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For Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, “there will be no more prejudices based on ethnicity and religion.” Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan HamengkuBuwono X was also present at the opening ceremony. For Archbishop Robertus Rubyatamoko of Semarang, chairman of the organising committee, the gathering ” is a good opportunity for young Catholics in Asia to experience the true ‘social identity’ of Asian nations: diversity and plural society.”
Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) – The 7th edition of Asian Youth Day (AYD) in Yogyakarta, Diocese of Semarang (Java Island), has a strong inter-faith connotation, underlined by the theme of the event, ‘Joyful Asian Youth! Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia’.
The opening ceremony of the “Days in venues”, the central part of the gathering (2-6 August), saw the participation of important political and Islamic representatives, a tangible proof of the favour with which Indonesian society welcomes the youth meeting of Asian Catholics.
The dignitaries included Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, and Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan HamengkuBuwono X, who officially opened the event at the sound of the ‘othok-othok’, a traditional Javanese musical instrument.
As a representative of Indonesian authorities, Minister Saffudin enthusiastically welcomed the 2,140 youth at the Jogja Expo Centre (JEC), 1,198 from Indonesia and 942 from 22 other Asian nations. Last night, the minister stressed the point that multiculturalism and diversity are part of human nature.
“Since our birth,” he said, “we are immersed in a context where we are all different, in a society of different ethnicities, cultural contexts, languages, values and, last but not least, religious beliefs.”
He urged young Catholics to disseminate Biblical joy in all the countries of the Asian continent, whose diversity is a blessing of God.
“It is in this very special social situation that we are called to promote tolerance and solidarity with other people, regardless of differences,” he added. “At some point, there will be no more prejudices based on ethnicity and religion.”
Indonesia, the most populous Islamic country in the world, has always promoted cultural and religious pluralism, this despite the rising number of sectarian incidents.
The Catholic Church is an active part of interfaith dialogue and often distinguishes itself for initiatives and activities promoting peaceful coexistence.
The sultan of Yogyakarta urged AYD youth to become pioneers of a social movement for love and respect in Indonesia. “This will enrich the true identity of Asia: its multiculturalism.”
Mgr Robertus Rubyatmoko, archbishop of Semarang and chairman of the AYD organising committee, said that this international youth event is a good opportunity for young Catholics in Asia to experience the true “social identity” of Asian nations: diversity and plural society. For this reason, “all are called to convey the joy of the Gospel to the neighbours and society.”