04/15/2005, 00.00
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Darmaatmadja, a moderate voice in the dialogue with Islam

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Card Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja (S.J.), Archbishop of Jakarta, was born on December 20, 1934, in Muntilan, Magelang (Central Java).

He entered St Stanislaus Novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Giri Sonta - Klepu, Semarang (Central Java), on 7 September 1957. He was ordained in the priesthood on December 19, 1969.

He served as Provincial of the Indonesian Province of the Society of Jesus from 1981 to 1983 and was appointed Archbishop of Semarang on 9 April 1983.

On November 17, 1988, he was named president of the National Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI), a post he held until 1997 and after January 2001.

John Paul II elevated him to the rank of cardinal in the consistory of 26 November 1994, to the titular church Sacred Heart of Mary.

He became Archbishop of Jakarta on January 11, 1996.

As the Catholic Church's leading voice in the most populous Muslim country in the world, he has become a reference point in the dialogue between Islam and Christianity.

Following the bombing of Catholic churches on Christmas day 2000, he rejected any attempt to equate Islam with terrorism, urging instead Christians to forgive Islamic extremists.

He opposed the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003, and for this stance he enjoys great respect and credibility among Indonesian Muslims.

His commitment to inter-faith dialogue and human rights, especially those of the poor and minorities (for example, the largely Catholic Chinese community), have earned him great recognition among leaders of other religions.

During Indonesia's presidential elections in July 2004 he urged the Catholic community to choose wisely.

On that occasion, the Bishops' Conference of Indonesia released a paper dressing the list of traits a future president should have: honesty, integrity, political courage, support for equality of all citizens without discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities.

A few weeks before the vote, he said: "We need a leader who can free the people from a culture of state-sponsored violence which pits group against group, and stigmatises, marginalises and victimises members of given communities".

He has a reputation of being a humble man but rich in spirituality.

He is a member of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, and of the Pontifical Councils of Culture and Inter-Religious Dialogue.

Out of Indonesia's 239,000,000—88 per cent of whom are Muslim—Catholics represent three per cent. (MA)

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