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Australian priest vows to keep working in Aceh


High-profile charity worker Father Chris Riley (pictured) has vowed not to back down on his plans to help children in tsunami-ravaged Aceh, despite a warning from hardline Muslims.

Fr Riley, a Catholic priest who heads the charity Youth Off The Streets, has gone to the Indonesian province to set up a tent orphanage. According to The Age, the plan was backed with a $100,000 donation from NSW clubs and media mogul Kerry Packer's Nine Network.

But chief of the radical Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Hilmy Bakar Almascaty has warned Youth of the Streets to stick purely to humanitarian work.

Fr Riley said he would not back off from his plans to work in the devastated area after seeing dozens of orphans wandering aimlessly among the ruins.

"We are not backing off - we are looking for where the need is," Fr Riley told the Nine Network. "Youth Off The Streets is always need-driven, so we will look around for where the need is."

Fr Riley said he believed he had been set up by a television crew.

"A couple of reporters really set me up by taking me into a camp that I wasn't ready to go into - I was trying to help them out," he said.

"We believe that the reporters then went to a hardliner and said to them basically 'Christians are trying to take over your kids and trying to Christianise them' ... and at the end of the day these people set me up to be killed or certainly warned off."

Fr Riley said local people had been warned not to work with him or they would be attacked.

"That really amazed me because I'm out there to basically help," he said.

"It's pretty well known that I don't try to convert people and we do work with Muslim kids in Australia.

"We never mention religion and we don't try to convert them at all."

The issue of conversion is sensitive in the Indonesian province which is governed by Islamic sharia law.

SOURCE
Charity priest vows to keep working (The Age 10/1/05)

LINKS
Youth Off The Streets
Caritas Australia Asian Eathquake/Tsunami Appeal

ARCHIVE
Don't convert our children, Muslim group warns (CathNews 10/1/05)
Fr Chris Riley and Youth Off The Streets
Youth crusader warns on child sex trafficking (CathNews 19/11/04)
Fr Chris Riley's youth back on the streets (CathNews 6/2/04)
Two priests now nominated for Australian of the Year (CathNews 8/1/04)
There's no such thing as a bad kid (CathNews 21/2/03)
Award recognises street priest's work for kids (CathNews 13/12/02)
Asian Tsunami
Kenyan slum dwellers donate money to tsunami victims (CathNews 10/1/05)
Don't convert our children, Muslim group warns (CathNews 10/01/05)
Caritas Australia sends aid team to devastated Meulaboh (CathNews 10/1/05)
Inter-faith prayer for tsunami victims in Phuket (CathNews 7/1/05
Heart-wrenching greeting for Aussie Aid Workers (CathNews 7/1/05)
Pope joins Europe's mourning for tsunami victims (CathNews 6/1/05)
Stronger faith builds in the wake of disaster (CathNews 6/1/05)
Hope is found in faith in Tamil Nadu tragedy (CathNews 6/1/05)
For some charities, delivery is half the battle (CathNews 6/1/05)
Tsunami survivors find consolation in church personnel (CathNews 5/1/05)
Bishop denounces Asian adoption profiteers (CathNews 5/1/05)
Pope praises human solidarity after tsunami tragedy (CathNews 4/1/05)
Australian Church sends prayers and support to tsunami victims (CathNews 4/1/05)

MORE STORIES
Aid groups warned against preaching (The Australian 11/1/05)
Indonesia denies limiting aid workers' movements (ABC News 10/1/05)


11 Jan 2005