VATICAN CITY, JAN 10, 2004 (VIS) - Bambang Prayitno, the new ambassador from Indonesia to the Holy See, presented his Letters of Credence to Pope John Paul this morning who, in his speech of welcome in English, recalled his 1989 trip to that country where he experienced "the hospitality, warmth and rich cultural traditions of the Indonesian people."
The Pope highlighted the "mutual commitment to working for the peace and well-being of all peoples at every level of society. This is an undertaking that involves all men and women of good will and is today a task of unprecedented importance as the entire human family seeks effective means to counteract international terrorism. There is no question that this baneful scourge has grown more virulent in recent years, generating brutal massacres that serve only to exacerbate difficult situations, increase tensions and erode possibilities for peace among peoples and nations." He recalled Indonesia's firsthand experience with terrorism when a bomb exploded in Bali 15 months ago.
"Despite the contempt for human life that such terrorist attacks represent," underscored the Holy Father, "our response must never be one of hatred or revenge. Nor are measures that are merely punitive or repressive sufficient. Political mobilization is needed to eliminate the underlying causes of injustice that can drive people to actions of desperation and violence."
Highlighting the role of the "great religions of the world" in this regard, he said that "interreligious understanding and cooperation will in fact do much to promote a clearer sense of oneness of all mankind, helping to eradicate the social and cultural causes of terrorism. I am convinced moreover that Islamic, Christian and Jewish religious leaders must be at the forefront in condemning terrorism and in denying terrorists any form of religious or moral legitimacy."
"I am please to note," affirmed the Pope, "your government's active commitment to maintaining harmony among the followers of the different religions present in Indonesia. Indeed, the motto displayed on your national coat-of arms - 'Bihneka Tungal Ika', 'unity in diversity', - expresses an important guiding principle as your country strives to build and strengthen a society based on the democratic principles of freedom and equality, regardless of language, ethnic background, cultural heritage or religion."
In concluding remarks, the Holy Father noted that "for her part, the Catholic Church is an active partner in the continuing national program of developing structures capable of satisfying the hopes and aspirations of all the peoples of the archipelago. Her role in the area of education is of particular importance: although Catholics account for only a very small part of the total population, they have developed an extensive and effective school system. The commitment to religious intolerance and to the fundamental principle of religious freedom allows the Church to make a priceless contribution to the life of the country."
CD/LETTERS CREDENCE/INDONESIA VIS 20040112 (480)