Jakarta (AsiaNews) Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, will remember Pope John Paul II as a "missionary" who preached peace, dialogue and tolerance.
Card Julius Darmaatmadja, Archbishop of Jakarta and chairman of the Conference of Bishops' of Indonesia (KWI), celebrated last night a mass for the Pontiff's soul in Jakarta's cathedral before leaving for Rome to participate in the next conclave.
Speaking about the Pope's special relationship to Indonesia during the religious service, the Cardinal recalled the Pope's love "not only for Catholics but also for the faithful of other religions".
He told the congregation not be sad. "He was a man of mission who cared about Indonesia and never ceased praying for us, in particular after the tsunami that devastated Aceh and Nias," the Cardinal said.
Thousands attended yesterday's function; hundreds sitting in the streets around the jam-packed cathedral, many coming from neighbouring parishes outside of Jakarta like Bekasi, Bogor, Tangerang and Banten.
A profusion of comments and memories have come out of Indonesia in the wake of the death of Pope John Paul II.
Father Ismartono, director of the KWI's Crisis Centre, said that the Indonesian Church will remember the Holy Father as "the Church's friendly face, someone who cherished the values of dialogue, peace and tolerance."
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang shares that opinion. "The Pontiff," he said, "was on the forefront of the struggle on behalf of the poor" and committed to "the promotion of tolerance and inter-faith dialogue".
Many Indonesian Catholics remember the Pope most fondly when, in 1989, he addressed a crowd of 130,000 people in Jakarta's National Stadium in Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia)
A woman who attended the mass at the Senayan sport stadium recalls how John Paul II exuded energy. "His face and his movements expressed the love for Christ," she said.
In a Jakarta Stadium crowded for mass the Pontiff spoke in the national language, Bahasa Indonesia.