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Indonesian Minister of Religion meets with Pope Francis

Indonesian Minister of Religion Yaqut Cholil Qoumas meets with Pope Francis in the Vatican on June 8, 2022 (Photo supplied)

The Minister of Religion of Indonesia, Yaqut Cholil Qoumas held an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, on Wednesday, June 8, to convey the Indonesian Government's official invitation to the Holy Father to visit the country. 

On his social media page, Qoumas wrote, “As far as I know, not everyone can get this close to conveying something to Pope Francis. And I'm lucky to be a part of it."

The Minister of Religion said three things in his audience with Pope Francis. Before conveying the purpose of his audience, he introduced himself as Minister of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, and as Minister of Religion Qoumas as the Indonesian constitution mandates, he has to maintain tolerance and peace among six main religions and hundreds of local religions.

First, Qoumas said that as the Minister of Religion he would like to extend the invitation from President Joko Widodo for the Pope to visit Indonesia.

Second, he sent the greetings from the Indonesian Catholic community and archbishops and bishops, who are longing to see Pope Francis in person. “They are praying for your health and hoping to see Your Holiness come to Indonesia.”

Third, he came to meet Pope Francis with the chairman of the largest Islamic organization in the world, Nahdlatul Ulama, Yahya Cholil Staquf, who has met Pope Francis several times, which conveys the purpose of his visit to the pope personally.

Accompanying the Minister of Religion was the General Chairperson of the Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board, Yahya Cholil Staquf, and the Director-General of Catholic Guidance at the Ministry of Religion, Albertus Magnus Adiyarto Sumardjono.

Earlier, the media also reported that the Minister of Religion flew to the Vatican on June 7, where he also had the opportunity to greet Indonesian citizens who live in the Vatican and Rome.

Among those present were priests and nuns, students, and workers. The event for Indonesian citizens to meet with the minister was organized by the Indonesian Embassy in the Vatican.

Pope Francis had expressed his intention to visit Indonesia, Timor-Leste, and Papua New Guinea in September 2020. But, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the papal visits were canceled.

Pope Paul VI visited Indonesia in December 1970 and Pope John Paul II in October 1989.

A few months ago, the Vatican envoy to Timor-Leste confirmed that the pope would visit Timor-Leste, though dates are yet to be announced. 

Indonesia, home to 270 million people, is the fourth most populous country in the world. It is also the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. About 10 percent of the Southeast Asian country’s population is Christian. There are an estimated eight million Indonesian Catholics.

The country also has large Hindu, Buddhist, and other religious minorities. Emiliana Saptaningsih


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