Humble, inclusive, brave and confident: The Catholic Church in Indonesia

Ignatius Suharyo is Archbishop of Jakarta. He studied biblical studies in Rome and subsequently taught for many years in the seminary in Yogyakarta, Java. After several years as Archbishop of Semarang, he was transferred to Jakarta by Pope Benedict in 2010. In 2019, Pope Francis made him a cardinal.

Radicalism exists in many religions. There are radical Buddhist monks in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Similarly, in India, under the rule of the BJP, Hindu radicalism flourishes. The most frequently discussed is radicalism in Islam which has made the headlines in various parts of the world. This radicalism attracts global interest and is often used to exert political and economic influence. This radicalism has also become a real and troubling phenomenon in Indonesia.

Indonesia is a unique country with 270 million inhabitants. While almost 88 per cent of the population are Muslims, Indonesia is not an Islamic state nor a secular one. The basic principle and ideology of Indonesia is Pancasila: this term derives from two Sanskrit words, panca meaning ‘five’ and sila meaning ‘principle’. Thus, Pancasila refers to five intertwined principles. The first principle, ‘Belief in the One and Only God’, originally included what was referred to as ‘Piagam Djakarta’, the ‘Jakarta Charter’, which contained seven words compelling Muslims in Indonesia to adopt Shariah Law. The seven words were removed on 18 August 1945, the day when Pancasila was declared the official basic principle and ideology of the nation. Thus all religious communities in Indonesia have equal place in the constitutional structure. This is the fruit of the wisdom of Indonesia’s founding fathers.

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