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Indonesia ordains bishop in conflict-scarred province

Seno Inno Ngutra becomes new bishop of Amboina where sectarian violence 20 years ago left 6,000 dead

Indonesia ordains bishop in conflict-scarred province

Archbishop Piero Pioppo, apostolic nuncio to Indonesia, touches the head of Bishop-elect Seno Inno Ngutra of Amboina during his ordination ceremony on April 23 at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Church in Ambon. (Photo: Indonesian Bishops’ Conference’s Social Communications Commission)  

Published: April 25, 2022 06:56 AM GMT

Updated: April 25, 2022 10:18 AM GMT

A new bishop has been ordained in the Indonesian province of Maluku, the scene of a bloody sectarian conflict two decades ago that claimed the lives of thousands of people.

Bishop-elect Seno Inno Ngutra of Amboina was ordained at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Church in the provincial capital of Ambon on April 23 during a ceremony led by Archbishop Piero Pioppo, the apostolic nuncio to Indonesia.

Sacred Heart Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Merauke, the new bishop’s predecessor, and Sacred Heart Bishop Benedictus Estephanus Rolly Untu of Manado concelebrated the five-hour ceremony with 25 other archbishops and bishops. Also in attendance was Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas.

Bishop Ngutra, whose episcopal motto is Duc in Altum (Put out into the deep), said during the Mass that the motto “is the continuation of my priestly ordination motto taken from Luke 5:5, saying that ‘because you say so.’”

“Simon Peter had worked hard all night and had not caught anything. But because Jesus said so, he let down the nets despite his doubts. And what happened? He caught a large number of fish,” the 51-year-old prelate said.

“I, too, have gone through a journey to the priesthood in weaknesses and fragility. But I believe that — just like a soldier who cannot go to war without a weapon — it was God who called me and chose me to be a shepherd in this diocese. He will complete me.”

"I will surely promote interfaith programs for children and teenagers everywhere I go. Let us embrace other religious followers and respect those who are against us. We all are brothers and sisters"

Bishop Ngutra, who comes from Langgur in Southeast Maluku district, also stressed the relevance of the slogan “100 percent Catholic and 100 percent Indonesian” first coined by Jesuit Father Albertus Soegijapranata — the first native Indonesian bishop — to Catholics.

“National unity is not negotiable. This spirit always leads me to teach catechists how to hold interfaith programs for children and teenagers under the theme ‘One Love, A Thousand Smiles,’” he said.

“As bishop of Amboina Diocese, which covers Maluku and North Maluku provinces, I will surely promote interfaith programs for children and teenagers everywhere I go. Let us embrace other religious followers and respect those who are against us. We all are brothers and sisters.”

Bishop Ngutra also hoped that religious leaders will help the government to promote religious harmony, particularly among young people.

He was alluding to the sectarian conflicts between Christians and Muslims in the Maluku region between 1999 and 2002 that killed more than 6,000 people and displaced several hundred thousand.

Archbishop Mandagi said in his homily that he believed the new bishop will be able “to catch a large number of fish involved in any forms of crimes with his nets” and “to bring them back to a true communion.”

“A leader leads by example instead of power. I hope you do so,” he said.

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