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Matteo Ricci Award to Indonesia

JAKARTA (UCAN): Jesuit Father Franz Magnis-Suseno, a German-born philosophy professor, has been awarded the Matteo Ricci International Prize this year for his commitment to promoting interreligious dialogue in Indonesia.

The Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart) in Milan, Italy, presented the award on November 21.

The award goes back to 1998 and goes to people who have helped bridge cultural and intellectual divisions for the good of humanity.

Father Magnis teaches philosophy at the Jesuit Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta, where he was also rector from 1988 to 1998 and a former director of postgraduate studies.

Born in 1936, he arrived in Indonesia in 1961 and obtained citizenship in 1977.

He has published 39 books and about 600 articles mainly on ethics, philosophy and Indonesian culture.

He is also actively engaged in interreligious dialogue.

“The award motivates me to continue my commitment to bear witness to Christ’s liberating and healing message to the marginalised,” Father Magnis said.

Citing a bomb attack on a Protestant church on November 13 in East Kalimantan that killed an infant and injured three people, Father Magnis said that he believes that more needs to be done to ensure peace in Indonesia, especially at this time when religious extremism is posing a serious threat to society.

Achmad Nurcholish, a prominent Muslim intellectual, described Father Magnis has having contributed much to the progress of humanity in Indonesia, especially by enriching various perspectives.

“On contemporary social issues, he has much to say, especially on religious radicalisation and intolerance,” he said.

Nurcholish believes that Father Magnis wants to restore religion as a source of virtue that can lead people to love others, regardless of ethnic or religious background.

“His life is also very simple, humble and he is always open to anyone,” he said.

Reverend Palti Panjaitan, the chairperson of rights group Solidarity of Victims of Violations of Freedom of Religion and Beliefs, called Father Magnis someone who transcends the barriers of identity.

“He is a figure accepted by everyone, because he fights for the benefit of all,” he said.

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