09/06/2021, 00.00
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Bekasi parish waiting since 2007 to build a church

by Mathias Hariyadi

Despite recommendations from local government bodies and Muslim organizations, the parish of St. Mother Teresa has not yet obtained the Imb document that authorizes the construction of places of worship, from district authorities. The Catholic community is currently using the school premises. Fr Antara: "I don't understand why we are not granted it"




Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The parish church of St Mother Teresa in Cikarang has been trying to obtain a building permit from the government since 2007. The place of prayer would be built in the district of Bekasi, in the province of West Java, 50 km from the capital. Despite all the efforts made by the local Catholic community, the parish has not yet managed to receive the Imb (Izin Mendirikan Bangunan) permit required for the construction of places of worship.

At the moment, the parish, which has more than 11 thousand faithful, is using the premises of the local Catholic school (Trinity Church College), for weekend celebrations. "However, the school can accommodate a maximum of 2 thousand people," Fr. Antonius Suhardi Antara, who coordinates the St. Mother Teresa Cikarang Parish Chuch, explained to AsiaNews. "We struggled to obtain the Imb, but I do not understand why the district authorities have not yet granted it to us," continued the priest. "We have already completed all the administrative procedures and complied with all the requirements as required by law."

A number of local authorities have been recommending the granting of the permit for years. The Bekasi Interfaith Forum had issued a statement in 2014, and the local branch of the Religious Office had approved Imb's issuance in 2015.

The local Muslim community is also in favor of building the church. "We have already visited the church office in Cibatu and found everything in order," said Hajj Mohammad Athoillah Mursjid, head of the Nurul Ulum Islamic Boarding School.

"The contribution of the Catholic Church in carrying out the national vaccination program against Covid-19 has been crucial," commented Arief Widhiharto, treasurer of the Nahdaltul Ulama Islamic organization. "And the church has always helped in pest control to curb the spread of dengue," he added. "The Bekasi district authority should grant Imb instead of leaving the matter pending."

According to Fr. Antara, the foundation for St. Mother Teresa Church has already been laid near the school where the faithful currently gather. "Our goal is to provide a proper place of worship for the thousands of Catholics in Cikarang."

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