09/14/2017, 18.14
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From the Indonesian Church comes an impulse of tolerance towards the Ahok effect

by Mathias Hariyadi

Various assemblies of Indonesian religious renewed their commitment to pluralism. Sisters and priests visit various religious and cultural centres. Community initiatives and organisations promote interfaith dialogue.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) –  A spirit of pluralism and tolerance among religious groups is spreading across Indonesia countering Islamist trends that have recently influenced the country’s political life.

Some have called this the ‘Ahok effect’ after Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, the former Christian governor of Jakarta, who was convicted of blasphemy in a trial subjected to political pressures.

The Catholic Church has always been active in interfaith dialogue, and has renewed its commitment through initiatives involving priests, nuns, and religious, in particular, participants at plenary assemblies of nuns' associations (IBSI) and Indonesian religious orders (KOPTARI) held this week in Padangbulan, Lampung province.

A delegation of some 63 nuns and scores of priests visited religious and cultural centres in a meeting with the local communities.

The group also visited the Buddhist Jinarakkhita Education Centre (STIAB), a training centre for Buddhist monks, and Putri Dinnayah, an Islamic school for girls.

The theme of this year's IBSI National Conference was ‘Orchestrate Global Solidarity to Boost the Quality of Nationalism".

The four-day gathering was divided into several sessions, each dedicated to a specific topic. One was ‘The Spirit of Solidarity among women as read in the Bible", led by Fr Paul Suparno, a Jesuit from Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta (Central Java).

Another important issue discussed was the Counter Women Trafficking Commission (CWCT).

"In our tight schedule, we feel united as consecrated nuns in carrying out the mission of the Church through our various apostolate,” Sister Maria Monika Ekowati, IBSI’s new head, told AsiaNews. “It is with this spirit that we shared our common interests and past experience to support hope."

Sister Anne Marie, superior of the Dominicans, liked the theme of this year's conference. "It closely relates to how Indonesian religious respond to Biblical joy in Indonesian society, which is pluralistic in terms of ethnicity, languages, values, and traditions."

Across the country, the ‘Ahok effect’ touches everybody in Indonesian society. Through its parishes and organisations, the Catholic Church offers various programmes and initiatives that allow its members to work in interfaith groups.

This is the especially the case with some moderate Islamic associations like GusDurian, a youth movement affiliated with Nahdlatul Ulama (Nu), the country’s largest Muslim organisation.

In Blitar, East Java, some GusDurian activists performed traditional dances for the congregation of St Mary’s Parish Church during the celebration for the Virgin Mary's nativity.

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