In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation with 272 million inhabitants, the coexistence of religions has been largely peaceful until now. However, recently there have been increased attacks by conservative and sometimes violent Islamist groups. Institutions of the Catholic Church have also been the target of attacks. In addition, the Church in Indonesia is struggling with the consequences of the pandemic. In the year under review, ACN was able to assist with the basic security of priests and religious and with the maintenance of the religious infrastructure.
Since the military victory over the militias of the “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq, there have been repeated attacks in Indonesia in recent years. The most recent Islamist riots also terrified the Church.
For example, on 28 March 2021 in the Indonesian Sulawesi Selatan Province, a suicide attack was carried out on the Makassar Cathedral during the celebration of the Palm Sunday liturgy. Twenty worshippers were injured, and the two attackers were killed. The terrorists were allegedly members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a splinter group of the Islamic State (IS). The same group carried out suicide attacks on three churches in Surabaya in East Java in 2018, killing 28 people.
Terrorist attacks, natural disasters and the pandemic put enormous strain on the Church in Indonesia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also hit hard the Church in Indonesia. From January to September 2021 alone, more than 120 Catholic religious here died as a result of COVID-19. Most became infected while providing pastoral care to the faithful, serving the poor or caring for the sick. Natural disasters – including tropical cyclone Seroja, which hit several islands in April – also increased people’s need.
Here as well, priests and religious stood by the suffering population. In the year under review, ACN supported priests and religious sisters through subsistence aid and Mass stipends, promoted the training of aspiring religious and provided assistance for building and maintaining the Church infrastructure.