Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
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AsiaNews/Ucan (12/13/05) – The Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia and the Communion of Churches in Indonesia have urged Christians to unite with all others in the nation to build a new society in their annual joint Christmas message. “Let us realize the hope to become a nation that is free from corruption, a nation that respects pluralism, is against violence, upholds law and justice, respects human rights and preserves the integrity of creation,” Catholic and Protestant leaders said in the message, issued in early December.

Its title is “Fear not, I am with you” and is taken from the Book of Isaiah. Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja of Jakarta and Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Semarang , president and secretary general, respectively, of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (KWI, Indonesian acronym), signed the message for the conference. Reverends Andreas Yewangoe and Richard M. Daulay, chairman and general secretary, respectively, of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI, Indonesian acronym), signed for the Protestant communion.

“Christians in Indonesia will celebrate Christmas 2005 in a special situation, marked by recent events that threatened the life of the nation. Crises that have affected the nation’s life in recent years have not ended,” the leaders said. Lack of trust has bred an unhealthy political climate in which suspicion, resentment, animosity and revenge have disturbed relations among various groups, they observed. Meanwhile, natural disasters, epidemics and food shortages in various parts of the country have aggravated the situation.

“Freedom of religion and the freedom to worship are being threatened due to a weakening sense of tolerance,” the leaders also warned. “Such a situation has made us, as a nation, fear to look to the future. Will we be able to get rid of the difficulties that threaten our life?” they asked.

Despite the difficult challenges, the Church leaders encouraged Christians to celebrate Christmas with full gratitude, reminding them that “Christmas always brings joy and hope.” In their message they recalled the difficult situation of the Jews during the exile in Babylon , and how God promised, through the prophet Isaiah, to bring them back to their homeland. “They were reminded not to fear nor be dismayed, because God himself is with them and prepares a future for them,” the message reminds Christians today.

Christmas, their message continues, reminds Christians that God who became human also feels and experiences their problems. “He does not let us work alone but works together with us in dealing with all problems. So we must not be afraid and lose hope, but with full enthusiasm and hope, we work to build a better future,” they said.