Bishops view Abu Dhabi document as key to a peaceful Indonesia
by Mathias Hariyadi

The annual conference of Indonesian bishops is now underway in the Diocese of Bandung. Last June, the pontiff urged them to promote and teach the text on human fraternity. Card Suharyo hopes it “will inspire change”.


Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The Document on human fraternity for world peace and living together –signed last February in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyib – is one of the central topics discussed at the annual conference of bishops Indonesians.

The event opened three days ago at the pastoral centre of the Diocese of Bandung (West Java), and will end on 14 November.

Last June, the pontiff urged the 37 bishops during their ad limina apostolorum visit to the Vatican to promote and teach the Abu Dhabi Declaration.

On that occasion, Francis told Card Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI), that his country is the most representative place in which human fraternity can be put into practice by different religious groups; in particular, moderate Muslims and Christians.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Islamic country, and is home to two of the most important moderate Muslim organisations in the world, namely Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah. The first has more than 80 million members; the second about 60 million. For decades, two groups have promoted tolerance towards the country’s ethnic and religious minorities.

Against the background, “the Pontiff invited the KWI to study the key points in the Document on human fraternity and implement its teachings in Indonesian society,” Card Suharyo said in September 2019, during the first meeting with reporters after his appointment as cardinal.

“Our Muslim compatriots have seriously studied the document, whilst we Catholics are still slow at doing so," the prelate told journalists. For this reason, it tops the agenda at their annual meeting, which is centred on ‘Human brotherhood for a peaceful Indonesia’.

The NU president was expected at the event, but cancelled for unknown reasons.

The opening ceremony took place on Monday after the Eucharistic celebration presided by Mgr Anthonius Bunjamin, bishop of Bandung. Card Suharyo thanked him in his opening address to the meeting. "This conference,” he said, “will look further into the Abu Dhabi Declaration, hoping that studying it will inspire change.”

Aloma Sarumaha, from the Catholic Community Leadership General Directorate in the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs, also spoke at the meeting. Mgr Piero Pioppo, apostolic nuncio to Industry, ended the round of addresses.

"Indonesia,” said the nuncio, “is really a place in which we can carry out and practise the shared expectations of the Abu Dhabi Declaration, namely fraternity among human beings. The document is either a challenge or an opportunity” for the Indonesian Church and the Catholic community.

(Photo credit: KWI).