President Widodo meets with Catholic bishops


President Joko Widodo paid a visit to the headquarters of the Bishop’s Conference of Indonesia (KWI) in Jakarta on August 24.

Widodo was welcomed by KWI president Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta, secretary-general Bishop Antonius Subianto Bunjamin of Bandung and 8 other bishops.

“In the meeting, I talked about issues related to the Pancasila [the 5 principles on which the Indonesian state is based) as well as diversity especially in terms of religion, ethnicity, customs and traditions that we must continue to maintain,” Widodo later told reporters.

“We must maintain our brotherhood, harmony and unity,” he said.

During the meeting that lasted more than an hour, each bishop briefed the president on issues affecting his diocese.

Archbishop Suharyo told UCANEWS that president Widodo’s visit was “to build friendship” and had “nothing to do with the presidential election,” next year.

General elections in Indonesia are scheduled for April 17, 2019.

For the first time, the president and all the members of the People’s Consultative Assembly will be elected on the same day.

Suharyo said, “There was no specific issue raised by the president during the meeting. He just wanted to hear directly from Catholics [about problems they are facing].”

The visit was Widodo’s first as president. He had visited the conference’s headquarters twice while he was Jakarta’s governor from 2012 until 2014.

Suharyo also revealed that Widodo wanted to visit the Vatican.

“If it really happens, then the noble values the Indonesian people live by will be recognized by the international community,” he said, referring to diversity and secularism enshrined in the constitution.

Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar of Jayapura said the president stressed the need to maintain diversity “because religious identity has become a big issue, particularly ahead of the presidential election.”





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