Killing of catechist alarms Indonesia’s Catholic bishops

2503224501 8cc1d81717 k The Indonesian flag. | Mr.TinDC/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Catholic bishops in Indonesia met with government officials this week to express concern about the violence in Papua province after a Catholic catechist was shot and killed by security forces.

Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, chairman of the Indonesian bishops' conference, was part of the delegation of three bishops that met with Indonesia's security minister Mohammad Mahfud MD in Jakarta on Nov. 1.

Two of Papua's bishops also took part in the meeting, which was held days after Rufinus Tigau was killed by soldiers in Intan Jaya district, Papua province. 

Tigau, 28, had served as a catechist and translator at St. Michael Bilogai Parish since 2015, a local priest told UCA News. A military spokesman said that Tigau was a member of the Armed Separatist Criminal Group -- a claim which his diocesan apostolic administrator has disputed.

Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Amboina, one of the bishops who took part in the meeting, said that the gathering took place in response to the violence in Papua.

"We bishops are concerned about the situation," Mandagi told UCA News.

"I hope the government fulfills its promises to decrease violence in Papua. We want Papua to become a land of love, not a war zone."

A priest in Papua pointed out that another catechist was recently shot in the region.

"This is not the first case that has targeted Catholic Church servants. On Oct. 7, Agustinus Duwitau, another catechist at the Emondi Station, was also shot and is still undergoing treatment," Fr. Marthen Kuayo, apostolic administrator of the Tigau's diocese of Timika, said.

"If we just keep quiet with these incidents, I'm afraid it will get worse."

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