Indonesian Protestants celebrating the start of the Reformation 500 years ago have embraced Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, calling it a document that can significantly help mend ties among Christians in a country blighted by growing religious intolerance.
The Protestant Reformation began on Oct. 31, 1517, when Martin Luther, a German pastor sent his Ninety-Five Theses on the power and Efficacy of Indulgences to the Archbishop of Mainz in which he criticized the Catholic Church and the papacy.
During celebrations in Jakarta on Oct. 31 to mark the event Indonesian Protestant leaders said the pope’s message in his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium or The Joy of the Gospel, in which he a called for churches to avoid blaming each other, held special meaning in Indonesia as fears grow over rising intolerance in the country.
“The invitation by Pope Francis in the document is very relevant, asking churches to distant ourselves from blaming and slandering attitudes,” Rev. Herniette T. Lebang, chairwo-man of Communion of Churches in Indonesia, said at the Oct. 31 gathering.