Palm Sunday Bombing at Indonesian Cathedral

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Twenty people were injured and two terrorists killed in a suicide bombing at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Makassar, capital of South Sulawesi province in Indonesia.

According to Fr. Wilhelmus Tulak, the bombing took place at a side entrance of the Cathedral around 10:30am local time, while worshippers were exiting after one Mass and entering for the next. Security guards at the Cathedral became suspicious of two motorcyclists who wanted to enter the Cathedral. When they were stopped by the guards from entering, one of the them detonated his bomb. Evidence shows that one of the terrorists was a woman. National police believe the terrorists are members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, a militant organization allied to the Islamic State and responsible, as well, for other deadly suicide bombings in Indonesia in 2018. Police have identified one of the bombers and believe he was connected to a 2019 bombing at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in the Sulu province of the Philippines that killed twenty-three.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-majority nation and has been on high alert for terror attacks since the arrest in December 2020 of Aris Sumarsono, the leader of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah.

Joko Widodo, president of Indonesia, immediately condemned the attack and said it had nothing to do with religion. “I call on people to remain calm while worshipping,” Widodo said, “because the state guarantees you can worship without fear.” President Widodo offered his prayers for the victims. Pope Francis offered prayers for victims of violence at the end of Mass on Palm Sunday at St. Peter’s Basilica, in particular, “those of the attack that took place this morning in Indonesia, in front of the Cathedral of Makassar.”

We American Catholics too often find ourselves caught up in arguments over how we should receive Holy Communion, how open or closed our churches and schools should be during the pandemic, how devoted we should be to a particular political party and its relationship with the Church, and other concerns. This is not to say that these are not important issues, and to rejoice over the fact that these are the types of issues we have the luxury to be concerned about. But, we need to recognize that it is a luxury to be more concerned about the question of how we should be receiving Holy Communion at Mass than whether or not we will be killed by a suicide bomber in our desire to worship at Mass and receive Holy Communion. Our confreres around the world face considerable discrimination, endure underground churches, life-altering consequences, kidnappings, rape and forced marriages, terror and even martyrdom for the privilege of worshipping Christ. We owe them our prayers and our perspective. We also owe them our support.

Again, I encourage all who can to contact Aid to the Church in Need to provide whatever financial support you can to the assistance and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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