Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Visit to Indonesia
9th - 13th October 1989
Blessed John Paul II was a pilgrim to Indonesia, visiting Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Maumere, Ledalero, Dili & Tuntungan, and East Timor (then under occuputation) during his 44th apostolic voyage on which he also journeyed to Korea and Mauritius.
Here below are all JPII's words in English (with links to the Italian):
at Holy Mass in the Stadium of "Istora Senayan" in Jakarta
to the President of the Republic of Indonesia at the Istana Negara Presidential Palace in Jakarta
at Holy Mass for the faithful of the Archdiocese of Semarang in Yogyakarta
at a Meeting with the leaders of the major religious communities of Indonesia
at a Meeting with the Bishops, the clergy and men and women religious of Indonesia in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Jakarta
at Holy Mass in the "Duncunha Stadium" in Maumere
at a Meeting with the seminarians at the Major Seminary of the Society of the Divine Word in Ledalero
at a Meeting with the university community, and those involved in the world of the arts and sciences in Indonesia gathered in the Atma Jaya Catholic University of Jakarta
at Holy Mass in Tuntungan
in his Address to the organizing committee of the visit in Indonesia
to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Indonesia [speech not given - JPII gave reflection instead]
Reflection on the Apostolic Journey to Indonesia
Blessed John Paul II's Homily at Holy Mass in Jakarta
9 October 1989, in the Stadium of "Istora Senayan" - in English & Italian
"Saudara-saudaraku yang terkasih dalam Yesus Kristus: para Uskup, Imam, Bruder, Frater dan Suster, serta umat beriman yang berhimpun di sini.
1. Saya ingin mengajak Anda semua untuk bersama saya bersyukur kepada Tuhan, bahwa Ia telah memperkenankan kita bertemu dari muka ke muka.
1. In every age the Church is on pilgrimage, journeying to the peoples of every continent, preaching the Good News of God’s saving love to those far and near. Today, after more than 400 years of the Church’s presence in this archipelago, that pilgrimage is experiencing a moment of great spiritual intensity here, in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. For the second time the Pope, the Successor of Peter, has come to Indonesia. I come with the same love and esteem which brought Pope Paul VI to Jakarta in 1970. All the travels of the Bishop of Rome are a response to the command of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ whose servants we are. He enjoined on his disciples: “You shall be my witnesses... to the end of the earth” (Act 1, 8). Therefore, in union of heart with all of you I am profoundly happy to repeat on Indonesian soil the words of the Responsorial Psalm: “I will sing to you, O Lord... of mercy and justice” (Ps 101 (100), 1).
2. My pastoral visit to you, my Catholic brothers and sisters, is part of my ministry which is, above all, a service to the faith and unity of the universal Church. I have also come as a friend of every Indonesian in our common humanity and our common concern for the development and peace of the world in which we live. I greet the public authorities present at this solemn Eucharistic celebration and I express my appreciation to President Soeharto and to the Government for graciously inviting me and thus making this visit possible.
In a special way my greetings go to Cardinal Darmojuwono, to Archbishop Soekoto and to all the bishops of the Catholic Church in Indonesia who repeatedly made known their desire for me to come. My affection reaches out to all the priests, religious and laity. It will be impossible for me to meet all of you during these days, but I assure each one of you of my concern and prayerful encouragement.
In the fellowship that unites us through the sacramental bond of Baptism, I express my cordial esteem for all the members of the various Christian communities present in Indonesia. And to our Muslim brothers and sisters, who are so numerous in this country, I extend the hand of sincere and heartfelt friendship in our common belief in the one God, our Creator and merciful Lord.
Kepada para anggauta semua agama saya ucapkan: Semoga damai sejahtera dan kasih karania berada ditengah-tengah kita.
3. “Laetentur insulae multae”: let the many islands rejoice (Ps 96 (95) 1). For Bishop Walter Staal, Apostolic Vicar of Batavia at the end of the last century, this motto taken from the Psalms expressed the significance of the Church’s presence in this vast archipelago. Today, the whole Church in these islands cries out with joy: “Laetentur insulae multae”!
Dear brother bishops and faithful of the Church in Indonesia: because the bonds of faith, sacramental life and ecclesial communion receive their fullest expression in the celebration of the Eucharist – especially in this Eucharist which gathers the people of God around their bishops in union with the Pope, the head of the Episcopal College – we live this moment with hearts filled with gratitude to the Most Blessed Trinity.
Our hearts sing a hymn of thanksgiving to our heavenly Father for the life of the Church in Indonesia: for her history, for the missionaries who have preached God’s word with wisdom and love, for the holiness of life which the Gospel has inspired, for the good deeds that have been done in its name, for the solidarity it has produced in the building up of modern Indonesia as a unified and dynamic country on the road to ever greater human development, social harmony and peace. We raise our hearts in thanksgiving for the vitality of each of the particular Churches represented here.
As sons and daughters of independent Indonesia, Catholics have nurtured a profound sense of pride in their country. Pro Ecclesia et Patria: “We must be fully Catholic and fully Indonesian”. These words are deeply inscribed in the modern history of the nation. They express the attitude of many Catholics during the struggle for independence, and they continue to inspire the Church’s life in the Indonesia of today.
4. In today’s Gospel reading we heard a significant teaching of Jesus concerning the religious and political dimensions of our existence in society. Some religious leaders had asked Jesus: “Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” (Lk 20, 22). Pointing to one of the coins in circulation in their country, Jesus answers with a question: “Whose likeness and inscription has it? They replied, ‘Caesar’s’.” Then, in response to their initial question Jesus said: “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Lk 20, 25).
By replying in this way Jesus acknowledges a distinction but not a separation between the kingdom of God which he preached and the earthly realm to which all belong as citizens of their country and members of the one great human family (cf Congr. Pro Doctrina Fidei Libertatis Conscientia, 60). Above all Jesus makes known the nature of his own mission, which is to bear witness to the truth (cf Jn 18, 37), the truth expressed in the words: “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk 1, 14). The Lord is teaching us that God is close to every aspect of our existence in society and in the world. His presence in our lives is most deeply experienced in the life of grace and the exercise of moral responsibility.
Jesus’ injunction to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” is a specific application of the greatest of all the commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself” (Lk 10, 27). It is precisely when we recognize the moral obligation to love our neighbour – all our neighbours, all our fellow citizens – that we acknowledge and fulfill our duties to the State and to those responsible for public life. Furthermore, those who love God know that it is his will that they be active and responsible builders of a just and humane society.
5. The Letter of Peter helps us to apply Jesus’ response in the Gospel to life in the political community: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution... for it is God’s will... Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil: but live as servants of God” (1 Pet 2, 13-16). For the believer all authority has its origin in God, and those who exercise it for the common good should be respected “for the sake of conscience” (cf Rom 13, 1-7). The words of Christ and the teaching of the New Testament are the basis of what the Catholic Church has always taught, namely, that political authority and the duties of citizens have to do with the moral order. As a nation, you have incorporated this truth into your own national ethos.
In a certain sense Indonesia’s official attitude of respect for religion reflects the truth of Jesus’ saying in today’s Gospel. You seek to promote the well-being of your country according to the human values on which it is built – rendering to civil society what is its due. At the same time, all are encouraged to render to God what is his, recognizing that the right to practise one’s religion takes its origin directly from the very dignity of the human person as a creature of God. This understanding ensures peace and collaboration among the followers of different religious traditions and permits all to be actively involved in serving the common good.
Maka saya menyerukan kepada seluruh Umat Katolik Indonesia: Jadilah putera bangsa dan warga negara Indonesia yang baik.
6. “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly... you truly teach the way of God” (Lk 20, 21).
Today the Church in Jakarta and in all Indonesia, in union with the Bishop of Rome, renews this profession of faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We do so in imitation of Mary who was blessed because she believed (cf Lk 1, 45), and of Peter who spoke on behalf of the other Apostles to proclaim: “Lord, you have the words of eternal life!” (Jn 6, 86). We profess this faith in continuity with the men and women who have been the zealous witnesses of the Gospel in these islands.
This is a fitting moment for you, the present generation of Indonesian Catholics, to take up with renewed hope and vigour the evangelical challenge which you have inherited from your forebears. This is a fitting moment for all of you, especially the Catholic laity of Indonesia, to rededicate yourselves to the great tasks of transmitting the faith whole and entire to each new generation, of sustaining family life against all that weakens it, of serving the needs of your fellow citizens, especially the poor, the sick and suffering, those lacking education, and those who for any reason are left behind in the processes of growth and development.
And you, dear brother bishops, who are the teachers and pastors of the Church of Christ in Indonesia! It is you above all, together with your priests, who must lead the Church in Indonesia to her fullness in Christ. For this you have been invested with the episcopal ministry through the Holy Spirit whom Christ has given to the Church, that you may be able to teach in truth the ways of God. This is your vocation and your ministry. Christ who lives in his Church in every part of the world expects this service of you.
May the peace and love of him, who teaches the “way of God” – Jesus Christ, who is “the Way and the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14, 6) – be ever with the Church that is present on the islands of this splendid archipelago of Indonesia! May God abundantly bless the Indonesian people!
Damai dan sejahtera menyertai kamu sekalian yang berada dalam Kristus (1Pet 5, 4). Amen."
Pope John Paul II's Address to the President
at the Istana Negara Presidential Palace, on 9 October 1989, Jakarta - in English & Italian
"Mr President, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It is with heartfelt joy and gratitude to Almighty God, the source of all blessings, that I have come to Indonesia. I have looked forward to this opportunity of visiting your country and meeting her people. As the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, I have naturally a special love and concern far my Indonesian brothers and sisters of the Catholic faith, and sense strongly my obligation to support and encourage them in their fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But my visit to Indonesia is not directed exclusively to Catholics. I have come as a friend to all Indonesians, with a great respect for all the people of this dynamic nation. I assure you of my prayers and best wishes that Indonesia may grow in both material and spiritual prosperity, and that each of her citizens may experience the gift of peace that comes from God.
I wish to express my deep gratitude to you, Mr President, for your gracious invitation to visit Indonesia. Your very kind offer to accept lodging at the “Wisma Negara”, which I have had to decline most respectfully, given the principally pastoral nature of my visit, has already enabled me to feel the warm hospitality of the Indonesian people. By thanking you, I wish to extend my gratitude to each of your fellow citizens, and to all those who, in any way, have assisted in making this visit possible.
2. Among the nations of the world, Indonesia enjoys a well-merited respect for her approach to the human dimensions of her growth as a nation. The challenges which face your people are indeed formidable. As the largest country in southeast Asia, Indonesia embraces peoples spread far and wide across many thousands of islands. In their great diversity, comprising hundreds of ethnic groups and a wide variety of cultures and languages, your people themselves constitute the country’s richest resource.
The creation of a unified and interdependent society from such a number of diverse groups stands out as one of Indonesia’s great achievements in her 44 year history as a nation. The philosophy of “Pancasila” which has inspired and guided your national growth very fittingly recognizes that the only firm foundation of national unity is respect for all: respect for the differing opinions, connections, customs and values which mark Indonesia’s many citizens. At times nations are tempted to disregard fundamental human rights in a misguided search for political unity based on military or economic power alone. But such unity can easily be dissolved. As your national tradition teaches, the most secure basis for lasting unity and development as a nation is a profound respect for human life, for the inalienable rights of the human person, and for the freedom of responsible citizens to determine their destiny as a people.
3. Indonesia’s many religious believers have an important role to play in the continuing development of the nation, for belief in God and the spiritual values which unite peoples are powerful forces for good. In this regard, I was pleased to learn of the contributions which Indonesia's Catholic citizens, from the very beginning of the Republic, have made and are continuing to make towards the advancement of their nation. Catholics have given notable service to their country’s development, particularly in the fields of education, health care and social welfare. Together with their brothers and sisters of other religious traditions, they have sought to cooperate in the task of constructing a society which is in harmony with the hopes and aspirations of all their fellow citizens. Following Catholic principles, they have sought to be of service to all men and women of good will in the pursuit of a just and peaceful social order. This cooperation for the good of society has found visible expression in many fine institutions which are widely held in high regard. We are grateful to the Almighty that this has been possible.
4. Mr President: Indonesia has indeed made remarkable advances towards realizing the goals which find such noble expression in the preamble to your nation’s Constitution. As a friend of Indonesia, I pray for the day when the ideals which guide your nation will be fully realized in the life of all her people. In acknowledging the presence of legitimate diversity, in respecting the human and political rights of all citizens, and in encouraging the growth of national unity based on tolerance and respect for others, you lay the foundations for that just and peaceful society which all Indonesians wish for themselves and long to bequeath to their children.
I assure you once again of my deep esteem and affection for the people of your country.
Semoga Allah memberkati Indonesia dengan damaiNya. Semoga Allah memberkati anda sekalian."
Blessed John Paul II's Homily at Holy Mass in Yogyakarta
for the faithful of the Archdiocese of Semarang, 10 October 1989 - in English & Italian
"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Para putera-puteriku yang tarkasih dalam Kristus, khususnya yang berasal dari keuskupan Agung Semarang, keuskupan Purwokerto, Surabaya, Malang, Denpasar, Banjarmasin, Samarinda dan ketapang. Saya ucapkan selamat kepada Bapak Kardinal Darmajuwana yang saya kenal baik sakau Uskup Agung Semarang, MonsignorJulius Darmaatmadja, y para Uskup dan anda Sekalian. Saya sungguh merasa bergembira berada ditengahtengah anda, yang merupakan Gereja muda, hidup dan berkembang.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1, 14).
Every time we repeat these words we proclaim the Mystery of the Incarnation, by which God became man and entered into our earthly history. The Word who is God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of one being with the Father, “for us men and for our salvation... came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man”.
The Incarnation took place in a precise historical setting. “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king” (Mat 2, 1). He was forced to flee into Egypt in order to escape the king’s cruelty. After Herod’s death he returned with Mary and Joseph to Nazareth, where he lived, until at the age of 30 he began to proclaim the Good News of salvation.
At the same time the Incarnation of the Son of God holds meaning for every human being irrespective of time and place. There is an unbreakable bond between man created “in the image of God” (Gen 1, 27) and Christ who took upon himself our human condition, “being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2, 7). From all eternity he was the exemplary cause of all things, “and without him was not anything made that was made” (Jn 1, 3). In the Incarnation, Jesus Christ, “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1, 15), became the source of a new creation: “to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (Col 1, 12). As Saint Paul wrote: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2Cor 5, 17).
To know the exemplar is to have a more perfect knowledge of those made in his image. That is why John teaches that Christ is “the true light that enlightens every man” (Jn 1, 9). Christ reveals what is in each one of us. That is why the Second Vatican Council could say that Christ, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father, “fully reveals man to himself and makes his supreme calling clear” (Gaudium et Spes, 22).
God’s closeness to man through the Incarnation is the result of a free act of love on his part. Without this loving closeness humanity would be irretrievably lost. The Word became flesh in order to teach us that God is our Father, and that he is filled with love for his children. But he also came among us to teach us the way to the Father. “I am the Way”, Jesus said (Jn 14, 6). In fact he teaches that there is no way that does not take its value from him. He said to his disciples: “I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved” (Jn 10, 9). Furthermore, he gave and continues to give the “power” to walk the path that leads to salvation. As we read in the Prologue of St John’s Gospel: “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn 1, 17). How did they come? He poured out the Holy Spirit, through whom we have access to the Father (cf Eph 2, 18). In the heart of each of Christ’s faithful followers the Holy Spirit generates grace and teaches the truth. In this way the image of God in us is restored and completed.
The eternal work of the Most Blessed Trinity, brought close in the Incarnation of the Word, continues through time in the life and mission of the Church. There is a particular time in the history of each people when the “newness” of life in Christ is announced and the seed of the Kingdom is sown. This is the time of courageous missionaries and often of glorious martyrs. That has been the history of the “plantatio Ecclesiae” in your own country and culture. As with the Prophet Jonah in ancient Nineveh, the heralds of the Gospel faced all kinds of difficulties. Together with you, I wish to thank God for the brave and generous missionaries he gave the Church in Indonesia. The memory of the great Saint Francis Xavier is for ever linked with the Archipelago. But here in the heart of Java, I wish especially to recall the memory of those who laid the foundations of this community which has come together with the Pope in order to praise God. We remember especially Father Franciskus van Lith of the Society of Jesus, who struggled with you for your freedom; Bisbop Kanjeng Albertus Sugijapranata, who was the first Indonesian-born bishop and is a national hero; and the renowned Bapak Ignatius Yosef Kasimo Hendrowahyono.
The glorious history of the “plantatio Ecclesiae” in central Java continues today. I rejoice with you at the Christian fervour of your families, from which so many vocations to the priesthood and religious life have come; I rejoice at the enthusiasm and commitment of your young people in the practice of their faith. I rejoice at the zeal and dedication of the lay people actively engaged in various apostolates: in education and health-care, in works of charity and assistance to those in need. In this context I wish to offer a special greeting to all the catechists:
Wahai para kategis yang terkasih: Dengan penuh pengurbanan dan pengabdian, Anda telah memberikan yang terbaik dari hidup Anda demi berkembangnya Kerajaan Allah di sini. Karya-karya Anda itu merupakan mutumanikam yang indah dan sangat berharga bagi seluruh Geraja. Maka Gereja sangat menghargai karya-karya Anda itu. Karena itu saya dengan ini menyampaikan penghargaan, berkah dan doa khusus bagi Anda dan seluruh keluarga Anda.
To the priests and religious I express my deep affection in the Lord and assure them of my prayers. Brothers and sisters: recognize the unique value of your call from Christ. You are his special friends (cf Jn 15, 15). Persevere with joy in your vocations! The Christian community, indeed the whole of society, has absolute need of you, not only because of the many activities in the field of religion, education and human development which you inspire and provide, but above all for what you are as priests and religious: witnesses to God’s saving presence in the midst of his people. May God’s grace sustain you always!
The mystery of the Incarnation – “ the Word became flesh ” – remains for ever the basis of the link between the Church and the various human cultures by which the peoples of the world give expression to their native qualities. The development of a culture is, in a sense, a response to God’s original command “to fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1, 28). The ancient theatre, music and dance of Java embody the concepts and wisdom of a civilization which recognized man’s absolute need of God, “One, Supreme and Almighty”, and emphasized the value of living together in peace. Significant is the myth of the garuda, the eagle which allows man to fly to a great height where the light from above enables him to grasp the true meaning of things and the deeper dimensions of life and love.
In this promising setting the Gospel seed was sown. In the Bible, evangelization is often referred to in agricultural terms. St Paul in fact calls the Christian community “God’s field” (1Cor 3, 9). The seed of the word of God is good seed. The ground is properly prepared. It is up to you, the workers whom the Lord of the harvest, the Eternal Father, has sent into his field, to find the way for it to bring forth abundant fruit – like your forefathers who tended the soil carefully and patiently so that they might harvest their rice crops three times a year. Unlike the first evangelizers, you are not strangers to this culture. You are the sons and daughters of Java. You can carry the Good News to the very heart of your own culture.
At the same time, as members of the Catholic and universal Church, you are conscious of the fact that the Church’s role is also to help to enrich every culture. Through the power of Christ – the Word made flesh – a divine current, so to speak, passes through all nations and cultures. As St Paul says to the Philippians in our first reading, Christ is constantly “encouraging” humanity (cf Phil 2, 1) by his example of self-sacrificing love. From his Cross there flows an “incentive of love” which banishes selfishness and pride, and encourages openness to all. In this way the example of Christ and the power of his Paschal Mystery penetrate, purify and elevate all culture, every culture. Do not let the seed of the world of God remain fruitless. Do not cease to ask the Almighty to grant increase to what has been sown in humble trust!
In this homeland of Bishop Sugijapranata and of Pak Kasimo, it is helpful to remember that Christian faith must be translated into service for the good of society. Alongside these well-known figures, the Church offers the nation the testimony of innumerable honest and dedicated citizens. They too are the harvest of God’s field.
Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you: make selfless love your rule of life. Let it be the object of our personal and community prayer; let it lead and guide you in your daily contact with family, friends, neighbours and fellow workers, as you share in the mission of the Church and in the public life of your country. Remember that you build up the universal Church when you bring to it the unique riches of Indonesian culture; you build up Indonesia when, working in harmony with all your fellow citizens for the common good, you bring to it the unique riches of your Catholic faith.
Christian commitment, however, is not limited to this service to the world. Its main purpose in the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Its moment of greatest intensity is precisely here, in the Eucharist, the celebration of the sacred mysteries of our Redemption. Together we pray: “ May the Lord accept (this) sacrifice... for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his Church ”. In union with Christ we offer to the Father the Church in Yogyakarta and in Java, the entire Church in Indonesia, this whole splendid archipelago and all its peoples, with their hopes and aspirations, their joys and sufferings.
“You are my praise in the great assembly”, says the Psalmist (Ps 22 (21), 28). And through this praise which is sung in countless languages throughout the world, all the ends of the earth return to the Lord, all families of the nations worship before him. In this praise sung by all creation, by all earth’s peoples and nations, there resounds today the voice of Indonesia.
Putera-puteriku yang terkasih: Jadilah terus murid-murid Kristus yang sejati. Doaku selalu mengiringi usaha Anda sekalian di sini. Semoga Tuhan kita Yesus Kristus, selalu melimpahkan rahmatNya kepada Anda sekalian."
Pope John Paul II's Address at a meeting with the leaders of the major religious communities of Indonesia
10 October 1989, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, Jakarta - in English & Italian
"Your Excellency, Distinguished Ministers and Members of Government, Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet you, the respected leaders of the major religious communities represented among the people of Indonesia. As the Bishop of Rome, Successor of the Apostle Peter to whom Christ entrusted a responsibility for all his disciples, I have come on this pastoral visit to Indonesia in order to strengthen the faith of my Catholic brothers and sisters (cf Lk 22, 32). I have come to meet them, to pray with them, and to assure them that they are an important part of the Catholic Church spread throughout the world.
My visit is not restricted, however, to Indonesia’s Catholics. This country embraces within its far-flung boundaries a number of peoples, with a great richness of languages and customs. There are the traditional, indigenous religious cultures which still are found in many places. Ancient religious traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism nourish their adherents with the age-old wisdom of the East. Confucianism too has added its characteristic note, while Islam has become the religious path of the majority of Indonesians. The Catholic Church has been present here for centuries and can give thanks to God for the deep faith of generations of Indonesian Catholics. Other Christian communities also have had a long history in this nation. This impressive heritage of religious traditions is widely recognized as a significant dimension of Indonesia’s life as a nation, one that calls for profound respect from all its citizens.
For this reason, I am happy to greet you, the representatives of those communities with which Indonesia’s Catholics are in close contact. I come to you as a man of peace concerned, like yourselves, for the growth of peace and true harmony among all the peoples of the earth. I come to you as a man of faith who believes that all peace is a gift from God. It is this peace of God “which passes all understanding” (Phil 4, 7) that I invoke upon all the people of Indonesia.
One of the principal challenges facing modern Indonesia is that of building a harmonious society from the many diverse elements which are the source of the nation’s present promise and future greatness. Indonesia’s Catholics find a deep motivation for their contributions to this enterprise in the vision of universal harmony which the Christian faith offers them. By our belief in the one God who is the Creator of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen, we who follow Christ are inspired to work for the advancement of peace and harmony among all people.
This Christian vision is in no way alien to the vision of unity which is characteristic of many other religions. Many religious traditions view the universe as an organic whole, whose parts are knit together in a great web of relations. From this vision is derived a respect for nature, sensitivity in human relationships, a high esteem for love and cooperation within families, a strong sense of justice and the recognition of the rights of each person. Belief in God as the Creator of all things is a powerful stimulus to promote a respectful dialogue among the adherents of the various religions. Undoubtedly, “when Christians and the followers of other religions are united in their belief in the Creator, there exists a sound basis for mutual understanding and peaceful exchange”.
This sort of respectful dialogue and exchange can play a powerful role in the building up of a peaceful and unified society. I wish to express my hope that Indonesia’s religious believers will take the lead in showing that profound respect for others which can foster enduring harmony among the diverse peoples of this nation.
In this regard I am very encouraged by the ideals and practical structures established by the Indonesian Constitution of 1945 concerning the freedom of each citizen to profess the religion of his or her choice and to enjoy freedom of worship. It is the teaching of the Catholic Church that this right to religious freedom is grounded in the very dignity of the human person created by God (cf Dignitatis Humanae, 2). Religious freedom is indeed a fundamental human right, one which should be enjoyed by all religious communities, as well as individuals. Hence, it is very important that this right be protected, “ that the State should effectively ensure and promote the observance of religious freedom, especially when, alongside the great majority who follow one religion, there exist one or more minority groups of another faith.
Distinguished friends: today more than ever the world has become sensitive to the yearning of all peoples to be free, to experience the liberty to live in accordance with the dictates of conscience, to search for the truth without constraint, and to express one’s convictions in a society which promotes authentic progress and a constructive dialogue among people of different beliefs. It is true that this yearning for freedom, unless it is disciplined and directed by a sensitivity to spiritual values and the objective principles of human morality, can degenerate into a permissiveness which enslaves rather than liberates. But this is the very reason why all religious believers should support the cause of authentic liberation by providing that spiritual vision which must necessarily inform any genuine growth in freedom. In a very real sense, it can be said that the responsibility for building a society of cooperation, tolerance and unity within diversity falls to the present generation as a sacred trust, and that Indonesia’s religious leaders have a weighty responsibility in this regard.
So too, do Indonesia’s young people. For this reason I would appeal to them with the words I addressed to young Muslims in Morocco in 1985. “Normally”, I said, “young people look towards the future, they long for a more just and more human world... (But) young people can build a better future if they first put their faith in God and if they pledge themselves to build this new world in accordance with God’s plan, with wisdom and trust”.
This is no small challenge. Indeed, the project of working together in respectful collaboration often involves adopting new perspectives, putting past tensions or hostilities behind and looking towards the future. Each of us is called to adopt an attitude of generous service to one another and in favour of all. As the Second Vatican Council has impressed upon Catholics: “we cannot truly pray to God the Father of all if we treat any people in other than a brotherly fashion” (Nostra Aetate, 5).
In a culturally diverse society, “to treat others in a brotherly fashion” means to live in dialogue. This can take on a number of forms. “Before all else, dialogue is a manner of acting, an attitude and a spirit which guides one’s conduct. It implies concern, respect, and hospitality towards the other” (Secret. pro Non Christianis “Notae quaedam de Ecclesiae rationibus ad asseclas aliarum religionum”, 1984, 29: AAS 76  824). In other words, it involves what is often called the “dialogue of life”, where people strive to live in an open and neighbourly spirit, sharing their joys and sorrows, their human problems and preoccupations.
But there is also the “dialogue of deeds”: collaboration for the integral development of all citizens. To this can be added the important dialogue of theological exchange, by which the partners aim to grow in understanding of their respective religious heritages, and to appreciate each other’s spiritual values. And finally, there can be the dialogue of religious experience by which persons rooted in their own religious traditions share their spiritual riches, such as prayer and contemplation (cf ibid 29-35: “l. c.” pp. 824-825).
In this context, a particular question merits attention. It is that of truth itself, its demands on those who believe, and its requirements for a sincere and respectful dialogue. Unless these issues are faced forthrightly and honestly, an enduring and fruitful collaboration among believers will not be possible.
The voice of conscience commits the human person at the deepest level to think and act in accordance with the truth. To act against one’s conscience would be to betray both the truth and our very selves. Religious believers therefore can never be expected to compromise the truth that they are committed to uphold in their lives.
Yet a firm adherence to the truth of one’s convictions in no way implies being closed to others. Rather it is an invitation to open oneself to the dialogue which we have already described. This is so for two reasons.
First, knowledge of the truth commits us to share the gift we have received with others. In the Holy Bible, Christians read that “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (cf 1Tim 2, 4). The Catholic Church is profoundly convinced that the truth, wherever it is found, can serve as a path to the one God, the Father of all. For this reason, she rejects nothing which is true and holy in other religions (cf Nostra Aetate, 2). The Church does not waver in her belief that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14, 6) and the definitive revelation of God to humanity. Yet, in the service to the truth that she has received, and in a spirit of respect and dialogue, the Church does not hesitate to cooperate with all men and women of good will for the spiritual and moral elevation of mankind and the dawn of a just and peaceful human society.
Respectful dialogue with others also enables us to be enriched by their insights, challenged by their questions and impelled to deepen our knowledge of the truth. Far from stifling dialogue or rendering it superfluous, a commitment to the truth of one’s religious tradition by its very nature makes dialogue with others both necessary and fruitful.
Here in Indonesia, the establishment by the Ministry for Religious Affairs of a national forum for communication and dialogue between religions may be viewed as a positive step. The great task of serving the truth invites you to join hands in cooperation. I offer my prayers for the success and the continuing fruitfulness of the good work that you have begun.
Dear brothers and sister: with each passing day, the unity of the human family becomes more and more apparent, even when that unity is dramatically threatened by the forces of war, violence and repression. Where spiritual values such as mutual respect, peaceful collaboration, and reconciliation are present, not only is the unity of individual groups strengthened, but the life of entire nations can well be changed and the course of history altered.
The challenge is ours. Together let us strive for mutual understanding and peace. On behalf of all mankind, let us make common cause of safeguarding and fostering those values which will build up the spiritual and moral health of our world. Let us generously serve the will of God, as we have come to know it, in a spirit of dialogue, respect and cooperation.
May God bless you all with his peace!"
Blessed John Paul II's Homily at Holy Mass in Maumere
in Duncunha Stadirum, Wednesday 11 October 1989 - in English & Italian
"1. Saudara-Saudara yang terkasih dalam Yesus Kristus,
Saya begitu gembira dapat mempersembahkan kurban Ekaristi - yang merupakan pusat dan puncak dari kesatuan kita - di bumi Maumere yang terberkati ini, berkumpul sebagai umat Allah bersama Santo Bapa dan Para Uskup dari daerah ini, termasuk gembala Keuskupan Agung Ende, Monsignor Donatus Djagom. Pada hari ini nyatalah kasih persaudaraan kita.
“Who is like the Lord, our God,
who has risen on high to his throne
yet stoops from the heights to look down,
to look down upon heaven and earth?” (Ps 113 (112), 5-6)
The psalmist sings of the greatness of God, the God whose praise is chanted by all creation. He is the Creator in whom all things have their origin – “in whom we live and move and have our being” (cf Act 17, 28). Man bears witness to God, in whose image he is created. Man proclaims God’s holiness, his power, his wisdom. He proclaims God’s merciful love: the love that “stoops from the heights” to look down upon human suffering and humiliation:
“From the dust he lifts up the lowly,
from his misery he raises the poor
to set him in the company of princes,
yes, with the princes of his peoples” (Ps 113 (112), 7-8).
In the great act of adoring God there is one who excels all others: Mary – she who was chosen to be the earthly Mother of God’s Son, the Eternal Word.
When she visited the house of Elizabeth, her kinswoman, the Virgin of Nazareth joins the Psalmist in praising the God who puts down “the mighty from their thrones” and exalts “the lowly”, who fills “the hungry with good things” and sends “the rich away empty” (cf Lk 1. 52-53). Her song is the “Magnificat”, which the Church repeats from generation to generation. At every Evening Prayer we make this hymn our own:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is on those who fear him” (Lk 1, 45-47. 49-50).
2. Since Mary is the Mother of Christ, her witness to her Son is unique. She alone experienced the mystery of the Incarnation at the very moment of conception. She gave birth to her Son at Bethlehem. She gave him the name Jesus, which means “Saviour”. She offered him to the Lord in the Temple 40 days after his birth. Together with Joseph she protected him from King Herod’s cruelty by fleeing into Egypt. In the house at Nazareth she watched Jesus “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man” (cf Lk 2, 52). And when Mary found her divine Son at the age of twelve in the Temple, he told her that he had “to be about his Father’s business” (cf Lk 2, 49). Her heart awaited the realization of his “business” in keeping with her words at the Annunciation: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1, 38).
The Gospel of today’s liturgy recalls an event which took place during a wedding at Cana, where for the first time Mary bore public witness to the divine power of her Son. She says to him, “They have no wine” (Jn 2, 3). Even though he seems to respond negatively, Mary is confident of her Son’s goodness and says to the servants: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2, 5). When the servants carry out Jesus’ command, the water with which they had filled the jars proves to be excellent wine. So it was that at Cana in Galilee Jesus performed “the first of his signs” (Jn 2, 11) which revealed the true nature of his person and mission.
At the foot of the Cross, a new phase begins in Mary’s witness to Jesus. When Mary was given to the beloved disciple as his Mother, she was also given to the Church. She devotes herself to prayer with the apostles in the Upper Room, while awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. And when the apostles, having received “power from on high” (Lk 24, 49), left the Upper Room in Jerusalem to bear witness to Christ crucified and risen, the example and intercession of the Lord’s Mother accompanied them everywhere. This unique witness continues to strengthen the Church from generation to generation.
3. Dear brothers and sisters, in the course of time the praises of Mary’s faith also reached your beloved Island of Flores, the Island of Flowers. It was the Portuguese who founded the first Christian communities here in the 16th century. Those beginnings were not easy. Many priests, religious and laity gave their lives for the faith through martyrdom. In difficult times the laity continued to hold fast to that faith even when priests and religious were not readily available. In this regard I gladly recall the recent celebrations in the Diocese of Amboina of the centenary of the return of the Church to that province of the Moluccas.
Today you are continuing that faithful witness to Christ through your daily efforts to live the Gospel in the holiness of family life, in building a better society, in strengthening the love that should always mark the life of the ecclesial community. As active members of your local Churches, you involve yourselves in your parishes, in the lay apostolate, and in the efforts that are being made to strengthen Christian family life. Many gifts of the Spirit are to be found among you for building up Christ’s Body, the Church, and for transforming the world from within with the power of God’s love. With Mary we rejoice at all the wonderful things that God has done in your midst in the past 400 years.
A particular sign of your faithfulness is the increasing number of your sons and daughters generously dedicated to God’s service as priests and religious. Many of them are the missionaries of today, who preach God’s word in all Indonesia and even in other countries.
Mary’s prayers accompany you on your pilgrimage of faith. Your loving response to her maternal care is expressed in your devotion to “Tuan Ma” at Larantuka, to Mother Mary of Fatima at Lela and Watulaji, to Mother Mary of Lourdes at Detusoko, and to Holy Mary Patroness of the Missions at Cancar. This devotion has been rooted for centuries in the mind and heart of your people. I recall that, among other things, in the 18th century the King of Larantuka entrusted his kingdom to Mother Mary, Reinha Rosari and Reinha Larantuka. Solemn acts of dedication also took place at Lela and Sikka in 1947 and again at Sikka in 1949.
Thus the long history of the Church in Nusa Tenggara Timur is filled with the presence of Mary, who intercedes with her Son for you and urges you to “do whatever he tells you” as the Gospel says.
4. What is Christ asking of you today? What does it mean to bear witness to him? It means to communicate divine life to the world, to heal and elevate the dignity of the human person, to build up society in justice, peace and love. It means to bring a deeper meaning and a higher purpose to temporal concerns and daily activities (cf Gaudium et Spes, 40).
Dear brothers and sisters, as Catholics and Indonesians you are taking a full part in the life of your country by working courageously to promote the common good and to remedy social problems. It is above all the laity who are called to illumine and organize temporal affairs, imbuing them with the spirit of the Gospel, so that the whole life of the community may effectively uphold and promote the dignity and rights of its members. You understand the enormity of the task facing your country in providing better education and training, more jobs and just wages, and a more equitable distribution of the advantages of economic and cultural development. Here in Nusa Tenggara Timur you also have an opportunity to cooperate in the Operassi Nusa Makmur in order to safeguard and improve the environment.
Society has a pressing need of your authentic witness to those values which are capable of transforming it for the benefit of all. Your Christian faith urges you to be involved in this great undertaking to the full measure of your talents and resources, and in harmony with the social doctrine of the Church.
At the same time faith tells us that we can effectively promote unity and cooperation in society only if we ourselves are reconciled with God and neighbour. We find the path to authentic human development if we recognize the importance of spiritual realities in our lives and our need to turn away from selfishness and sin. It is a process which begins with our own spiritual conversion. Mary proclaimed the true meaning of all human existence when she called herself “the handmaid of the Lord”. We too must recognize that we are creatures in the service of God’s loving plan, called to live a life worthy of our supernatural vocation.
5. “Praise, O servants of the Lord,
praise the name of the Lord” (Ps. 113 (112), 1).
Yes, among all God’s servants it is Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, who excels in the adoration offered to God by peoples and nations, by the whole human family.
“From the rising of the sun to its setting
praised be the name of the Lord” (Ps 113 (112) 3).
The Mother of Christ proclaims everywhere the “great things” that the Almighty has accomplished in her. “From generation to generation” she bears witness to God’s love for the world. Indeed, he loved the world so much “that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3, 16).
Mary, the Mother of this Son in the mystery of the Incarnation, never ceases to intercede with him for our salvation. Here on the Island of Flores she never ceases to speak to the hearts of all her sons and daughters: “Do whatever he tells you”.
Flores, Nusa Bunga, sebuah nama yang indah! Namun di balik nama ini terselit satu tugas yang berat untuk anda kalian, yaity menyebarkan kembang-kembang iman, menyebarkan keharuman Kristus sendiri di mana pun Anda berada dan kemana pun Anda pergi, agar semua orang dapat mengalami keselamatan Allah. Semoga Tuhan selalu menyertai Anda sekalian. Bunda Maria, doakanlah kami."
Pope John Paul II's Address to Representatives of the World of Culture
at Atma Jaya Catholic University, Jakarta, on Thursday, 12 October 1989 - in English & Italian
"Distinguished Professors, Dear Students, My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Dear Friends,
1. I am particularly pleased to have this opportunity to meet you all, the men and women of the university community, and those involved in the world of the arts and sciences in Indonesia. I greet you most cordially, and assure you of my esteem for your important work. Wherever I go in the fulfilment of my apostolic ministry, a meeting with members of the academic community is an occasion of great joy for me. It reminds me of my own happy and long-standing relationship with the university world in my native Poland, as a student and as a professor.
My warm greeting goes to the many young people here, representing the students of Indonesia. You are indeed an important part of Indonesia’s future! This is for you a reason for rejoicing, but also the measure of your responsibility. I am grateful for the presence of so many distinguished teachers and scholars who so generously devote themselves to the noble task of educating these young men and women for the roles of leadership which they will soon be called upon to assume.
Our meeting today takes place on the campus of the Catholic University of Atma Jaya. Although founded less than 30 years ago, this university, together with 9 other Catholic universities in Indonesia, is heir to a centuries-old university tradition within the Catholic Church.
2. It was the desire to serve society that inspired the Church’s many efforts to establish schools and universities in Indonesia. From the first years of her presence here, the Church chose to be an educator, seeking to help people to know the truth and to serve others in obedience to its demands. Today, throughout Indonesia, the Church continues to serve society through a network of educational institutions which provide instruction for over a million young people. These institutions have been maintained by the Catholic community at no small sacrifice, in a spirit of openness to all Indonesians, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. The existence today of 10 internationally recognized Catholic universities and a number of other institutes of higher education is a source of immense pride for the Catholic community and a concrete proof of the Church’s commitment to the progress of society.
In this context a special word of gratitude and encouragement is due to the many men and women religious who for generations have so generously contributed their talents and energy to establishing and developing centres of education at every level in your country. Nor can the support and initiative of Indonesia’s laity go unmentioned. As is well known, this very university at Atma Jaya is the fruit of the living faith of a generation of Indonesian Catholic lay intellectuals. The Church rejoices in the generosity with which her members have worked for the education and training of Indonesia’s youth, and appreciates the support they have received in this enterprise from the Indonesian government and from their fellow Catholics overseas.
3. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: allow me to reflect briefly with you on the role of the university in society, and the distinctive contribution that a Catholic university can make, both to the individuals who are in one way or another attached to it, as well as to the society in which it exists.
Universities form, in fact, an important part of that great network of persons, institutions and traditions from which ideas arise, are tested, and are proposed to the wider community. Academic research, debate and teaching have a profound influence upon men and women far beyond the university campus. This enormous yet often hidden influence of the universities makes them a powerful force within society.
In a very real way, it may be said that the university stands at the crossroads of life and reflection; it is a meeting-point and a forum for enriching debate among those dedicated to the search for knowledge of all kinds as indeed among those whose task it is to apply knowledge to life. The vocation of teachers and students to search for knowledge finds noble expression in their daily work, in their patient and painstaking research and in the exposition of ideas. The treasury of human knowledge is constantly expanding as scholars investigate reality with methods proper to their science. Precisely for this reason, there is an increasing call from members of the academic world for a university education that permits the student to achieve an ordered vision of reality. The true challenge confronting university education today has to do with the very meaning of scientific and technological research, of society and culture. As I stated in a recent address to an international meeting on higher education: “what is at stake is the very meaning of man”.
In recent times, education has been faced with problems arising from the “splintering” of human knowledge into ever more numerous specializations. In this context, it is most appropriate that universities pursue the ideal of an integral education of the human person. To abandon this task would be to leave aside the deeper meaning of education itself, which should be understood not merely as training in certain skills, but also as a process which leads to the authentic human development of the individual in this life, to the creation of a just and peaceful social order, and ultimately to eternal happiness with God. Only by constantly striving for a higher synthesis of knowledge can one hope to satisfy the thirst for true wisdom which is so deeply inscribed in the human heart.
4. It is within this context that the Catholic university has its proper role. The Catholic university is of course called upon to engage in high quality research and teaching. But precisely because it is “Catholic”, the recognition it gives to man’s religious dimension in the search for truth is irrevocably joined to a concrete profession of faith. The task of learning and teaching is guided by the light of the Church’s faith.
What does it mean to say that a Catholic university should be guided by faith in Christ? It means that the university as an institution is committed to the belief that Jesus Christ has revealed the truth about God and that in doing so he has definitively revealed the fundamental dignity of each and every human person (cf Gaudium et Spes, 22), regardless of how good or intelligent or useful others may consider that person to be.
The Catholic university’s commitment to higher education, then, is in fact a commitment to man himself and to the development of all that is truly human. It is for this reason that the Church has always supported the growth and development of institutions of higher learning. She wishes the dignity of the person to be affirmed, human rights and freedoms to be defended and promoted, justice and a social order marked by fellowship and mutual respect to be everywhere fostered. She wishes, in a word, to serve the people of society by proclaiming the sublime dignity of the human person, a truth that she herself has learned at the school of the Gospel.
5. As an institution, the Catholic university has a specific vocation within the Church. Here I would address in a particular way the Catholics within the university community. Dear brothers and sisters: you are called to build bridges between the world of knowledge and the world of faith. Through your witness of faith, you help the Church to fulfil her prophetic function in society, which is to purify and elevate all human activity through the light and power of the Gospel. The Church in no way rejects whatever is authentically human and true in given cultures, for she knows that contact with the Gospel will bring them to a more complete and fruitful realization (cf Gaudium et Spes, 58).
Your studies, your dialogue with colleagues, and the many ways in which you serve your fellow citizens will all help to bring the Church’s presence and teaching to bear upon the challenges and questions facing your society. The history of Indonesia, particularly during her struggle for national independence, provides numerous examples of Christians whose witness to the Gospel has made no small contribution to the establishment of this Republic. Today it is your turn to bear the burdens of society and play an active part in the nation’s development and growth.
6. The great work of promoting human dignity and serving society is one in which all members of the university, of whatever religious tradition, are called to share. Each of you, through your scholarly work, is in fact helping to build the society of the future, one that not only promises a better Indonesia for your children and your grandchildren, but also a better world for all peoples. Your culture has been deeply influenced by the wisdom of the ancient civilizations of the East, and it respects the fundamental role which religion plays in human existence. For this reason, one can hope that Indonesia will continue to avoid the tragic error of separating science and faith, a separation which has had disastrous consequences in some other parts of the world. In the vain hope of constructing a purely secular culture, certain societies have sacrificed higher values and the religious experience of peoples in favour of a material “progress” that has proven sterile and incapable of satisfying the deeper demands of the human spirit.
As educators and students of Indonesia, you are laying the foundations not only of your own future but of the future of the entire society in which you live. It is important never to lose your enthusiasm and vision! Education is a gift, not for yourselves alone, but to be shared in turn with others. It is a gift which enables you also to help those who are less fortunate than yourselves.
7. Dear friends: on the occasion of my visit to Atma Jaya, allow me to make this appeal to all of you. Do not make education an instrument of selfishness, but realize its potential for good, for the defence of the weak and the benefit of the poor. Dedicate yourselves generously to the service of others, help carry their burdens, and share with them the vision and the confidence which your education has given you!
Millions of human beings, in countries all over the world, are unable to meet the minimal requirements for a dignified existence. Yet, mankind today possesses the scientific and technical means to eliminate much of this poverty. This situation challenges universities, and Catholic universities in particular, to mobilize their scientific and academic resources in order to find ways to meet such grave human needs.
I am happy to know that the University Hospital of Atma Jaya, as well as other hospitals, provide lowcost medical treatment to the people of the surrounding neighbourhoods. There are countless areas of human need crying out for effective solidarity. How much good can be done by providing legal assistance, by conducting courses in home economics, by rendering technical aid in improving the quality of the environment! How many forms of social service can a university community initiate and inspire! What is needed is an academic culture that unites high standards of learning with a profound and pervading ethic of real service to the poor, of real service to the development of the whole human being and of all people (cf Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 30). This is a goal towards which I urge you to strive with every effort and all your talents.
May the Most High God, the Source of all Good, guide and sustain you in the search for knowledge and the service of the truth! God bless Atma Jaya! God bless Indonesia!"
Blessed John Paul II's Homily at Holy Mass in Tuntungan
for the faithful of Sumatra, Friday 13 October 1989 - in English & Italian
"1. Putera-puteriku dari Sumatera yang terkasih dalam Tuhan kita Yesus Kristus, Horas. Mejuah-Juah. Jahowu.
Saya begitu gembira dabat mempersembahkan kurban Ekaristi ini, yang merupakan pusat dan puncak dari kesatuan kita, dibumi Sumatera yang terberkati ini. Dengan menyampaikan kata salam istimewa kepada para Uskup Anda, Lebih-lebih kepada Uskup Agung Medan, Monsignor Pius Datubara, Saya ucapkan selamat kepada anda semua. Juga kepada saudara-saudara Kristen Protestant dengan paduan suara mereka pada hari ini di antara kasih persaudaraan kita. Pada hari ini nyatalah kasih persaudaraan kita.
As we come together in this beautiful setting of Tuntungan, let us rejoice at the marvellous fruitfulness with which the Church has been blessed in Sumatra. Today there are approximately 700,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese of Medan and in the Dioceses of Sibolga, Padang, Pangkalpinang, Palembang and Tanjung Karang. From humble missionary beginnings just over a 150 years ago, the seed of faith which was sown among the various peoples of this island has grown into one great tree. In her own unique way, the Church too is an example of what is stated in the national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika: “unity in diversity”.
It is with gratitude to God that, together with the Psalmist, we proclaim:
“the word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love” (Ps 33 (32), 4-5).
The Lord who fills the earth with his love is a God who loves justice and right.
2. In today’s Gospel one of the doctors of the Law puts the question to Jesus: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” But this question is not his alone. It is asked by people of every generation, nation, culture and language. It is a question about eternal life, about the future of man after death. In asking “What must I do?”, “How should I behave?”, men and women of every time and place acknowledge that life beyond the grave depends on how well we live this earthly life. We know that God is the one who rewards goodness and punishes evil.
The Church in Sumatra is happy that this certitude is shared by all the people of the region: with our Christian brothers and sisters who believe in the same Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and also with the followers of Islam who believe in the same good and just God. To them, our Muslim brothers and sisters, I address warm greetings, hoping that we will be as one in praising the Most High God and will work together so that future generations in Sumatra may live in a society marked by respect for God and his commandments. Truly, he is the Lord who loves “justice and right”.
“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” In the Gospel Jesus does not directly answer the question. He has no need to, since the man who asked it was a doctor of the Law and knew very well what is written there. The man himself provided the right answer by quoting the commandment of love already present in the Old Testament: (cf Deut 6, 4-6 & Lev. 19, 18) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself ” (Lk 10, 27).
Jesus confirms the correctness of this reply: “You have answered right; do this, and you will live” (Lk 10, 28), that is, you will have eternal life.
3. But then the lawyer goes on to ask a further question of Jesus: “Who is my neighbour?”. In order to answer this, the Lord makes use of the parable of the Good Samaritan, which graphically depicts how we ought to treat every person if we wish to live by God’s commandment of love.
Through this moving parable Christ is telling us that we must behave like the Samaritan. We must be open to others, we must approach them, be concerned for them, and help especially those who are most in need.
Our model for this behaviour is the compassion and mercy which we ourselves have received from God. For the parable of the Good Samaritan is first and foremost a message concerning the person of Jesus Christ himself. Christ, the Son of God, is the Good Samaritan par excellence: he is the Saviour who finds humanity half-dead by the roadside and stops to heal our wounds. By his death on the Cross, he revealed “the tender mercy of our God” (Lk 1, 78), who desires that all men be saved. By his Resurrection, he restored us to life, to spiritual health. And in return he invites us to love others as he himself has loved us.
Our love of neighbour, then, is nothing other than our response to the love with which God has first loved us. We who have been shown compassion surely cannot refuse it to others. Nor may we forget that whatever we do for those in need we do to Christ himself (cf Mt 25, 40). On the night before he died, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, and told them that he had given them an example, that “they also should do as he had done” (cf Jn 13, 15). Through our love of neighbour, we not only imitate the love of Christ for us, we also fulfil his supreme commandment of love.
In Christ, love of neighbour is the highest expression of the solidarity which binds together all people throughout the world. This solidarity is not just a vague emotion; it is a reality rooted in Christ’s Incarnation. For by “assuming human nature (Christ) united all humanity to himself in a supernatural solidarity which makes us one single family. He has made charity the distinguishing mark of his disciples, in the words: 'By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another' (Jn 13, 35)” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 8). Christ teaches a love that is universal, for all persons are neighbours to one another, regardless of origin, race, culture or religion.
4. Today’s first reading from the Letter to the Hebrews gives some concrete examples of human need when it exhorts us: “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality... Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body” (Hb 13, 1-3). In different ways, each of these commands echoes the golden rule which the Lord taught in the Sermon on the Mount: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them” (Mt 7, 12).
To the stranger and the imprisoned we can add the sick, the disabled, the aged, orphans, and all those who are poor, oppressed or rejected in the world.
I know that in Sumatra you are working hard to promote a more human society through economic development and greater social justice. Your Christian vocation challenges and inspires you to do all you can to further these worthy goals. Your yearning for God’s Kingdom should increase, not diminish your desire to humanize the earth in anticipation of the world to come. You have a Christian responsibility to contribute to authentic human development, to promote greater justice, love and peace, to bring to the world a vision of unity based on the dignity of every human being created in the image and likeness of God (cf Gaudium et Spes, 33-45). I recommend this particular task and responsibility to you, sons and daughters of the Church in Sumatra, so that here in this land the principle underlined by the Second Vatican Council will take hold: “In the socio-economic realm, too, the dignity and total vocation of the human person must be honoured and advanced along with the welfare of society as a whole. For man is the source, the centre, and the purpose of all socio-economic life” (Ibid. 63).
As Catholics, you help to give economic and social development a human soul, a human heart, by bringing to it the compassion and personal commitment of the Good Samaritan. This is a task which you share with the members of other Christian Churches as you seek greater mutual understanding and collaboration with them, bearing in mind the strength of the bonds that unite us in Christ through our Baptism and our common profession of him as Lord and Saviour. Indeed, by joining with all believers in bearing witness to God, the “Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1, 3), you show yourselves to be loving neighbours to all. For it is no small kindness to remind others of the primacy of God in their lives. Without belief in God there can be no enduring love of neighbour, no true human development, no lasting peace.
5. The doctor of the law asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”. This is the most fundamental of all questions, for as the Letter to the Hebrews tells us: “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (Hb 13, 14). Our earthly existence has no meaning without reference to the fullness of that life which is to come.
Christ has shown us the way to that life. He taught us a new norm of conduct. The parable of the Good Samaritan, with its message of universal love of neighbour, is the foundation of a new concept of relations between people and of life in society. In the power of Christ’s love, people’s lives are transformed, making them worthy heirs of eternal life.
In this part of the world where the hope of eternal life is strong among the followers of all religions, it is only right to ask the whole of Sumatran society to unite in defending and fostering the religious character of life and its openness to transcendent values. Christians, as well as the followers of Islam, are called to be heralds of this supreme good and to share it with those who have lost it. Be proud to bear witness to other peoples – beyond the sea, to the far off islands – that this dynamic people is built on the foundation stone of the primacy of God and his promises.
The Lord who fills the earth with his love is a God who loves justice and right.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: May the entire Church in Sumatra draw courage to live and grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan. May all assembled here at this solemn Eucharistic celebration in Medan seek in every way to follow faithfully the word of the Lord, and to serve him in “justice and right”. For he is the Lord – the Lord who fills the earth with his love (cf Ps 33 (32), 5). Amen.
Semoga karena Gereja Katolik semua orang dan masyarakat, khususnya mereka yang miskin dan lemah, bergembira, memuliakan dan memuji Tuhan. Semoga Gereja di Sumatera membantu masyarakat menmukan keadilan dan memuliakan martabat manusia. Semoga Tuhan memberkati Anda semua."
Pope John Paul II's Address at a Meeting with the Bishops, Priests, Men & Women Religious of Indonesia
10 October 1989, Cathedral of the Assumption, Jakarta - in English & Italian
"Dear Brother Bishops,
1. "Rahmat dan damai dari Allah Bapa dan Tuhan Jesus Kristus beserta anda" (Rom 1, 7).
It is my special joy to meet you, the priests and men and women religious of Indonesia, in this Cathedral of the Assumption, the oldest Catholic cathedral in your country. It is a day for us to celebrate together the goodness of the Lord. It is also an opportunity for me to encourage you to persevere and to grow in the vocation to which God has called you in the service of the Gospel. Although the Church here is comparatively young, she is rich in grace and blessings. And as you experience the joys as well as the challenges of her growth, I wish to assure you that you are close to my heart. I offer you my encouragement and my love.
You who are today’s generation of priests are heirs to the high ideals of the great missionaries who selflessly laid the foundations of the Church in Indonesia. Many of them were personally known to you. You were confirmed by their faith and led to the Lord’s service through their example. Our thoughts turn to those “faithful stewards”, who have now been called to their eternal reward but whose memory lives on. The example of their Christian life and witness is their legacy, and even now they are interceding with God for the continued fruitfulness of that part of the Lord’s vineyard which they cultivated with such loving care. One thinks of Father van Lith of Java, as well as of intrepid pastors of more recent times, such as the renowned Bishop Thijssen who laboured in Lesser Sunda, and Archbishop van den Hurk, so recently taken from us.
The high esteem in which you are held today by the Indonesian people, including those who are not Christian, is due in great measure to the dedication and moral integrity of those who have gone before you. But their powerful example also constitutes a challenge, since your Churches today continue to need holy and wise priests who are able to show the right path, however daunting or difficult.
2. I also wish to address all the religious sisters and brothers. I thank you for your consecrated witness in the Church and in the world, and for your numerous apostolates. My special greeting goes to the various groups of contemplative nuns and to the Trappist Fathers whose silent witness and prayerfilled service is so precious to the Church’s life and mission.
So many of the Church’s activities in Indonesia have been conducted under the intelligent and experienced direction of religious. Mention must be made of your work in Catholic education and catechesis, and in the important fields of health care and human development services. Catholic schools in particular enable you to advance the human knowledge and virtue of others, while at the same time making it possible for you to speak to them about Christ.
By combining the missionary zeal of religious from abroad with the fresh enthusiasm of Indonesian-born religious, you have given new life and fervour to your charisms. By maintaining your identity as religious and by persevering in your apostolates, you too have earned the love and respect of the laity and have drawn young people to your way of life. This example is a great gift not only for Indonesia, but for the whole Church.
3. “Laetentur insulae multae” – “Let the many islands rejoice” (Ps 96 (95), 1). These words of the Psalm served as the motto for one of the missionary bishops of Batavia in the last century. To you, the priests and religious of this largest archipelago in the world, I commend this motto as a key to unlock the true meaning of your lives. You will find that meaning in bearing witness to the joy of the Resurrection and in giving your life so that even the most distant islands may “rejoice” at hearing the Gospel, of which you are authentic preachers, teachers and witnesses.
In order that your witness may be credible, your lives must radiate joy and courage even in the face of adversity. This is possible only when your interior life is characterized by close communion with Christ, which is nourished through personal prayer and the practice of pastoral charity. To the degree that you grow according to the model of Christ, you will be transformed into his image. You will become a sign of hope and a living proclamation of the Resurrection.
I know that you often have to carry out your mission with means that are totally disproportionate to the task entrusted to you. Service of this kind requires great personal sacrifice and total dedication to God’s people. This is especially true in the most remote Churches: those in Kalimantan, the Moluccas, Irian and Sulawesi. Although I am not able to visit these communities personally, I know that they are represented here today, and I wish to greet them and to assure them that they too are close to my heart.
4. Although your work in the Lord’s vineyard is often arduous, you can take great encouragement from the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life that enrich the Church in Indonesia today. I join you in giving thanks for the work of the Holy Spirit, who has been poured forth in such abundance upon your Churches. Over the last seven years the number of Indonesian priests has increased from less than 800 to over 1100 – an unparalleled blessing in our times. I also join you in thanking the Catholic families of Indonesia, in particular the parents who have so generously given their sons and daughters to the service of God.
Vocations are a sign of the healthy state of religious life as well as the result of the dedicated ministry of bishops and priests. It is preaching by good example that leads young people to embrace a life of total consecration and of ministry. Both foreign missionaries and Indonesian-born clergy, working closely together, have given a shining example of Christian life and service. Although there have been obstacles to the continued presence of the missionaries, this very problem has been turned to the Church’s good: such is the power of faith!
Since the building up of the Church is the work of God, we must never cease to pray for vocations and ask others to do the same. Although much has been accomplished, there is still more to be done: “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Lk 10, 2).
5. Dear brothers and sisters, we must also look to the future even as we give thanks for the blessings of the past and the graces of the present. Once initial evangelization has been completed, a new task begins: the task of forming consciences and of interiorizing the faith. This calls for renewed commitment on your part, a commitment which is absolutely necessary if the Gospel is to strike deep roots in Indonesian life and culture. Formation serves to nurture the fragile and still vulnerable plant in its early stages of growth.
You will want to provide the Catholic people with the formation needed to ensure that their acceptance of Christ, nourished within the Church, will become part of the very fabric of their lives without lapsing into mediocrity or compromise. There is need to form strong, responsible laity who recognize that faith embraces every aspect of life, and who consciously participate in the Church’s mission within the family, at work, and in social and public life.
Much of the Church’s effort is already directed towards formation through the many Institutes which have been established in Indonesia, especially those conducted by the various religious communities. Great attention has been given to human development, and this is certainly a worthy goal. But authentic human development must be rooted in an ever deeper evangelization. Perhaps it is time to identify new forms of pastoral outreach, in close cooperation with the bishops, according to the spirit of the Gospel parable which praises the scribe who was capable of bringing out of his treasure “what is new and what is old” (Mt 13, 52).
Formation is not meant only for the laity. Priests and religious also need to deepen their faith through lifelong study and reflection in keeping with their state in life and the needs of their apostolates. The aim is to grow in knowledge and love of Christ and the Church her teaching, worship and discipline – so that we may be sure of – “speaking the truth in love” and of “growing up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body upbuilds itself” (cf Eph 4, 15-16).
Reflection on the future of the Church in Indonesia should also take into account the complementary roles of clergy and laity, as well as their unity in the Eucharist, which is the “source and summit of all evangelization” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 5) and “of all Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11). The presence of sacred ministers among God’s people is part of his providence, and I commend the priests in Indonesia for carrying out so faithfully the ministry of word and sacrament in communion with their bishops. I am aware of the sacrifice and constant travel required of them in order to bring that presence to the faithful.
But when it is difficult for the priest to bring his unique ministry to people, there is a temptation to resort to alternatives. While new forms of ecclesial service and lay involvement are to be welcomed, they cannot substitute for the ministry of priests. There is a complementarity of roles between clergy and laity that is essential for the Church’s life and mission. If on a regular basis the laity are entrusted with roles and responsibilities that belong to ordained ministers, then the Church’s life suffers and the local communities are deprived of the ministry to which they are entitled.
In this regard I wish to draw special attention to the Eucharist. I commend you for all the efforts that have been made to renew the Liturgy in accordance with the directives of the Second Vatican Council. At the same time I also ask you to make the celebration of the Eucharist a special priority. For many Indonesian Catholics the Mass is still a luxury reserved for only a few days of the year. Having just participated in the Eucharistic Congress in Seoul, I am strengthened in my resolve to invite all the priests of Indonesia to commit themselves to making the Eucharist the true centre of every community.
Participation in the Church’s life and mission is not limited, of course, to the Liturgy. There are many forms of Catholic association that should be welcomed and even strengthened, if they are deemed appropriate and useful in a given socio-cultural context. In this work too, priests and religious have a special role to play.
6. Dear brothers and sisters, these reflections concerning the pilgrim path of the Church in Indonesia should fill all of us with new hope. The wealth of charisms among the various religious families, the growth of the diocesan clergy, and the ever deeper faith of your people, are all signs of a new springtime of the Spirit which is blossoming in this land so richly blessed by God.
I urge you to use God’s gifts wisely. Much has been gained through the sacrifices and wise choices of those who have gone before you. Their decision to be models of service has greatly assisted the spread of the Gospel in Indonesia. May you be equally blessed with wisdom in order to continue the work of the Church in response to the further challenges of evangelization today. You can rely on the wealth of spiritual gifts that have been poured out on the Church. Above all, you can rely on “that power of God at work within us, which is able to do far more than all that we ask or think” (cf Eph 3, 20).
May the Mother of God, so highly venerated among you, Saint Francis Xavier, a great evangelizer of this land, and Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, so dear to the heart of Indonesian Catholics, obtain for you the grace to persevere in the faith and to be courageous witnesses to the Gospel.
Akhirnya, saya dengan senang hati akan memberikan Berkat Apostolik kepada Anda sekalian."
Pope John Paul II's Address at a Meeting with Seminarians in Ledadero
Major Seminary of the Society of the Divine Word, 11 October 1989, - in English & Italian
"Archbishop Djagom, Brother Bishops, Priests, Religious and Laity, Dear Seminarians,
1. "Rahamat dan damai dari Allah Bapa dan Tuhan Jesus Kristus beserta anda" (Rom 1, 7).
The number of candidates for the priesthood present here this evening is an eloquent tribute to the Catholics of Indonesia, especially those from the islands of Flores and Timor, who for centuries have professed their faith with perseverance and great fervour. I join you in thanking God for this flowering of priestly vocations, which is rooted in the Christian living of your communities, parishes and mission stations. My thoughts also turn to the parents of these seminarians: I extend to them my special greetings and the deep gratitude of the whole Church for the gift of their sons to the Lord’s service.
This gathering is a special moment of grace for us all. For me it is a great consolation to be among so many young men who hear the call to be the priests of the future, the priests of the Third Christian Millennium. It is also an occasion for me to speak from my heart about this wonderful gift of a vocation to serve Christ and his Church as a priest.
2. My dear seminarians of Indonesia: what can the Pope offer you? Certainly not “silver and gold” (Act 3, 6) or worldly things that “moth and rust consume” (Mt 6, 19). In the words of Saint Paul, I have nothing to offer you but “Christ crucified... Christ the power and the wisdom of God” (1Cor 1, 23-24). The priestly ministry to which you aspire cannot be separated from the Cross by which Christ has redeemed the world. But as Paul also says: “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor 1, 15, 57). “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1Cor 1, 15, 20).
Yes, as priests you will experience in a very intense way the paradox of the Paschal Mystery: you will be identified with the Lord who conquered death by dying; you will have to preach by word and example that the way to find one’s life is to lose it. You must also understand that faithful service to Christ and his Church will not always earn you the world’s praise. On the contrary, you will sometimes receive the same treatment as the Lord: rejection, contempt, and even persecution.
There will be times when you feel unequal to the mission entrusted to you by the Church. But then you must realize that your priesthood is God’s work; you are only responding to his call. When you seek to serve the Lord with all your heart and mind and strength, but feel inadequate to the task, remember that God’s power is made perfect in human weakness (cf 2Cor 12, 9). Great joy and consolation will not be lacking to a priestly vocation that is lived with fidelity and generosity in the Lord’s service.
3. As priests you will minister to many needy people: the poor, the sick, those without hope. You are called to act as a bridge along their path to God; you must guide and support them on their earthly pilgrimage. They will want to see in you a living image of the One and Only High Priest who “appears in the presence of God on our behalf” (Hb 9, 24), a living image of the Good Shepherd “who lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10, 11).
In order for this to happen, you must enter into deep personal union with Christ through prayer. This is the most important spiritual advice the Pope wishes to leave with you today: You must pray, for prayer is the indispensable path to union with Christ; it is the priest’s hidden source of strength. As you prepare for the priesthood, offer Christ your mind and heart in anticipation of the day when you will raise your hands to God in the Eucharistic Prayer. Seek to be ever more perfectly conformed to Christ, for only in this way can you hope to bring his love and truth to others. If you persevere in prayer, you will be capable of great things. Divine grace will not be lacking if you seek the Lord with faith and trust.
In order to be effective ministers of God’s people you must also know and live the Gospel which you preach. The faithful expect you to be men of God’s Word, and men of the Church in your way of thinking and acting. Lifelong formation is therefore essential. Remember always that “what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as... servants for Jesus’ sake” (1Cor 4, 5).
4. In welcoming me here this evening, Archbishop Djagom spoke of the Church’s development in Nusa Tenggara. He also referred to pastoral guidelines that have been developed in response to some of today’s challenges. I wish to mention two areas of concern that will have an impact on your future ministry as priests.
The first is the temptation in contemporary thought to reduce priestly service to a vague humanitarianism, and to consider the essential features of the faith as only inspiring principles, without direct relevance to daily life. This can happen when people are forgetful of God and of man’s transcendent origin and destiny.
You who are to be priests must be impelled by the same faith that inspired the great saints before you. You must proclaim that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4, 4). Man without God is truly alone and isolated; nor can there be any true and lasting love of neighbour without faith in God. You are called to be sacred ministers precisely so that people may be fed at the table of God’s Word and the table of the Holy Eucharist. Do not let your ministry be secularized. Always be ready to proclaim the primacy of God, so that the prayer which Christ himself taught us may be fulfilled: “Father... thy kingdom come” (Lk 11, 2).
A different but related concern is the need to preserve the complementarity of roles among priests, religious and laity. It is important for this complementarity to be respected, so that each individual can play his or her part in fulfilling the Church’s salvific mission and in building up the one Body of Christ. As priests you must not give in to the temptation to usurp the laity’s role in the temporal order.
As the Second Vatican Council teaches, “it pertains to the laity in a special way to so illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are so closely associated that these may be effected and grow according to Christ” (Lumen Gentium, 31). The priest, on the other hand, is “set apart for the Gospel of God” (Rom 1, 1). He cannot allow secular involvement to compromise his position as a father to all who stands above differing points of view in temporal affairs. His duty is “to preach the message of Christ in such a way that the light of the Gospel will shine on all the activities of the faithful” (Gaudium et Spes, 43).
5. Dear seminarians of Indonesia: the Second Letter to Timothy speaks of the ministry in terms of the endurance of a soldier, the discipline of an athlete, and the hard work to a farmer (cf 2Tim. 2, 3-6). Endurance, discipline and hard work: these are virtues you must cultivate during your years of preparation for the priesthood. You have already learned much from your families and local communities. Now you are called to grow even more with the good example and guidance of your seminary teachers. “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col 3, 14). In this way you will become worthy shepherds and teachers of God’s people, courageous apostles and prophets of the Gospel.
May the Mother of God, who is invoked in your islands under the title “Maris Stella”, guide you to the priesthood. May she intercede for all who are present here and lead the whole Church in Indonesia to an ever greater love for her Son. To him be glory for ever. Amen.
"Akhirnya, putera-puteraku yang terkasih, saya dengan senang hati akan memberikan Berkat Apostolik kepada Anda sekalian"."
Pope John Paul II's Address to the Organizing Committee
of the visit to Indonesia, at the Apostolic Nunciature, Jakarta, on 13 October 1989 - in English & Italian
"Dear Brother Bishops, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
As my pastoral visit draws to a close, I am indeed happy to have this opportunity of expressing my deep gratitude to all of you here present, who have cooperated so generously and effectively in making this visit such a wonderful success. I offer these few words in the hope that through you I may reach the thousands of people who have made it possible for me to fulfil my mission to confirm in faith my Catholic brothers and sisters of Indonesia.
My heartfelt gratitude goes in a particular way to my brother bishops who extended the initial invitation and who have been so persevering in their desire that I visit Indonesia. There are, of course, many others not represented at this meeting whom I cannot fail to mention with special thanks, and I am sure that in doing so I echo the sentiments of my brother bishops.
I am thinking in the first place of His Excellency, President Suharto, for the invitation which he officially extended to me and for the extremely generous hospitality offered to me and those accompanying me on this visit. The exquisite courtesy shown to all of us is yet another reminder that the reputation enjoyed by Indonesians for being an extraordinarily hospitable people is indeed well deserved. A word of sincere appreciation must also go to the Ministers of the Government and State officials who met and accompanied me, to the security forces and to all who helped in many ways to assure the orderly and smooth running of the visit. Without the assistance of the Indonesian Air Force it would not have been possible to carry out my desire to travel to far distant parts of the archipelago. And let us not forget the media – television, radio, and the press – who have brought the events of these days to millions of Indonesians who could not, of course, be present in person.
To all of you I express the fervent hope that your many efforts will bring abundant fruits in the life of the Church in this country. I join you in praying for this intention as I assure you of my continual prayers for the peace and prosperity of your beloved Indonesia and for the wellbeing of all her people.
Thank you very much and God bless you all."
Pope John Paul II's Address to the Bishops
of the Episcopal Conference of Indonesia - Apostolic Nunciature, 13 October 1989 - in English & Italian
[This speech was written before the trip & distributed afterwards to the bishops, as JPII instead spoke 'off the cuff', giving a reflection on all he had seen, received & experienced on his apostolic voyage]
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. As my pastoral visit comes to an end, I cannot fail to thank you, the pastors of the Church in Indonesia, for your dedicated service to the Catholic community in this vast archipelago. Truly, the Lord has done “great things” (cf Lk 1, 49) here, thanks to the ministry of shepherds like yourselves who have preached the Gospel “not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1Thess 2, 13).
I have come to you as a brother bearing the greetings and fraternal love of the Church in Rome. I have also come as the Successor of Peter, of whom God requires a special solicitude as pastor of the Church universal. Before I depart I wish to live this moment of collegial communion with you, reflecting on the bishop’s calling to be a living sign of the Incarnate Word, and on his personal responsibility for the transmission of the Gospel for the sanctification of God’s people to the glory and praise of the Most Holy Trinity.
2. During these last few days I have met many thousands of Indonesian Catholics. At the same time I recognize that they are a minority in relation to the population at large. But as St Paul tells us, in order to fulfil his salvific plan God chooses what is small, vulnerable and seemingly unimportant in the eyes of the world, “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor 1, 29). For it is by God’s free and sovereign gift that fallen humanity is restored to divine life through the death and resurrection of his Son.
In the service of this plan, the Church’s mission here and throughout the world is to be “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the whole humane race” (Lumen Gentium, 1): “a standard lifted on high for the nations to see” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 2); “a leaven and, as it were, the soul of human society in its renewal by Christ and transformation into the family of God” (Gaudium et Spes, 40).
These and other New Testament images speak to us of a Church whose fruitfulness, at times hidden, is out of proportion to her number and human resources. It is a Church whose survival and growth depend not on the will of man but of God, whose mission it is to be bold in preaching the good news of salvation “in season and out of season” (2Tim 4, 2).
3. Dear brothers: as bishops you are “heralds” of the good news of eternal salvation in Christ (cf Lumen Gentium, 25). Your ministry as shepherds and teachers is directed both to the members of Christ’s flock, who look to you for leadership, inspiration and encouragement, and to society at large. You will want to ensure that the Church fulfils her mission not only through the preaching of the Gospel, but also through the Christian witness of all the faithful, so that, as in the case of Nathanael, even the sceptical may be able to “come and see” (Jn 1, 46).
Do not be afraid to encourage the Catholic people to an ever more public witness to the truths and values of their faith, in keeping with their rightful place in the society of which they are worthy citizens. Notwithstanding occasional difficulties, your national Constitution guarantees the full right of Catholics and others to freedom of religion and the practice of their faith.
To “practise the faith” means more than private religious obligation and devotion. One of the great themes of the Second Vatican Council was the call to recognize that the Gospel touches every aspect of life – cultural, economic, social and political. In the words of “Gaudium et Spes”: “Faith throws a new light on all things and makes known the full ideal which God has set for man, thus guiding the mind towards solutions that are fully human” (Gaudium et Spes, 11). This does not mean that the Church has concrete solutions to offer for every problem concerning the life of society, but rather she proposes a social teaching that presents principles for reflection, criteria for judgement as well as directives for action (cf Congr. pro Doctrina Fidei, Libertatis Conscientia 72 ss.).
4. This search for “what is fully human” under God constitutes a point of convergence for Indonesians of all religions. The Church enters into dialogue and is willing to cooperate with all in mutual respect and good will. But she also stands firm in her identity and mission, which are Catholic before all else. Religious diversity within the unity of Indonesia ought not to be feared, least of all by Indonesian Catholics, who as loyal citizens effectively participate in national life as guaranteed by Pancasila.
Similarly, a proper application of the principle of religious freedom also benefits the State and society as a whole, in so far as religion educates citizens to recognize the demands of the moral order and consequently to “govern their activities with a sense of responsibility, and strive after what is true and right, willing always to join with others in cooperative effort” (Dignitatis Humanae, 8). Already in many fields of the apostolate and social service there is ample collaboration between the Church and civil institutions, most conspicuously in education and health care. It is to be hoped that such harmony can continue and grow, since it is a vital form of respect for human dignity and fundamental human rights.
A related concern however is the temptation in the world today to reduce the Gospel message to a form of humanitarianism. The Church, however, must always recognize that her essential mission to evangelize has as its “foundation, centre... and summit a clear proclamation that in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all as a gift of God’s grace and mercy” (Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 27). This by no means diminishes, but rather heightens the obligation to seek “fully human solutions” and to promote authentic development, but always keeping a proper perspective on the relationship between the “city of God” and the “earthly city”. The Church’s mission is not restricted to the framework of temporal existence nor completely identified with temporal desires, hopes, affairs and struggles. Rather it is at the service of a transcendent and eschatological salvation, which has its beginning in this life but which is fulfilled in eternity.
5. Dear brothers, to you is given by episcopal ordination the great task of continuing the apostolic mission “to preach the Gospel and gather every race and people into a single flock to be guided and governed in the way of holiness” (Pontificale Romanum, “De ordinatione Episcopi”, Homilia). As successors of the apostles you have the twofold task of preserving the Gospel for future generations in all its fullness and integrity, while also ensuring that it is applied in a dynamic way to the present realities of your local Churches.
The challenge then is to guarantee the presence and vitality of Catholic faith in every aspect of the life of individuals and communities, and within the religious diversity of society itself. This means fostering among the faithful without hesitation or fear an explicitly Christian understanding of life and work. It is a question of finding ever new and effective ways for the Gospel to be lived in an authentically Indonesian manner within the “one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”.
6. If the Church by her teaching seeks to promote “ solutions that are fully human ” to the problems and challenges that beset the human family at any given moment in history, it is for the laity, in particular, to “carry out their earthly activity in such a way as to integrate human, domestic, professional, scientific and technical enterprises with religious values... (and) to be witnesses to Christ in all circumstances and at the very heart of the human community” (Gaudium et Spes, 43).
It falls to the Church’s pastors to inspire and educate the laity as to what the Church offers to society and public life. Truth and justice as measures of freedom, love of neighbour and the dignity of the person created in God’s image, the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity: these are fundamental to the Catholic contribution to public life and institutions (cf Congr. pro Doctrina Fidei, Libertatis Conscientia, 26 et 73). After the example of Christ, Christians must be prepared to bear prophetic witness wherever the dignity and rights of persons are threatened or when justice or charity demand it.
You are sometimes painfully aware that certain traditional practices and other contemporary social influences bring about an obscuring of fundamental principles regarding family life and the responsible transmission of life. As pastors you know that the very nature of your own personal response to this challenge greatly determines each local Church’s vitality in helping Christian couples to fulfil God’s plan for their lives. A comprehensive catechetical effort is needed everywhere in the Church to recover an awareness of the primacy of moral values. In “Familiaris Consortio” I wrote that the “education of the moral conscience, which makes every human being capable of judging and of discerning the proper ways to achieve self-realization according to his or her original truth,... becomes a pressing requirement that cannot be renounced” (Familiaris Consortio, 8).
In order for the laity to fulfil their mission in the world, their pastors must help them to cultivate a properly formed Christian conscience, capable of guiding them in all of life’s decisions and activities. For in teaching the path to salvation, the Church necessarily refers to the moral order that governs the way people act and relate to one another, with repercussions on every sphere of life. The formation of a Christian conscience, together with the strengthening of moral character and the deepening of spiritual life, is essential for the transformation of the world from within. It is the only sure guarantee of the fruitfulness of inculturation.
7. In speaking to you, I wish to give thanks to God for the life and ministry of your priests, diocesan and religious, native and foreign born, who share with you the daily toil of caring for the Church in Indonesia. As those who preside in love over the presbyterium, you know how important it is to encourage, sustain and truly love your priests. Following the example of Christ the High Priest, who is able “to sympathize with our weakness, (as) one who was tempted m every way that we are, yet never sinned” (Heb 4, 15), you will at the same time gently but firmly call them to holiness, to self-abandonment into God’s hands, to a life that is humble and close to the poor and most needy. In many ways the priestly vocation is a call to a life marked by the sign of the Cross; indeed it often becomes “a sign of contradiction” (Lk 2, 34). Your closeness to your priests, your openness to them in justice and love, and your prayers for their perseverance will do much to sustain them.
How can we not rejoice together at the increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life which your particular Churches are experiencing? Here is most certainly a sign of God’s loving providence. In fact, among the many vivid memories that I will take back with me to Rome, one of the most consoling is the sight of the many happy and dedicated priests and men and women religious I have met during my visit here.
At the same time, this gift of the Lord challenges you as bishops to provide those who answer the Lord’s call with a spiritual and doctrinal formation that will prepare them for a life of dedication to the service of the Church. As you are well aware, priests and religious need formation, not only during their years of preparation in seminaries and religious houses, but throughout their lives. They need to be afforded opportunities of deepening their understanding of the Gospel message as it is believed and taught by the Church. I know that you share this concern for their formation, conscious as you are that they in turn are called upon to form others.
8. Dear brothers: in the farewell discourse to the disciples which we find in the Gospel of John, Jesus prays: “(Father), sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth” (Jn 17, 17-19).
These words apply fully to the pastors of the Church. As my visit draws to an end, I express my fervent hope and prayer that the Church, whose existence in Indonesia is one of the “great things” wrought by the power of God, will enjoy the leadership of bishops who are true disciples and apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. May you persevere in the truth and grow in “the holiness of truth” (Eph 4, 24). For it is the truth that makes us free (cf Jn 8, 32), and the truth is Jesus Christ (cf Jn 14, 6). To him be glory for ever. Amen.
Pope John Paul II's Reflection on his apostolic journey to Indonesia
at a Meeting with Bishops, at the Apostolic Nunciature, Jakarta, on 13 October 1989 - in English & Italian
"I greet all the bishops gathered here, the bishops of Indonesia, and I express my gratitude for this visit as a lived experience. Providence has given me, has given us the possibility of this experience. Before the visit I prepared a text addressed to the bishops, and I shall distribute the copies of the text provided for this occasion. But after the experience of this visit, I should say that all that constitutes the content of this letter, of this speech is true, but for me it is not quite sufficient. So I should analyse this visit, the many aspects of this visit, once again. I should reflect upon so many elements I have lived here, I have seen, I have heard, I have experienced – to arrive at a personal and deeper vision of what Indonesia is and of what the Church in Indonesia is. What is Indonesia? That is, of course, a question for history. Asking what Indonesia is, we ask at the same time what Indonesia was, the ancient part of the world of humanity, of so many people. What especially is modern Indonesia, Indonesia of the last 45 years?
And then, what is the Church in this context, and then, what was it in the former, historical context? Christianity in Indonesia, for instance in Flores, is some centuries old. But today we see a new realization of the same Christianity, of the same Church. It seems to me that this new realization corresponds deeply to the vision of Vatican II. It is necessary to have before our eyes, before our mind, the vision of the Church in herself and of the Church in the world, according to the documents of Vatican II, and then to enter into this experience. Yesterday in the seminary at Maumere I was asked why I am making this visit. So I answered that I am making the visit because our Lord has said. “Go to the ends of the earth”, but because of Vatican II I have a special reason for doing so. It seems to me that Vatican II has not only facilitated but stimulated such an exercise of the Petrine office in the Church. And as it facilitates the following of the main idea of Vatican II, we feel that the best realization of this main idea is simply this: go, experience, meet, talk, touch. The Pope, of course, has a duty, a duty expressed by our Lord, and then by many of the Fathers, Saint Irenaeus and others: the duty of maintaining the unity and the universality of the Church. In our time, this task of maintaining the unity and universality of the Church may be realized and obtained in this way: to touch; to hear; to participate. Of course, my experience of Indonesia and of the Church in Indonesia is not complete. It is only partial, some points of this great area, with its vast expanses of water, its many islands and people.
This is not enough. I especially deeply regret that I could not visit the northern and north-eastern part of Indonesia, but I shall try at least to complete the vision. It is a growing Church that is visible, maturing. It was a missionary Church. Here among us there are several missionary bishops, especially Dutch bishops who brought Christianity to Indonesia. But now it is an Indonesian Church, and here the majority of the bishops are Indonesian, and they are taking in hand more and more the responsibility for the Church and the future of the Church, and also for the future of society.
I should perhaps say a word about the part played by the men and women religious missionaries in this great apostolic task. But I was deeply touched, especially yesterday, by the presence, activities and apostolate of the lay people. Some elements – I present them together with the text already prepared – seem to me to be new, to be directly experienced during this visit. I shall continue my reflections together with my brother Cardinals, the whole Roman Curia, the Secretary of State, and especially with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. I am sure that Cardinal Tomko also has his special observations, his special experiences during this visit. We shall reflect together after our return to Rome on how to deepen this experience, how to make this Indonesian experience more fruitful for us, for the Church of Rome, for the Holy See which has the responsibility for the unity and universality of the Church. But how do we make this experience more fruitful for you also, for the Church in Indonesia? You know that the structure, the spiritual, divine and human structure of the Church is the structure of communion; and what is communion? “Lumen Gentium” says that communion is bringing; one brings to the others, the others receive, and, in receiving, they also bring: it is exchange. I hope that the Church in Indonesia can bring very new forces, a very new life, very new elements, very new charisms of the Spirit to the universal Church, to the Church in different places in the world, to the world in the different continents.
So, I finish this allocution which is not prepared in writing, but prepared in my heart, not complete, but to be completed."
© Copyright 1989 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana