Pope Francis Plans to Visit Indonesia

Source: FSSPX News

Immaculate Conception Cathedral in the Archdiocese of Díli in Timor-Leste

On March 30, 2024, the Indonesian government announced the visit of the Head of the Catholic Church to the archipelago. There will be an Apostolic Journey that will include Papua New Guinea, Singapore, and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor). The Holy See has confirmed the trip, which should take place from September 2 to 13, despite the uncertainties weighing on the Supreme Pontiff’s health.

“Certainly, it is a great honor for the Indonesian people,” Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs, said on March 30. On that day, he published the news of the next Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis in Indonesia, thus responding to the invitation given in June 2022 by the Head of State, Joko Widodo.

The Holy See remained silent until April 12, leaving it to the Archbishopric of Jakarta to initially confirm the news. A source coming from the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference then revealed to UCANews that the Argentine Pontiff would limit his visit to Indonesia to the capital, Jakarta, due to the deterioration of his physical condition in recent months.

This is one way to put an end to the rumors that the Head of the Catholic Church could visit Kalimantan and Flores, regions with a more significant proportion of Catholics in an archipelago which remains the largest Muslim country in the world: Indonesia in fact counts seven million Catholics in a population estimated at 270 million people.

“I hope that the Pope will take this opportunity to talk about the difficulties faced by the Catholics in Papua New Guinea,” says Soleman Itlay, a Catholic layperson. “Christian Papuans are faced with growing discrimination and marginalization while large companies try to drive them out in order to reclaim their land,” he explains.

Not to mention the problem of human trafficking, a scourge which affects the province of East Nusa Tenggara, a predominantly Catholic region.

Indonesia will be a step on the route to Singapore--one of the gateways to China--and especiallyTimor-Leste, which the Successor of Peter has been planning to visit for a long time. The youngest country in Asia--it gained independence in 2002--Timor-Leste is one of the poorest countries in the region, which remains dependent on international aid for its economic growth and human development.

Catholicism is the majority religion of the country and represents 97% of a population estimated at 1.3 million inhabitants. The Church’s presence dates back to the discovery of the island by the Portuguese in the 16th century. In 1556, a Dominican mission was established and protected the inhabitants against the greed of the colonists, especially the Dutch.

It still remains for the Holy Father’s doctors to give the definitive green light for what could be his 45th Apostolic Journey, subject to two other trips to Belgium and Argentina, which would be on the program for 2024.