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Cablegate: Religious Freedom -- High-Level Vatican Official

VZCZCXRO9244
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHJA #2009/01 3411020
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071020Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4054
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 002009

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP, EUR/WE, DRL/IRF
NSC FOR D. WALTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KIRF ID
SUBJECT: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM -- HIGH-LEVEL VATICAN OFFICIAL
PRAISES INDONESIA,S RECORD

1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified. Please
handle accordingly.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: Cardinal Tauran, President of the
Vatican's Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue,
recently visited Indonesia. The Cardinal highlighted
positive Christian-Muslim relations in Indonesia in meetings
with Muslim and other faith leaders. GOI officials and civil
society figures. In this, the largest Muslim country by
population in the world, Indonesian Catholics are a small
community, though an influential one. As Mission prepares to
host the U.S.-Indonesia interfaith dialogue in January 2010,
we will liaise with the Holy See Embassy on their experiences
in this area. END SUMMARY.

VATICAN OFFICIAL'S VISIT

3. (U) Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the
Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, visited
Indonesia From November 24 to December 1. Indonesia's lone
Cardinal, Julius Darmaatmadja, accompanied Tauran to his
meetings. In Jakarta, Tauran made a symbolic trip to the
Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in Indonesia (designed by
a Christian architect), where the Religious Ministry Director
asked him to beat the mosque's drum as a gesture of
friendship between the two faiths. The mosque stands right
across from the country's main Catholic cathedral (the two
sites share parking lots whenever there are overflow crowds).
During his wide-ranging visit, Tauran also traveled to
Yogjakarta, Central Java; Makassar, South Sulawesi; and Bali,
where he met Indonesia's top Hindu leader.

POSITIVE MEETINGS

4. (SBU) Based on soundings from Holy See diplomats and
GOI contacts, the Cardinal's visit was productive. He had
amicable meetings with a wide variety of religious and
political leaders, including the leaders of Indonesia's two
largest Muslim organizations, Nadhlatul Ulama and
Muhammadiyah. He addressed an inter-faith audience on
"Building Trust for Social Justice" at Muhammadiyah
headquarters in Jakarta. The November 25th event celebrated
the organization's 100th anniversary.

5. (SBU) During his meetings and in press briefings, the
Cardinal praised Indonesia's national secularist
"pancasilist" (pluralist) ideology, saying that it
contributes to Indonesia's "harmony and diversity." He
thanked his interlocutors for the positive tone of
Christian-Muslim relations, stating that "it seems there is
no gap now between Muslims and Catholics" and stated that
Christians could learn a great deal from Muslim "expressions
of faith." He added: "Muslims have a very strong
spirituality. They wake up every morning early to pray, for
example. Our young priests should follow this example."

6. (U) The Cardinal met with President Yudhoyono and other
high-level GOI officials. He also met with many leaders of
Indonesia's active civil society community, including key
figure former president Abdurrahman Wahid. Wahid called for
Muslims and Christians to share "cooperation and dialogue."

7. (SBU) Cardinal Tauran gave an upbeat readout on his
Indonesia trip in a meeting with Dr. William Vendley,
Secretary General of Religions for Peace, the NGO partner
with whom the USG and GOI will be holding an interfaith
dialogue in January next year. Vendley told poloff that the
Cardinal felt that his meetings had been productive and he
praised Indonesia's commitment to the interfaith dialogue
process.

CATHOLICS -- A SMALL COMMUNITY BUT INFLUENTIAL

8. (SBU) In this overwhelmingly Muslim country, Catholics
make up a small percentage of the population. In general,
Catholics have positive relations with their Muslim
neighbors, though at times there are local tensions over such
issues as applications to build new churches. The Indonesian
Catholic hierarchy usually assumes a low profile here, in
line with the personality of its leader, Cardinal
Darmaatmadja, who is firmly Javanese and non-confrontational
in style. While they make up under five percent of the
population, Catholics are an influential group. Some
Catholic priests are important in the human rights and NGO
communities, and other Catholics run large media and
commercial enterprises. Many Indonesian Chinese, an

JAKARTA 00002009 002 OF 002


important group on the economic side, are also Catholic.
HUME

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