Palembang (Agenzia Fides) - In a mainly Muslim area the local government, composed of Muslim administrators has allotted funds to repair a Catholic chapel dedicated to Saint Zacharias, damaged by vandals during the night of 7 March in the archdiocese of Palembang, in the south of the Indonesian island of Sumatra (see Fides 8/3/2017). The chapel, which had been inaugurated on Sunday 4 March by the local archbishop Aloysius Sudarso is situated about 50 km from Palembang, provincial capital of South Sumatra. "We are grateful to the local authorities for repairing the chapel ", Fides was told by Archbishop Sudarso. "Let us hope similar incidents will not occur in the archdiocese and the rest of the country. We are encouraged to keep watch and to work for peace and harmony in villages, parishes and everywhere" the Bishop added.
"There was great disappointment in the local community when the chapel was damaged, but we will not react to this provocation", Fides learned from a local lay Catholic Yohanes Hartoyo.
Recently Christian church buildings and Christian faithful in different areas of Indonesia have been repeatedly attacked by various Muslim extremist groups. Often, according to observers, the aim of these attacks in various regions is to polarize religious communities and destroy the peace and harmony, in order to win political gains.
Since Indonesian citizens will be called to take part in elections, administrative in 2018 and presidential in 2019, social, economic and religious matters are at center stage and could represent a pretext for attacks which exploit religion for political reasons.
Indonesia’s Christian leaders throughout the archipelago are urging the faithful to face the situation "with a clear mind and an open heart", to avoid possible traps aimed at heightening social and religious tension. "We must live in such a way as to safeguard unity and harmony among Indonesian citizens of different religions", they affirm. (SD) (Agenzia Fides 12/3/2018)