Felix Nesi, a former seminarian and novelist, was arrested by police in East Nusa Tenggara province on July 3 for vandalizing a Catholic school in protest over inaction against a priest accused of misconduct. (Photo supplied)
An award-winning Catholic writer in Indonesia has been arrested for vandalizing a church house in protest against what he said was a failure to take action against a rogue priest
Novelist Felix Nesi claimed the priest was having illicit sexual relations with two women.
Police arrested him on July 3 in North Central Timor district in East Nusa Tenggara province.
The arrest followed a complaint by an employee at the church-run Bitauni Vocational High School who said Nesi broke windows and chairs at the priests’ house within the school’s grounds.
The writer also wrote in a Facebook post, which later went viral, that he was angry with Atambua Diocese for allowing a priest whom he identified as “Father A” to remain at the school despite having affairs with two women.
Nesi, a former seminarian, said he was afraid the priest would commit further indiscretions at the school, which has more than 100 female students.
He said he had met the school principal and Bishop Emeritus Anton Pain Ratu of Atambua, who lives in the same house, about the matter several months ago.
He said he had urged them to send the priest away to a quiet place for self-reflection.
However, Nesi said he became angry on July 3 when he visited the school and found the accused priest was still there.
"I was disappointed with the diocese for keeping a problematic priest at a school that has many female students,” he said.
"I broke a window and also broke plastic chairs into pieces,” said Nesim, whose novel Orang-orang Oetimu (People of the Oetimu) won a Jakarta Arts Council award in 2018. The novel tells of priests who like to protect fellow priests with problems or cover up wrongdoing.
He told UCA News on July 6 that his anger was aimed at driving the Church to take action against the priest. "I am fed up with what's happening," he said.
He claimed to know of other priests who have illicit relations with women, some of whom became pregnant.
“We have lots of cases and we never want to learn from or to end this,” he said, adding that he got some of this information while writing his novel.
Nesi said he was told by his lawyer that his vandalism case could be resolved by mediation. However, he said, he would refuse it if it meant he had to be quiet. “I regret that I have damaged property, but I won’t keep my mouth shut.”
Atambua Diocese officials could not be reached for comment, including Father Vinsen Manek, the principal of Bitauni Vocational School.