Social justice priest faces suspension for running for office

An Indonesian bishop says he will suspend a priest who has decided to run for political office.

Bishop Ludovicus Manullang of Sibolga in North Sumatra said he would suspend Fr Rantinus Manalu.

The priest is to run for public office in local elections next year.

Fr Manalu is known for his anti-corruption stance and support for marginalised farmers.

A Muslim cleric is running as his deputy.

“[Father Manalu] will be granted a suspension from the priesthood in accordance with church law,” Bishop Simanullang told

He did not specify when the official letter will be issued.

“His priestly jurisdiction will be revoked,” the prelate said.

Fr Manalu declared his candidacy after 30,000 citizens backed him in a petition.

The priest said he hoped his priestly duties would be reinstated if he loses next year’s election or after his public office ends if he wins.

“I consider this suspension as something legitimate,” said Fr Manalu.

He also said “it’s not related to moral issues but my intention to bring change to society”.

Susan Binsasi Sarumaha of Vox Point Institute said that Fr Manalu should take a firm stand and leave the priesthood.

“Choosing [public office] is also a sacred and noble calling,” Ms Sarumaha said.

“If he considers it a vocation he must not be half-hearted.”

Vox Point Institute is an association of Catholic laity who care about socio-political problems.


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