A Vatican delegation will be in Indonesia in March to prepare the visit. Jakarta’s archbishop will say more after the official announcement. The pontiff is expected to visit the Grand Istiqlal mosque, and meet President Widodo. Francis will be the third pope to visit the country.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis’s expected apostolic trip to Indonesia next September might include a Eucharistic celebration at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Senayan, in the heart of Jakarta, this according to Archbishop Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo (pictured) of Jakarta.
Card Suharyo, who heads the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI), noted that the visit’s schedule and details are still being worked out.
Speaking to the Jakarta Post, the prelate said that a Vatican delegation will be Indonesia in March, after which the pontiff's itinerary and activities will be announced.
In addition to the Mass, the pontiff is expected to visit Jakarta’s Grand Istiqlal mosque and meet President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, as well as bishops, priests and nuns in Jakarta’s cathedral.
After some unconfirmed reports, the Indonesian government on 29 January announced that the day before its ambassador to the Holy See, Antonius Agus Sriyono, had delivered to Vatican Secretary of State Card Piero Parolin a formal invitation to Pope Francis to visit the country.
Rumours about a possible papal visit had been circulating for a while, especially in the wake of remarks made on 20 January by Yahya Cholil Staquf, a member of the Supreme Council of Nadhlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest moderate Islamic organisation.
Yahya met with the Pope in the Vatican on 15 January together with other religious leaders to discuss the importance of social activism in dealing with interreligious conflict.
The high-ranking NU official later spoke to Indonesian media noting that the pontiff had told him confidentially that he planned to undertake an apostolic visit to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor in September.
When he comes, Francis will be the third pope to visit Indonesia. Paul VI travelled to the Southeast Asian country in 1970. Saint John Paul II followed him in 1989. The Mass the latter celebrated in Jakarta’s Senayan Sport Stadium drew more than 110,000 people.
The Polish pope led another service in Yogyakarta, at an open airfield owned by the Indonesian Air Force Academy, as well as one on the predominantly Catholic Flores Island.