Catholics of Papua and West Papua provinces in eastern Indonesia have protested against their bishops for not raising thier voices against the marginalization and social injustice they suffer. When the 5 bishops of the two regions recently held their annual meeting at the Maranatha Waena Convent in the Papuan capital of Jayapura, Catholics staged a protest outside voicing their frustration and anger.
Archbishop Nicolaus Adi Seputra of Merauke, Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar of Jayapura, Bishop Aloysius Murwito of Agats-Asmat, Bishop John Philip Saklil of Timika, and Bishop Hilarion Datus Lega of Manokwari-Sorong met in in Jayapura to discuss local church matters.
"The bishops stay silent instead of speaking up more about injustices faced by indigenous people. They let our dignity be torn up by unfair developments in areas such as health, education and even politics," protest organizer, Christianus Dogopia said. He said local governments focus on development programs only in urban areas, where the majority are non-Papuans. He pointed to the lack of health care facilities in rural areas inhabited mostly by the indigenous people. "Those living in remote areas cannot go to towns or cities as they do not have enough money even for public transport," Dogopia lamented.
Soleman Itlay, a Papuan activist who deals with health issues, said many indigenous people in remote areas die because of a lack of health care facilities. The banners the protesters held read, 'Where are the shepherds when their sheep are hunted by wolves?'
Responding to the rally, Bishop Murwito promised to meet the protesters’ demand. "We will pay more serious attention to their demands," he said, adding that he and other bishops will work together with priests and parishes to deal with the issues. (Source: UCAN)