06/12/2017, 15.23
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Catholic Associations to promote social initiatives fostering economic development in Indonesia

by Mathias Hariyadi

The country’s most important Catholic organisations met at the see of the Bishops' Conference. Paul Soetopo Tjokoronegoro illustrated his plan to revitalise traditional markets across the country. Bambang Ismawan noted "five focus areas” to face.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – At a time when Islamism poses a serious threat to the unity and pluralism of Indonesian society, Catholic associations show a strong sense of community initiative to address social issues, share experiences, and find solutions to the problems that affect the country.

About two months after their last meeting, Indonesia’s most important Catholic organisations met on Saturday at the see of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference (KWI) in Central Jakarta.

The participants included Paul Soetopo Tjokoronegoro, former director of the Central Bank, and Bambang Ismawan, founder of Bina Swadaya, an NGO involved for 50 years in economic development and agricultural projects to empower the weaker segments of society.

In his address, Tjokoronegoro illustrated his plan to revitalise the country’s traditional markets, where most local producers and consumers meet and do retail business. The former central bank director told AsiaNews that this project, called Kopassindo, has already reached at least a hundred cities in several provinces and districts across Indonesia.

Bambang Ismawan reported the progress made by some working groups following last April’s Catholic forum where he had proposed land reform, which is "needed to speed up infrastructure development."

For the director of Bina Swadaya, many local Catholic groups can take actions to advance the country’s remote areas through economic development, cultural empowerment, and funding.

For Ismawan, "new Catholic groups, working in synergy, have to face five main focus areas to bolster this initiative, namely: supporting villages through credit unions and economic projects especially in areas subject to natural disasters, promoting the spirit of pluralism and unity in diversity, education, human resources development, and study and communication programmes."

The Association of Indonesian Catholic Women (WKRI) showed its interest in the five focus areas and has renewed its commitment to action, whilst Fr Clay Pareira, president of the Catholic Indonesian Academy and of the Polytechnic High Education (PAPKI), said that this initiative is an important response to current social issues in Indonesia. The associations are set to meet again in August.

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