The Implementation of Roman Catholic Social Teaching in the Semarang Archdiocese

Many Catholics in Semarang Archdiocese are not familiar with the basic contents of Catholic social teaching. This is because the sources for the teaching are mostly abstract, dry, unattractive and include challenging topics. This finding revealed by ICRS’ PhD candidate, Joko Wicoyo in his WedForum presentation (21/9/1) entitled ”The Implementation of Roman Catholic Social Teaching in the Semarang Archdiocese”.


According to Wicoyo, the archdiocese, including the bishop and other hierarchy, is concerned with the claim about the Words of God and its role as the witness of the Words of God. In order to overcome worries, they issue basic direction and pastoral letters to strengthen and deepen the faith of Catholic communities in Semarang archdiocese. The basic direction include guidelines and pastoral letters similar to fatwa in the Muslim context. It compiles information from external views of different groups and on this basis it presents summary and discussion. One of the contents is called gandium et spes, which is one of the most important document of the Second Vatican Council. The Gandium et spes announces the duty of the people of God to scrutinize the ‘signs of the times’ in light of Gospel; it represents the opinion of the large majority of the world’s bishop; and it orders the Church’s solidarity with both those who suffer and those who live in comfort.


Wicoyo also mentioned that it is pastoral working council on behalf of Semarang archdiocese who has authority to issue pastoral letters. In 2002, the council issued a basic direction entitled ‘Menghayati Iman dalam Arus-Arus besar Zaman Ini’ (Understanding Faith in the Major Trend of the Current Era) to introduce the issues and how to respond what happens in the 20th century situation, especially tissues of capitalism and socialism.


Roman Catholic teaching according to Wicoyo, honors dignity of individual, family, communities and participation. It also honors rights and responsibility and preference for the poor and the vulnerable ones. Further, he noted how Catholic social teaching is implemented and socialized in Semarang archdiocese through publication of a booklet that contains basic values of Catholic social teaching in a simple language but is systematically organized.


Wicoyo was about whether or not a relationship is built between basic direction and the behaviour of the religious leaders who criticise the Indonesia government. Wicoyo said that there is a rule in Catholic community that criticism of or involvement in political party should not be associated with Catholic church. It however allows individual participation. It is a duty of the laity to become the torch in the darkness to become the sword of the world as illustrated by the fact that many pastoral leaders have delivered recommendations to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). He said that SBY often came to a monthly meeting conducted by Catholic members of Indonesia Parliament to seek suggestion and recommendation.


In response to another, Wicoyo explained that the basic direction is updated every five years by considering political and economic atmospheres, and problems faced by people in Semarang. Therefore, the hierarchy normally issue instructions about “warning signs” through publication of pastoral note. At the end of the forum, Wicoyo asserted that the social teaching should not be taught only in a particular religion, but it should also teach teachings of diferrent religions that is essential for being a person, a human, who need to mingle with others. The principle of ‘sharing is caring’ is suggested to portray relationship between individual and groups to improve self-quality within communities. (dca)

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