06/07/2012, 00.00
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Central Java: premiere of Soegija, documentary on bishop, a "national hero"

by Mathias Hariyadi
The film focuses on the life and mission of Mgr. Albertus Soegijapranata SJ, first indigenous and native bishop celebrated in the struggle for independence. Three years of study, two months of writing and filming, which involved 2,700 actors and actresses. Polemics of the Islamists: it's an excuse to spread Christianity in a Muslim country.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The Indonesian Catholics can now watch the premiere of the documentary film "Soegija", centered on the life of the deceased "national hero" Msgr. Albertus Soegijapranata SJ, the first indigenous native to hold the office of bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Semarang. The film is produced by SAV Puskat Yogyakarta, an audio-visual company set up by the Jesuits, and is shot almost entirely in central Java (click here to see the trailer of the film). Two months of preparations needed to shoot the scenes, while the camera work lasted about a month and involved 2,700 actors and actresses, foreigners and Indonesians. However, the film has sparked a "dispute" with the Islamic fundamentalist wing, which speaks of a "gimmick" of the Catholic Church - the film - to spread Christianity in a country with overwhelming Muslim majority.

Bishop Albertus is known and revered among the faithful under the motto "100% Catholic, 100% Indonesian." The making of the documentary took  three years of study and research, undertaken first by Jesuit priest Fr. Gregorius Subanar SJ who received his doctorate at the Gregorian University. And now, to the delight of the local Catholic community, the premiere is taking place in theaters and cinemas.

Bishop Albertus Soegijapranata SJ was born November 25, 1896 in Surakarta, in Central Java. he was an early student of the Dutch Jesuit missionary Fr. van Lith SJ, who has sown the seeds of Christianity in the province in the early '900. Ordained a bishop in 1940, he is considered a national hero and proclaimed that Sukarno, first president of the newly formed Republic of Indonesia in the aftermath of achieving independence. The prelate received the honorary title just three days after his death, which occurred in Holland in 1963, in a moment of brief vacation from the work of Vatican II.

The first native indigenous bishop he defended the invasion of the local Church against Japanese troops during the conflict, in the years 1942 to 1945. He openly defied the soldiers, urging them to cut off his head rather than give in order to leave the cathedral of Semarang. Achieved independence from Tokyo declared by First President Sukarno, Msgr. Albertus Soegijapranata SJ immediately requested the recognition of the country at the Vatican, his effort was rewarded by Pope Pius XII and the Holy See, among the first foreign nations to recognize the independence of Indonesia in the international scene.

And it is thanks to him that two important centers for the study of Christian faith and the preparation of future priests have arisen in central Java: the minor seminary of St. Peter Canisius in Mertoyudan (see AsiaNews 04/06/12 Indonesian Catholics celebrate the centennial of first minor seminary) and the major seminary of St. Paul in Yogyakarta.




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