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Indonesia

Lay Papuans turn against Indonesian Church 'sellout'

Activists stage protest against archbishop signing deal with palm oil firm 'at expense of environment'

Lay Papuans turn against Indonesian Church 'sellout'

Papuan Catholic activists collect funds from Catholics attending Sunday Mass at the Good Shepherd Parish Church in Abepura, Papua province, on Jan. 31. They planned to give the funds to Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Merauke as a protest against his move to sign an MoU with a palm oil company. (Photo supplied)

Together with several colleagues, Papuan Catholic activist Melvin Waine stood in front of Good Shepherd Parish Church in Abepura, Papua province, on Jan. 31.

There was a box in front of them and they were holding up posters appealing for donations.

"One thousand rupiah for Bishop Mandagi," the posters said, referring to Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Merauke. However, their effort was not in support of the bishop; it was a sarcastic stunt criticizing Archbishop Mandagi.

The local Church is set to receive billions of rupiah after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a controversial palm oil company, PT Tunas Sawa Erma, part of the Korindo Group. The funds raised from donations will be presented to the Diocese of Merauke. 

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