West Papua Catholics call on their bishop to quit


Catholics in Indonesia’s West Papua province of Manokwari-Sorong are calling on Bishop Hilarion Datus Lega to quit.

They want the “foreign” bishop to be replaced by a native-born Papuan priest.

Lega was born on Flores Island in Nusa Tenggara Timur, the southernmost province of Indonesia.

The anger allegedly stems from a dispute between two priests that turned into an ethnic feud.

The diocese does not seem willing to confirm this.

A lay Catholic in the diocese who asked for anonymity told ucanews.com that the problems began in April when diocesan treasurer Father Rudy Renyaan — a Papuan — threatened to kill Father Paul Tan an ethnic Chinese priest over a financial dispute.

The death threat resulted in the Papuan receiving a 13-month prison sentence.

Renyaan is currently in Sorong prison, while  Tan has been transferred to Jayapura Diocese, in neighbouring Papua province.

Hundreds of Catholics took to the streets of Sorong in Manokwari-Sorong diocese on Sept. 12, to demand Lega’s the resignation.

Some 250 police were deployed to monitor the protest, which passed off peacefully.

The protesters accused Lega of being arrogant, discriminatory and unable to solve problems affecting the diocese.

In a statement read out during the rally, Lega was also accused of not respecting indigenous Papuan priests.

“He is not a good and right leader of Catholics.

He is not a true shepherd according to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church,” the statement said.

Diocesan officials, however, denied the accusations, saying everything was fine.

In a statement received by ucanews.com, several priests in the diocese defended Lega, saying there were no problems between the bishop and his priests and that the protesters were small in number.

The priests also called on other Catholics in the diocese to remain united and not be easily provoked.”Let us not let ourselves be consumed by false information and spread false rumours,” they said.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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