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  • » 05/07/2014, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    West Sumatra: Altar destroyed in arson attack on Catholic church

    Mathias Hariyadi

    The bishop of Padang confirms to AsiaNews that part of the church of St. Mary of the Ascension has been damaged. The attacker is still unknown, but the police are on his trail. The place of worship is in a rural area of the province of West Sumatra , the second worst for “Islamic fundamentalism” after Aceh.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) - An arson attack almost destroyed the Catholic church of St. Mary of the Ascension, located in a rural area of Kinali district (West Pasaman) in Indonesia's West Sumatra province. The incident occurred on May 4 , just before the Sunday mass. Bishop Martinus D. Situmorang OFM , of the local Diocese of Padang , confirmed what happened to AsiaNews, and said that the police are investigating. There is allegedly one author of the attack of unknown identity.

    Local sources say they saw a man on a motorcycle near the church the day before the fire. Not recognizing him, some people approached him to ask him what he wanted. The man said he was looking for an area to organize a "cock fight". People have explained that this was not a local tradition, and the individual left.

    The following day, other people say they saw another man in the vicinity of the church, and believing him to be part of the staff, did not disturb him . A few minutes later some of the faithful saw the smoke coming from the place of worship. Initial reports say the assailant has soaked the altar in kerosene and set it on fire. Once extinguished, the altar bore the brunt of the damage , but the crucifix remained intact.

    The church of Santa Maria Ascension is about 160 km from the Diocese of Padang . 99% of the local Catholic faithful is made up of migrants from Java , who work in the palm tree plantations.

    The Diocese of Padang covers the entire territory of the province of West Sumatra and some tiny islands of Mentawai. Unlike these atolls, where the population is mostly Catholic, Christian or animist, West Sumatra is predominantly Muslim and is considered the second most "fundamentalist" area of Indonesia after Aceh province.

     

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    See also

    02/08/2005 INDONESIA
    Gus Dur against fundamentalist threat in Indonesia
    Former Indonesian President opposes the extremism of the Indonesian Ulemas Council, condemning the persecution of the Ahmadi Muslims. Christians demand respect for religious pluralism, one of the nation's "cultural assets".

    20/12/2005 INDONESIA
    New Maumere diocese under threat of attack

    The order to be on "maximum alert" has spread across the entire province. Benedict XVI set up a new diocese there a few days ago. All churches in the area are under non-stop 24-hour surveillance.



    11/06/2010 INDONESIA
    Indonesian Priest says Internet new frontier of mission
    Fr. Willem Pau Pr led, the Commission for Social Communications of the Archdiocese of Semarang for 10 years. Today he is promoting the Gospel through the internet and YouTube. Announcing the Good News through new media is important to reach young people and non-Catholics.

    22/09/2015 ISRAEL
    Israel to pay damages for arson attack on Tabgha church of. Positive developments also for Catholic schools
    To AsiaNews, the Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem speaks of positive "change of course strange". The many faces of open confrontation with the Church have pushed Israel to reconcile. Glimmers of agreement for Catholic institutions, ready to begin the school year. An agreement which is fruit of the "solidarity received from Jews, Muslims, secular groups", soon to be signed.

    01/09/2005 Islam
    Fundamentalism: "diabolic" union between religion and politics
    Part One in a series on "Islam and the West", by Fr Samir Khalil Samir, a great expert of Islam and Christianity.  An Egyptian Jesuit, Fr Samir is professor of Arab and Islamic studies at Saint-Joseph University, Beirut.



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