Mindanao?s bishops, ulama meet with Indonesian counterparts

The meeting also served as the first step towards the organization of the IMBUN (Indonesia-Mindanao Bishops Ulama Network). The Indonesian religious leaders also attended the 29th meeting of the Mindanao Bishops Ulama Conference (BUC) at the Sydney Hotel here last Friday.

Davao Arcbishop Fernando Capalla told MindaNews that the IMBUN was in pursuit of the resolution passed during the Asian Bishops-Ulama Conference in 2003 for continuing dialogues.

As reported in the BUC meeting, the Indonesian and Filipino bishops and ulama who attended the IMBUN meeting, discussed poverty, dialogue, religious fanaticism, democratization and religious revitalization.

Both agreed on education and exchange or networking as areas of collaboration.

On education, the religious leaders agreed on the need for a “contextualized theological education for the development and advancement of all religious groups.”

On exchange/networking, they agreed on a “south to south exchange” of personnel and leaders and visits periodically to strengthen dialogue; exchange of visits of Muslim business people; Majlisul Ulama of Indonesia to invite Ulama from the Ulama League of the Philippines and vice versa; organize a system of collaboration between the Ulama in the Philippines and Indonesia and other Asian countries; promote the involvement of the Ulama of Indonesia and the Philippines in the Fora of Asian Ulama; and explore more friendly relationship with people of other religions.

The leaders also agreed to “start with ourselves” and not to limit efforts on dialogue between Christians and Muslims but with peoples of other faiths as well. Young leaders and priests, they said, must be prepared for studies and trainings for dialogue; and good governance in church, Islamic religious organization and government that is pro-poor and gender sensitive must be given focus.

The Protestant leaders suggested concrete steps include formulating a module for all age levels on inter-scriptural understanding of peace, reconciliation and development; that the BUC will produce a weekly TV program to promote the ideals of peace, reconciliation and development; that the BUC will come up with comics, cartoons and TV advertisements to promote the ideals of peace, reconciliation and development.

They also suggested a two-week exposure of women, youth and religious leaders of both faith; to continue the communication between the two countries and to look for funds from Protestant agencies and support from the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Indonesia.

The Muslim leaders’ suggested concrete steps include having organizations of Muslims in Indonesia to link up with Muslims of Mindanao in the field of education; exchange of visits of delegates of Ulama between the Majlisul Ulama in Indonesia and other Islamci Organizations in Indonesia and the Ulama League of the Philippines; exchange of information between the Ulama of Indonesia and Ulama of the Philippines; exchange of visits of Muslim business people from Indonesia and the Philippines; and to present a proper interpretation of Islamic doctrines to counter the accusations against Islamic organizations.

The Catholic leaders’ suggested concrete steps include a curriculum in their religious institutions that would include studies on comparative religions and possible exchange of professors, social teachings of the church and formation for ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

They agreed that in the February 2007 meeting, “each group, Philippine and Indonesia, will present proposed course outline and module on each area/theme.”

The Philippine leaders suggested sponsoring two youth representatives each from Catholics, Protestants and Muslims in Indonesia to attend the November 2006 Tripartite Youth Peace Camp in Mindanao during the Mindanao Week of Peace on November 30 to December 6.

The Indonesian leaders also suggested for the Ministry of Religious Affairs to explore the possibility of inviting youth from Mindanao to participate in the Youth Camp in Indonesia.

Three ulama, two Protestant pastors, two Catholic archbishops and one bishop from Indonesia attended. Dr. H.Muhammad Muqoddas, Ic, MA; Prof  Dr. Nur A Fahdil Lubis and Dr. Atho’ Mudzhhar represented the Muslims; Pastors Rev. Robinson Radjagukguk, PhD and Rev. Krise Gosal represented the Protestants while the Catholic were represented by Archishop John Liku-Ada, Archbishop Aloysius Sudarso, SCJ and Bishop PC Mandag, MSC.

The Mindanao Bishops-Ulama Conference was represented in the IMBUN meeting by Ulama Dr. Mahid Mutilan,  lawyer Ali Alonto and Prof. Sharief Julabbi for the Muslims, Bishops Hilario M. Gomzez, Felixberto Calang and Danilo Bustamante and Ms Purita Bahande, for the Protestants and Arcbhishops Fernando Capalla and Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro and Bishops Dinualdo Guitierrez of South Cotabato and Edwin dela Pena of the Prelature of Marawi.

“We have learned much from this conference,”  Indonesia’s Dr. Mohamad Atho Mudzhar said, at the end of the BUC conference. “I find that Indonesian people also need to do more dialogues, more open dialogues.”

“We are grateful to have been here, we will present the issues to our organizations and we will find youth to participate in the Youth Peace Camp here,”  he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)