Mon, 17 Jan 2000

Archbishop calls for peace in the city

JAKARTA (JP): Jakarta Archbishop Julius Darmaatmadja called on local parishes on Saturday to spread peace in the community and help those in need, regardless of creed, and told them not to be provoked by the year-long communal clashes in Maluku.

"I do not believe differences in religion is the cause of the conflicts there, but some people have taken advantage of it. The best thing to do would be for the community to view the case rationally and proportionally.

"There is no need for people outside the provinces to get mixed up in the matter. It could make things worse."

Julius was speaking at a media conference held at a church facility on Jl. K.H. Hasyim Ashari in Central Jakarta to announce the planned activities of the archdiocese's synod to help the needy.

The synod, which held similar activities from 1989 to 1991, appealed to all Catholic congregations in the capital to play an active role in serving the community.

Julius said the social activities were being held to help people cope with the psychological and physical effects of the economic crisis in a number of areas in the country, which has seen an increase in the number of poor people, violence and a lack of security.

"The focus of the movement is the victims of injustice, violence, displaced people, the jobless, women who are seeking justice, poor children and the victims of political corruption," he said.

Also attending the media briefing was Maluku Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi, who said he was sad to read media reports on the condition of Maluku's capital Ambon recently.

"It has been calm the last few days, although order has not been completely restored."

Earlier this week there were calls for a jihad to avenge the deaths of Muslims in Maluku's two provinces.

Tens of thousands of Muslims staged a rally last Sunday in Monas Park, Central Jakarta, demanding that the government quickly end the sufferings of Muslims in Maluku.

The rally was attended by People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Amien Rais, United Development Party chairman Hamzah Haz, Justice Party chairman Didin Hafidhuddin and leaders of several other Muslim organizations.

The call for a holy war was frowned upon by President Abdurrahman Wahid, who has vowed to take stern measures against anyone who answers the call. (01)