Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Promoting good moral values and a culture of peace are goals Indonesia’s Catholic Church has set for itself as it commemorated the 200 years since the founding of the Archdiocese of Jakarta. The bicentennial was marked in the capital by celebrations last Saturday that saw the participation of top Church leaders as well as members of the Indonesian government, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who expressed his appreciation for the contributions of the Catholic Church to the social development of the country.
In his address to the community many of whose members had gathered in the Istora Senayan stadium, the Archbishop of Jakarta, Card Julius Darmaatmadja, urged Catholics to be witnesses to the power of the Church’s morality.
“You represent the spirit of faith, truth, and justice,” the cardinal said as he urged Catholics to bear witness to the power of the Chruch’s morality.
The Indonesian Church must take the lead in promoting peace, stop sins, and uproot poverty and social backwardness. In short, the “Church has its mission to glorify the Lord and the human beings as well”.
Similarly, President Susilo in his speech called on the Church to promote peace and on Catholics to be examples of morality and solidarity on social issues.
The first Catholic mission in Indonesia dates back to 1534, founded by Portuguese colonisers on the island of Ternate (Maluku).
It was followed in 1596 by the arrival of Dutch Calvinists.
The Catholic faith was banned until 1806 when the first prefecture was set up in what was then called Batavia, today’s Jakarta.
Currently, Indonesia has a population of 234 million people; 86 per cent is classified as Muslim. Catholics represent about 3 per cent.