Indonesia still hopes Pope will visit soon

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Indonesia

Minister of Religious Affairs says he wants Pope Francis to see ‘the beauty of diversity’ in Indonesia

Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas is greeted by Archbishop Yohanes Harun Yuwono, chairman of the Indonesian Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Relations and Beliefs, during his national conference in Bali on March 7. (Photo: Indonesian Bishops website)

Indonesia’s religious affairs minister said he hopes Pope Francis can visit the Muslim-majority country to see “the beauty of diversity” in the lives of clerics.

Yaqut Cholil Qoumas said his ministry was working to make the visit of the Holy Father possible.

“I want to bring Pope Francis to see firsthand the beauty of diversity in Indonesia as well as to directly greet Indonesian Catholics,” he said.


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“Hopefully under normal conditions [post-pandemic]it can be present in Indonesia,” said Quomas, a member of Nahdatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest moderate Muslim organization with around 80 million members and known for its support for pluralism.

The minister made the comments during a national meeting of the Indonesian Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Relations and Beliefs in Bali on March 7, which discussed religious moderation.

The chairman of the commission, Archbishop Yohanes Harun Yuwono of Palembang, priests and lay Catholics participated.

“We were received very kindly. I told him about the beauty of tolerance in Indonesia and he admitted that he really liked Indonesia”

The Minister met the Pope in 2019 at the Vatican where he and other representatives of Nahdatul Ulama expressed their support for the document on human brotherhood signed by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi in 2018. He described the reunion as an “incredible experience”. .”

“We were received very kindly. I told him about the beauty of tolerance in Indonesia and he admitted that he really loves Indonesia,” he said.

Quomas’ statement underscored the Indonesian government’s previous invitation to the pope.

Laurentius Amrih Jinangkung, Indonesia’s ambassador to the Vatican, told UCA News that the Indonesian government has officially invited the pope to visit in 2020 and the visit is scheduled for September 2020.

“However, it was delayed due to the pandemic. Hopefully after the pandemic has passed, the visit can be carried out,” he said on March 9.

Last month, it responded to complaints from religious minorities about loud mosque loudspeakers by issuing new guidelines governing their use in nearly 750,000 mosques across the country.

Quomas, the younger brother of current Nahdatul Ulama chairman Yahya Cholil Staquf, is known for his policies that accommodate many minority groups, with his frequent assertion that he is minister of all religions.

Last month, it responded to complaints from religious minorities about loud mosque loudspeakers by issuing new guidelines governing their use in nearly 750,000 mosques across the country.

The minister defended the move, which he sees as part of an effort to “maintain brotherhood and social harmony”, amid strong protests from extremist Islamic groups.

He told attendees of the meeting of the Episcopal Commission on the Relationship between Religion and Belief that there are still three issues to be addressed in Indonesia: fundamentalism, extremism and efforts to undermine the nation’s secular ideology .

He said he hopes Catholics can continue to play a role in addressing these issues through religious moderation.

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