Jakarta (AsiaNews) Inter-faith dialogue and tolerance were the common themes of Pope John Paul II's October 1989 trip to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. On the trip's schedule: Jakarta, East Timor (not yet independent) and Maumere, on predominantly-Catholic Flores Island.
On October 9 in Jakarta's Senayan sport stadium, the Pontiff celebrated mass before a crowd of 130,000 people.
Imposing security measures were taken against feared attacks by Islamic extremists.
In the course of the service, John Paul II told Catholics "to accept the Gospel's challenge with renewed hope and spirit".
Calling on the faithful to dedicate themselves "to the goals of passing on their faith in its entirety to every new generation [and] supporting the family against anything that might weaken it", he urged Catholics to "serve the needs of your fellow citizens, especially the poor and the sick" and stressed the importance of respecting religious harmony "to save human dignity".
Speaking in Bahasa Indonesia, the national language, the Pope encouraged Catholics to be "good sons of the nation and good Indonesian citizens".
On October 10 he met representatives of other religions, inviting them to mutual dialogue, understanding and respect and emphasising the importance of religious freedom in a pluralistic society like that of Indonesia because such a freedom "is a fundamental right for every individual and the state must guarantee it where there is a majority religious group".
In his talks with then President Suharto, the Pontiff said that respect for human rights was the basis for stable national development. He explained that government leaders "must not be tempted to rely solely on military and economic power to realise political unity, but must instead base it in the respect for "different opinions, convictions, faiths, customs and social values".