zondag 29 mei 2016

Theocratic dreams, strong and light versions: Frans Cornelissen and Frans Seda

I am still working on the Frans Seda Memorial Lecture in Tilburg, 9 June.
In 1860 Jesuit priest Gregorius Metz wrote to his superior in Batavia about the 'royal family' of Larantuka: If we succeed n truly winning the Raja for God's affairs, then it will not be difficult, with God's grace, to establish here a new Paragyuay (Catholics in Indonesia, vol I: 98).
Now I read the book by Frans Cornelissen SVD, president of the minor seminary of Todabelu. He wrote a diary, later reworked and published as a book (Missie-arbeid onder japanse bezetting). He dreams about  Een katholiek volk, geleid door zijn eigen katholieke priesters (A Catholic nation, lead by their ownnative priests). At this moment the traditional rulers no longer had a prominent position.
This is a picture, found on the internet, with the first Flores candidates to become sister in the 1930s
A traditional village in Flores
Back to Frans Seda after this intermezzo of  traditional Flores, to Frans Seda in Java, 1963. As president of the Catholic Party he heldin 1963 a talk for the PMKRI, Catholic Students Union of Indonesia. It had a romantic and strong title: Menjadi nasionalis adalah suatu panggilan. 'To become a nationalist is a vocation'.  The word 'vocation' has here a nearly religious connotation. Seda calls for a proud and confident Catholic identity. Catholics should not be afraid to pronounce their religious identity, that pleads not for a group but for the bonum commune, the public prosperity. We should have no communistophoby but also no katolikophoby. There is a separation of religion and politics and therefore the Pancasila, Manipol, the leadership in the revolution must be accepted as political principles. (From: Frans Seda, Simfoni tanpa henti. Ekonomi Politik Masyarakat Baru Indonesia, Jakarta Grasindo 1992, 104-9, from a collection of earlier artyicles by Seda).
There is in this lecture no talk about what students should study: science, economy, medicine? It is a highly political talk to these student, by a political leader. And with no reservation as to the absolute leadership of Soekarno. We are here already far from the jubilant dreams by Metz and cornelissen about the new Paraguay, Flores and the rule of priests!
In the introduction Daniel Dakhidae has a nice quote from the description of Flores by Seda: 'For people of Flores only two professions are important: priests and teachers.' (Ib xxx). That is still the old society of Flores. But what did Seda do? He came to Muntilan to be educated as a teacher, but like so many other migrants from Flores to java, he took another profession: politics and business!

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