Indonesian Christian Leaders Issue Joint Christmas Message to Calm Congregations

Protestant and Catholic leaders in Indonesia issued a public statement, urging Christians
( [email protected] ) Dec 13, 2005 10:50 PM EST

Protestant and Catholic leaders in Indonesia issued a public statement, urging Christians "not to be afraid" amid warnings of terrorist attacks and other threats during the Christmas season, according to Asia News.

The Indonesian Catholic bishops' conference and the Communion of Churches in Indonesia released their annual joint Christmas message entitled, "Fear not I am with you," under speculations of terrorists attacks, natural disasters, and other concerns.

"Let us realize the hope to become a nation that is free from corruption, a nation that respects pluralism, is against violence, upholds law and justice, respects human rights and preserves the integrity of creation," Catholic and Protestant leaders said in the message, issued in early December.

The statement made by the Christian leaders comes at a time when warnings are being issued that terrorists are marking churches as places of targets in Indonesia, putting residents in the targeted areas and tourists on alert.

Other concerns are natural disasters, epidemics, food shortages in certain regions of the country, and religious freedom and worship, which the leaders said is being "threatened."

Despite challenges, the leaders encouraged Christians to celebrate Christmas with "gratitude," reminding them that in "difficult situations" they should not be afraid "because God himself is with them."

"He does not let us work alone but works together with us in dealing with all problems. So we must not be afraid and lose hope, but with full enthusiasm and hope, we work to build a better future," the leaders said according to Asia News.

The statement was signed by Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja of Jakarta, Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Semarang for the Catholic Church, Rev. Andreas Yewangoe and Rev. Richard M. Daulay for the Protestant body, the Communion of Churches in Indonesia.