zaterdag 26 april 2014

Two new saints John 23 and JP II

Tomorrow, 27 April 2014, two Catholic Popes will be declared saint by Pope Francis. There has been some rumor about this act. They are not really according to the quite strict rules of the Vatican in these cases.

The pontificate of JP II has been sometimes called a ‘Saint factory’ not by a critical outsider but by an unnamed cardinal. During this pontificate 987 priests, nuns, lay brothers (no married people!) were beatified. Our good fresh new Pope Francis is not less modest, but in one deal he declared 813 martyrs as proper saints. They were the inhabitants of Otranto, victims of the war between Europe and the Ottoman empire in  1480 (see . Some feel what ishappening now as an inflation of the idea of sainthood.

At the death of John Paul II, Franz Magnis Suseno wrote a biting reaction on some strategies of his pontificate. He regretted that his pastoral strategy leaned so heavily on conservative movements in the Catholic Church. Magnis Suseno welcomed his support for the Charismatic Movement, but could not understand why he was so strongly opposed against Latin American Theology of Liberation. Also Opus Dei was labelled by Magnis Suseno as a blessing for the church, but not when this should be done at the detriment of other more liberal and still positive movements. He saw three disasters of the Pontificate of John Paul II: ‘He was not successful in the fight against the erosion of faith in large parts of Europe and America (in Europe less than 10% of the Catholic are regular church goers). Priests continue to leave their position, also in Indonesia. In Latin America the Catholic Church lost 20% of its members.’ He stressed that in Indonesia more than 100 priests married during this pontificate, although the celibacy is not a command of Jesus but only an ecclesiastical rule. He also criticised the centralisation of the Vatican rulings, their interference in the nomination of bishops and professors at theological faculties and even the Indonesian translation of liturgical texts. As an example he gave the liturgical text Dominus vobiscum, when a priest says to the people in his parish Tuhan beserta kita, or ‘The Lord is with us’. The literal translation according to Vatican rules must be ‘The Lord is with you’, emphasizing the special position of the priest as distinct from his flock. But, like in other countries, the more binding formula with the meaning that God sides with the community as a whole, is still the dominating practice. Magnis Suseno was also happy that the Indonesian church continued to follow the decision of the bishops that birth control must be seen as an affair of the individual believers. In the new fight against AIDS/HIV the use of condoms should not be limited by ecclesiastical rulings. (After Hidup 2005 no 18, pages 16-18.
(Most of this section is quoted from the draft of my new book, Catholics in Independent Indonesia, 1945-2010. I hope that it will be published by Brill/KITLV later this year).

zondag 13 april 2014

Suryadharma Ali

SDA as he is called sometimes was born in Jakarta, 1956 and did his academic studies at IAIN Syarif Hidyatullah, where he graduated in 1984. So, he was a student here when I was a lecturer between March 1981 and mid-1983. At the same also Komaruddin Hidayat, Azyumardi Azra, Lies Marcoes Mustafsira, and Din Syamsuddin were graduating or already young lecturers.I do not remember ever to have seen the name of Suryadharma Ali. He was was between 1985-1999 a manager at Hero Supermarket, where we also bought our food (beer, wine, weekend-food, because the pembantu went to the local market for daily meals). In that period Jakarta was the only region where the single Muslim party of the country had a majority of the votes: first in the 1983 elections, then several times later on.
SDA became a top member of PPP, minister of Cooperation in 2004, for Religion in 2009. In 2007 he took over the general leadership of the party from Hamzah Haz, known as a polygamist, traditional, not really a strong figure.
SDA is also not a strong figure in the national politics. His party gained 6,7% of the votes (with PKB 9,1%; PAN 7,5%; PKS 7%; only PBB had a lower section of the voters from the five Muslim parties: 1,5%).
Suryadharma is an opportunist: he supported at several occasions Prabowo of GERINDRA, apparently hoping to find some support there.
Suryadharma was someone who not really defended religious pluralism and freedom of religion. He strongly condemned Ahmadi and Shi'i Muslims. They should 'return to Sunnji Islam'. As to Christians, Hindus and Buddhist he was not so negative but not a true defender of religious neutrality.

It will be difficult to have a new and better government in Indonesia. Megawati had made promises to Prabowo in 2009: he should support her (without result) and she promised to support him for presidency in 2014. What will come about this in the negotiations, now Jokowi is the major candidate for PDIP?
Obama has a weak position in a divided parliament. In Dutch parliament the ruyling government also has a lack of support in the senate and must make compromises. It is clear that religions has not disappeared from Indonesian politics, with some 32% of the votes.