Monday, December 25, 2017


Jakarta, Dec 25, 2017 (Antara) - Some 25 million Indonesian Christians, constituting 10 percent of the Muslim-majority country's population, celebrated Christmas by spreading a message of peace not only in Indonesia but also all over the world.
         Speaking at the largest and oldest Catholic Cathedral, located in central Jakarta, on Dec 25, the Conference of Indonesian Bishops (KWI) has called on all Christians to maintain peace during Christmas 2017.
         The theme for Christmas celebration at the Cathedral Church was "Diversity Starts from Home."
    "We long for an Earth, which is full of peace, and human beings, among whom the spirit of brotherhood grows stronger. This Christmas offers the momentum to renew personal or common life together," Mgr Ingatius Suharyo, the KWI chairman, noted at the Cathedral Church, which is located next to Istiqlal Grand Mosque.
         The call for peace is based on the current condition in the community, as many people are harboring concerns over the recent threat to Indonesia's unity due to stiff political competition by those using all means possible, including those running counter to the Pancasila state ideology, according to Suharyo.
         "Our country's wish to create peace and prosperity has become difficult to realize," he pointed out.
         Religions have called on the people to maintain peace with fellow faith followers and all creatures created by God, he remarked.

         Hence, Suharyo has called on all Christians to learn to accept differences and be grateful for it as diversity is a blessing. 
    On Christmas Eve (Dec 24), thousands of Church-goers joined the solemn Christmas Mass Eucharist service, organized by the Cathedral Church at 5 p.m. local time.
         The first mass service was led by Father Albertus Hani Rudi Hartoko, Father Joannes Maryana, and Father Franciscus Xaverius Adisusanto.
         Father Albertus Hani stated in his homily that the congregation should not be selfish but should have love for others.
         "Do not just look for your own interest, learning to give others will bring happiness to life," he stated.
         He invited the congregation of the Cathedral Church to respect Indonesia's diversity. He noted that the people should view Indonesia's diversity as the grace of God.
         At Paulus Church located in Menteng, central of Jakarta, Priest Andriaan Pitoy, in his Christmas sermon, prayed for long-lasting peace and unity in Indonesia.
         "We pray for the nation amid the current tension. We hope God will interfere to make the world beautiful and orderly again, as how it was created for us initially," he stated before the church congregation.
         We hope that with God's help, the people would be united and work together for the national development, he added.
         The Christmas mass was held peacefully in the church located next to Sunda Kelapa Mosque.
         Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasona Laoly also attended the mass in Paulus Church.
         The day of Christmas brought the message of peace and prosperity to people across the world, Minister Laoly stated.
         "This is indeed a very peaceful and prosperous Christmas, which is God's blessing to us," Laoly noted, after attending a Christmas mass at Paulus Church, on Monday.
         The minister visited the church along with his wife, children, and grandchildren.     
    Laoly has called on Indonesia's Christians to maintain and promote peace and prosperity not only during Christmas but also in their day-to-day lives. 
    Meanwhile, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) extended Christmas greetings to all Indonesian Christians celebrating the festive occasion.
         "To all Christians in Indonesia, I wish a Merry Christmas," Jokowi stated on his Twitter account @jokowi, as reported by Antara on Dec 25.
         Jokowi pointed out that the varied diversity of the country is one of God's blessings on Indonesian people.
         In a press statement on Christmas day, Chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Zulkifli Hasan has opined that this year's Christmas offers the necessary momentum to harness diversity as the nation's strength.
         Faith, diversity, and mutual respect to overcome differences were identified as the nation's strengths for bringing about advancements, Hasan noted.
         Indonesia is home to followers of different faiths, with diverse cultural backgrounds and ethnicities, he noted, while extending Christmas greetings to all Indonesian Christians.
         This diversity should become a means to unify the people and become the nation's strength, he remarked.
         Earlier, the government ensured that Christmas 2017 and New Year 2018 celebrations would run smoothly and peacefully.
         Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo made the statement while visiting the Cathedral church along with Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) Commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto and National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian in Jakarta on Dec 24.
         On the occasion, Police Chief General Tito Karnavian remarked that security pacification for Christmas 2017 and the New Year 2018 celebrations would be conducted until Jan 2, 2018.
         "Indonesia is a country full of diversity, which is home to numerous different ethnic groups, languages, and religions. However, Indonesia is a tolerant country," he explained.
         Hadi Tjahjanto visited three churches to observe the security preparations for Christmas celebrations.
         "We ensure that the Christmas celebration can run safely and peacefully across Indonesia with no untoward security incidents," he pointed out.
         In addition, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan expressed hope that the calm and peace at the 2017 Christmas celebration can be felt by all citizens of Jakarta.
         "We hope that the calm and peace, which have been felt tonight at the Immanuel Church, can also be felt by all Jakarta citizens," Baswedan revealed, while delivering a message to the congregation of GPIB Immanuel church, also located in the central of Jakarta, on Dec 24.
         Flanked by Deputy Jakarta governor Sandiaga Uno, Baswedan further expressed hope that Christmas 2017 also becomes a momentum to keep the unity to make Jakarta a comfortable home for its residents.

(T.F001/A/BESSR/Bustanuddin) 25-12-2017

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