Sheikh Al Mahfoudh Bin Bayyah, Secretary General of the Abu Dhabi Forum for Promoting Peace, lit candles on the Pieta statue by Michaelangelo, a replica of the Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican, during his July 27 visit to the cathedral church in Jakarta.
He did this because he was captivated by the majesty of the 121-year-old Assumption Cathedral Church in the Indonesian capital.
In response to the visit, the executive secretary of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference (KWI), Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, said Sheikh Al Mahfoudh's presence in the cathedral church sends a powerful message about the harmony of life despite religious and belief differences. It is an example of how tolerance and dialogue in life should be realized.
"With this visit, the values of tolerance and brotherhood appear to have been revived and demonstrated in the pluralistic Indonesian society," Father Siswantoko said. "We who have inherited the values of tolerance from the nation's founders should be more enthusiastic in caring for and developing a harmonious life amidst differences and togetherness in diversity."
"The location of Istiqlal Mosque and its adjacent cathedral has long been a symbol of religious harmony. Hopefully, Sheik Al Mahfoudh's visit will encourage everyone in the country to look for signs of peace. It would pave a way for new and creative ways to develop a harmonious, peaceful, and dignified life together," the priest added.
Sheikh Al Mahfoudh visited the cathedral church after Friday prayers at the Istiqlal Mosque, accompanied by Abdulla Salem Aidhaheri, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Indonesia, and Nasaruddin Umar, High Priest of the Istiqlal Mosque of Indonesia.
The Istiqlal Mosque is across the street from the Jakarta Cathedral Church. Both houses of worship, built next to each other, exemplify the country's tolerance.
In terms of capacity, the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia and the sixth-largest in the world.
Indonesia's first president, Soekarno, wanted the Istiqlal Mosque built next to the Cathedral Church to demonstrate Pancasila, the country's founding ideal of fraternity, togetherness, and religious tolerance.
Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim community and has a population of approximately 270 million people. The country has 24 million Christians, seven million of whom are Catholics.
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