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The authorities in West Jakarta stop a parish priest from celebrating mass

ICC Note

“The faithful want their spiritual needs fulfilled; they feel like they are on a most wanted list, forced underground to find another place to practice their religion,”

By Mathias Hariyadi

12/10/2007 Indonesia (Asia News) – Indonesian authorities have prevented the parish priest of Christ’s Peace Church in South Duri ( West Jakarta ) from celebrating mass. The Catholic parish church in which the function was supposed to take place is at the centre of controversy ever since a group of Muslims have challenged its legal status. As a result of strong pressures from Muslim extremists Tambura Sub-district officials banned all activities in the church to avoid “social tensions.”

The parish priest, Fr Matthew Widyalestari MSC, signed an agreement forcing him to cease all activities in the church but expressed a desire to celebrate a Sunday mass for his 4,000 parishioners who now find themselves unable to practice their faith.

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“The faithful want their spiritual needs fulfilled; they feel like they are on a most wanted list, forced underground to find another place to practice their religion,” the priest said.

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The Christ’s Peace Parish has at least 4,000 members and usually held three masses on week-ends. It has used the same building since 1968.

Some weeks ago a group of local Muslims calling themselves the Cooperation Forum for Mosque, Prayer Rooms and Koranic Group of Duri Selatan, challenged the legal status of the church and its presence in the area because it does not have the right permits required by places of worship.

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