12/27/2010, 00.00
INDONESIA

West Java: Catholics celebrate Christmas Mass in a parking lot

Mathias Hariyadi
An order by Bogor Regency prohibits members of the Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church from engaging in any public activity, ostensibly because they lack a proper place of worship. Muslim extremist groups increasingly threaten Indonesia’s Christians.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of members of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Parung (West Java) celebrated Mass under the sun and in a tent set up in the parking lot of the Marsudirini Elementary School. Bogor Regency chief’s prohibition of Christmas celebration was thus not repealed despite repeated attempts by Tulang Kuning Church leaders to negotiate with local authorities.

The latter justified their decision citing the lack of a permit to build a church. Without it, the local parish is not allowed to perform any public functions even on its own land.

According to Indonesia’s constitution however, no one has the right to prohibit any religious community from practicing its faith and celebrating its rites and services. Yet with the rising influence of Islamic radicals, the constitution has been repeatedly violated as local authorities kowtow to Muslim extremists and show greater hostilities towards Christians.

The Parish of Saint John the Baptist has at least 3,000 members. In April of this year, dozens of Muslim extremists threatened those from the community in Tulang Kuning, preventing them from celebrating Easter Mass.

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