Pilgrimage in a Complex and Plural World

The Role of Shrines and the Practice of Catholic Pilgrimage in the Church’s Evangelizing Mission


  • Albertus Bagus Laksana Universitas Sanata Dharma
  • William Christopher Hariandja Universitas Sanata Dharma
  • Rezerius Bintang Taruna Universitas Sanata Dharma




pilgrimage, evangelization, church, plural societies, privatization and politicization of religion


Through case study research involving several Catholic pilgrimage sites in Java and Bali, this article shows the role of Catholic pilgrimage sites and their assoiated practices. By taking a phenomenological-anthropological approach informed by sacramental theology and a Catholic theology of evangelization, this article examines today’s dynamics of evangelization in an increasingly divided, complex, and pluralistic era. Pilgrimage sites and traditions have a unique role in the process of evangelization, understood as an expansion of the Church’s presence that transforms people and local communities, with pilgrimage sites and practices shown to empower pilgrims by helping them connect with God, themselves, others, and the universe on a personal, spiritual level. The administrators of pilgrimage sites also seek solidarity with a site’s surrounding community. Given that the Catholic pilgrimage tradition helps people to express their religion in personal, interpersonal, cosmic, and inclusive ways vis-à-vis other religions, the pilgrimage tradition helps the Church and society face the dangers of the privatization of religion, the politicization of religion, and the spread of radical and iconoclastic ideologizations of religion. Such is the task of contextual evangelization in a plural and complex society like Indonesia.


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Author Biographies

Albertus Bagus Laksana, Universitas Sanata Dharma

Albertus Bagus Laksana is a priest monk from the Society of Jesus order. He graduated with Sarjana Filsafat degree from STF Driyarkara in 1998, and continued to the Magister Teologi program at Fakultas Teologi Universitas Sanata Dharma (2000-2003). Afterwards, he took a Licentiate degree in theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, Cambridge (2005) and the study of Arabic language at the University of Damascus, Syria (2008). He received a Ph.D. degree in comparative theology from Boston College (2011) with a research focus on the encounter between Islam and Christianity. Since 2022, he served as the President of Universitas Sanata Dharma.

William Christopher Hariandja, Universitas Sanata Dharma

William Christopher Hariandja is an alumni of Fakultas Teologi Universitas Sanata Dharma (2021). He is currently pursuing a master's degree at Program Studi Kajian Budaya Universitas Sanata Dharma and work at Yayasan Tarakanita Kantor Wilayah Yogyakarta.

Rezerius Bintang Taruna, Universitas Sanata Dharma

Rezerius Bintang Taruna is a priest and monk candidate from Kongregasi Oblat Maria Immaculata (OMI). He is currently studying at the bachelor program in Catholic theology at Fakultas Teologi Kepausan Wedabhakti (Fakultas Teologi Universitas Sanata Dharma). 


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How to Cite

Laksana, A. B. ., Hariandja, W. C., & Taruna, R. B. . (2023). Pilgrimage in a Complex and Plural World: The Role of Shrines and the Practice of Catholic Pilgrimage in the Church’s Evangelizing Mission . Indonesian Journal of Theology, 11(1), 165-196. https://doi.org/10.46567/ijt.v11i1.366

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