Steve Mara, Chairman of the Melanesian Youth Diplomacy Forum from Papua, Indonesia, visited the Vatican in October 2023.
Steve Mara had two key objectives during his visit to the Vatican. First, he engaged in discussions with the Vatican Youth Office about the potential for collaboration between the youth of eastern Indonesia and the Vatican Youth Office. Second, he held discussions with the interfaith dialogue department.
The Vatican Youth Office welcomed Steve Mara, stating, “To build peace, what we need are bridges, not walls.” Thus, Steve’s current efforts are focused on building collaborative bridges for world peace, and it will commence with the youth of Indonesia and beyond, as per the Vatican Youth Office representative.
The meeting between Steve Mara and the Vatican Youth Office generated several ideas, such as initiating collaboration by organizing a conference as soon as possible. Strengthening the positive relationship between the Church and the youth is imperative. It’s essential for the younger generation in both countries to participate in international events to foster better relations with others and stay updated on global trends.
Steve also met Markus Solo Kewuta, the first Indonesian citizen at the Holy See’s Curia, who leads the interfaith dialogue department.
With Mr. Markus, Steve Mara conveyed his concrete steps to establish peace in Indonesia. He believes that the younger generation plays a central role in resolving conflicts. As he wrote in his book, people desire to live in peaceful conditions, and anyone aspiring to achieve peace must prepare for it.
Steve remarked, “The younger generation has a crucial role in creating peace, and they can do so through their educational background, involvement in organizations or communities, workplaces, or even by initiating change within themselves.” Youth can adapt to the current circumstances, provided they learn how to use technology effectively.
Moreover, Indonesia can be a global example. We live together in our diversity, care for one another, emphasize humanity, and assist other religions in constructing their places of worship. While we might face issues, they are not insurmountable in comparison to the peaceful situation created by the government for the people.
Steve also addressed the conflicts in his hometown in Papua. He noted that the current developments in Papua can serve as evidence that Papua is a peaceful land. Some conflicts may have arisen due to armed criminal groups responsible for taking lives and damaging public facilities. Nevertheless, the government continues to pursue peaceful approaches and efforts to reintegrate these groups, making them contributors to Papua’s development.
Regarding past human rights issues, Steve mentioned that the Indonesian central government issued Presidential Decree No. 17 of 2022 concerning non-judicial settlement of human rights violation cases.
He concluded his message by stating, “I am confident that the younger generation will prepare for a better future than the current older generation. Therefore, the present older generation must equip us with good knowledge from university levels, and the Church can also help us maintain our faith in God and the right mindset for living amidst challenges.”