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Covid-19 kills Indonesian priest, lays low bishop

Several other priests in Surabaya also test positive for deadly disease

Covid-19 kills Indonesian priest, lays low bishop

Bishop Vincentius Sutikno Wijaksono of Surabaya, East Java, has tested positive for Covid-19 and is being treated at a Catholic hospital in Surabaya. (Photo supplied)

Published: January 13, 2021 07:29 AM GMT

Updated: January 13, 2021 07:39 AM GMT

An Indonesian priest has died of Covid-19, while his bishop and several other priests in the same diocese have tested positive for the virus, a diocesan official in East Java revealed on Jan. 13.

Vincentian Father Agustinus Dodik Ristanto, the parish priest of Christ the King Church in Surabaya, died on Jan. 11, said the official from Surabaya Diocese’s secretariat who said he had also tested positive and wished to remain anonymous.

Father Ristanto tested positive last week, as did Bishop Vincentius Sutikno Wijaksono of Surabaya, the official told UCA News.

A story about Father Ristanto’s parish went viral last month about a “Covid Christmas tree” that was decorated with masks and hand sanitizers.  

Bishop Wijaksono was confirmed as having the coronavirus and admitted to the Catholic-run St. Vincentius a Paulo Hospital on Jan 4, the official said.

“The bishop has been hospitalized for 10 days now and hopefully he can go back to resume his ministry in the near future,” he said.

Bishop Wijaksono, 67, is the third-highest-ranking church official in Indonesia to have contracted Covid-19.

The highest was Capuchin Archbishop Kornelius Sipayung of Medan in North Sumatra, who tested positive last July.

Apostolic administrator Archbishop Anicetus Sinaga of Sibolga, also in North Sumatra, tested positive in October and died in November.

Bishop Wijaksono’s health has gradually improved but he has to remain in the hospital, added the diocesan official, who said he and several other priests who came into contact with the bishop tested positive and were forced to self-isolate.

All these priests have since recovered.

According to the official, several priests and seminarians in other dioceses including Jakarta and Semarang archdioceses have also tested positive for Covid-19. “They are all self-isolating,” he said.

As of Jan. 12, Indonesia had recorded 846,765 Covid-19 cases and 24,645 deaths. 

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