11/06/2013, 00.00
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Indonesia, "Catholic ruling class" called to aid political and social development

by Mathias Hariyadi
This is the appeal launched at the recent forum organized by Kaj Pukat, an Association of the Archdiocese of Jakarta which brings together business men. Politics is not just compromise and strategies, but daily management of the common good. CSIS scholar: as Catholics "we can not hide". Fears and uncertainties ahead of the 2014 presidential election.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Politics is not just a series of sometimes "dirty", compromises or "strategies" for power, as has become increasingly ingrained in popular imagination. In fact it is the daily administration of "public affairs" and directly touches the lives of citizens. This is why Indonesian Catholic businessmen and personalities should not be "traumatized " by the word " politics", on the contrary , "it should become our main source of concern." So says Harry Tjan Silalahi , a leading member of the Centre of Strategic and International Studies ( CSIS ) , based in Central Jakarta. " As Catholics - he said during a public meeting in front of dozens of faithful - we can no longer hide , even more so now that all aspects of social life are controlled and managed by politicians in Parliament and the government."

The forum (pictured) was promoted and organized by Kaj Pukat - an association established by the Archdiocese of Jakarta which brings together local businessmen- November 1 last, to discuss the general elections scheduled for 2014. In the vote the new president and the future executive will be chosen. For many Indonesians this is a "crucial " year because the new head of state will have to address the economic, social and religious issues for the next five-year period 2014-2019 .

Although today it is still very difficult to identify the next public figure that will be called to lead the nation , the Catholic leader Tjan Silalahi can already outline some fundamental "pre -requisites". "He must be a nationalist figure - he explains - and a man for all, including religious minorities ." He looks to the current governor of Jakarta, Joko " Jokowi " Widodo and the former head of the Special Armed Forces January Prabowo Subianto . However, he adds , the first lacks a real " political machine " that can support his nomination , while the second is haunted by uncertainties over a coalition partner.

Another analyst CSIS , J. Kristiadi, calls for a greater political participation of Christians, who should not, in his opinion, have " the syndrome of inferiority complex " , as members of a religious minority . If there are prominent personalities and with the right caliber why - he adds - "should we feel inferior" and give up active participation. Their thoughts went to Kasimo Ignatius Joseph (1900-1986) , former president of the Catholic Party and Commerce Secretary  under President Sukarno , in November 2011 declared a national hero . In spite of his physique , they explain, he was a giant of politics and a similar figure is lacking in the current political landscape . For this reason the Church works and will work in the near future for the formation of a Catholic ruling class, which can contribute actively to the development of the country.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. Catholics are a small minority of about seven million people, or 3 per cent of the population. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta, the faithful reach 3.6 per cent of the population. Although the 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 January's devastating floods.



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