02/14/2023, 17.12
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Yogyakarta: Islamic university awards honorary doctorate to Card Guixot

by Mathias Hariyadi

The State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga honoured the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in a ceremony yesterday in the presence of several Catholic and Muslim officials who spoke about Indonesia’s particular religious and social characteristics.

Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) – Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCDI), received an honorary doctorate yesterday by the State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga (UIN) in Yogyakarta (Central Java).

Two Indonesian cardinals, Julius Darmaatmadja and Ignatius Suharyo, were present at the ceremony, as were many other prelates, including Archbishop Agustinus Agus of Pontianak, who has always maintained good relations with Indonesia's largest and most moderate Muslim organisation, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).

In attendance were also NU President Kiai Hajj Yahya Cholil Staquf, Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, UIN Rector Al Makin, and other senior representatives from the Catholic and Muslim communities along with over 1,500 people.

In his acceptance speech, Cardinal Guixot spoke of Wasatiyyah, an Islamic concept often translated as "moderation", viewed as a "solution" to religious fundamentalism and extremism.

"Wasatiyyah has been widely adopted and practised by so many Islamic parties to defend their moderate character and address contemporary issues while prioritising social justice and welfare,” said the cardinal in his address.

For the cardinal, accepting the concept of Wasatiyyah means welcoming different religious groups and strengthening their brotherhood.

“I have always been very proud of Indonesian Pancasila as a philosophical ‘way of life’ in a state and nation blessed by God with a very large diversity in terms of culture, languages, and religions,” he added.

Likewise, “I also very proud of Sunan Kalijaga, this university’s patron figure, who has become the country’s Islamic leader and a nationalist preacher to his fellow Indonesians while still strongly preserving local wisdoms.”

“God created us with so many differences, not to ignite social divisions but to achieve unity among us,” the cardinal explained, a reference to the Declaration on Human Fraternity signed by Pope Francis and Al Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb signed in Abu Dhabi in February 2015.

Card Guixot went on to say that, “We have our common identity as a human family with the same rights and duties as all the world’s inhabitants.”

What is more, “Do not forget that we also have the same roots, which means that dialogue will not start from zero but from the same humanity. This will help open space for existential encounters.”

Before the award ceremony, UIN Rector Al Makin spoke to Indonesian media.

“The cardinal has always stressed how Indonesia has its own strong points in Islamic and local wisdoms,” he explained. “The good relationship among religious communities is different from other nations; in Indonesia, social harmony becomes our common interests,” he added.

The Abu Dhabi declaration “brought a new chapter and more constructive relations between the Catholic Church and the Islamic community,” said Paulus Tasik Galle, from the Interreligious Office of the Ministry for Religious Affairs, speaking to AsiaNews,

“Indonesia has been in the heart of Pope Francis,” he added, noting the pontiff’s solidarity at times of natural disasters.

For his part, Archbishop Agustinus Agus of Pontianak said that “in the Catholic World, more and people are conscious that peace and justice cannot be achieved without cooperation with others”.

The archbishop was instrumental in organising a meeting between the president of Nahdlatul Ulama and Cardinal Ayuso Guixot in 2019.

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