Celebrations with people have been suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak. Three private TV channels will broadcast religious services live. Meetings and negotiations between the authorities and the Catholic association Komunitas Universal (KU) were crucial. Indonesian Catholics will not miss the universal prayer and Urbi et Orbi blessing tonight.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – In Indonesia, a country with the largest Muslim population in the world, Holy Week celebrations will be broadcast on state television and radio and several private stations.
In an effort to help the country’s fight against the spread of the coronavirus, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI) has decided to suspend public religious services until 30 April, Easter masses included.
Many Catholics are disappointed by the decision; however, they are at least happy that they can follow celebrations live on TVRI (Televisi Republik Indonesia) and RRI (Radio Republik Indonesia), plus three private TV stations: Kompas TV, MNC Vision, Emtek Group.
Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Card Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, who heads KWI, will lead some of main Masses.
Jakarta Archdiocese chief secretary Fr Adi Prasojo announced that each Indonesian parish will also be able to stream its own service live, depending on itw own broadcasting capabilities.
This follows complaints by Catholics from around the country, where Wi-Fi connection is still limited and data transmission on smartphones expensive. Many people cannot afford to watch mass on YouTube for more than an hour.
Holy Week services on radio and TV were made possible by days of constructive meetings and negotiations between the authorities and the Catholic association Komunitas Universal (KU).
KU chief YB Haryono personally contacted Minister of Communication and Information Technology Johnny G. Plate, a Catholic, and Fr Harry Sulistio, head of the Social Communications Commission of the Archdiocese of Jakarta.
They discussed how Catholics could connect to live streaming without any advertising message, and at a lower cost for mobile reception. After getting an agreement with TVRI and RRI management, YB Haryono and Fr Sulistio also struck deal with Kompas TV, MNC Vision, and Emtek Group.
For KU chief Haryono, "All of this is the result of teamwork, without which nothing would have been possible,"
In the meantime, the Church is urging people to take part in the universal prayer and the Urbi et Orbi blessing that Pope Francis will deliver tonight from the parvis of St Peter’s Basilica (at 6pm Rome time, 5pm Greenwich time).
Plenary indulgence will be granted to those who spiritually join this moment via the media. Despite the late hour (midnight in western Indonesia, 1 am in central Indonesia, and 2am in eastern Indonesia), no Indonesian Catholic wants to miss the event.
In remote parts of the country, where mobile reception is very difficult, Catholics are doing all they can to join tonight’s prayer, as well as Holy Week Masses later on.
Many are buying mobile booster antenna. Some have sought the right device for them in order to follow the papal prayer.
Ms Janti, a Catholic in East Jakarta, tried desperately to get “reliable channels and news" about tonight's broadcast. “I am really relieved because I found the right information in the Vatican and local media.”
At first, Ketut Respatia in Denpasar (Bali) was "annoyed" by the fact that the prayer was going to take place so late at night. But the Pope's special blessing and the possibility of obtaining the plenary indulgence are “something not to be missed”.