JAKARTA (UCAN) -- With the deadline for voter registration approaching, Jakarta archdiocese has issued a letter urging Catholics to participate in the upcoming general election.
The 2009 general election is near. Participating in this general election is our right and responsibility as citizens and our calling as the faithful," says the letter signed by Vicar General Father Yohanes Subagyo, highest archdiocesan official after the archbishop.
The archdiocese directed its 60 parishes to read out the letter, "Motivating Jakarta Archdiocese's Catholics to participate in the 2009 General Election," at weekend Masses on Sept. 13 and 14, and on Sept. 20 and 21. This is the first such letter the local Church has issued.
Sept. 26 is the last day eligible citizens can register to vote in the April 9, 2009, general election, for which the General Election Commission has approved 38 political parties, some of them religion-based. It also designated a nine-month campaign period that began on July 8.
"If we exercise our right to vote in this general election, we too will determine eligible leaders we can trust to govern for the next five years," the Church statement says. "But if we do not vote, we give an opportunity to certain parties we might not side with to take care of this state."
Church people say they fear activists from Islamist parties will try to prevent non-Muslim voters from casting ballots.
The letter informs Catholics they can register by sending a text message to a number provided by the local general election commission. It also tells them they can check if their names are on the voters' list by looking at their neighborhood community announcement board or checking with the local registration authority.
Parish priests and other Catholics who spoke with UCA News say they welcome the letter.
Father Kaitanus Saleky of Christ the Savior Church in Slipi, West Jakarta, said he had the letter read out in his church during Masses on the set days, and also would have it read out at neighborhood prayer meetings.
"I will keep telling my parishioners about this in my homilies. I am also planning to organize a seminar to inform parishioners about eligible candidates," the Immaculate Heart of Mary priest said. He suggested that Catholics get as much information as possible about all election candidates.
Father Petrus Mujiono from St. Stephen Church in Cilandak, South Jakarta, said he had the letter posted on his parish's website and announcement board, and in its bulletin.
The Sacred Heart priest asserted that "Catholics are obliged to choose candidates who truly fight for the common good." He added, "They should choose according to their conscience and never let candidates' promises influence them."
Natalis Situmorang, chairperson of Pemuda Katolik (Catholic youth), agreed. He pointed out that if Catholics do not vote, the Prosperous Justice Party might come to power in the Jakarta area. He acknowledged the party includes people who are not Muslims but said "many of its members support Shari'a (Islamic law)."
The organization plans a national meeting in mid-November to educate young Catholics on political matters. For this, he said, "we will work together with Catholic organizations such as Catholic Union of University Students of the Republic of Indonesia (PMKRI), Indonesian Catholic Society Forum, Catholic Solidarity for Democracy in Indonesia and Catholic Women of the Republic of Indonesia. Indonesian citizens are eligible to vote from the age of 17.
PMKRI chairperson Tommy Jematu asserted, "It is we who choose the leaders of this nation, leaders who should be committed to developing society." He too suggested the archdiocese inform Catholics about all candidates in the general election.
Meanwhile, Chris Siner Key Timu, a Catholic politician, told UCA News on Sept. 18 that while he welcomes the Church's letter, "it is the right of each Catholic to vote or not to vote."
tampak mereka suda mengidentifikasi lawan mereka, dan mereka bersatu padu menggalang kekuatan bersama untuk menghadang setiap gerak laju ummat Islam. Lalu, masihkah kita berpecahan?
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Saat genderang perjuangan bertalu
Musuh tegak dihadapan
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Wahai orang-orang beriman
Berdzikirlah sebanyak engkau mampu
Agar kemenangan jadi milikmu
Taatilah Allah dan Rasul-Nya
Qiyadah penghulu perjuangan
Tetap bersabar dalam barisan
Buang segala ego nan hina
Yang 'kan membuat hatimu gentar
Dan menghilangkan kekuatan
Karna Jundullah… karna Jundullah
Pantang terpencar !!
Jangan silau dengan jumlahmu
Yang angkuhkan hatimu
Riya dihadapan manusia
Kau halangi insan di jalan-Nya
Riya dihadapan manusia
Padahal Allah tahu apa yang kau kerjakan !!