Respect for life, freedom, and human rights is the most secure basis of the lasting unity of a Nation
On Monday, 9 October, 1989, the Holy Father met President Soeharto of
Indonesia at Merdeka Palace at Warta. He then went to the nearby Istana Negara
for a state reception during which the Pope gave the following discourse.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It is with heartfelt joy and gratitude to Almighty God, the source of all
blessings, that I have come to Indonesia. I have looked forward to this
opportunity of visiting your country and meeting her people. As the Pope, the
Bishop of Rome, I have naturally a special love and concern for my Indonesian
brothers and sisters of the Catholic faith, and sense strongly my obligation to
support and encourage them in their fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But my visit to Indonesia is not directed exclusively to Catholics. I have
come as a friend to all Indonesians, with a great respect for all the people
of this dynamic nation. I assure you of my prayers and best wishes that
Indonesia may grow in both material and spiritual prosperity, and that each of
her citizens may experience the gift of peace that comes from God.
I wish to express my deep gratitude to You, Mr. President, for your
gracious invitation to visit Indonesia. Your very kind offer of lodging at the
"Wisma Negara", which I have had to decline most respectfully, given the
principally pastoral nature of my visit, has already enabled me to feel the warm
hospitality of the Indonesian people. By thanking you, I wish to extend my
gratitude to your fellow citizens, and to all those who in any way have assisted
in making this visit possible.
2. Among the nations of the world, Indonesia enjoys a well inherited respect for
her approach to the human dimensions of her growth as a nation. The challenges
which face your people are indeed formidable. As the largest country in
southeast Asia, Indonesia embraces peoples spread far and wide across many
thousands of islands. In their great diversity, comprising hundreds of ethnic
groups and a wide variety of cultures and languages, your people themselves
constitute the country's richest resource.
The creation of a unified and interdependent society from such a number of
diverse groups stands out as one of Indonesia's great achievements in her
forty-four year history as a nation. The philosophy of "Pancasila" which
has inspired and guide your national growth very fittingly recognizes that the
only firm foundation of national unity is respect for all: respect for
the differing opinions, convictions, customs and values which mark Indonesia's
many citizens. At times nations are tempted to disregard fundamental human
rights in a misguided search for political unity based on military or economic
power alone. But such unity can easily be dissolved. As your national tradition
teaches, the most secure basis for lasting unity and development as a nation is
a profound respect for human life, for the inalienable rights of the human
person, and for the freedom of responsible citizens to determine their destiny
as a people.
3. Indonesia's many religious believers have an important role to play in the
continuing development of the nation, for belief in God and the spiritual values
which unite peoples are powerful forces for good. In this regard, I was pleased
to learn of the contributions which Indonesia's Catholic citizens, from the
very beginning of the Republic, have made and are continuing to
make towards the advancement of their nation. Catholics have given
notable service to their country's development, particularly in the fields of
education, health care and social welfare. Together with their brothers and
sisters of other religious traditions, they have sought to cooperate in the task
of constructing a society which is in harmony with the hopes and aspirations of
all their fellow citizens. Following Catholic principles, they have sought to be
of service to all men and women of good will in the pursuit of a just and
peaceful social order. This cooperation for the good of society has found
visible expression in many fine institutions which are widely held in high
regard. We are grateful to the Almighty that this has been possible.
4. Mr. President: Indonesia has indeed made remarkable advances towards
realizing the goals which find such noble expression in the preamble to your
nation's Constitution As a friend of Indonesia, I pray for the day when the
ideals which guide your nation will be fully realized in the life of all her
people. In acknowledging the presence of legitimate diversity, in respecting
the human and political rights of all citizens, and in encouraging the
growth of national unity based on tolerance and respect for others, you lay the
foundations for that just and peaceful society which all Indonesians wish for
themselves and long to bequeath to their children.
I assure you once again of my deep esteem and affection for the people of
May God bless Indonesia with his peace. May God bless you all.