A SENIOR Anglican cleric in Indonesia, the Very Revd Dr Timothy Chong, has expressed his sadness at Sunday’s three suicide bombings of churches there.
In the largest concerted terrorist incident in Indonesia since a series of car bombings in Bali in 2005, at least 13 people were killed and dozens were injured. The targets were Santa Maria Catholic Church, Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church, and GKI Diponegoro Church, Surabaya, which is the country’s second largest city.
Police said that the attacks had been carried out by one family. The police chief, Tito Karniavan, said that a further three had been foiled. A police headquarters in Surabaya was, however, suicide-bombed on Monday morning.
Dr Chong is Dean of the Gereja Anglikan Indonesia (the Anglican Church of Indonesia), a missionary deanery of the diocese of Singapore. He told the Anglican Communion News Service on Monday: “We are indeed saddened by the horrific suicide bombing of the three churches in Surabaya by a family of six. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones in the attack.”
He continued: “The mood in the city remains sombre as people are trying to grapple with the aftermath of the attack.
“This attack introduced a new strategy in the terrorist attack — the use of innocent children as suicide bombers. This new dynamic would certainly change the way we do Sunday school and children’s ministry, not only in Surabaya, but also in Christian churches and ministries throughout the nation.
“It also means that we have to put emphasis on tighter security measures in our churches and organisations.”
After the attacks, all churches were closed as a precaution.
Dr Chong asked Anglicans to pray for “the safety of all our Christian brothers and sisters throughout Indonesia; for God’s peace to cover this nation; Christians to stand firm in their faith; wisdom for church leaders; Christians not to retaliate against their Muslim neighbours; the perpetrators would be found out and justice meted.”
The Pope, addressing the crowd in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, prayed for reconciliation, a fraternal spirit, and an end to the violence.
The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, condemned the attack. He said: “It is shocking that this attack was directed against people who were gathered for worship, and that this attack comes on the heels of ongoing violence and persecution.
“In the face of this brutality, the human family, all people of faith and of good will, must stand together to recommit to respecting and caring for one another, to protecting one another, and to preventing such violence.”
A spokesman for the Christian Conference of Asia said on Monday: “The attacks on churches in Surabaya are deliberate attempts by forces of evil in Indonesia that aim at destroying the country’s long nurtured and cherished values of religious harmony and the foundation of the long-cherished ‘Pancasila’ principles, which accept religious pluralism and call for unity in diversity.”
The East Asia team leader for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Benedict Rogers, urged that the Indonesian government “urgently review its approach to deradicalisation”.