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Indonesian syncretist cross 1

Indonesian Bishop blesses syncretist crucifix

In preparation for Indonesian Youth Day - IYD - to take place this June 26-30, 2023, the Purwokerto Diocese made a cross to be carried by its youth in ceremonies during that gathering.

The cross, first row below, represents a dancing Christ wearing an Indonesian hat - blangkon - and yellow shawl. The crucifix is set upon a shield with four groups of symbols, roughly taken from the Coat of Arms of Bishop Christophorus Tri Harsono, the Ordinary of Purwokerto in Central Java.

On May 18, 2023, this crucifix was present at the Ascension Day Mass in Christ the King Cathedral in Purwokerto, and blessed by its Bishop, above and below second to fourth rows.

During that Mass members of the local clergy, fourth row, explained the symbolism of the diverse parts as follow:

The dancing Christ is executing steps of the Lenger dance, a remnant from the Hindu cultural heritage used to worship the goddess Durga, the goddess of fertility. When Hinduism arrived in Java, it made a syncretist action and assumed the dance in honor of Dewi Siri, the local goddess of fertility. This dance is used to thank the pagan gods for good harvests, for cleansing rituals and to ask their protection.

The hat represents the encounter of the Big Universe and the Small Universe, and is a symbol of harmony and the openness to other religions.

The yellow shawl represents the glory of human dignity that must be fought for and respected. It likewise represents warmth, peace and love “in our relationship with Allah; we find the warmth of love, protection and comfort together with Allah.”

The syncretist character of this crucifix as well as the lack of respect for Our Lord crucified reflected in this dancing Christ caused strong reactions of protest among many Catholics in Indonesia, which obliged the Diocese, through its IYD Commission, to renounce its use for the coming youth meetings.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that it had full support of the Purwokerto Diocese as well as of its entire clergy.

Second to last row, the youth delegation to IYD poses with the syncretist crucifix. Last row, Bishop Christophorus Tri Harsono with his coat of arms.

Indonesian syncretist cross 2
Photos sent by readers & Internet photos

Posted June 18, 2023


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