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NU cleric meets Pope Francis, talks 'social activism' in Rome to address interfaith conflicts

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2020

Jakarta – Indonesia's largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) has highlighted the importance of social activism in addressing interreligious conflicts during a discussion with religious leaders held as part of the Abrahamic Faiths Initiative forum in Rome from Tuesday to Friday.

"The discussion, held from Wednesday morning to afternoon at the Gregorian University, Rome, focused on the stance and measures that we can take together in tackling crises that are heavily influenced by interreligious conflicts," NU supreme council secretary-general, Yahya Cholil Staquf, said in a statement on Thursday.

Following the discussion, Yahya and 17 other religious leaders held a meeting with Pope Francis at his residence in Vatican City on Wednesday evening to talk about conclusions from the earlier discussion.

Yahya said that during the visit, Pope Francis had emphasized that regardless of their conflicts, people must return to the roots of their beings, and that was to become each other's brothers and sisters.

In the statement, Yahya quoted Samuel Dale Brownback, the United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, who had expressed during the discussion his deep concern that such interfaith conflicts could further lead to killings if remained unaddressed.

"The statement is exactly the same as the analysis explained in Ansor's Declaration on Islam for Humanitarian Islam issued in 2017," he said, referring to NU's youth wing GP Ansor.

He also quoted Rev. Thomas Johnson of the World Evangelical Alliance, emphasizing that a mere declaration would not be enough as people might not read and study the declaration thoroughly.

Yahya concurred, saying that a declaration had to be prepared with real, follow-up strategic measures. He cited as an example of NU's social activism in serving the people, including by protecting the rights of minority groups, as one of the group's transformative strategies to curb interreligious conflicts.

Rabbi David Rosen, former chief rabbi of Ireland who currently serves as director of the American Jewish Committee's Department of Interreligious Affairs, highlighted the need for political groups to resort to religions as their foundation for conflict resolution strategies instead of militaristic and economic approaches, Yahya said in the statement. (ars)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/01/17/nu-cleric-meets-pope-francis-talks-social-activism-in-rome-to-address-interfaith-conflicts.html