Archives August 2022

Youth Today, Leader Tomorrow!

By Neilan Sylvester D’souza

We all know that the 12th of August is celebrated as International Youth Day; around this time we also come across many slogans which shout that “Youth of today are leaders tomorrow”, “Youth are the face of Change”, “Young and active citizens of the country will take us to great heights”, “Youth voices and ideas must be heard” and many more on a similar note. On 13th of August everything goes back to normal, the celebrated ‘Youth’ become secondary citizens, and there is barely any importance given to their thoughts and ideas in most decision making areas; youth often get looked down for being inexperienced, disinterested and irrelevant. The celebration of International Youth Day in most cases lives and dies on the same day, we could also relate this to other commemorative days, regardless.

Pause for a moment, take time and observe the Youth today. As a youth myself, I can proudly say that youth today are not the same, they are better aware, more knowledgeable, better skilled and hard working, but also under a lot of stress and pressure. Let me put my observations into context. Last month ALL Forum spent time with Indonesian Youth by facilitating our program called Moving School in Bogor; we had around 36 participants mainly Indonesian Youth from catholic youth movements and also an Islamic minority group – Ahamadiyya Muslims.

Moving School Indonesia 2022

Even for ALL Forum it was a first, to bring together so many Christian and Muslim participants together in one place for a week long physical program since the past two years due to the pandemic. Our learning’s were enriched ever more because of the interreligious interactions which the youth were having. Never have I seen collaboration like this among strangers looking to learn and work together. We must pause, take time and recognise that among today’s youth there exists a pluralistic culture; mutual respect for sensitive religious practices; zeal to learn, understand as well as collaborate for matters of justice and peace; strong emotion and care towards the environment; and determination towards common good; against corruption and intolerant towards hate.

From this International Youth day on, let us not reduce today’s youths’ determination for change and care for creation and climate only as a viral trend, but instead, let us bridge the gaps, join hands, become inclusive and collaborate on every level so that we can form them as leaders for tomorrow.

My Insight of Moving School Indonesia 2022 and International Youth Day

By Yulius Yohanes Carlos Wawo

“Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages” is the theme of International Youth Day which will be celebrated on August 12, 2022. The development of Youth in the world has always shown interesting things. Almost every incident in this world, Youth is involved in it.

In various fields, various professions as well as various issues in every country in the world, the Youth group plays an active role in it. Young people with their potential, namely having enthusiasm, having ambition, having energy and strong solidarity, are expected to be able to bring change to society.

As we know, the world today has various kinds of problems, plagued by various kinds of conflicts, and endless natural disasters. The theme of International Youth Day 2022 gives momentum for the Youth which is the glue of the generations, it is the Youth that becomes the unifier between nations, and the Youth that unites each group of different religions, tribes, languages and customs, to face every problem in this world.

Indonesia as one of the countries which has tribal, cultural, religious and racial diversity is one example that its youth can be a unifier of this diversity; to face issues in the fields of human rights, politics, gender equality, poverty, tolerance and numerous other things.

Last month, Asian Lay Leaders Forum held a program called Moving School in Indonesia July, 17th – 22nd July 2022. In my opinion, this program related with the theme of International Youth Day 2022. The participants came from different ethnicities, religious, racial and professional backgrounds, who then explored several issues related to Education, Democracy, Corruption and Diversity in Indonesia. We were also introduced to the principles of Synodality, which I interpreted as the principle of walking together, listening to each other and caring for each other.

Participating in Moving School Indonesia, was like entering the candradimuka crater to be buoyed with various kinds of knowledge and was an opportunity to communicate with other young people from different ethnicities, religions, races and customs. Likewise, “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages” is an encouragement for youth in the world, especially Indonesia, to prepare themselves with various knowledge, training, and capacity building so that young people in the world and especially Indonesia can become mobilizers, unifiers and liaisons between generations in the world and are able to create solutions to all problems and conflicts that occur in the world so as to be able to create a world for all ages.

Personally, I am so grateful for the opportunity to take part in the Moving School Indonesia in 2022 organized by the Asian Lay Leaders Forum, hopefully program like this will continue to take place consistently so that many young people in the world, especially in Indonesia, become drivers and future leaders who are able to solve problems in this world.

ALL Forum Successfully Completed Moving School Indonesia 2022 & Online Course for MAP

Due to the covid-19 pandemic, ALL Forum had to bring all of its physical programs to a stand still; ending with Moving School in Vietnam back in February of 2020. But now, Finally after 2 years ALL Forum was successful in organising its week long physical program called Moving School in Bogor, Jakarta, Indonesia. Moving School Indonesia 2022 was a great success, this time it was based on the theme “Synodal Church for Interreligious and Intercultural Citizenship in Indonesia”, held during 17th to 22nd July. We kicked off on the 17th with the opening ceremony held in the evening, post dinner and Introduced ALL Forum and our Moving School Program, Our internal policies including child safeguarding, the rundown of activities and exposure sites. On day 2 we set off for immersion by dividing ourselves into four learning groups and visited the following organisations and spots to engage with them and spend time learning how they function in society.

Morning prayer before start the program.

Morning prayer before start the program.

The first learning group visited Pesantren As-Salam Kampung Ingris, in Gunung Geulis; This Pesantren is indeed special, it is not only a place for religion study, but also international and modern style teaching. Although it is a Pesantran which is run by Muslims the land on which it was build and the fund including its construction was contributed by a Christian family. This place shares deep interreligious harmony and is quite important to learn more about them. The second learning group visited The Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN) & the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community; AMAN is a Non-profit organization that focuses on women and peace. AMAN has been a pioneer in peace education for women at the grassroots, conducting community organizing through women’s groups and conducting national and international advocacy related to Women, Peace and Security.

Fr. Heru Prakosa is delivering lecture in Moving School Indonesia 2022

Fr. Heru Prakosa is delivering lecture in Moving School Indonesia 2022 

The group that visited AMAN also visited Ahmadiyya Muslim Community a revivalist movement in Islam, emphasizing the basic teachings of peace, love, justice and the sanctity of life. The third learning group visited the Indonesian Parliamentary Concerned Community Forum (FORMAPPI) which is a non-profit organization that highlights the performance of parliamentary institutions in Indonesia. FORMAPPI was founded in March 2001 with a background of concern over the development of the parliament (DPR/MPR) which tends to be arbitrary and so dominant over other political institutions. The fourth learning group visited the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) which was born in the midst of the reformation turmoil in 1998. It was fronted by several YLBHI activists. ICW stands with the belief that corruption must be eradicated because corruption has impoverished and undermined justice.

Some if participants with the children from Pesantren Assalam

Some 0f participants with the children from Pesantren As-Salam

The following days after exposure we had a series of five workshops; the 36 participants found the workshops very enriching because of the matters that were discussed. The First session was on “Dialogue with Muslim for promoting Intercultural Spirituality and Citizenship in Indonesia and Asia” by Fr. Heru Prakosa; The second by Ms. Ruby Kholifah from AMAN on “Working for Women’s Rights or Gender Justice Interreligiously in Indonesia and Asia. On the second day Mr. Lucius Karus, FORMAPPI lead the opening session on “Role of Catholic Youth Movements for Democratization in Indonesia Inter-religiously” followed by “Why the gap between the rich and the poor becomes polemic: Empowering Youth and Civil Groups including FABs for a Better World?” by Mr. Daniel Awigra from HRWG. And on the final day Dr.Paul Hwang on “Synodal Church or Synodality in the Final Document and the Papal Exhortation Querida Amazonia for the Better Church & World in Asia”. The program concluded with an enriching cultural night where all the participants showcased their talents and culture in various forms like dance, theatre, poetry, comedy and other forms.

Participants with their own traditional wear before culture night.

Participants with their own traditional wear before culture night.

On a similar note ALL Forum concluded its online course for MAP – Pakistan on Synodality with a special discussion session. The discussion session was very fruitful and we were able to understand various perspectives on Synodality emerging from Pakistan. You can catch up on all sessions of Synodality Online Course on our Youtube Channel.*

My Recommendations for Minority Day in Pakistan

By Ashiknaz Khokhar, Human Rights Activist

Pakistan is about to complete 75 years of its existence, the government and citizens are also making arrangements to celebrate this day. Like every year, this year also there will be many programs on the media in which patriotism will be expressed through national songs. And again the question will arise that what was the purpose of creating Pakistan? What have we lost and found in these 75 years? Especially if we look at the under privileged sections of Pakistan, it will be easier to assess the journey of these 75 years.

In 2009, the Government of Pakistan declared 11th August as National Minority Day at the national level in honor of all the services and sacrifices of the minorities. The Minority Day was also commemorated to encourage the minorities living in Pakistan who worked tirelessly to make Pakistan strong and stable.

In the First Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, the Quaid-e-Azam had said that “You are free. You are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques and to go to any of your places of worship in the state of Pakistan.” For. You belong to any religion, caste or race. The state has nothing to do with it”.

The purpose of celebrating this day is to take care of the fundamental rights, protection of life and property, religious freedom and self-respect of the religious minorities living in Pakistan. At the same time, think about their unsolved problems and proceed towards their solution.

Minority Day in Pakistan/Image:www.ucanews.com

In these 75 years, where religious minorities have played a key role in progress Pakistan, we should not ignore their many problems. Religious minorities are victims of discrimination in Pakistan who are deprived of opportunities to advance in society because of their religious identity. On Minority Day, I would like to make some recommendations here which the Pakistan government needs to work on seriously:

  1. Introduce adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards to protect the rights, freedoms and interests of minorities. Include minorities in the national mainstream at all levels of governance and decision-making, with a special focus on minority women.
  2. Fully implement the judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 19 June 2014 (Jeelani Judgment) without any delay.
  3. Raise public awareness of issues of concern, including in the public and private sectors, mobilize political will and resources to address all forms of religious discrimination, and strengthen the human rights principles of non-discrimination and equality.
  4. Ensure open, constructive and respectful discussion of ideas as well as inter-faith, inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue at local and national levels to play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence.
  5. Combat religious intolerance through the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and fully respect the freedom to seek, receive and impart information.
  6. Take bold steps to introduce comprehensive anti-discrimination measures, legislation, policy and administrative measures to protect and promote the human rights of religious minorities, including minority women and girls who are often subjected to abduction, rape, forced conversion and marriage ( young age).
  7. Strongly discourage and condemn all incidents, statements and attitudes of religious intolerance at the government level.
  8. Ensure an accurate count of minorities during the population census.
  9. Implement The Ministry of Religious Minority through independent and independent legislation.*

One Week with Indonesian Young Ones

By Dr.Paul Hwang (Director ALL Forum)

After a long time, ALL Forum has finished the Moving School program. Physically, it has been about two and a half years since the outbreak of COVID-19, but the psychological time feels much longer than that. Why did I feel that way? I couldn’t figure out the reason even if I thought about it, but I realized it only when I came to Indonesia where the program was held. More precisely, it was thanks to children and young people who I met when we as a group visited Pesantren, an Islamic boarding school, as part of the program. Their simple expressions with full smiles on faces, shy talks and gestures, their ceaseless and enjoyable jokes from indefinite optimism toward life, and their seriousness and passion on the other hand…etc. When I felt the surging sense of liberation almost to the tip of my head, I found myself most like myself.

Personally, I think for a moment that this is why I have been walking around in Asia for some 20 years. Eventually, it has been my desire to know and feel to grasp something behind in the invisible value they show and live with. But this kind of ‘romance’ began to crack when the program began the next day. They often delay 10 to 20 minutes when a session or workshop starts or has to end, laugh when they have to be serious, or break the situation where order is naturally required as if nothing happened. For me, who is familiar with a life of establishing and following standards and norms, this “disorderedness” took a considerable amount of time and effort to digest. evertheless, it’s always unfamiliar and takes a good time and effort to adapt. So it is time to decide whether I’m going to be a “realistic romantist” or a “romantic realist.” This distinction looks like a pun, but it is an important guide for me. It is whether I should start with the former which sees something behind first of what appears to be disordered, that is, a mixture of paradox between focused and distracted, as an order. Or it shoud be the latter can be said to begin with the laughter of these young ones who indefinitely affirm tomorrow even if today is hungry and difficult.

This characteristic could be generalized and understood not only for Indonesian youth but also for Southeast Asian young ones. Even compared to young people from South Asian countries, Southeast Asian counterparts seem to have more leeway or space in which they enjoy more freedom than following any framework or norms. The difference is more pronounced in comparison to Korean youth as East Asian. I have witnessed it when ALL Forum’s pan-Asian programs are held, Korean youth seem to be unable to mingle with this “undisciplined” Southeast Asian young people. But all I mentioned above is based on my personal experiences which is not objective if not groundless. Over the past 30 years, growing religious fundamentalism and hardline militant groups have caused tensions rather than peaceful coexistence between religions and harmed the rights and safety of minorities. Public spaces, including places of worship, were not uncommon targets of bombing and churches were closed for causing confusion. Also, the religious life of Shiites and Ahmadiya Muslims is becoming increasingly difficult. The imprisonment of the former Christian Jakarta governor, who was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy in 2017, has become a symbolic case that shows the difficulty of peaceful and harmonious coexistence between religions in Indonesia.

Along with this situation, socioeconomic poverty makes the future prospects of youth even darker. It is not difficult to hear in Indonesia and other conflict-affected countries in Asia that young people without jobs are lured into terrorist groups for just some money. Young people blindly accept a promise to get out of poverty, even if it is a situation that easily drives them to death. Therefore, religious hostility, poverty, and inequality in Indonesian society become fertile land where violence and extremism flourish. Nevertheless, statistics show that nearly half of Indonesia’s young people feel happy, and that this is one of the happiest people in the world. If we focus on the latter without considering the former we can’t but help to end up with prejudice and even distortion of the reality young people in Asia face. It could be “moderate and reformative Islam”, “development of democracy”, “participation in intercultural dialogue and collaboration”, which make young ones in Indonesia smile, laughter and lots of jokes for the bright future. Where is the place or role of religions especially Asian Christianity among them?.*

Rights Based Approach to Empower Women in Asia

By Sr.Mariola BS

Economic entitlements: Asian women by and large are made to be dependent on men all through their life even if they earn. Church based and other Faith based Organisations must focus on their economic entitlements.

Social equality: The equality of man and woman should be taught from womb to tomb so that everyone knows and accepts the social equality of man and woman in day to day life.

Cultural Entitlements: Women are often depicted as objects rather than subjects. This is due to the interference of men in their cultural entitlements to have their holistic developments. Their rights to learn and contribute towards the welfare of the society must be respected, protected and fulfilled both by the governments and by the private sectors.

Entitlements to Civil and political leadership: women have by an large proved their commitment to honesty and sincerity when they are given the responsibility to take care of the governance. The civic and political leadership among women would certainly end corruption by and large in the society.

The Church, as the sacrament of Christ, has been entrusted with the mission of proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. This she has consistently done in the face of the concrete challenges with which she has been confronted. One such challenge has been the issue of the dignity and role of women in the Church and society. We conclude this Statement with our thoughts centred on the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our mother; “therefore the fullness of grace was granted, with a view to the fact that she would become Theotokos, also signifies the fullness of the perfection of ‘what is characteristic of woman’, of ‘what is feminine’. Here we find ourselves, in a sense, at the culminating point, the archetype, of the personal dignity of women.” .

Through the true spirit of reconciliation, all women hope that they will be recognized as equal partners in the mission and ministry of the Church. Through the spirit of reconciliation, we hope that no woman will still feel devalued, not taken seriously, uncomfortable as a woman in the Catholic Church, which walks in the footsteps of Jesus, who showed us the Way, the Light and the Truth to true Human Liberation.

May Mary our model of discipleship, woman of courage, and woman of action, inspire and be with the Church of Asia in our journey towards fullness of life for all the peoples of Asia.

After Liberation Theology

By Rowena Robinson

Through the 1970s and 1980s, liberation theology continued to have a strong influence, including on the ecumenical movement in the Churches. Though the liberation theology movement is still alive today and remains very relevant particularly in the context of the concerns of Asia and India, it has to some extent lost the momentum of earlier decades It has been suggested, certainly, that the fall of socialism in Eastern Europe and the spread of capitalism across the globe has contributed to crisis in Marxist critical perspectives.

Further the spread of and struggle for political democracy in different parts of the world in recent decades has created the space for more thinking with regard to the domain of the ‘public’, an element critical to the making of a public theology. It is possible for us to consider the subject of theology somewhat along the lines that Burawoy constructs the discipline of sociology. Certainly, if we do so we can think of liberation theology as combining – with respect to conventional theology 一 some of the aspects that Burawoj attributes to ‘critical’ as well as ‘policy’ sociologies. Because liberation theology is ‘critical’ it challenges the foundational premises of conventional theological thinking. Indeed, within the Catholic church, liberation theology is still perceived as threatening and its radicality is viewed as a ‘crisis’ as it offers a new interpretation of Christianity and a total picture of Christian reality which the church must oppose and negate. 1

Liberation theology may also be said to have something of a policy or perhaps we could say ‘advocacy 5 perspective in that in local sitxiarions it attempts to struggle against concrete realities and find practical solutions to specific concerns of injustice or inequality. As such, however, it has been critiqued — as have other theologies such as Black theology or feminist theology 一 for taking on a more particularistic bent. Public theology is the structural equivalent of public sociology in terms of the relationship it bears to its conventional and/or professional sibling. It is usually understood as the reflection on public issues in the light of theological convictions. Employing the discipline of theology, it invokes a way of practicing theology that contributes to productive and enriching dialogue with those outside of the congregation or seminary, and works together with these individuals or groups for, as Le Bruyns refers to it, the ‘common good’. 2

It is further, clear, that public theology envisions for itself less the role of advocacy than that of creating ‘better intelligence’; in other words, an informed society. For its realization and relevance, it must therefore assume the existence of the sphere of the public within which such informed debate can be carried on. According to Clint Le Bruyns, the idea of the ‘public’ in the context of public theology encompasses notions of ‘sociality’ and ‘relarionality’ .As such, public theology employs the idea of the ‘public’ in terms of Jurgen Habermas’ notion of ‘the public sphere’. In this understanding, the public sphere is a distinctively modern development and it is characterized by what Habermas calls ‘communicative action’. 3 It is the ‘critical’ sphere of the exercise of judgment by essentially private individuals.

According to Habermas, The bourgeois public sphere may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public; they soon claimed the public sphere regulated from above against the public authorities themselves, to engage them in a debate over the general rules governing the basically privatized but publicly relevant sphere of commodity exchange and social labor. The medium of this political confrontation was peculiar and without historical precedent people’s public use of their reason. 4

The public thus does not involve merely the state: it in fact consists of all participants who engage in rational and participative discussions concerning the issues raised by the administration of the state. It may include agents of the state but is not exclusive to them. Why do I enter so closely into trying to understand the definitional boundaries of the idea of the ‘public’? I do this because it must be emphasized that ‘public theology’ quite like ‘public sociology’ assumes the existence of a particular framework and context. That is the context of a modern democratic structure within which the state is constituted as an impersonal locus of authority.5 When this happens, a separate domain is carved out — which is the domain of ‘civil society’. Civil society is another hard-to-pin-down term. For Habermas Civil society is made up of more or less spontaneously created associations, organizations and movements, Which find, take up, condense and amplify the resonance of social problems in private life, and pass it on to the political realm or public sphere. 6

For some scholars, ‘civil society’ consists of organizations outside of and independent of the state. For others, it includes only those organizations that are outside both of the state and of the market. Whatever the limits of one’s definition, for our purposes it is clear that both the organizations of civil society must be active in the realm of politics, and also that any notion of public theology must rely on the existence of a strong, active civil society. An effective civil society and a vibrant public sphere are both vital to the making of a public theology.

Ref:

Cardinal Ratzinger, as viewed on 16 August 2011, http://christendomawake.org/pages/ ratzinger/liberationtheol.htm

Clint Le Bruyns, as viewed on 16 August 2011,
http://www.ecclesio.com/2011/05/public-theology-on-responsibility-for-the-public-good

Jurgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. Cambridge: Polity Press, (1989): 27.

Ibid.

See Craig Calhoun, (cd.) Habermas and the Public Sphere, Boston: MIT Press, (1993): 8.

Jurgen, Hcbermas, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democraty… op.cit. 367