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Pope names new bishop in conflict-scarred Indonesian region

Father Inno Ngutra becomes first prelate in Amboina Diocese not to come from Missionaries of the Sacred Heart congregation

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

Published: December 09, 2021 08:49 AM GMT

Updated: December 13, 2021 03:12 AM GMT

Pope names new bishop in conflict-scarred Indonesian region

Bishop-elect Inno Ngutra is popular on social media. (Photo: YouTube)

Pope Francis has appointed a diocesan priest, Father Inno Ngutra, as the new bishop of Indonesia's Amboina Diocese, which covers sectarian conflict-scarred Maluku and North Maluku provinces.

The appointment was announced on Dec. 8 by his predecessor, Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi, who was appointed archbishop of Merauke in Papua in November last year.

Bishop-elect Ngutra is currently the diocese secretary and a lecturer in church law at St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary in Ambon.

Archbishop Mandagi announced the appointment by reading a letter from the papal nuncio to Indonesia, Archbishop Piero Pioppo, before the end of a Mass for the perpetual vows of Maria Mediatrix Congregation nuns at St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in Ambon that was broadcast live on the diocese's YouTube channel.

The prelate said the appointment was a tremendous boon for the diocese as it was relatively fast, with the seat being vacant for only one year. Other dioceses have had to wait several years for a bishop when vacancies arise.

"God loves this diocese for bringing a new bishop so quickly," he said.

My hope for the new bishop in maintaining peace in Maluku is to always build harmony and dialogue between religious communities

Archbishop Mandagi asked Catholics to respect the Vatican's appointment and pray for the new bishop. 

“Let Catholics, especially the priests, show obedience to the new bishop,” he said, adding that the bishop-elect would be ordained after Easter next year on April 23.

"My hope for the new bishop in maintaining peace in Maluku is to always build harmony and dialogue between religious communities," Archbishop Mandagi said.

He was alluding to previous sectarian conflicts between Christians and Muslims in the Maluku region, where the diocese is located.

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Between 1999 and 2002, more than 6,000 people were killed and several hundred thousand displaced.  

"The key is to respect each other, forgive each other, help each other regardless of background such as religion, ethnicity, status, politics, economy," he said.

Bishop-elect Ngutra will be the diocese’s fourth bishop since its establishment in 1961 and the first diocesan prelate after previously having bishops from the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart congregation.

He was born in Waur, Kei Besar, on Nov. 7, 1970, and studied philosophy and theology at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary of Pineleng in North Sulawesi before being ordained a priest by Archbishop Mandagi on Oct. 6, 2001.

The bishop-elect is popular on social media such as Facebook and YouTube, with more than 8,000 followers on both platforms

He worked at St. Jude Thaddeus Minor Seminary in Langgur, Southeast Maluku district from 2001 to 2003 and as treasurer for the diocese while serving several parishes in Ambon from 2003 to 2007.

He briefly attended the Asian Religious Formation course at the Antipolo Institute, Philippines, and in 2009-10 continued his studies at the University of Saint Thomas Aquinas Manila, specializing in church law.

The bishop-elect is popular on social media such as Facebook and YouTube, with more than 8,000 followers on both platforms. Every evening he posts a short devotional video.

Yelvina Buresari, one of his subscribers, said she always listens to his videos. "His homilies are short but so profound,” she said.

Amboina Diocese has 119,665 Catholics spread over 47 parishes, according to the Indonesian bishops’ conference.

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