INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE TO PASTORAL FORMATION INDONESIA EXPERIENCE

Adi Saptawidodo, CM[*]

Our background is multi religious and cultural pluralism. There are six official religions in Indonesia: Catholic, Protestant, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, in which Islam is a vast majority (88 percent of about 225 millions of population). With regard to cultural pluralism, Indonesia has also many ethnic groups. Above all, poverty can be seen everywhere in this country. Thus, it is indeed true what is said in the document of the Conference of Asian Bishops (AFBC) that the characteristic of Asia is multi cultural, multi religion and poverty, in which Indonesia is an example.

This situation is challenging to our pastoral action. It gives an illustration/challenge to us on how pastoral ministry must be done in order the Catholic Church is able to actualize her mission to the world. Our pastoral ministry then must include those characteristics. It means that dialogue may attach to culture, religion, and poverty. In my reflection, pastoral ministry does not serve religion and culture but people, in this regard, are poor people which at the same time they own that religions and cultures. To liberate the people from poverty then is not only the Catholics’ responsibility but also the followers of other religions. At the very end, inter-religious dialogue as the way to approach the reality of Asian people (on which we talked about during these past few days) may aim at the betterment of all people in Asia; for the salvation of people. It also touches our Vincentian charisma.

With this idea in mind, it may give inspiration to our formation to the candidates. As the candidates completed their stages of formation they will become agents of pastoral ministry. In this sense all aspect of formation will lead the candidates to be the pastoral agent. So then, what and how do we do in our formation, especially in the pastoral aspect of formation?  In the future of their vocation the students will perform pastoral activities according to the Vincentian charismas.  Besides being trained to have basic skill and attitude of doing pastoral activity, the students must be equipped with certain capability in regard with the specific pastoral situations. In the context of Indonesia and Asia and in wider context of globalized world as well, our candidates need some ability in order to be able to face and handle specific pastoral challenges.

I think, as a result of the formation, the candidates may have some characters/ qualities, particularly in respect to our theme of discussion (inter-religious dialogue).

He must be a man of dialogue with the qualities needed. This points out to the matter. In the said context above, he must be able to conduct a healthy dialogue. It must be happened not only with the followers of other faiths, cultures and the poor but also with their fellow Catholics, confreres and those who work with him. During formation the candidates must have opportunity to experience dialogue by direct involving in different occasion of dialogue. Meanwhile dialogue of live in the grass root level may find easily. In certain way, pastoral activities always constitute dialogue.

Another character is a man of reflection. Students/candidates have studied theology subjects (and philosophy as well) for years. Theology (and philosophy) is his specialty. Thus he must be good at making theological (and philosophical) reflections. In a certain sense he is a theologian, ‘practical pastoral theologian’. As pastoral theologian he may reflect on the life of the church and the fellow Catholics. He is making reflection on problems to find way out and new insights, as well as good values from other religions in dealing with them. Reflection is source of inspiration. It will give meaning to what we are doing. It will give also capacity and strength to keep alive and struggling. The life will be stagnant, and even die without reflection.

This is also a quality that is important to be possessed by those who are involving in pastoral work: man of collaboration. God himself involves human being to perform salvation for them. As said above that the betterment of human kind is not only Catholics’ responsibility. Other people from other religions are also taking part to this responsibility. There are many people who have good will in order to save humankind, especially those who are suffering and poor. Only one is needed in this respect: the spirit of collaboration. Our candidates must have this spirit, and this must be trained to have it during their formation. Pastoral work is a work of cooperation.

Finally, I suggest one more quality that is a man of communication. Pastoral ministry is a work in the line of communication. In regard to inter-religious dialogue, communication is in the heart of dialogue. Dialogue and pastoral activities won’t proceed and bear fruit without good communication.

Some information:

It may be useful for you to know about our steps of formation to our candidates in Indonesia Province: 4 years minor seminary or First year pre -novitiate or postulant (professionals, 3 years of minor seminary); 1 year Internal Seminary; 4 years Philosophy and Theology (S-1 or BA); 1 year of Pastoral year; 8 months of pastoral categorical; 3 months of preparation for vows; 2 years of Philosophy and Theology (Magister/Master) – priesthood ordination.

At present (2009) we have a total number of 52 seminarians in different levels: Pre internal seminary level: 4 seminarians; Internal Seminary: 7 seminarians; Strata-1level: 29 seminarians; Pastoral Year level: 5 seminarians; Preparation for vow 1 seminarian; Magister level: 6 seminarians.


[*] Fr. Adi Saptawidodo CM is rector of the major seminary of the CM in Indonesia.

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