Although the constitution of Indonesia guarantees religious freedom, St Bernadette’s Catholic Church in Pinang, which has opened after 33 years of struggle, is a symbol of the frequent gap between theory and practice. Source: Crux.
Fr Romo Lammarudut Sihombing, parish priest of St Bernadette’s, nevertheless sees spiritual significance in the long delay.
“It is truly a great moment to inaugurate the church on its 33rd anniversary,” Fr Sihombing said. “At the age of 33, Jesus has done his mission in the world. We as followers of Christ has legacy to continue his mission to bring good news to the world.”
In 1990, St Bernadette’s was officially announced as a parish by Jakarta’s then-Archbishop Leo Sukoto, who would die five years later. Ever since Mass was celebrated in the hall of a nearby Catholic school because the parish was unable to put up a church building.
That inability to erect a place of worship, local observers say, was the product of all-too-familiar pattern in the world’s largest Muslim nation: Opposition from Muslim radicals, combined with bureaucratic foot-dragging and delays.
The determination of local Catholics became well-known, with as many as 12,000 people showing up for Sunday Mass in the school and other makeshift locations, even though at times they were compelled to do so under police protection or private security because of threats from Muslim protestors.
The parish’s efforts, Fr Sihombing said, culminated in the issuance of a construction permit by the local mayor on July 14, 2021. Perseverance finally paid off on June 11, when Indonesian Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo travelled to Pinang to formally consecrate the new church.
Indonesian parish finally has a church after 33-year ordeal (By Nirmala Carvalho, Crux)