Indonesia can be model of religious harmony — pope

October 17, 2011

By promoting dialogue and defending the rights of minorities, Catholics in Indonesia will contribute to the harmony of their nation and will be an example to people in other parts of the world, Pope Benedict told the country's bishops.

"Continue to bear witness to the image and likeness of God in each man, woman and child, regardless of their faith, by encouraging everyone to be open to dialogue in the service of peace and harmony," the pope told the bishops Oct. 7.

Catholics make up about three per cent of the population in Indonesia; Muslims account for more than 85 per cent, and there are significant communities of Protestants, Hindus and Buddhists.

Indonesia's constitution recognizes religious freedom and the country has a tradition of interreligious harmony.

However, the growth of fundamentalist movements over the past 10 years has led to tensions and even violence, including the destruction of churches and mosques.