Partner in eradicating poverty
Vera Wenny Soemarwi
Right after the Independence war and after the proclamation of the Republic of Indonesia, the Indonesian Catholics, from December 7 -12, 1949 held the first national meeting in Yogyakarta, the capital city of the new republic. In this first national meeting, known as Kongress Umat Katolik Seluruh Indonesia (KUKSI) – All Indonesian Catholics Congress, there was a strong awareness that after the termination of the Dutch colony, our new common enemy was poverty.
In many ways the Catholics tried to struggle against poverty in every kind of forms. Since the beginning, in every hart of a believer has been planted a vocation that helping those who are in need is a worship; it is called social worship. Helping the poor is an expression of loving Jesus Christ, who loved the poor in such a way that He identified Himself with the poor, the least, as said “‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
Going to church and praying are expressions of faith but helping those who are in need, regardless their religious and ethnic back ground, is an actualization of faith; both are complementary.
2. The Option for the Poor
The Roman Catholic involvement especially in Indonesia in spirit of option to the poor based on at belief in God that all lives of Jesus is devoted to impecunious and maltreated people.
So that you could share your bread for starving one who and bring to your home the poor that has no house and if you see naked people, so that you give him/her clothes and not hide out to your brother by it self. (Isaiah 58:7)
Jesus answered: "If you want to be perfect, go, sell all your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow Me." (Matthew 19:21)
As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gift to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." (Corinthian 9:9)
3. Organizational Background in Indonesia
The Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia is founded in a Universal legal form of Catholic Church. Duty execution of the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia is executed by Presidium in charge to accomplish and observe execution of Annual General Meeting attended by the members’. The Annual General Meeting decides annual programs, policies, accepting annual reports of its commissions and also releases tentative guidelines.
Its duty is implemented by Secretariat General that is Conference body; itemize conference duty to accomplish the objectives of the conference in executing conference’s policies under observation of the Presidium. Daily operational duty is carried out by Executive Secretary of the Conference and in collaboration with the Secretary of the Commissions. Secretary Commissions function is leading and coordinating the implementations of the duties.
The Roles of the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia as a coordinating body as:
1. animator: it is given services by pastoral policy in accordance with its commissions/its secretariats and has to form the animation by visiting to the Archdioceses’ or Dioceses’ commission related and also organs related;
2. coordinator: it is given services by pastoral policy in accordance with its commissions/its secretariats and performing meetings as well as to be linked to national level, either through internal or external;
3. facilitator: it is given amenities’ services by pastoral policy in accordance with its commission/its secretariat, and providing available of information sources of commission/secretariats;
4. motivator: it is given service by pastoral policy in accordance with its commission/its secretarial such as the character of verbal-written, magazine, bulletin, pastoral note, and leaflet.
The vision of the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia is to cooperate with God and humanity to actualize God’s love in Indonesia, so that human life becomes real gladness; joy based on safety that comes from God.
The Mission of the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia to the Roman Catholics is to cooperate with believers in order to be ready to accept pastoral work of shepherds, in order to be taught and educated in esteeming the value of human life as early as possible. They can practice their worship with their pure hurt. The coming of the realization of God’s love can sense in really on their life.
The mission of the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia to the Indonesian society is in cooperation with community tries to more readily accept and develop values of God’s love, so it is growing and becomes society that open to God and humanity, society that its members enlightened with intelligence and conscience and well-educated, society that peaceful, fair, equivalent, bound in real brotherhood, society that involve democratic values and braided with dialogical and creative communication, so those in discharged experiences of liberation bases its human dignity and values.
4. The Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia Program for and with the Poor
The Bishops' Conference Office in Jakarta has several commissions dealing with humanitarian concerns. This includes: the Justice and Peace Commission, the Commission for Gender Concern, the Migrants and Itinerants Commission, the Commission of Social Communication, the Commission for Socio Economic Development, and the Commission for the Laity and Youth. These commissions are replicated at the diocesan level. The Bishops' Conference is developing a National level Karina (Caritas Indonesia), which will become the main coordinating body of the Catholic Church humanitarian response.
Of the many commissions of the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia, PSE (Social Economic Development Commission) is a commission that functions as the Social Pastoral Apostolate of the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia. PSE provides a humanitarian response and social care, particularly in the socio-economic development field for all communities throughout Indonesia.
One of the program for the farmer and fishermen carried out by Community of Farmer and Fishermen coordinated by Ganjuran, Bantul, Yogyakarta, Archdiocese of Semarang in related to United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization is focus on securing and improving food production that oriented by environmental protection. By educating farmer and fishermen how to manage the income and production as well as how to prevent failure on their production, cultivating organic fertilizer, cultivating agriculture seed as well as seed to fish farmer, cultivating fish-net as well as fishing boat to the fishermen.
The program for students is carried out Commission of Education as well as Crisis and Reconciliation Service. By granting scholarship to poor students regardless of religion and ethnic, the Bishops’ hopes that the economic condition of students and its family will improve in the future.
In improving socio economic condition of the communities, the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia through Socio Economic Development Commission founded Credit Union. The values of Credit Union are three sectors: education, self supporting, and solidarity. In Credit Union contains elementary body: cooperative ('koperasi'), bank, and insurance. As the 'koperasi' there is characteristic that stake holders are members; there is education and training; place for borrowing capital and develop wealth. As the bank, it can be looked at well-provided financial management system. And as the insurance, it can give guarantee to member.
The Crisis and Reconciliation Service of the Bishop's Conference of Indonesia (Pelayanan Krisis dan Rekonsiliasi Konferensi Waligereja Indonesia [PKR-KWI]) was officially established by the Catholic Bishops of Indonesia on January 7, 1999. Its focus was to respond to conflict victims as well as survivors in Indonesia since 1997 including Aceh. After the tsunami and earthquakes affecting both Aceh and Nias, PKR-KWI became a significant instrument of the Indonesian Catholic Community to deal with the ensuing emergency relief needs. In Aceh, PKR-KWI works primarily with SEFA though there is also a cooperative relationship with the Humanitarian Volunteer Network (JRK) and the other local Volunteers network. SEFA (Save Emergency for Aceh) is a humanitarian organization, which was established on September 11, 1999, in response to the worsening humanitarian condition in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD). SEFA’s work encompasses the following sectors: Emergency, Medical, Educational, Economic, Scholarship, and Documentation and Information. In Nias PKR-KWI works with the SCMM religious sisters, the ALMA sisters working in the social institution Perkasih, and the local church network.
KARINA-KWI was legally established on May 17, 2006 to act as the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (KWI)’s humanitarian foundation. In time, it will become the main coordinating body of the Catholic Church and will respond to, and, provide relief services to all forms of natural and man-made disasters, address issues on violation of human rights, conflicts, gender, social injustices and act as an organization that enhances capacity-building for all 37 dioceses in Indonesia.
However, just a few days after its birth on May 17,2006, another devastating natural disaster occurred, The earthquake in Yogyakarta, Central Java. KARINA-KWI had to respond to too many natural disasters in the country. Tsunami in Pangandaran and Cilacap, Karina-KWI had provided emergency respond by distributing logistic, food, health assistance, building temporary shelter; livelihood by providing fisherman boats and fish-net. Earthquake in Yogyakarta, Karina has provided emergency respond by distributing logistic, food, health assistance, building temporary shelter; livelihood by providing capital loan, scholarship to the poor students, community base rehabilitation for spinal court injuries patients, and microfinance; reconstruction by rebuilding schools. Jakarta flood in 2007, East Java and Central Java flood in the ends 2007- the beginning of 2008, Karina-KWI had provided emergency respond by distributing logistic, food nutrition for baby and pregnant women, health assistance, and school equipments.
The Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia, Archdioceses, Dioceses, Religious Congregations, and Catholic foundations will be continued to reduce poverty in Indonesia. All above programs mentions are carried out by not only the commissions at the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia but also Commissions at the Archdioceses, Dioceses, Religious Congregations, as well as Catholic foundations. Above all it is a glimpse of Indonesian Catholic Communities in their participation in reducing poverty. Option to the poor is the spirit and our main focus.
Jakarta, May 27, 2008