Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of people, 812 to be precise, from the six recognized religions in Indonesia (Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Hindus and Confucians), will participate in a three-day conference, to strengthen bonds of friendship, understanding and the dialogue. Theinitiative, which began yesterday and will last for the whole weekend, is being held in the town of Muntilan, the cradle of Indonesian Catholicism, in the province of Central Java.
Entitled "A real and genuine brotherhood among followers of different religions," it is promoted and organized by the Archdiocese of Semarang Commission for interreligious affairs (Komisi Hak Kas), and is the first of its kind on the entire province.
The conference includes cultural, educational and social activities to strengthen morale among participants and promote peaceful co-existence, in the diocese and throughout the Indonesian archipelago. Dozens of religious are present, along with thousands of faithful.
During the weekend a documentary film entitled "In you I trust," dedicated to the late Cardinal Justinus Darmojuwono, Archbishop of Semarang 1963-1981, will also be screened. Filmed and produced in 10 months, the film is being broadcast on the occasion of the centenary of his birth (November 2, 1914).
High profile speakers include: The Archbishop of Semarang Msgr. Johannes Pujasumarta, the former chairman of Muhammadiyah - the second most important moderate Muslim organization in the country - Prof. Buya Ahmad Syafii Maarif and former first lady of Indonesia Shinta Nuriyah Wahid, a prominent figure in local activism.
Speaking to AsiaNews Fr. Aloysius Budi Purnomo, a diocesan priest and a member of the organizing committee, said that the basic purpose of the initiative is to strengthen moral and establish a relationship of friendship and sincere dialogue between followers of different religions. In particular, added the priest, Catholics are called to foster relationships with others, insisting that "the differences are not a problem but an asset" and that everyone can "learn" the beauty of "diversity" of mankind.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, Christians represent 5.7 per cent of the population with Catholics just over 3.6 per cent. Catholics are an active component in society. Over the years, they have contributed to the nation's development and played a major role in emergency operations, as was the case during the devastating floods of January 2013.