ASIA/INDONESIA - A Jesuit: “In Indonesia it is not yet time for a Christian national leader”

Jakarta – “Indonesia has not yet reached the moment for a Christian political leader at the national level, as president, vice president or governor of Jakarta. We must have patience and look at history”: Fides was told this by Jesuit Father Franz Magnis-Suseno, university docent and known political and social analyst in Indonesia, commenting the failed election of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an Indonesian Christian as governor of Jakarta, beaten by Anies Baswedan a Muslim. The electoral campaign saw the rise of radical Muslim movements which rejected the election of a Christian governor exploiting religion for political ends.
“In the United States 160 years passed before a Catholic could become president and at that time reactions from certain Protestant circles were far from positive: and this in America! Shall we forget the reactions to the first black president, Obama? Or loud protests on the part of many Germans when president Horst Koehler, ten years ago, dared to speak about ‘German Islam’?”, says the German Jesuit, who took up residence in Indonesia in 1961 becoming an Indonesian citizen in 1977.
Noting the disappointment of the Christians in Jakarta, the Jesuit insists: “Why should they imagine that a country with an 88% Muslim population might want a Christian governor in Jakarta, and an arrogant Chinese Christian at that?”.
“It is a psychological matter – says Magnis-Suseno, in charge of the Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta – which we cannot expect people to overcome easily. Better not dwell on this note and risk re-awakening sectarian conflict on a wave of religious emotion. What Jakarta needs is a Muslim leader who is pluralist and a supporter of Pancasila, and works for the good of the Republic of Indonesia. A Christian leader might become his assistant, declining any front line position ”.
Fr Magnis-Suseno admits “Ahok is very capable but shows certain weaknesses that render him unsuitable for an important political position: he is unable to master his language”, the priest said recalling that Ahok has spoken harshly regarding his critics. In the first place, the Jesuit remarks, “Ahok should know that a Chinese Christian should not refer to the Koran. Had he not quoted the sura Al-Maidah, he might have been re-elected ”.
“What is more, he is a rather arrogant person. And from the Christian point of view his behaviour towards the poor has been brutal. Most of the people he evicted ended up homeless with nowhere to go. I myself have criticised him twice , but not in the past year, I did not wish my words to be exploited in the electoral campaign. Ahok does not have the support of many social activists”, says Fr. Magnis.
The Jesuit adds “Ahok failed to expand his area of consensus. A year ago, before the controversy over blasphemy, about 75% of the citizens considered him a good politician but less than 50% then approved his activity as governor and only 42% voted for him in the first and second rounds of elections in Jakarta”.
In Indonesia, choosing between a Muslim candidate and a Christian candidate, Fr. Magnis-Suseno concludes “most Muslim ordinary voters would vote for the Muslim unless he was someone quite unpresentable”, even without pressure from the Islamic Defenders Front.
AFRICA/EGYPT - Copt Orthodox sources: the Pope and the Patriarch could sign a joint declaration with reference to the practice of re-baptism

Cairo – Copt Orthodox Bishop Raphael, Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Copt Orthodox Church, denied and rejected as misleading, certain rumours circulated on Egyptian media on the eve of Pope Francis’ Visit to Egypt, regarding the controversial question of co-called “re-baptisim” administered to new faithful coming from other Christian confessions. In a statement issued on behalf of the Holy Synod of the Copt Orthodox Church, Anba Raphael rejected “rumours in the media, written before reading the official statement concerning baptism which will be signed during the papal Visit”. To silence misleading conjectures circulated on the Egyptian media, the Secretariat of the Copt Orthodox Holy Synod made known on its face book account the part referring to the question of re-baptisim contained in a joint declaration which Copt Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II and the Bishop of Rome could sign on the occasion of the papal visit to Egypt. In this part, without speaking of agreements, there is mention of the path undertaken by the Churches to put an end to the practice of re-baptising Christian faithful who change from one Church to another. “In obedience to the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies the Church , safeguards her and guides her towards the perfect unity, for which Christ prayed ” – we read in the text made public by , Anba Raphael in the prepared version in Arabic, and received by Fides, “today We, Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II, to gladden the heart of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and also the hearts of our children in the faith, we will strive with sincere hearts not to repeat the sacrament of baptism practiced in our churches for a person who intends to join another ecclesial community, according to the teaching of Sacred Scripture and the doctrine of three ecumenical Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople and Ephesus. We implore God the Father” says the passage quoted by Anba Raphael “to guide us in the times and ways desired by the Holy Spirit to attain perfect union in the mystical Body of Christ”.
The controversial practice of certain Eastern Churches of re-baptising new adherents coming from other church realities constitutes an element of objective suffering in ecumenical relations and an obstacle on the path towards the restoration of full sacramental communion between those Churches and the Catholic Church. .
AMERICA/EQUADOR - A missionary bishop to head the Bishops’ Conference

Quito – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador has chosen as its new chairman Bishop Eugenio Arellano Fernández, M.C.C.I., of the Apostolic Vicariate of Esmeraldas. He takes the place of Bishop Fausto Trávez Trávez, today Archbishop of Quito.
The CEE is holding a plenary at the Bethania Centre for Social Formation, in Quito. The meeting opened on 26 April. On the agenda for today 28 April, the presentation of the members of the Presidency, namely: Bishop Arellano, President, S.E. Mons. Luis Cabrera, OFM, Archbishop of Guayaquil, Vice president, Military Ordinary Bishop René Coba, Secretary General, and Rev Mauro Cuevas CEE assistant secretary.
The information sent to Fides by a local source underlines the importance given to the news of a missionary Bishop to lead the Catholic Church in Ecuador. Born in Spain, a Comboni missionary, Mons. Eugenio Arellano Fernández was appointed to care for the Vicariate Apostolic of Esmeraldas on 1 June 1995. He remained a missionary siding with young people and the families . He played an important part in the social organization of the area, even taking part in peaceful demonstrations earning the esteem of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa.

AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Wolisso Hospital Auditorium named in memory of Fr Luigi Mazzucato

Wolisso – A ceremony has just ended to name the Aula Magna/Auditorium at Wolisso Hospital after Fr Luigi Mazzucato, Italian director for many years of CUAMM Medici with Africa. “He loved this hospital deeply, one of the few built entirely by CUAMM, which usually flanks existing structures, governmental or diocesan, to put them back on the track” we read in a report sent to Fides.
Wolisso Hospital was a challenge from the start shouldered with determination by the then CUAMM director don Luigi Mazzucato in cooperation with the Catholic Church in Ethiopia . This is why today the hospital’s Aula Magna/Auditorium is being named after him to foster the same determination in those places to which he devoted his life. St. Luke’s Wolisso, with 192 beds is the most important nongovernmental hospital in Ethiopia. It is the main centre for the Oromia Region, serving the province’s a population of 1,175,000. The structure offers services in medicine, first aid, orthopaedics, out-patient clinic and as departments for paediatrics, obstetrics, feeding programmes, mother-child health assistance, and a waiting ward for women fearing dangerous deliveries. It’s training school for obstetrics and nursing, and health assistants has been operative since 2000. In the area some 20 health centres, 53 community health posts provide a public health service all over the territory. In 2016 alone it guaranteed 11,337 outpatient visits, 5,552 vaccinations, 4,557 prenatal visits, 9,389 assisted deliveries and 10,826 screening tests for malnutrition among children under 5. It is also one of ten stations in the new CUAMM programme “Prima le mamme e i bambini. Mille di questi giorni Mothers and Children first. A thousand of these days ” to assist new mothers and infants in the first 1,000 days, counted from the beginning of the pregnancy to when the child is two years old. The progamme includes free, safe delivery and free treatment of acute and chronic malnutrition.

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