03/07/2018, 13.50
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Indonesia’s Armed Forces 'to defend' tolerance

by Mathias Hariyadi

Mgr Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo visits Cilangkap headquarters. The Indonesian Church is grateful to the Armed Forces for the construction of a chapel on the military base and for the closeness they expressed after the Islamist attack of 11 February against the chapel of St Lidwina in Yogyakarta.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – "We are called to ensure an atmosphere of tolerance among all Indonesian citizens," said Air Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto.

The Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) spoke at a meeting with Mgr Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, archbishop of Jakarta and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI), reiterating the military’s commitment to defend peaceful coexistence among the country’s various ethnic and religious communities.

Together with other senior Armed Forced officials, Air Marshall Tjahjanto welcomed Mgr Suharyo (pictures 1-2) at the TNI headquarters in Cilangkap (East Jakarta).

On this occasion, the Indonesian Church expressed her gratitude to the Armed Forces for the construction of a chapel on the vast military base. Last February, Mgr Paskalis Bruno Syukur, bishop of Bogor, inaugurated the church dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima alongside Tjahjanto (picture 3).

During his visit, Mgr Suharyo thanked the military for their prompt response and for the closeness they showed to the Catholic community right after the Islamist attack of 11 February against the Church of St Lidwina, in Kabupaten, Sleman District (Yogyakarta).

The attacker, 23-year-old Suliyono, wounded an elderly German priest with a sword, Fr Karl-Edmund Prier, and three other people, before he was stopped by police.

In the hours following the incident, Air Marshall Tjahjanto visited the scene of the attack, followed by senior government officials, including Police Chief General Tito Karnavia.

In Indonesia, the physical presence of senior representatives of the security forces on such occasions is considered a strong message against extremism, as well as a form of social pressure on the groups that foster sectarian hatred.

"Your presence at the Church of St Lidwina was warmly received by the Vatican,” Mgr Suharyo said. “Your quick response, as shown by the visit to the church, and the proximity to local Catholics will soon reduce tension and increase the sense of security in the heart of the Indonesian people."

In his reply to the archbishop, Air Marshall Tjahjanto said: "My personal commitment and my role in the Armed Forces brought me to visit the Church of St Lidwina after the incident.”

"The TNI’s responsibility is clear,” he said, namely “to defend tolerance in society and urge the national police to pursue the case without further ado so as to ensure that such violence does not happen again.”

“It is our duty to preserve national unity – as expressed in the motto 'Bhinneka Tunggal Ika' (unity in diversity) – as well as the nation’s values and philosophy.”

At the end of the visit, Mgr Suharyo celebrated Mass at the new Church of Our Lady of Fatima. Hundreds of local Catholics – military and local civilians – took part in the service.

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