10/15/2013, 00.00
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Thousands of Catholics join the consecration of the new bishop of Tanjungkarang

by Mathias Hariyadi
A "celebration of faith" characterised by "simplicity" and a large participation was held for Mgr Yohanes Harun Yuwono. Thirty-two bishops and hundreds of priests took part in the event. Growing up in a mixed Muslim-Christian family, the new prelate learnt to live to together with others in a harmonious way. He is a great expert and scholar on Islam.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The Episcopal consecration of Mgr Yohanes Harun Yuwono as head of the Diocese of Tanjungkarang, in the province of Lampung, on the southern tip of the island of Sumatra, was a "celebration of faith" that drew thousands of Indonesian Catholics. The ceremony was characterised by a "simplicity" of style that deeply reflects the heart of the new bishop.

Episcopal celebrations in the Asian country a rare event. Organised in stadiums, sports arenas and other large buildings, they often take on the character of a festival - unlike priestly ordinations, which are usually celebrated among a restricted circle of family members.

However, Mgr Yuwono's consecration reflected the bishop's sensitivity and took place in a local Catholic school; a moving ceremony, without frills, attended by a large number of people.

The consecration of the new bishop of Tanjungkarang occurred last week in Bandar Lampung. At first, Mgr Yohanes Harun Yuwono had asked for a private and intimate ceremony, but then accepted a public celebration because of the interest and desire for community participation.

The rite took place on 10 October in the local Xaverian school in the presence of over 10,000 faithful, 32 bishops and 200 priests together with hundreds of men and women religious.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia Mgr Antonio Guido Filipazzi and Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja were among those present.

The new bishop chose 'Non Est Personarum Est Acceptor Deus' as his motto, a revealing choice about his family and future life as a prelate, as someone who grew up in a simple environment, among Christian and Muslim relatives, able to live in a harmony and peace.

Bishop Yuwono is a PhD graduate in Islamic studies from Rome's Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (PISAI). He has served as rector at the Higher Seminary in Pematang Siantar, North Sumatra.

In the past, he had asked to be assigned as a priest in his diocese of origin. After spending time in Pangkalpinang, he returned (astonished and surprised at Pope Francis' choice) to Tanjungkarang in the role of bishop and pastor, replacing the distinguished Bishop Henri Soesanto who retired.

Now, the task of leading a multi-ethnic diocese will fall on him, one that is home to thousands of migrants from Java and Bali, with their own language and culture.

Experts note that his expertise and knowledge about Islam will be "extremely useful" in the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI).

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. Catholics are a small minority of about seven million, or 3 per cent of the population. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta, the faithful reach 3.6 per cent of the population.

Although the country's constitution recognises religious freedom, Catholics have been the victims of violence and abuse, especially in areas where extremist visions of Islam are entrenched, like Aceh.

Still, Catholics are an active component in society and contribute to the nation's development as well as to emergency operations when they arise, as was the case in last January's devastating flood.

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