Vatican praises Indonesia's religious harmony

Despite frequent discrimination and persecution of religious minorities here, the Vatican has praised the religious harmony, which they say has been demonstrated in Indonesia where people of all religions can coexist peacefully.

The Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said on Tuesday that Indonesia was a good example of a country where people of all religions were able to live side by side peacefully.

“The most important thing is to find a way to respect and accept each other’s differences and make every effort to not be violent or confrontational,” Cardinal Parolin said following a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi at the foreign ministry in Jakarta.

Parolin is currently visiting Indonesia on a bilateral visit for the Vatican City, which also included a visit to the ASEAN Secretariat on Monday.

Retno said that Indonesia-Vatican relations were in “very good shape” and that there would be several areas of cooperation that could be explored further in the near future.

She noted that forging closer relations between Indonesia and the Vatican was essential since Indonesia was a predominantly Muslim country while the Vatican was a center for the Catholic religion.

“Closer ties between the two countries is a good example on how differences should be treated with friendliness.”

Areas where cooperation could flourish include interfaith dialogues and cultural aspects, which were bolstered by the exhibition of Indonesian historical artifacts and model replica of the Borobudur Temple at the Vatican Museum.

“Every year, around five millions tourists visit the museum. It means five millions people can take a look at Indonesian culture and hopefully this can encourage them to visit Indonesia,” Retno said.

She said that both were committed to continuing to explore education cooperation opportunities, such as partnerships between the Pontifical Urbania University and the Islamic University of Jakarta (IUJ) and other cultural exchange programs.

Around 1,500 Indonesian priests and nuns are currently working in Italy and Vatican City.

There will also be media cooperation between the two states, with plans for Radio Vatican cooperating with the Radio of the Republic of Indonesia (RRI) to report live on Easter celebrations taking place on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2016.

“In 2016, Easter celebrations in Larantuka, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, will be covered and broadcasted by Vatican Radio,” Retno added.