Indonesian Bishops Condemn Attacks in Bali

Sympathy Expressed for Grieving Families

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DENPASAR, Indonesia, OCT. 4, 2005 (Zenit.org).- A bishop on the island of Bali is mobilizing the local Catholic community in prayer for an end to terrorism, following Saturday’s attacks that killed 22.

Three suicide bombings in tourist restaurants rekindled memories of the 2002 attack that killed 202.

Through its Fides agency, the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples echoed the fear and grief that the attacks have caused in Bali, confirming that the local Catholic community is united in prayer for the victims.

Bishop Benyamin Yosef Bria of Denpasar issued a pastoral statement in which he condemned the terrorist acts, expressed his closeness to the families who have lost loved ones, and manifested his solidarity with all the Balinese.

The bishop also mobilized the community of faithful announcing that all Masses celebrated in the diocese next Sunday will be offered for the victims of the attacks.

The prelate also asked that Catholics during the month of October add to their rosaries a prayer intention for those who died, for the grieving families, and for reconciliation.

Meanwhile, Indonesian police are working to identify those responsible for the Bali explosions.

Tense situation

Commenting on the attacks, Father Ignazio Ismartono, who works in the humanitarian aid and interreligious dialogue section of the Indonesian bishops’ conference, told Fides that “this calls for a careful analysis to discover what is behind these attacks.”

“The political situation in this country is extremely tense since oil prices rocketed,” he said. “The bomb blasts will have a disastrous effect on tourism, once again causing serious harm to the economy. In society there are various parties in conflict.

“We hope tension subsides and that peace will prevail. As religious leaders, the bishops condemn terrorism reaffirming their commitment to promoting brotherhood between cultures and religions.”

According to Fides, the attacks in Bali have put the spotlight once again on the militant Islamic group Jemaah Islamiyah, said to have organized attacks in other Southeast Asian countries.

Kiai Haj Hasyim Muzadi, president of Nadhlatul Ulama, the country’s largest Muslim organization with more than 30 million faithful, condemned the terrorism. “Radical groups in Indonesia are very small,” he said. “Moderate Muslims are the majority in Indonesia and they must help fight fundamentalists.”

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