04/08/2024, 12.31
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From Jakarta bishops announce Pope Francis in Indonesia from 3 to 6 September

by Mathias Hariyadi

Card. Suharyo and the president of the Bishops' Conference confirm the rumours leaked in recent days. The mosaic of the long September trip between Asia and Oceania is being put together, which would see the Pontiff also make stops in East Timor, Papua New Guinea and Singapore. For Indonesia it would be the third visit by a pontiff after Paul VI in 1970 and John Paul II in 1989.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The archbishop of Jakarta, Card. Ignatius Suharyo, and the president of the Episcopal Conference (KWI), Msgr. Antonius Subianto, bishop of Bandung, today gave official confirmation of Pope Francis' trip to Indonesia, scheduled for 3 to 6 September.

The announcement follows rumours that have been circulating in the country for weeks. “Pope Francis' visit was publicly scheduled for 2020, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic this trip was canceled and has now been rescheduled,” said Card. Suharyo today.

 The dates of the trip were agreed in recent days between the Holy See and the government of Indonesia. “We are still discussing with the interested parties to define the program - explained the president of the Episcopal Conference - and at the same time we are creating an internal committee for the organisation”,

After the announcement made already in January by the Papua New Guinea government, preparations are progressing for the long journey which - health permitting - will see Francis stop in Asia and Oceania in September, also touching East Timor and Singapore.

While the invitation from Vietnam also remains in the background, where the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Monsignor Paul Gallagher is expected to visit from tomorrow. .

For Indonesia, the visit scheduled for September will be the third visit by a pontiff. The first pope to travel to the archipelago was in fact Paul VI who on 3 December 1970, in the last of his international apostolic journeys, stopped in Jakarta where he was warmly welcomed by the then president Suharto.

From October  8 to 12 1989, Pope John Paul II went to Indonesia for a trip which was marked by open-air Mass in the Jakarta stadium, and by stops in Medan, in northern Sumatra, in Yogyakarta, in the center of Java and Flores, in eastern Nusa Tenggara. On that same trip Wojtyla also went to Dili, in what was then still the Indonesian province of East Timor.

Indonesia has had good relations with the Vatican since its independence. “Already in 1947 the Holy See opened its diplomatic mission in Jakarta”, recalled the Card today. Suharyo. Between the 1950s and 1960s, the first president Sukarno made three official visits to the Vatican, meeting Pius XII in 1956, John XXIII in 1959 and Paul VI in 1964.

The current president Joko Widodo, however, has never been to the Vatican: the September trip (which would take place before the official inauguration of the new president) will therefore be the first opportunity for him to personally meet with Pope Francis.

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