Paniai : Jalapapua-: Bishop-elect Yanuarius Theofilus Matopai You also intends to ‘build communion with a Papuan characteristic’
The first native to be appointed bishop in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua province intends to voice human rights violations in his territory and empower indigenous people.
In an interview with UCA News, Bishop-elect Yanuarius Theofilus Matopai You, 61, said that conveying a prophetic voice on humanitarian issues is an important task of the Church and there will be “no compromise” on it.
“The church has a duty to fight for humanity, to fight for human dignity, the common good, the basic rights of the people. The church is called for that. The Church’s vocation cannot be compromised,” he said on Nov. 2.
You, who was appointed by the Vatican on Oct. 29, will be replacing retired Franciscan Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar.
He said the Church does not intend to do politics, but shall play a prophetic role.
A separatist movement for independence began in Papua in 1962, prompting Indonesia to maintain a heavy military presence in the resource-rich but underdeveloped province.
The conflict has so far claimed thousands of lives, estimated to be between 100,000 to 500,000.
Papuan Catholics and priests have often voiced their expectation that Church leaders should speak up on human rights violations. But there are also those who oppose the Church’s meddling in politics.
The bishop-elect agreed there was no need for the Church to get involved in politics, but said humanitarian issues in Papua were not receiving wider attention beyond local Church circles.
“So far… it seems that the struggles of the Catholic Church in Papua have become their own struggles,” he said.
He said another thing on his agenda is to take the Secretariat of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, which is currently being developed by the Franciscans at the diocesan level, to the parishes.
“I’ve thought about how it can be developed at the grassroots level, so that issues of justice, peace and the integrity of creation are not limited to certain circles, but taken to the people at the grassroots,” he said.
Of course, he said, this will be done by building cooperation with Protestant churches and other faiths.
You also hoped that the other dioceses in Indonesia, as well as churches in Asia and the world, will pay attention to humanitarian issues in Papua.
“If there is an opportunity [of meeting the bishops] I will voice this concern and if necessary will invite related parties, such as NGOs, so that they can take up issues in Papua,” he said.
You further said he would pay attention to “build communion with a Papuan characteristic,” which he said was one of the missions of the diocese that “has not received attention so far.”
He understood the mission as a form of pastoral care that really pays attention to the uniqueness of the Papuan land, both its culture and its people and empowers them according to their potential.
After his ordination, the bishop-elect said, he would organize a synod that will have the laity participate with the hierarchy to discuss matters together.
He said he was grateful to the Vatican for appointing him. “This is a good start to open other doors of God’s grace for the indigenous Papuans,” he added.
The situation in Papua continues to be turbulent, but the bishop-elect said: “I trust only my life and my health in God. Because he is the one who called, he is the one who sent, and he will also provide health and protection in carrying out herding duties in Jayapura Diocese.”
The diocese with an area of 115,350 square kilometers has 67,500 Catholics spread over 25 parishes. It is located in Papua, a former Dutch colony that declared independence in 1961. However, Indonesia annexed the territory soon with a referendum widely considered a sham.
Resouce : uca.news
Edito : M Gobai