Pope: even in Indonesia religious freedom means the right to be truly and fully Catholic

» 10/07/2011 13:36

Benedict XVI also recalled that mission is “essential” for the Church and participation in interfaith dialogue is “crucial” for respect for minorities. The freedom to live and spread the Gospel can never be taken for granted, but must always be supported in accordance with justice and with patience.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Religious freedom does not just mean not having to suffer the constraints from the outside, but “it is the right to be fully and authentically Catholic”, publicly announcing and witnessing to the faith, said Benedict XVI today in his address to the Indonesian bishops at the end of their five-yearly visit “ad Limina”. Receiving the bishops of the Catholic Church from the world’s most populous Muslim state, the Pope also recalled that mission is “essential” for the Church and participation in interfaith dialogue is “crucial” for respect for minorities.

Even in a country like Indonesia, where the message of Christ has been present for centuries, “the missionary impulse – the Pope said remains essential to the Church’s life, and finds expression not only in the preaching of the Gospel, but also in the witness of Christian charity”. In this regard, – he continued – I appreciate the intense efforts made by numerous individuals and agencies in the name of the Church to bring the tender compassion of God to many members of Indonesian society.”

This not only contributes to the spiritual vitality of the Church which grows “through humble and courageous witnesses,” but also to society as a whole “promoting those values that are dear to your countrymen: tolerance, unity and justice for all citizens. Appropriately, – said Benedict XVI – Indonesia’s constitution guarantees the fundamental human right of freedom to practice one’s religion. The freedom to live and preach the Gospel can never be taken for granted and must always be justly and patiently upheld. Nor is religious freedom merely a right to be free from outside constraints. It is also a right to be authentically and fully Catholic, to practice the faith, to build up the Church and to contribute to the common good, proclaiming the Gospel as Good News for all, and inviting everyone to intimacy with the God of mercy and compassion made manifest in Jesus Christ.” .

The pope also expressed gratitude for the work that the clergy, religious and Catholic laity do ” expression of the Church’s commitment to humanity, and in particular to the most needy” and recommended the bishops care of their formation .

Finally, Benedict XVI encouraged the bishops to continue their efforts to “promote and support interfaith dialogue” in a country, ” so rich in its cultural diversity and possessed of a large population, is home to significant numbers of followers of various religious traditions. Thus, the people of Indonesia are well-placed to make important contributions to the quest for peace and understanding among the peoples of the world. Your participation in this great enterprise is decisive”. The Church and the faithful are called upon ” to follow her Divine Master, who unites all things in himself, and to witness to that peace which only he can give”.