Papuan activists demand locals be appointed as bishops

Papuan activists bishops

Papuan activists have said protests against the Catholic Church will continue unless the pope appoints native Papuans as bishops to the Indonesian region in the future.

Since February, the activists have held rallies in churches in Jayapura every Sunday, airing their demand for the Vatican to appoint native Papuan priests as bishops in their region.

The issue has come to a head with the imminent retirement of Franciscan Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar of Jayapura, Indonesia.

Bishop Ladjar applied for retirement before reaching 75 years, the usual age for bishops to retire.

“Until now, I waited for [the pope’s] answer with great longing. Turns out there has been no response. Why so? Ask the pope,” the now 78-year-old bishop was quoted as saying by news portal Tabloid Jubi.

Bishop Ladjar has been criticised for his lack of attention to humanitarian issues. In particular, they cite the problems in the easternmost region where conflict continues between rebels and the Indonesian military and police.

The activists want Bishop Ladjar, who is from a different region of Indonesia, to be succeeded by a native Papuan.

Soleman Itlay, one of the activists present at the Sunday rallies, said he hoped the Vatican would hear their aspirations.

“If the appointed bishop is a non-Papuan, especially one who does not know the local dynamics and the will of the people, we will continue our actions,” he told UCA News.

He said they did not have personal hate for Bishop Ladjar and other non-Papuan bishops.

Their dissatisfaction, Itlay said, was triggered by the Church’s silence on issues of violence and the marginalisation of indigenous Papuans.

“The Catholic Church in Papua is not doing well. Even now, there are groups who choose to remain Catholic and recognise the pope but no longer want to recognise the hierarchy of the Church in Papua and Indonesia,” he said.

Many Indonesian missionaries from other islands of the nation are sent from different dioceses to Papuan dioceses in a “twinning” and exchange of priests between Indonesian dioceses.



Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: ,