10/21/2019, 16.10
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Bishops support Widodo’s second presidential term

by Mathias Hariyadi

The inauguration ceremony took place amid tight security measures. Speaking before parliament, Widodo pledged to develop the country's human resources and economy, and to end inefficiencies and corruption in the bureaucracy. Bishops speak about their expectations vis-à-vis the new government.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesia’s Catholic bishops have expressed their support for the new administration led by Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and appreciate the president's commitment to the development of the country’s human resources.

Stressing the need to work for national unity, the prelates have come up with some ideas on how to solve some of the main issues affecting their dioceses, such as tensions in the two Papuan provinces and the problem of child marriage.

President Joko Widodo, 58, began last night his second mandate as head of state of the most populous Muslim country in the world. Together with Vice President Kiai Hajj Ma’ruf Amin, he was sworn in at the Parliament Building (People's Consultative Assembly, Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat) in the presence of two former presidents and former vice presidents, 711 parliamentarians, 19 foreign dignitaries and the heads of all diplomatic delegations in Jakarta.

The capital was on high alert with over 30,000 police officers and soldiers deployed after the Islamist attack on Security Minister Wiranto on 10 October. Thanks to the imposing security measures, the event went off without a hitch.

In his inauguration speech, the president committed himself to developing the country's human resources, raising Indonesia out of the "middle-class trap", becoming one of the five largest economies in the world by 2045 (100th anniversary of independence), reform an inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy, and change outdated laws that are an obstacle to progress.

In light of the coming five-year presidential term (2019-2024), several Catholic leaders spoke about their expectations. One was Mgr Yan Olla, the bishop of Tanjung Selor, a remote diocese in North Kalimantan province (Borneo).

"I strongly support the development and improvement of human resources," he said. "We are very worried about the issue of child marriage among girls aged 14 to 18 years. The number of girls involved is high.

"The only thing we can do is get our volunteers to find the means needed to guarantee them access to higher education. We cannot solely rely on the financial help of the Church and local donors. Something else must be done by the government.”

For Mgr Petrus Canisius Mandagi, bishop of Amboina (Maluku) and apostolic administrator of the archdiocese of Merauke (Papua), "President Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf are called to defend Pancasila and the unity of the Indonesian Republic; no other ideology, only Pancasila,” i.e. the pluralist doctrine that serves as the foundation of the Indonesian state.

"The new Indonesian administration,” he added, “must enforce orderly governance, avoid compromises with corrupters and apply the law without preferential treatment.”

Likewise, "The new cabinet must also pay more attention and express more love for our fellow citizens in the easternmost part of the country, for the sake of equality in access to social welfare. Papua's problems should not be dealt with militaristic approaches, but with love and compassion."

Mgr Aloysius Murwito agrees. As bishop of Agats, the poorest diocese in Papua, he believes that "To solve local problems, dialogue between local and central governments must be enhanced with the participation of tribal and religious leaders. This is important, for example, in order to reduce the potential conflict with the independence movement.

"Please, no military approach to solving the Papuan problem. Violent actions can only claim more lives. Both the local and central governments must adopt effective regulations to protect the interests of Papuans, despite the large influx of migrants from other islands.

"The administration should protect the native character of Papua as a Christian-Catholic territory, despite the fact that migrants can come and stay. It is also necessary to strengthen the spirit of inclusiveness and availability even among the Papuans.”

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