02/15/2020, 13.40
INDONESIA
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After two Muslims, Jakarta's Catholics to be represented by a Catholic

 Aloma Sarumaha takes over the leadership of the Directorate General for the leadership of the Catholic community.  Before him, the ministry for religious affairs had chosen two officials of Islamic faith because of an error of interpretation of the legislation.

 

Jakarta (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Minister for Religious Affairs, Fachrul Razi, has appointed a Catholic to head the representative body of Catholics, after two Muslim officials in a row for six months filled the role.  Announced on 11 February, the choice of Aloma Sarumaha (pictured with Card. Suharyo) to lead the Directorate General for the leadership of the Catholic community puts an end to the wave of criticism and controversy following the ministry's "bureaucratic mess".

In recent weeks, religious leaders, academics and a large part of public opinion had underlined the importance that the representative bodies of religious in the government were led by members of their respective communities.  The directorates general have the task of formulating policies and conducting programs in support of their religious activities.  Four days ago Nur Kholis Setiawan, secretary general of the ministry for religious affairs, issued a statement stating: “The order letter was signed by the minister.  To date, the interim head of the Directorate General for the leadership of the Catholic community is Aloma Sarumaha. "  Aloma held the position of secretary of the institution.

Last January, Nur had taken over the leadership of the Catholic Directorate in place of another Muslim official, Muhammadiyah Amin.  This had happened to Eusabius Binsasi, a Catholic who retired in July 2019. Minister Fachrul Razi and his deputy Zainut Tauhid Sa'adi had defended the appointments of the two Muslims, stating that the regulations of the National Civil Service Agency  (Bkn) prevented a Catholic from being given office for bureaucratic issues.  However, the move had been dictated by an error in the interpretation of a 2019 circular, which governs appointments for vacant roles in ministries and institutions.  Nur took responsibility for the error and offered a public apology on 11 February.

Of the country's six official religions - Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism - all have a dedicated general direction within the ministry for religious affairs, with the exception of Confucianism.  The latter is only represented by the director of a formation and education body, who is currently a Muslim official.  Confucianism was outlawed during the dictatorial era of the New Order (1966–1998) and was recognized as an official religion only under the leadership of the late President Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid (1999-2001).

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