06/05/2019, 18.08
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As Indonesia stops for Eid al-Fitr, Catholics extend best wishes and show friendship

by Mathias Hariyadi

The Church has undertaken various initiatives across the country, in Java Kalimantan, Maluku, and Yogyakarta. In Semarang, the imam is moved by the unexpected visit of the archbishop. “In mutual love for the nation, we find the same God who created all of us," he said.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – On the day when the world’s most populous Islamic country stops to mark the Eid al-Fitr, Indonesian Catholics are out promoting a spirit of harmony and extend their best wishes to Muslim fellow citizens.

In Indonesia, the second most important festivity on the Islamic calendar after Eid al-Adha is characterised by widespread public participation in religious ceremonies in mosques.

In some places, especially on the island of Java, it is tradition for Muslims to open their homes to neighbours, relatives and acquaintances to exchange good wishes.

Mgr Robertus Rubiyatmoko, archbishop of Semarang, visited the Grand Mosque this morning in the capital of Central Java, together with a delegation from the curia (picture 1).

The prelate first met the imam, Kiai Hajj Budi Harjono, followed by local Muslim leaders. Fr Budi Wihandono, who is in charge of the diocesan pastoral ministry, accompanied Mgr Rubiyatmoko.

The priest said that Imam Harjono, surprised by the warmth of his Catholic visitors, was moved. "In mutual love for the nation, we find the same God who created all of us," he said.

In Ungaran, also in Central Java, the Sisters of the Servants of Christ (AK) waited for their Muslim neighbours to finish their morning prayer before greeting them (see video below).

Mgr Petrus Boddeng Timan, Bishop of Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan), met with the provincial governor accompanied by priests and nuns (picture 2).

Mgr Petrus Canisius Mandagi, Bishop of Amboina (Maluku province), wanted to express the friendship of the local Church to Islamic leaders. At the local office of the Religious Affairs Ministry, he held cordial talks with them, whilst officials served refreshments to those present (picture 3).

In the main square of Wates, Kulon Progo Regency (Yogyakarta), adults and young Catholics made sure that the Eid prayer in the early morning hours was conducted safely. One of the volunteers was Martinus Dwi Anggara, who wore a T-shirt that read "I am your friend".

The young man explained that this "sign of solidarity" is meant to promote good relations with the Islamic community. "At Christmas, Muslims always help us so that nothing happens to our church and the surrounding complex."

Protestants, Buddhists and Hindus also joined the initiative. Isnu Hardoyo, another young Catholic man, said that his group has at least 15 members. "During Catholic holidays, moderate Muslims always help us. We must increasingly encourage this kind of activity."

Jakarta’s Grand Istiqlal Mosque has always been considered by Indonesians a symbol of "interfaith dialogue". Designed by architect Frederich Silaban, a Christian, it opened in 1978.

The then president Sukarno wanted the mosque to be near the Cathedral of the Assumption and the Immanuel Protestant Church, as a show of religious harmony and tolerance.

Mgr Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, Archbishop of Jakarta, put the cathedral’s carpark at the disposal of Muslims going to pray at the mosque.

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