Semarang: 15,000 celebrate new Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko
by Mathias Hariyadi

The celebrations lasted from noon to midnight. Congratulations from representatives of Indonesian civil society and those of all religions. Great joy and participation. Indonesian Catholics pray for unity of the country against radicalism.

Semarang (AsiaNews) - At least 15,000 Catholics participated in the episcopal ordination of the new archbishop of Semarang, Msgr. Robertus Rubiyatmoko on May 19. The event was held on the campus of the Indonesian Police Academy in Semarang, and lasted from midday until midnight.

Many of the participants came from distant parishes, starting days earlier or very early in the morning. To get to the venue, they walked 2.5 km to the point where the means of transport could stop, due to the limited number of shuttles available and the security measures.

Archbishop Rubiyatmoko, professor of canon law at the faculty of theology at the Sanata Dharma University, chose the motto "Quaerere et salvum facere", a testimony of his pastoral mission to seek and save people.

Addressing the crowds, the Archbishop thanked all those who participated and helped organize the event: from the 34 bishops of Indonesia, to the police who ensured security and the hundreds of parishioners from the 26 parishes of the region of Semarang. At the end of the event he gave his first episcopal blessing from an open top jeep.

A Catholic government official from Klaten district, Ignatius Partopo, told AsiaNews of his great joy at taking part in the episcopal ordination, although it lasted a long time under a hot sun, defining it as the most fascinating religious experience of his life.

His ordination was applauded by Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja S.J. who praised it as being in line with the pastoral approach of Pope Francis, precisely because of the pastoral commitment of Msgr. Rubiyatmoko in seeking and saving people.

Similarly, the Archbishop of Jakarta Msgr. Ignatius Suharyo expressed appreciation for the new archbishop, his former student: "His pastoral mission 'Quaerere et salvum facere' did not begin suddenly with his episcopal ordination as the new archbishop of Semarang. It is the culmination of a long spiritual journey, one that I have observed since his early years as a seminarian and in which he is becoming more and more accomplished. "

"He seeks 'Zacchaeus' to change him into another 'Zacchaeus' - continues Mgr. Suharyo - seeking more and more 'Zacchaeus' to turn them from failures to generosity. "

At the end of the celebration figures from the Indonesian society and bureaucracy expressed their congratulations to the new archbishop. Among them, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Confucians, Protestant Christians, government officials, military and police authorities from the central Java province. Their arrival on stage and their handshake with Cardinal Darmaatmadja S.J, and Vatican Nuncio mons. Antonio Guido Filipazzi, and the new Archbishop was welcomed with a warm applause.

The ordination was also an occasion for Indonesian Catholics, who prayed for the good of the country and pluralistic society, respect for unity and diversity according to the Pancasila [the "pillars" of National unity as enshrined in the Constitution of 1945]. In the evening, the present - not only Catholics, but of other religions and other political groups - sang traditional songs, at a time when there is a growth of radicalism in the country and the fragmentation of society between moderate groups and religious "extreme rights" who seek to form an Indonesian Islamic State.

In the coming days the new archbishop will travel throughout the diocese to meet with different groups and make courtesy visits, presenting himself as the new regional "official".