VATICAN CITY, JAN. 19, 2001 (
John Paul II voiced fears about the fallout from religious intolerance in
Indonesia when he received the country´s Foreign Minister, Alwi Shihab,
in audience this morning.

The meeting was confirmed in a statement by Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls,
who explained that "during the conversation the fears were expressed of the Indonesian
Catholic community, caused by the tragic events of religious intolerance that occurred recently."

"The minister renewed the Indonesian government´s specific commitment to do
everything possible to re-establish traditional religious harmony,"
the Vatican spokesman´s statement said. "Finally, mention was made of the
process of normalization taking place in East Timor."

Shihab gave John Paul II a message from Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid.
Later, the Foreign Minister met with Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran,
Vatican secretary for relations with states.

Christians in Indonesia constitute about 10% of the total population
of 224 million inhabitants; 86% of the population is Muslim.

Over the past months attacks against the Christian community have escalated,
especially in the Moluccas archipelago. In East Timor, where the majority of
the population is Catholic, a period of transition toward independence
should be completed within a year.