Sydney’s Catholics mourn terrorist victims

Sydney Catholics attended a special Mass on 16 May at Our Lady of the Rosary, Kensington, to pray for peace in Indonesia and for victims of the Surabaya bombings. Photo: Patrick J Lee

Sydney’s Indonesian Catholic community is in “deep sorrow” after terrorist attacks on three Indonesian churches on Mother’s Day, and angry that innocent children were used as suicide bombers, says one of its chaplains.

Fr Petrus Suroto MSC, said that the attacks on the churches in Surabaya, the county’s second-largest city on Mother’s Day, was “unimaginable”.

“We feel the pain because a member of our Catholic Indonesian community has a relative who died as a victim of the bombings”, he said.

“But we have to combat the terrorist agenda in the spirit of love.”

Piliana Taslim, whose aunt was killed and cousin injured in one of the Surabaya attacks. Photo: Patrick J Lee

He paid tribute to one of the casualties, Aloysius Bayu Resha Wardhana, a young father who tried to stop suicide bombers from entering the Santa Maria Catholic Church.

“Because of his heroic action the bomb didn’t explode inside the church, which would have led to many more victims.

“He gave his life to save many people.”

Mass was offered at Our Lady of the Rosary, Kensington, on 16 May for the repose of the souls of the victims and also for peace and unity in Indonesia, with a collection taken up to support injured victims and affected families in Surabaya.

Indonesian-born parish priest Fr Aloysius Lamere MSC said that 40 percent of the Kensington parish is Indonesian Australian and many come from Surabaya.

Kensington couple Agustinus and Dewi had friends in Indonesia affected by the recent bombings. Photo: Patrick J Lee

“This has happened at a time when we are trying to develop tolerance and solidarity and good relationships between the religions in Indonesia,” he said.

Six people from the one family were responsible for the attacks which left 14 people dead and dozens injured.

Dita Oepriarto, 46, and Puji Kuswati, 42, their two daughters aged 12 and 8, and sons 18 and 16, set off bombs at three churches.

The first attack was carried out by the couple’s sons, 18 and 16, in the parking lot of the Santa Maria Catholic Church.

The other family members detonated bombs at the nearby Diponegoro Indonesian Christian and Surabaya Central Pentecost churches.

Photo: Patrick J Lee

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has slammed the attacks as “the act of cowards, undignified and barbaric.”

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the “brutal, inhumane, blasphemous, sickeningly cruel” attacks are a “reminder that these terrorists have got nothing to do with God. They are not defending Islam,” he told a Melbourne radio station.

“They are, as President Widodo of Indonesia said, blaspheming it and defaming it, and I just want to express again our condolences to all of the victims and families of the victims in Surabaya, and repeat again our solidarity and support for President Widodo in standing up to terrorism in his country.”

Pope Francis said he was praying for all those affected by the “serious attack against places of worship” and for the violence to stop.

He asked that “everyone find room in their heart for feelings — not of hatred and violence — but of reconciliation and fraternity.”

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