The problem of drug abuse, particularly among young people, was one of the main points discussed at the latest meeting of the Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI), which was held recently in Jakarta.
As Mgr Aloysius Sudarso, archbishop of Palembang, pointed out by, "we [bishops] are morally obligated to take care of this terrible social 'disease' of modern society."
The prelate went on to say that drug users need "pastoral care and medical treatment" to "heal" from the terrible scourge, including those who "take amphetamines" and other chemical drugs.
For a long time, Church leaders in Indonesia overlooked the problem of drug addiction.
However, a campaign by a group of professors of moral theology at the St Paul Major Seminary in Yogyakarta (Central Java) gave the episcopate an opportunity to act in this sensitive area, particularly for young people.
Speaking on behalf of the bishops during the final Mass at Christ the King Parish Church in Pejompongan (Central Jakarta), which brought to a close the ten-day annual meeting, Mgr Sudarso renewed the call to help "abandoned patients."
"It is our moral duty," he explained, "to take care of them from a physical and mental health point of view."
Indonesian Card Julius Darmaatmadja, Apostolic Nuncio Mgr Antonio Guido Filipazzi and KWI President Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo were present at the service, as were dozens of other bishops.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Edy Purwanto, KWI executive secretary, noted that the bishops take seriously the problem of substance abuse, which is widespread among young people.
The Church's intervention is a big step forward, the priest added, for it will lead to a "pastoral plan" and "treatment programmes" for drug users.
The second step, he said, will be the involvement of lay people and specialist groups to develop "concrete plans" of rehabilitation.
The gravity of the problem is confirmed by data provided by General Anang Iskandar, from the National Anti-drugs Agency. In 2013, the number of drug users in Indonesia topped 4.9 million, mostly cannabis.
Drugs are present in every strata of society, including students, professionals and even politicians. However, the majority belong to a "higher" level, i.e. those who can afford the cost of "illegal goods".
Along with the fight against drugs, Indonesian Bishops urge Catholics to pay more attention to the country's political life, a task made all the more urgent by next year's presidential elections.
"Vote for your favourite candidate," Mgr Sudarso, "and base your choice on their morality and integrity."
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation. Catholics are a small minority of about seven million, or 3 per cent of the population. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta, the faithful represent 3.6 per cent of the population.
Although the country's constitution recognises religious freedom, Catholics have been the victims of violence and abuse, especially in areas where extremist visions of Islam are entrenched, like Aceh.
Still, Catholics are an active component of society and contribute to the nation's development as well as to emergency operations when they arise, as was the case in last January's devastating flood.