INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE TO INTELLECTUAL FORMATION IN INDONESIAN CONTEXT
In such a context dialogue must be done for our survival. But, unfortunately, not many Catholics are aware of this situation: being too busy with activities within the church (altar-center), being not much involved in the social life.
Usually, as a peaceful people, there is no much problem regarding living together, particularly because the Javanese Muslim are not the same as those Muslims from other part of the world. But, in some place, occurred conflicts because of the suspicion among the Muslims since the Catholics are not involved in the political life. The proselitisation done by some Christian denominations make worse the situation.
Regarding the reality of poverty. Catholics are not those poor although there is also poverty among Catholics. Also it is a fact that not few Christians or Catholics hold the economic power in the society and political influence. That often creates jealousy among Muslims, particularly those who want to make Indonesia as Islamic state. The Church, and we, the Vincentians, indeed do charitable activities/projects. But, somehow we do not have much chance to do charity because we do not have many facilities to go to the poor who are Muslims since Muslims suspect us for proselitization as done by some Christian denominations.
Thus, in this Indonesian situation, the dialogue is imperative to survival; meanwhile, as Vincentians, we are certainly called to help the poor.
- Vincentian Formation in Indonesia
Area of mission of Indonesian Vincentian: Parishes, social works (street children, workers etc), school, priest formation (seminaries), international mission. So, we still do what we call the two of the Vincentian mission: to service for the poor and being involved in the formation of lay and the clergy. The formation of the candidates is channeled to prepare them for those missions.
Vincentian Academic formation
Regarding the formation of our candidates in the major seminary, we refers to Ratio Formationis Vincentianae (1988), No 19; 30-42:
– intellectual maturity: love for truth and strenuous study, open-minded and being critical.
– to be an intellectual yet humble priest
But, that always linked to the Vincentian call:
– to love and to bring good news to the poor
– to be able to offer a good formation service for the clergy
– to be involved in the formation of lay people
- Interreligious Dialogue
Regarding what, why and how the interreligious dialogue I will not discuss it. My interest is more about what interreligious dialogue ask when we are going into it. I understand that to go inside interreligious dialogue world, we are asked: that we have to have an open mind towards other religions, without ignorance, prejudices and feeling of superiority, but also that each of part have to be rooted in their own faith.
- Intellectual formation
It must be stated that a life of witnessing to our faith and Christian values speak more effectively rather than a direct proclamation of gospel toward others. But, other form of dialogue e.g. joint-study and reflection, or spiritual sharing from time to time still needed as a further step. In this context, intellectual formation comes into.
Intellectual formation in general: What have we to cultivate?
– an understanding about the Asian reality of plurality of religions
– a love for truth through strenuous study
– an open mind and being critical in searching truth
– but, it must be linked always to love of God and service to the poor
What should be done concretely? Three areas of interest for an interreligious dialogue: preparation, during process, post-process.
Preparation. In order to be fruitful and not counter-productive, there should be a good preparation for interreligious dialogue. In this case, academic formation should provide enough information regarding our own religion and others.
During process & post-process. Here, intellectual formation should afford help for the students in dealing with others in the journey together for truth. And, after the process, intellectual formation should accompany the students in reflecting the experience of interreligious dialogue in order to insert such experience into their own faith.
The consequence of interreligious dialogue for intellectual formation is that it should cultivate an awareness and understanding about the reality of plurality and at the same time propose an open mind and being critical in the virtue of love for truth. However, being faithful to Vincentian spirit, it must be linked always to love of God and service to the poor. It must be stated that in the context of Asian plurality, a life of witnessing to our faith and Christian values speak more effectively rather than a direct proclamation of gospel.
[*] Fr. Yustinus CM is director of St. Vincent seminary at Malang, Indonesia. He also teaches moral theology in Widya Sasana College of Philosophy and Theology at Malang.