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Indonesian bishops raise "concerns" about domestic and international issues

The Indonesian Bishops' Conference, formally referred to as Konferensi Waligereja Indonesia (KWI), expressed concerns about world and Indonesian issues in their final statement of their annual assembly from November 4–11, 2023.

The meeting on "Walking Together Towards a Peaceful Indonesia" raised concerns about international and domestic peace, poverty, justice, corruption, nepotism, social inequality, and discrimination, the need to respect and honor women and children, and the importance of young people in the church.

 "The Indonesian bishops are engaged in a continuous struggle alongside all Christian believers in Indonesia to establish a Synodal Church: a Church that walks alongside all humanity in its mission to revolutionize our shared planet into a sanctuary where every individual may flourish, develop, and mature into a complete human being," said the official statement that was signed by Bishop Antonius Subianto Bunjamin, OSC, the president of KWI, and Bishop Paskalis Bruno Syukur, OFM, the secretary general of KWI.

According to the bishops, "unhealthy competition" between candidates has caused a "degradation of the quality of democracy" in Indonesian politics before the 2024 elections. This has made things more heated politically, making it easier for the "threat of horizontal conflict" caused by changing political interests and made worse by the "media abuse" of information to "spread lies, slander, and even hostility."

"The bishops warned of the dangers of identity politics based on ethnicity, religion, race, and intergroup (SARA), which are prone to being exploited by political contestants," the press release said.

Poverty and various social inequalities were also addressed in the bishops' prophetic message, which urged stakeholders to give them due consideration and refrain from exploiting them for personal benefit.

"Discrimination and poverty, inequity, corruption, collusion, and nepotism, along with social inequality, terrorism, radicalism, and intolerance, all of which fluctuate dramatically, are also frequently encountered in this nation," the statement read. "We are required to pay serious attention not only to these problems but also to individuals in the nation who have the heart to exploit them for personal or group gain."

Additionally, the bishops are concerned about wars that have caused humanity to appear to be torn apart. This concern becomes progressively more "heartbreaking" due to our lack of ability to halt the conflict. The only contribution we can make is "humanitarian aid" to alleviate the suffering of combat casualties.

Through the statement, the bishops raised concerns about the security crisis in Papua that required urgent attention. The ongoing conflict between the Armed Criminal Group (KKB) and the security forces in certain regions of Papua undermines their ability to instill a sense of security among the civilian populace.

Bishops requested that the government "engage in dialogue" and "sit together" with all groups, with the participation of "religious leaders, traditional leaders, women leaders, church leaders, and tribal chiefs."

The bishops said that these individuals "directly perceive, hear, and experience the suffering of the people and their people."

The voice of Indonesian bishops also implored the greater community to demonstrate reverence and honor towards women and children.

"The pursuit of gender equality has yielded unimpressive outcomes for women. Despite their legal rights, women continue to face marginalization and unequal treatment in numerous spheres of social, political, and economic existence. Women have consistently been present and have made significant contributions to each chapter of Indonesian history. The imposition of severe penalties by the government on individuals responsible for domestic violence (KDRT), sexual harassment, and human trafficking is imperative to safeguarding children and women. No one, women or children, should be exploited," stated the bishops in their statement.

Through the statement, the bishops also hoped for the young people that they were also in control of the present. If youth are misinformed, the nation's future will also be compromised.

At the end of these pastoral and prophetic messages, the bishops anticipate the results of the 2024 presidential election and ask their fellow Indonesians to support the government as a whole. This would make sure that the people of Indonesia are properly elected and commissioned.

"We are all obligated to collaborate in the development of policies that are immediate, comprehensive, and equitable. Things that impede our progress as a dignified nation can be eliminated in this manner," the message concluded.


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