Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas (right) greets Archbishop John Liku Ada of Makassar during a short visit to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral on March 29. (Photo courtesy of Religious Affairs Ministry)
Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas has visited the Indonesian cathedral where two suicide bombers blew themselves up on Palm Sunday, calling on local Catholics to “not be afraid.”
A couple who had been married for six months and belonged to the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) network, a terror group affiliated with the Islamic State, launched the attack on the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Makassar, capital of Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province, killing themselves and leaving at least 21 people injured.
They tried to enter the churchyard but a security guard stopped them. Their destroyed motorbike and body parts were found after they attacked the cathedral’s side gate at around 10.26am on March 28.
During his short afternoon visit, Yaqut met with Archbishop John Liku Ada of Makassar and looked around the cathedral.
“I come here to express my concern and sympathy to the cathedral church and all parishioners. We all hope that such an incident will not reoccur,” he said.
He asked the prelate to keep celebrating the Easter Triduum, which runs from Thursday to Easter Sunday. “Celebrate it as usual. Do not be afraid. We will fight against all groups committing such terror acts,” he said.
Yaqut also called on religious leaders to spread love and peace as well as the values of humanity as “no religions teach violence and terror acts.”
After visiting the cathedral, the minister went to Bhayangkara Hospital to see the suicide bombing’s victims being treated. “I offer my sympathy and moral support … hope they will get well soon,” he said.
Speaking with UCA News, Archbishop Liku Ada acknowledged that the minister’s message was encouraging. “He said we are not alone. He wanted us to not be afraid and to continue celebrating the Easter Triduum because he said fears are what terrorists want us to show.”
According to the prelate, the minister promised to tighten security at the cathedral and other churches in Makassar during Easter celebrations.
In particular, the cathedral will hold Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Eve celebrations twice as well as Easter Sunday Masses five times.
“I promised him that I will deliver his message to all Catholics in this archdiocese. I believe they will find it encouraging,” the archbishop said.
Referring to the suicide bombing’s victims, Archbishop Liku Ada said 13 people — eight Catholics and five Muslim passersby – were being treated at the hospital, while the rest had been discharged.
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