Indonesia – Bishops? Commission: reconciliation in times of violence

Violent conflict is beginning to spread all over Indonesia, with 42 areas averaging anywhere from nine to eleven deaths daily as militarism makes a return to regions rich in timber, gold, oil and gas. Fr Ismartono SJ, who was earlier executive secretary of the Commission of Religious Dialogue of the Bishops Conference of Indonesia and consulter to the Pontifical Council, has been appointed coordinator of the Crisis and Reconciliation service by the Bishops? Conference. This entails visiting conflict-ridden areas, meeting local religious leaders and giving first hand reports to the Bishops. Of one thing he is quite certain –these conflicts are not caused by religion. It is clear that religious symbols are being used to manipulate the people. But by whom? ?We do not know? says Fr. Ismartono ?because we are not professional investigators. But what we are sure of is that it is impossible for civilians to organise these violent actions.? When asked about the goal of the crisis and reconciliation commission, he replies that its mission is to build bridges with people of other religious faiths, mainly Muslims who comprise the majority. The Commission, based on the Nostra Aetate and Unitatis Redintegratio, collaborates with civilian movements like the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace, and the Society of Inter-religious Dialogue. The attempt is to move from exclusivity to inclusiveness, from inclusiveness to pluralism, and from pluralism to an open integrity. ?These models of being religious,? he says ? are our main concern?. [HL31103] Fr. Ismartono Ignatius SJ