Jakarta authorities forbid Mass at suburban church

A parish priest in the western outskirts of Jakarta has been prevented from celebrating mass by Indonesian authorities who have bowed to pressure from Muslim extremists agitating for the closure of his church.

AsiaNews reports Fr Matthew Widyalestari MSC of Christ's Peace Church in South Duri has been at the centre of the controversy ever since the Muslim group challenged the legal status of the 4000 strong parish.

In November, officials banned all activities in the church to avoid "social tensions" and forced Fr Widyalestari to sign an agreement forcing him to cease all activities in the church.

On Friday after a meeting between local Catholic leaders and officials from the West Jakarta District, local political authorities insisted on cancelling the celebrating the Eucharistic as well.

The same reason or excuse was given, "public order" and the fear of sectarian clashes.

Fr Widyalestari said his parishioners want their spiritual needs fulfilled.

"They feel like they are on a most wanted list, forced underground to find another place to practice their religion," he said.


The authorities in West Jakarta stop a parish priest from celebrating mass (Asia News, 10/12/07)

Java Muslims force closure of church (CathNews 29/11/07)

11 Dec 2007