Synod on Tolerance: Walking Together in Fostering Interfaith Solidarity

A member of the International Youth Advisory Body shares her experience of the commitment to the local interfaith synod
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Indonesia is a pluralistic country with six official religions and numerous local languages and ethnicities. Thus, interfaith dialogue has to be continuously practiced to foster peace and harmony within the society.

At the momentum of Synod in particular Churches and celebration of International Day of Human Fraternity, the Commission of Inter-religious and Interfaith Relations of the Diocese of Bogor convened the Synod on Tolerance on Friday, 4th February 2022. It provided a great opportunity for the Catholic Church to listen, dialogue and walk together with religious leaders, interfaith and social groups, local governments, and youth representatives in reflecting and sharing their view of the Catholic Church, their perception of the existing relations, challenges, and opportunities which have to be further improved to foster interfaith solidarity. Several challenges that were shared include the rising threat of violent extremism, intolerance, hate speech and hoax in the digital platforms.

It was highlighted that interfaith encounters between people from different religions, faiths, and cultural backgrounds cultivated seeds of tolerance. Exposure to differences gave an individual a chance to understand others and became more tolerant. Some participants also shared how they were able to change their bitter experiences (as being discriminated against) into driving forces to be active in promoting tolerance through interfaith communities. Mgr. Paskalis Bruno Syukur, OFM, Bishop of the Diocese of Bogor, stated that despite our differences, we should continue to unite and walk together with all elements in society. This process of walking together shall be accompanied with concrete actions in the society, for instance through social programs.

I was fortunate to be the moderator throughout the Synod on Tolerance with a young priest, Fr. Dion Manopo. Together with his youthful team, we designed and discussed how the substantive and technical aspects of the Synod will be conducted. The meaningful involvement of young people in this Synod is also the fruit of Synod on Young People (2018) and the implementation of Christus Vivit, as young people are given the opportunity to be meaningfully involved – not tokenized – and to be empowered by taking leading roles with the accompaniment of consecrated persons of the Church. It is time for young people to be involved, not only as participants but also to take part as protagonists since the early stage of preparation, implementation and evaluation. It is time to trust and involve young people to empower others.

Agatha Lydia Natania

Diocese of Bogor, Indonesia

Member of the International Youth Advisory Body

Photo: Commission for Interreligious and Interfaith Relations, Diocese of Bogor

17 February 2022