Several months ago I blogged about Fr Charlie Burrows, an Irish priest working in Indonesia. Burrows was the subject of an RTE documentary, which told the story of how his work in Indonesia has been a spur to local economic development and better inter-religious (Christian-Muslim) relationships.
In line with the theme of my blog, I consider Burrows’ work a concrete example of what ‘building a church without walls’ would look like.
I’ve never met Fr Burrows, but he stumbled across my blog post and he emailed me to comment on it. With thanks to Fr Burrows, I reproduce his thoughts on ‘Witness’ below.
Fr Charlie Burrows on Christian Witness
I would like to provide just a little more information as the documentary may be misleading on some points. It pointed out we do not “proselytise” as we believe “religion” is between the person and God.
However we hope we “witness” and since we come here in 1973 the number of Catholics in the parish has gone from 3,000 to 18,000 and there are now four parishes with plans to create four more.
When we came many were only nominal Muslims and some had accepted religion through fear as after the 1965 coup many “so called ” communists professed to be Islam and when an alternative appeared they changed over.
We continue to encounter people who have a “Jesus experience” and ask for baptism. A positive perception of Christianity continues to grow as does the perception of Catholics to what it means to be a Christian – a personal relationship with Jesus and His father.
The place of the Holy Spirit is less understand but there are strong “charismatic groups” . The state philosophy is “Pancasila” five principles*:
- Belief in the one and only God, (in Indonesian, Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa).
- Just and civilized humanity, (in Indonesian, Kemanusiaan Yang Adil dan Beradab).
- The unity of Indonesia, (in Indonesian, Persatuan Indonesia).
- Democracy guided by the inner wisdom in the unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives (in Indonesian, Kerakyatan Yang Dipimpin oleh Hikmat Kebijaksanaan, Dalam Permusyawaratan dan Perwakilan)
- Social justice for the all of the people of Indonesia (in Indonesian, Keadilan Sosial bagi seluruh Rakyat Indonesia)
This philosophy is “inclusive” – Unity in Diversity - and those who visit our institutions often state “This is real Pancasila”.
* Definitions of five principles sourced on wikipedia