INDONESIA – Pope’s possible visit to Indonesia, East Timor and PNG

Catholic Weekly | Guest Contributor | Jan. 20, 2020

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican 4 December, 2019. PHOTO: CNS/Paul Haring

A visit from Pope Francis to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor may happen in September, according to an Indonesian Muslim leader who met with the Pope this week.

Sheikh Yahya Cholil Staquf leads the 50 million member Nahdlatul Ulama movement, which calls for a reformed ‘humanitarian Islam’ and has developed a theological framework for Islam that rejects the concepts of caliphate, Sharia law, and ‘kafir’ (infidels).

Staquf met with the Pope this week, while in Rome for a meeting of the Abrahamic Faiths Initiative, which gathers Christians, Muslim and Jewish leaders to discuss the promotion of peace and fraternity. US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback attended the meetings.

Pope Francis met with the group on 15 January. After that meeting, Staquf told CNA that the Pope said he plans to visit Indonesia, East Timor, and New Guinea in September.

The Vatican has not yet confirmed such a trip. Indonesia is home to the largest population of Muslims in the world. The country’s 229 million Muslims make up more than 12 percent of the global Muslim population. Nearly all of Indonesia’s Muslims are Sunni.