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- Published: Thursday, 28 March 2019 07:50
BISHOP PETRUS CANISIUS MANDAGI MSC, RECONCILIATION BETWEEN MUSLIMS AND CATHOLICS.
Over the last two weeks we have been moved, have grieved, have felt great solidarity with New Zealand, with the horror of the massacre in Christchurch, the mourning for those who were killed at prayer, for their relatives and friends.
And, the killer was an Australian.
The way that New Zealanders, Muslims, Catholics, non-believers have joined in solidarity, especially with the leadership of Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern – a fine example for us to appreciate and learn from.
Visitors to this site may not know of Bishop Mandragi MSC, a bishop for several decades –
Google entry: Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi, MSC was born in Kamangta, North Sulawesi, on April 27, 1949. He was ordained a priest of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on December 18, 1975. He was appointed bishop of Amboina on June 10, 1994 and his Episcopal ordination took place on September 18, 1994. Bishop Mandagi’s motto is Nil Nisi Christum (Christ alone, Galatians 2:20).
He has been a pioneer in fostering reconciliation in his diocese in Indonesia – something for us to admire, and imitate.
Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi MSC has
nurtured interfaith dialogue in the conflict-torn
Maluku islands in Indonesia for the last two
decades. It began in January 1999, when a fight
between a Christian transport driver and a Muslim
youth spiralled out of control, triggering a wave of
sectarian violence that raged for four years. Hundreds
of churches and mosques were destroyed, thousands
of homes razed, more than 5000 people killed and
half a million others displaced.
On the occasion of Eid al-Fitr (the feast at the
end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting),
Christians were too afraid to visit the homes of their
Muslim neighbours. But Bishop Petrus, believing that
Eid al-Fitr was a time for Muslims to forgive, put on
his cassock and boldly visited his Muslim neighbours.
His smile overcame their hesitance. His warmth
dissolved the tension. He showed that love could
break through the walls separating them. The
experience was a turning point for the bishop, who
has been active in interfaith dialogue since.
In February 2002, along with religious and civic
leaders and representatives from the two opposing
communities, he attended mediation talks in Malino,
South Sulawesi province. At the end of two days, the
35 Christian and 35 Muslim delegates signed an
agreement to end the conflict and to work together
to maintain peace in Maluku province. This meeting
was made possible because the then minister for
people’s welfare, Muhammed Jusuf Kalla, having read a
book in which Bishop Mandagi had written that “conflict
in Ambon could only be settled through dialogue”,
finally hosted the talks.
"Harmony is not something we just talk about, it's
something which we have to show," he said. "How?
When neighbours celebrate their religious feasts or hold
religious programs, we need to support them," he said.
And he practises what he preaches! In 2012, he
accommodated Muslim participants in the 24th National
Quran Recital Competition in Ambon. He showed the
same hospitality when the 9th National Protestant Choir
Festival was held in the town in 2015. Last September, he
attended the 83rd anniversary celebrations of the Maluku
Protestant Church in Maranatha Church, Ambon. It was
the twentieth time he had attended the congregation’s
anniversary celebration. Interfaith and ecumenical
efforts like this have made him highly respected among
other communities. He was once asked to lead a groundbreaking
ceremony for a new mosque in a nearby village.
With only about six years left before reaching the
retirement age of 75, Bishop Mandagi says he will
never stop working for interfaith dialogue. He says,
“We should not forget that ‘Satan’ still roams and
wants to ruin our brotherhood. But do not be afraid,
there is the Holy Spirit. So bring along the spirit of
brotherhood everywhere we go.” ¢
Adapted and condensed from Katharina R. Lestari’s article,
‘Nurturing interfaith dialogue in Indonesia’s conflict-torn Maluku
Islands’, La Croix International, 13 Nov. 2018, http://bit.ly/2U5g8RQ
Patrick McInerney, left, with Bishop Vincent Long OFM.Conv at the blessing of the centre
With thanks to Patrick McInerny, Columban, Director of Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations. He is editor of The Bridges Newsletter, available on line and by email. The Bridges Newsletter features the latest news and stories on Interfaith and Christian-Muslim Relations.