10/21/2020, 16.37
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Sibolga’s apostolic administrator tests positive for the novel coronavirus

by Mathias Hariyadi

Archbishop Anicetus Bongsu Sinaga, 79, tested positive after showing symptoms. Local Catholics are concerned about his evolving case. A diaconal ordination with many participants, few of them masked, is the possible cause. Now everyone is being tested.


Jakarta (AsiaNews) – After days of waiting and uncertainty, test results have confirmed that the apostolic administrator of Sibolga and former archbishop of Medan, Mgr Anicetus Bongsu Sinaga (pictured), is positive for the novel coronavirus and shows the first symptoms of COVID-19. He was tested by the labs at the Saint Elizabeth Hospital in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province.

Archbishop Sinaga, 79, led the Archdiocese of Medan from 2009 until December 2018, when he resigned on reaching the mandatory age limit. Previously he served as its coadjutor bishop, before succeeding Archbishop Alfred Gonti Pius Datubara.

He served as bishop of Sibolga from 1981 to 2004. The Holy See called him back to serve the diocese as apostolic administrator following the sudden death of Msgr. Ludovikus Simanullang in September 2018.

Local Catholics and priests are following the evolution of archbishop’s case with concern and wonder what was the source of the infection.

According to diocesan secretary Fr Blasius Yesse, the outbreak may have started last Saturday at a diaconal ordination that saw the participation of a large crowd at the Christ the King church in Sarudik (Sibolga).

Most of those present, priests and worshippers alike, did not wear masks. The nine new deacons were also not wearing protective gear and may have spread the virus. A few days later, the elderly bishop's health began to deteriorate rapidly.

Although the conditions were not the best, Bishop Sinaga insisted on leading the recitation of the Rosary for the missionary month, set to be broadcast nation-wide on radio and TV.

Fr Alboin, who travelled with the prelate from Sibolga to Medan, tested positive as well.

Fr Yesse has appealed to the Christian community in the diocese, urging anyone who came into contact with the bishop in the last two weeks to quarantine themselves.

A local priest, who asked that his name be withheld, pointed out that "in all probability more priests contracted the deadly virus" because "they lived in the same rectory as the sick bishop". This has led to the decision to test everyone to assess the situation.

Indonesia has reported so far more than 373,000 novel coronavirus cases with almost 12,900 deaths and almost 298,000 recovered. Some 3,600 cases were reported yesterday.

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