Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) – To promote brotherhood and solidarity on the occasion of Christmas: this is the joint appeal of the Catholic and Protestant Bishops in Indonesia who, in a shared Christmas message, recall that "The love of Christ moves the spirit of brotherhood" (1 Pet 1:22).
In the document sent to Fides, the Catholic Bishops' Conference (KWI) and the Communion of Protestant Churches in Indonesia (PGI) invite all Christians to "reach out to others with a sincere heart of charity and service".
"For the second consecutive year, Christmas in the midst of the pandemic invites us to see our brothers and sisters, especially those who are suffering from persecution in the country", reads the joint Message. The Bishops exhort the faithful to avoid "actions and behaviors that would go against faith and testimony", placing themselves in a spirit of dialogue, acceptance, understanding towards one's neighbor.
"Christ Jesus, whose birth we celebrate, encourages us to seek new and creative ways to love one another, to proclaim justice and bring true peace to families, communities and society", reads the text.
Church leaders also express appreciation towards government officials, NGOs, volunteers, and people of other faiths who, in various forms and ways, have helped the poor and suffering during the pandemic. "We are all in the same boat that is experiencing the storm of Covid. During and after Christmas, we are asked to be sensitive and attentive to brothers and sisters in difficulty", the Prelates note.
"Brotherhood and mutual solidarity are the main road to witness the Gospel in society", observes the message, noting that, during the pandemic, "Christian love and service must be translated into true charity, love and compassion for people". In the wake of this ecumenical message is the appeal released by Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, Archbishop of Jakarta, who invited Catholics to "cultivate fraternity in Indonesian society, bringing the love of Christ". "Celebrating Christmas - he said - is not just about the Christmas period. This year's celebrations must aim at cultivating fraternity. This is very important for our nation, which is plural and diverse". "Building fellowship, having the love of Christ as inspiration, is very important and meaningful to our nation. This is done by fostering a spirit of love for the nation and a spirit of caring for others", he highlighted.
Indonesia is the fourth most populous Muslim country in the world with over 270 million people. About 10% of the population is Christian of whom eight million are Catholics. (AD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/12/2021)