Indonesian President Joko Widodo condemned “acts of terrorism” following Sunday’s attack and said that he had ordered the chief of police to “thoroughly investigate the perpetrators’ networks and uncover the networks to their roots”
“I invite all members of society to jointly fight terrorism and radicalism, which are against our religious values and noble values as a nation that upholds divine values and upholds the values of diversity,” he said in a statement at the Bogor Presidential Palace, West Java.
The president also promised that the state would cover all medical bills for the victims wounded in the explosion and urged the public to remain calm as they continued to attend places of worship.
The bombing occurred at the side gate of the Catholic cathedral of Makassar, the capital city of South Sulawesi province, as church-goers were exiting the cathedral at the start of Holy Week.
Fr. Wilhelmus Tulak, who offered the Mass, said that the explosion occurred at around 10:30 a.m. local time.
Two people, a man and a woman, drove up to the cathedral on a motorbike and tried to enter through a gate. They were reportedly turned away by security guards before the bomb detonated.
Makassar is the fifth-largest urban center in Indonesia. Around 10% of the Southeast Asian country’s more than 270 million population is Christian. There are an estimated eight million Indonesian Catholics.
Catholic leaders from around the world expressed their condolences after the Palm Sunday attack.
Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beautfort, president of the French bishops’ conference, said in a statement March 28 that Catholics in France are united in prayer and concern with Indonesian Catholics.
“They bring before the Lord Jesus the terrible pain of bereaved families, the suffering of the wounded and their loved ones, the anguish of many. They ask for peace and unity for your people, the conversion of the violent, the preservation of peace,” the archbishop said.
“The bishops of France pray very especially for you and for the priests of your diocese, asking that the Holy Spirit inspire you with words and gestures which will console, strengthen, and give hope ‘against all hope.’”
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Pope Francis prayed for those wounded in the attack at the end of Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican on March 28.
“Let us pray for all the victims of violence, especially those of this morning’s attack in Indonesia, in front of the Cathedral of Makassar,” the pope said.
Alessandro Monteduro, the director of Aid to the Church in Need in Italy, called on governments in countries where Christians are persecuted to strengthen security during Holy Week and Easter.
“The calendar of terror continues to align with the liturgical one,” Monteduro said.
“We hope that the police forces of the nations in which these extremist Islamist groups are active will strengthen the security measures to guarantee the faithful a peaceful participation in the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter,” he said.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.