03/19/2020, 15.31
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Ruteng episcopal ordination sparks protests on social media

by Mathias Hariyadi

The ceremony took place this morning amid precautions against the coronavirus. Church leaders have been criticised for ignoring guidelines and not showing empathy towards a frightened population. An Islamic meeting was cancelled yesterday. Archbishop Olla notes that the number of participants was reduced from 7,000 to 1,500.



Flores (AsiaNews) – Mgr Siprianus Hormat is the new bishop of Ruteng, a diocese on Flores Island, eastern Sunda Islands.

The ordination took place this morning in the presence of Archbishop Card Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta, Archbishop Sensi Potokota of Kupang and Bishop Sylvester San of Denpasar.

Mgr Hormat replaces Mgr Hubertus Leteng, who was removed for inappropriate behaviour and misuse of funds.

The ordination itself sparked controversy with the local Catholic Church and the Bishops' Conference coming in for harsh criticism on social media because of fears associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, fears that were not quelled by the precautions taken by organisers to prevent any coronavirus contagions, such as measuring the temperature of participants.

Church leaders have been accused of failing to respect government orders to limit gatherings of people (including religious ceremonies), and lack of empathy for those who fear the virus.

So far, Indonesia has had 309 confirmed cases of infection with 25 deaths.

Critics, including Catholics, are upset because other religious ceremonies were suspended elsewhere in the country. For example, an outdoor Islamic prayer in Gowa (southern Sulawesi), expected to draw 8,000 participants, was cancelled yesterday at the urging of government authorities.

The Indonesian government says it wrote to Card Suharyo, urging him to postpone the celebration. It is not clear whether the cardinal received the letter before he left for Flores, yesterday.

Bishop Paulinus Yan Olla of Tanjung Selor (North Kalimantan province) was present at the ceremony. He told AsiaNews that the local organising committee took preventive measures, like cutting the number of participants from 7,000 to 1,500.

He also noted that the Vatican had authorised a postponement of the original ceremony, from February to March, due to heavy rains on Flores Island during the first two months of the year.

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