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ICC Note: St Lidwina Church in Yogyakarta, the scene of a February 11 sword attack that injured four in attendance, held a Mass to restore faith and strengthen the morale of local Catholics. The local Catholic community was asked to forgive the perpetrator, while moderate Muslim groups expressed solidarity and helped clean the church after the attack.  

02/21/2018 Indonesia (AsiaNews) – A Mass was celebrated at St Lidwina Church to “restore the faith and strengthen the morale of local Catholics,” said Fr John ‘Santo’ Dwiharsanto, parish priest of Kumetiran.

The latter includes St Lidwina Parish, the recent scene of an Islamist attack in which an elderly German priest, Fr Karl-Edmund Prier, and three other people were wounded.

The attacker, a 23-year-old extremist called Suliyono, was also wounded and is now in prison. Catholics forgave him and expressed their gratitude for the solidarity shown by moderate Muslims towards them.

Fr Prier, an 81-year-old Jesuit, sustained major wounds to his back, head and hands. Nevertheless, he was among the more than 2,100 faithful who took part last night in the service celebrated by Mgr Robertus Rubiyatmoko, archbishop of Semarang, along with dozens of priests.

During the liturgy, the prelate blessed some places in the church. At the end, he told the media that the Semarang Catholic community does not resent Suliyono. “We forgave him right away,” the archbishop said. “I have encouraged the faithful not to have bad feelings towards him. We must pray for him and his quick recovery.”

Earlier Fr Prier had also forgiven the attacker. For any inquiry related to the incident, the archdiocese also called on the faithful to contact the Justice and Peace Commission.

Fr FX Endra Wiyanto, a diocesan priest in Yogyakarta, said that the solidarity shown to Catholics by civil society groups, above all by moderate Muslims, “transformed” the traumatic experience into a new moment of mutual respect, showing a renewed sense of unity, great esteem and love among Yogyakarta’s different communities


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