ASIA/INDONESIA - Indonesian Catholics between Lent and Lunar New Year

Wednesday, 14 February 2018 liturgy   lent   local churches   culture  

Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - The Archdiocese of Pontianak (in Indonesian Borneo) has given dispensation from abstinence from meat and fasting on 16 Feb 2018 in view of the Lunar New Year to Chinese Catholics. The Archdiocese of Semarang (on the island of Java), where a large Chinese Catholic community lives, however urges them to respect abstinence on that day and to postpone the celebration the next day. The diocese of Bogor (West Java) has confirmed the day of fasting and abstinence for all Catholics, but it gives Chinese Catholics the opportunity to celebrate mass and the feast for the new year the day before or the day after. As Fides learns, there are different criteria adopted by the Indonesian dioceses for the celebration of the new lunar year that in 2018 coincides with the Friday of Lent, in which the Church prescribes abstinence from meat.
Archbishop Agostino Agus of Pontianak wrote in a letter sent to Fides: "I give dispensation to all Catholics from fast and abstinence from meals on Friday, 16 February, abstinence can be moved to another day". The recommendation intends to "respect the dialogue with Chinese culture and consider the significant teaching of the Catholic Church on abstinence and fasting". The faithful can celebrate the Thanksgiving Mass and the lunar new year feast on Friday, February 16, 2018, "especially in the spirit of compassion and sharing with the poor, the suffering and the marginalized", inviting to celebrate the Way of the Cross and the practice of fasting on another day.
Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko of Semarang, in the Lenten pastoral letter, recalls that "Friday 16 February is a day of fasting and abstinence" and invites all the faithful to respect these practices or "if it is not possible, to fast on another day in substitution", always "living the spirit of sharing, especially for the poor and suffering".
Bishop Paskalis Bruno Syukur of Bogor wrote, instead, that in order to make the Lunar New Year celebrations and Lent live together, the Church confirms that Friday, February 16th, remains "an obligatory day of fasting and abstinence", while "the Eucharistic celebration of the new lunar year may be moved to Thursday evening, February 15 or Saturday, February 17, "in the hope that "the attitude of repentance and conversion can always last, in accepting the Lunar New Year and throughout Lent".
Out of 250 million inhabitants of Indonesia, the ethnic Chinese citizens are about 5 million, over 70% Christians. (PP) (Agenzia Fides, 14/2/2018)