Cardinal Suharyo: Church in Indonesia encourages efforts toward authentic brotherhood
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Indonesia, a country with over 17,000 islands, prides itself on the richness of the diversity of its over 230 million people. This diversity is celebrated in the different languages, cultures, religions, and political leanings of the people.
In the midst of this “unity in diversity,” according to the slogan on the nation’s coat of arms, is the Church, present and active, despite being one of the smaller religions.
Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo, the Archbishop of Jakarta, notes that the Church does not have a problem finding its place in Indonesian society on a general level, and works alongside other religions to build an authentic brotherhood and sisterhood.
G20, R20, and the Church in Indonesia
The country has just wrapped up its 2022 presidency of the G20 summit, which saw leaders of the world’s biggest economies gather in Bali to jointly influence policy that will set the world economy on the right path.
The summit also sported several side events, including the R20 (Religions 20) which offered a space for religion and interreligious dialogue in society. The cardinal explained that the event was initiated by the Indonesian department of religion, which extended invitations to all the religions including the Church.
This open-ended invitation to all, according to the Cardinal, is a sign of hope “that Indonesia will still go on,” and those who are seeking to impose the will of one religion over the state will not succeed.
He added that the success of the G20 summit is proof that Indonesia is “not like what they say” or what is sometimes portrayed by others. Rather, it is a country of happy citizens.
Church amid other religions
Cardinal Suharyo highlights the importance of working with other religions in the country.
“We try to erase ‘minority and majority’ from our vocabulary because we are all Indonesian citizens,” he said.
Indeed, the chairman of the Islamic organization and the heads of other religious communities have shared the same idea of promoting authentic brotherhood and sisterhood for over 20 years
However, efforts in this direction are not without challenges. He notes that there are some who would “use religion for the purpose of politics.” The Cardinal speaks against this, calling it “satanic” because it “destroys every effort to build authentic brotherhood and sisterhood.”
The universal Church has been on a synodal path in preparation for the Synod of Bishops, scheduled to hold next year. The 37 dioceses in Indonesia have also been actively participating in the process, from the grassroots to the Episcopal conference.
He added that God’s people have highlighted the importance of putting the spotlight on certain issues including poverty, potential religious conflict, ecology, unity, the challenges of technology, and divorce, among others.
Concluding, Cardinal Suharyo underlined the efforts of the state to ensure a religiously balanced state amongst the over 700 ethnicities in Indonesia. He reaffirmed that the Church is also working to promote world peace – a principle that is also embedded in the constitution of the country.