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Indonesian Archbishop Urges Faithful not to Fear

Christians Cautioned to be Watchful During Services

“There had never been a similar attack in Surabaya. Indonesian Christians are desperate and terrified, but I told my faithful not to be afraid. This is precisely what the terrorists want, scare us.”

That was the message May 14, 2018, from Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko, Archbishop of Semarang, whose ecclesiastical province includes the diocese of Surabaya. His comments came in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need.

The prelate recounted the reaction of the local Christian community after the tragic suicide bombers who yesterday hit three churches, one Catholic and two Protestants. The confirmed victims so far are 11, including three Catholics. The attack claimed by Isis was probably committed by Islamists belonging to the same family, who recently returned from Syria.

“Unfortunately in Indonesia we are more and more expand the scope of the fundamentalists,” the archbishop said. “Isis especially has many supporters throughout the national territory and in particular the island of Java, home to Surabaya and Semarang. The situation may seem quiet at times, but then suddenly occurring attacks, just as happened yesterday. ”

Because of the danger of new attacks, the churches have asked their followers to be careful if during services they see people who normally do not attend that parish. In addition, several churches have plans to acquire security cameras. “Our people are afraid, but we pastors invite them constantly for calm. The terrorists want to scare us, but we must remain calm and pray for God to convert their hearts, “said Archbishop Rubiyatmoko.

He said the only positive result of this tragic situation is the solidarity shown by the local Islamic community and generally improving interfaith relations.

Pope Francis on May 13, 2018, called for prayers for the victims of suicide bombers who attacked three churches in Indonesia’s second-largest city, Surabaya.  As many as 11 are thought dead. His comments came after praying the noonday Regina Coeli with a crowd estimated at 45,000 in St. Peter Square.

“I’m particularly close to the dear people of Indonesia, especially to the Christian communities of the city of Surabaya, harshly stricken by the grave attack against places of worship,” the Holy Father said. “I elevate my prayer for the victims and their kin. We invoke together the God of peace so that He will make these violent actions cease and in the heart of all room be found for sentiments — not of hatred and violence — but of reconciliation and fraternity. We pray in silence.”

 

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