Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Thousands of Catholics from Jakarta, Bandung and Bogor, along with hundreds more from other parts of the Indonesian archipelago, attended the Episcopal ordination of the new Bishop of Bogor, Mgr Paskhalis Bruno Syukur.
The solemn celebration was held on Saturday in Bogor. Some 41 bishops from around the country were in attendance with at least 185 priests, as well as the Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia Mgr Antonio Guido Filippazi, who read a letter from Pope Francis confirming the appointment.
The ceremony was scheduled to start at 9:30 am, but worshippers began filling up the Bogor Convention Centre (pictured), West Java province, by 7 am.
They welcomed with joy and warmth the prelate, a member and a former superior of the Franciscan order in Indonesia from 2001 to 2009.
Bogor Bishop Emeritus Mgr Angkur Michael Cosmas, also from the Friars Minor, led the service along with Jakarta Archbishop Mgr Ignatius Suharyo and Ruteng Bishop Mgr Hubertus Leteng.
Like his predecessor, Mgr Paskhalis Bruno Syukur was for years a Franciscan superior in Indonesia before his appointment to the office of definitor general at the Generalate in Rome.
Mgr Paskalis Bruno Syukur was born on 17 May 1962 in Ranggu, in the Diocese of Ruteng, Flores Island.
After primary school, he attended the Pius X Minor Seminary in Kisol. He studied philosophy at the Driyakara School of Philosophy in Jakarta. This was followed by studies at the Faculty of Theology in Yogyakarta.
He made his solemn profession with the Friars Minor on 22 January 1989 and was ordained a priest on 2 February 1991.
He chose as his motto Magnificat anima mea Dominum from the Gospel of Luke.
Many authorities were present at the service, including Tourism Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, representatives of the Ministries of Health and Defence, the head of Bogor Regency, and members of the local Muslim community.
The diocese has a membership of some 84,000 Catholics in 18 parishes out of a total population of 16.2 million people.
It has been involved in many pastoral activities, including schools, a minor seminary and some orphanages.
In recent years, Bogor Regency has often seen sectarian discrimination and abuse against Catholics, Protestants and members of the Ahmadi minority. The latter is considered heretical by mainstream Muslims because it does not view Muhammad as the last prophet.
On several occasions, AsiaNews has reported the attacks on the GKI Yasmin Church, a Protestant community at the centre of a dispute with the authorities and Islamic leaders over its right to build a place of worship.
Since August 2012, the faithful have been forced to celebrate religious services in the open.
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. Catholics are a small minority of about seven million, or 3 per cent of the population. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta, the faithful reach 3.6 per cent of the population.
Although the country's constitution recognises religious freedom, Catholics have been the victims of violence and abuse, especially in areas where extremist visions of Islam are entrenched, like Aceh.
Still, Catholics are an active component in society and contribute to the nation's development as well as to emergency operations when they arise, as was the case in last year's devastating flood.