian bishops’ conference, Bishop Martinus Dogma Situmorang of Padang, Sumatra, says the Indonesian Church “works hard with the leaders of other religions, fellow Christians and the government to ensure that solidarity and tolerance permeate all levels of society, particularly the ordinary people, the ‘market place of true dialogue’ to help eradicate fundamentalism.”
listen to the full program produced by Tracey McClure...