Ambon (Fides Service) – Ramadan offers an opportunity to consolidate peace in the Moluccas Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Amboina told Fides Service. The Bishop, who is member of the Congregation of Sacred Heart Missionaries MSC, said: “I have sent a special message to local Muslim leaders expressing full support and spiritual solidarity during this month of Ramadan. As Christians, I wrote, appreciate your example in prayer, fasting and helping the needy. As Christian believers we are in spiritual communion with Muslim believers and Ramadan will be an opportunity to take steps forward in forgiveness and peace”. Bishop Mandagi remarks on the “growing atmosphere of confidence and hope” in the Moluccas since the state of emergency was revoked and Ambon was opened to foreigners.
Bishop Mandagi says “reconciliation between Muslims and Protestant Christians proceeds without difficulty, despite recent reports of clashes in Poso on Sulawesi Island. In Ambon city – until only recently divided in ethnic and religious districts – Christians and Muslims mingle ever more freely and confidently”.
Ethnic religious conflict in the Moluccas Molucche started in January 1999 and was officially ended with a peace agreement signed in February 2002 in Malino. During the violence some 15,000 people were killed and more than 500,000 displaced from their homes.
Another reason for rejoicing in the local Church and for Bishop Mandagi especially, is the centenary year of the arrival of Sacred Heart Missionaries in the Moluccas – his own missionary Congregation. Not long after the first Jesuit Fathers who arrived here in 1888, a group of Sacred Heart Missionaries landed on Kei Island in November 1903. “For us – the Bishops said - the anniversary is an occasion to reflect on our mission to serve the people of the Moluccas and a time to re-affirm the Christian message of peace, the spirituality of the Sacred Heart Missionaries: proclaiming and giving living witness of God’s love. ”.
The event was celebrated together with local Protestant Christians and Muslims on October 21 before the start of Ramadan in Ambon City. The focal point was a Mass in the city’s central square attended by a large crowd.
(PA) (Fides Service 28/10/2003 lines 38 words 404)