Jakarta (ANTARA) - The executive board of the Nahdlatul Ulama (PBNU) has welcomed the planned visit of head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, to Indonesia, which is scheduled from September 3–6, 2024.

"PBNU welcomes and is proud of the Pope's planned visit to Indonesia and we congratulate Catholics in Indonesia on Pope Francis' visit," general chair of the PBNU, Yahya Cholil Staquf, said here on Thursday.

He added that plans for Pope Francis' visit to Indonesia have been discussed since 2018. However, the visit had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the global situation recovered, the visit was finally rescheduled, he informed.

The Indonesian government is continuing to make preparations for the visit, both with the Vatican (Holy See) and related stakeholders.

"Thank God, it now seems to have been confirmed and scheduled that the Pope will visit Indonesia," he said.

PBNU has in recent times been involved in direct cooperation on agendas with the Vatican, added the chairman, who is also known as Gus Yahya.

The Nahdlatul Ulama and the leadership of the Catholic Church at the Vatican are both involved in an international initiative.

PBNU, he said, will soon hold an R20 ISORA global conference, which will involve religious leaders from around the world, including the Vatican. The meeting is expected to result in a global movement for humanity.

"Hopefully, the Pope's presence in Indonesia will be an opportunity to strengthen communication between NU and the Vatican, not only for the sake of the lives of religious communities in Indonesia, but for joint efforts for humanity globally," he said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Pope Francis' visit holds important meaning for Indonesia, not only for Catholics, but also for all religious communities.

"It is hoped that this visit will strengthen the message of tolerance, unity, and world peace," according to the ministry's written statement.

In the meantime, Minister of Religious Affairs, Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, also confirmed that Pope Francis will visit Indonesia in September this year, and the government has received a notification letter from the Vatican authorities regarding the visit.

"Based on a letter from the Vatican received by the Indonesian government, Pope Francis will attend on September 3, 2024. This is certainly an honor for the Indonesian people," said the minister.

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Translator: Asep Firmansyah, Katriana
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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