INDONESIA Catholics Urged To Participate In Election As Voter Registration Deadline Nears
JAKARTA (UCAN) -- With the deadline for voter registration approaching, Jakarta archdiocese has issued a letter urging Catholics to participate in the upcoming general election.
"The 2009 general election is near. Participating in this general election is our right and responsibility as citizens and our calling as the faithful," says the letter signed by Vicar General Father Yohanes Subagyo, highest archdiocesan official after the archbishop.
The archdiocese directed its 60 parishes to read out the letter, "Motivating Jakarta Archdiocese's Catholics to participate in the 2009 General Election," at weekend Masses on Sept. 13 and 14, and on Sept. 20 and 21. This is the first such letter the local Church has issued.
Sept. 26 is the last day eligible citizens can register to vote in the April 9, 2009, general election, for which the General Election Commission has approved 38 political parties, some of them religion-based. It also designated a nine-month campaign period that began on July 8.
"If we exercise our right to vote in this general election, we too will determine eligible leaders we can trust to govern for the next five years," the Church statement says. "But if we do not vote, we give an opportunity to certain parties we might not side with to take care of this state."
Church people say they fear activists from Islamist parties will try to prevent non-Muslim voters from casting ballots.
The letter informs Catholics they can register by sending a text message to a number provided by the local general election commission. It also tells them they can check if their names are on theby looking at their neighborhood community announcement board or checking with the local registration authority.
Parish priests and other Catholics who spoke with UCA News say they welcome the letter.
Father Kaitanus Saleky of Christ the Savior Church in Slipi, West Jakarta, said he had the letter read out in his church during Masses on the set days, and also would have it read out at neighborhood prayer meetings.
"I will keep telling my parishioners about this in my homilies. I am also planning to organize a seminar to inform parishioners about eligible candidates," the Immaculate Heart of Mary priest said. He suggested that Catholics get as much information as possible about all election candidates.