03/30/2012, 00.00
INDONESIA
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The Diocese of Padang challenges the government attempts to stop the building of a church

by Mathias Hariyadi
Local officials have blocked access to the site and require the removal of the sacred building, dedicated to St. Ignatius. The curia emphasizes that building permits are in order and defends respect for the legitimate rights. Diocesan Secretary: the Church "will never sell property to others."

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The Diocese of Padang strongly defends the legitimate right to build the church of St. Ignatius in Pasir Pangarayan in the district of Rokan Hulu, Riau province, Sumatra island. In recent days, local authorities have decided to revoke the building permits and give notice to the Catholic community to transfer the place of worship to a different area. Fr. Kus Aliandu Pr, a priest in Padang, West Sumatra province, tells AsiaNews that the diocese "will never sell the property to others." This stance follows a meeting of the Committee of construction of the church and local government officials.

"The district chief - says Fr. Aliandu Pr - told us that they will not remove the blocks that prevent access to the site of construction of the church. However, we told them that we are not willing to move the church to another site".  The secretary of the diocese also states that "we will provide an official response to the request for removal of the authorities after the Easter holidays." The priest then adds that the local bishop, Mgr. Martinus Situmorang, "will never accept" a proposal for resettlement. "The construction site and the property - the prelate is reported to have said to the priest - in the future will belong to the Church."

On 21 March, dozens of public officials raided the construction site located in the village of Sukamaju, sub-district Rambah. The authorities forced the workers to down their tools, to the distress of the faithful who have shown - in vain - the permits complying with applicable regulations. The area is fenced with barbed wire and has been impounded.

The faithful denounce the "blatant violation" of religious freedom and confirm the validity of the documentation allowing the construction. Local authorities respond that the land will be allocated for other purposes, because the Muslim community is no longer willing to accept the presence of a place of Christian worship.

In Indonesia, buildings that will serve as places of worship must approved by the Izin Mendirikan Bangunan (IMB), building permits granted by local authorities that enables the opening of a construction yard. In the case of Christian places of worship, the permission must include written authorization signed by at least 60 residents - Muslims - of the area where the place of Christian worship will be located.

 

 

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