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Indonesia’s religious leaders back extension of strict health measures

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo of Indonesia. (File photo)

Indonesia’s religious leaders have expressed support for the government’s decision to extend strict health measures in the country until August 3 due to the high number of COVID-19 cases.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as “Jokowi,” announced on Sunday, July 25, the extension of strict health measures in the country, especially in Java and Bali.

Father Vencentius Adi Prasojo of the Archdiocese of Jakarta invited the public to continue to support the lockdown by following strict health protocols.

The Catholic Church leader, however, expressed hope that the government will pay attention to the people who are most affected by the pandemic, especially the poor.

“We hope that the state will also improve public services and be more present to continue the good efforts that have existed so far," said Father Prasojo.

He said the Church sees that the pandemic as a good time to reconsider “the meaning of humanity and social care.”

“We, as Indonesians, have inherited social capital from our nation's founders, namely mutual cooperation, solidarity, and humanitarian actions at the grassroots,” said the priest.

“These values are to be lived and applied by one and all," he added.

Father Antonius Suhardi Antara of Cikarang parish in Bekasi, West Java Province, said the extension of the lockdown “is not an easy decision to make.”

“Mutual cooperation is needed between the government and the community because this is our mutual responsibility,” said the priest.

He said the government and the community must “overcome this pandemic together.”

West Java is one of the provinces with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia.

“We continue to stress the importance of health protocols, including discipline following [the lockdown] policies,” said Pastor Gomar Gultom, chairman of the Indonesian United Churches.

He expressed hope that communities will continue to strictly adhere to health measures and limit activities outside their homes, including church services.

Recent travels following the Islamic holidays have been among the reason that authorities blamed for the spread of the virus in recent weeks.

Indonesia is a country of 270 million people and home to the world’s largest Muslim population. There are 24 million Christians in the country, seven million of whom are Catholics. - Emiliana Saptaningsih / RVA News


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