1,500 Indonesian Catholics go ahead with mass despite pleas to cancel

A procession outside Ruteng Cathedral, Manggarai for the ordination mass of new bishop Siprianus Hormat, today. (Kompas video screenshot)

PETALING JAYA: Some 1,500 Catholics today attended an ordination mass for a new bishop in Indonesia’s Manggarai regency, despite restrictions on mass gatherings over fears of the Covid-19 outbreak, Jakarta Post reports.

Manggarai regent Deno Kamelus however defended the decision to allow the event, saying attendees were screened, their body temperatures checked and hand sanitizer provided before they entered the building.

“The visitors accounted for only 1% of the population of Manggarai Raya. The Manggarai regency administration and the organisers followed the protocols set by the central government,” Jakarta Post quoted him as saying.

He added that the event was planned months ago.

Siprianus Hormat was named as the new bishop of Ruteng in Manggarai, a regency in the East Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia’s Flores island.

Indonesia’s head of Covid-19 response team Doni Monardo had earlier asked the Ruteng Archdiocese to postpone the ordination mass.

“We beg you to postpone the event on behalf of humanity,” he said in a letter sent to the cardinal as quoted from Kompas.com.

The church gathering comes after authorities in Sulawesi banned a massive gathering of the tabligh movement which saw some 9,000 participants from around the world. Organisers called off the gathering after pleas from the governor.

Indonesia today recorded 25 more deaths due to Covid-19, with number of cases now at 309.

Earlier this week, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo admitted his government had not been transparent on the extent of the coronavirus infection in the vast country.