Bishop in Moluccas Asks for Efforts at Reconstruction

Spirit of Forgiveness Is Among Islands’ Needs

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AMBON, Indonesia, FEB. 25, 2004 ( The bishop of Amboina appealed to religious communities in the Molucca Islands to foster forgiveness to open the way to reconstruction of the post civil-war society.

«Funds are urgently needed to assist refugees: Many are still in camps simply because they have no means of transport or money to rebuild their homes,» said Bishop Petrus Mandagi in statements published by the Vatican missionary agency Fides.

«What the Moluccas need is forgiveness and social-economic reconstruction,» he added.

The bishop made his statements after a recent meeting in London, organized by the International Islamic-Christian Organization for Reconciliation and Reconstruction. The IICORR was formed last year to work for the future of the islands after two years of interreligious clashes between resident Protestants and immigrant Muslims.

«While we were in Europe some people at home were suspicious of our intentions; they thought we were separatists, a threat to Indonesian unity, working with the FKM separatist movement,» Bishop Mandagi said.

«We are ready and willing to forgive them,» he said, «but hope that they will join those who fight and suffer to continue to struggle to rebuild the Moluccas in all aspects.»

Christians in the Moluccas should not be identified with separatist movements, the prelate said. «We have always worked for the good of the people to promote social, political and religious harmony,» he said.

After the IICORR meeting, Bishop Mandagi and other religious leaders signed a statement declaring their «deep commitment to the process of reconciliation in the Moluccas and to the adoption of all available means to strengthen peace, stability, friendship, trust and respect between the Christian and Muslim communities.»

IICORR also adopted a plan of action to promote reconciliation and reconstruction emphasizing social aspects such as health care and education. It also called for coordination of the work of local nongovernmental organizations; help to resettle refugees and orphans; and promotion of small industries, fishing and timber, and trade.

In turn, religious communities promised to give special attention to youth and women and children, teach the value of reconciliation, and set up a monitoring body to watch for and prevent outbreaks of tension.

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