Bishop says mob violence no way to fight corruption
Bishop Darius Nggawa from Indonesia's East Flores region this week expressed regret over the actions of a mob objecting to a court verdict against the head of the diocesan Justice and Peace Commission.
Fr Fransiskus Amanue received a suspended prison sentence for libel after accusing district head Felix Fernandez of corruption. Fr Amanue had written in a newspaper that the official had exaggerated claims for flood compensation so that he could pocket part of the funds.
A group of the priest's supporters who refused to accept the verdict ignored his advice to stay calm and started damaging and eventually burning down the court.
Bishop Nggawa said in a letter to clergy and religious on Wednesday that Catholics must continue their struggle for justice and peace, but to do so within the law.
"I appeal to you, fighters of truth and justice, not to lose courage but to continue your fighting to uphold justice and peace," he wrote.
The bishop said he understood why such a large number of people came to show their solidarity. He urged the district head and his staff to be attentive to people's complaints.
He made clear in the letter that the diocese supports Fr Amanue's decision to appeal his sentence in a higher court.
Bishop Regrets Mob Actions, Urges All To Abide By Law (UCAN 20/11/03 - registration required)
Mob Burns Down Courthouse After Priest Found Guilty in Libel Case (UCAN 20/11/03 - registration required)
Bishop Darius Nggawa, S.V.D. (catholic-hierarchy.org)
Governor tries to reconcile as East Flores remains tense (Jakarta Post 19/11/03)
21 Nov 2003