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Pope Francis appoints new Indonesian archbishop in Papua

Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Amboina to take over in Merauke Archdiocese

Pope Francis appoints new Indonesian archbishop in Papua

Archbishop-designate Petrus Canisius Mandagi is seen here in this 2018 image. Pope Francis appointed him archbishop of Merauke on Nov. 11. (Photo: Katharina R. Lestari/UCA News)

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Amboina as archbishop of Merauke in Papua.

The appointment was announced by the archdiocese's secretary-general, Father Hendrikus Kariwop, on Nov. 11 during a Mass at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Church that was broadcast online.

Archbishop-designate Mandagi of the Congregation for Missionaries of the Sacred Heart has been the archdiocese's apostolic administrator since August last year following the death of its previous administrator, Bishop John Philip Saklil of Timika.

Merauke Archdiocese has not had a definitive bishop since Pope Francis removed Bishop Nicolaus Adi Seputra in July last year. The reasons were not made public but there were allegations of mismanagement of the archdiocese and conflicts with priests and laypeople.

The 71-year-old archbishop-designate told UCA News that although he is no longer young and has a slight limp, he accepted the appointment sincerely.

"Because I believe it is God's will. I must not reject God's will,” he said on Nov. 12.

He said he would continue what he had started as apostolic administrator, namely building a brotherhood among priests, religious and nuns and with the flock.

“Unity among priests and nuns must be an example for the people,” the prelate said.  “I will also focus on dialogue with people of other faiths and the government. For me, peace can be attained through brotherhood and dialogue.”

In the meantime, he will also be the apostolic administrator for Amboina Diocese.

Bishop Mandagi has been bishop of Amboina, which covers Maluku and North Maluku provinces, since 1994.

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He is known as a vocal figure who strived for peace during the conflict between Christians and Muslims in Maluku from 1999 to 2002 that killed more than 6,000 people and displaced several hundred thousand.

As apostolic administrator of Merauke Archdiocese, he has also been outspoken about state violence against Papuans.

On Nov. 1, Archbishop-designate Mandari, Franciscan Bishop Aloysius Murwito of Agats-Asmat and bishops’ conference chairman Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Harjoatmodjo of Jakarta met Coordinating Minister on Politics, Law and Security Mahfud MD to discuss various problems plaguing Papua, including continuing violence.

Father Anselmus Amo, chairman of Merauke Archdiocese's Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, said he welcomed Archbishop-designate Mandagi’s appointment, saying he could play a crucial role in efforts to bring about peace.

"As apostolic administrator, he began to lay the foundations of faith for the organization of this diocese, among other things, starting with realizing the need for brotherhood and autonomy. He also maintains very good relations with people,” he said.

"I also hope that his presence will bring harmony and peace to the land of Papua." 

Archbishop-designate Mandagi was born in Minahasa, North Sulawesi province, and ordained a priest in 1975.

He studied religious studies and dogmatic theology in Leuven, Belgium, from 1978-81 and later became a lecturer in dogmatic theology at Pineleng Major Seminary, North Sulawesi, until 1990.

From 1990-94, he was provincial of Sacred Heart Missionaries.

At the bishops' conference, he served as chairman of the Catechetical Commission (1997–2003), Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant People (2003–09) and Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (2009–15). 

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