Indonesian Catholic bishops call for justice in local elections

2503224501 8cc1d81717 k The Indonesian flag. | Mr.TinDC/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

The bishops of Indonesia urged Catholics to participate in the upcoming local elections by voting for Catholics who honor the common good while fighting unjust practices.

The Indonesian Bishops' Conference (KWI) issued an exhortation on Dec. 4, asking people to vote for candidates who avoid corruption and represent national values, UCA News reported.

The exhortation was signed by Archbishop Vincensius Sensi Potokota of Ende, who serves as chairman of the KWI's Commission for the Laity, and Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, executive secretary of the commission.

The Indonesian province, district and municipal elections will take place on Dec. 9. They were previously set for Sept. 23, but were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two-page statement encouraged Catholics to vote for candidates whose political platform upholds the five principles of Pancasila - Indonesia's official philosophy. The principles refer to an individual's belief in one God, a fair society, a united country, democracy, and social justice.

"Catholics should vote for... candidates who have adequate national insights, who accept pluralism, and who treat people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds in a fair way," the bishops' conference said, according to UCA News.

"The candidates should also have the courage to fight against any form of extremism, thuggery, and intolerance which adversely affects people's lives."

The bishops also asked Catholic voters to refrain from unfair practices, such as vote-buying, fake news, bigotry, and hate speech. They said these practices have tainted the country's elections in the past and "are against the noble values of democracy."

"We hope Catholics, particularly, and people, generally, will play a significant role in creating a peaceful situation and ensure the elections can be conducted in a just way," they said.

UCA News reported that Eusabius Binsasi, a Catholic layman who serves as chief of the North Central Timor district, said he would abide by the bishops' exhortation. Binsasi is running for office in the East Nusa Tenggara province.

"All elections should be dignified. In my campaign, I always reminded local people that selling their vote and underhand tactics by political rivals do not benefit them in the long run," he said.

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