Jakarta, Indonesia – Someone tried to set fire to the small Chapel of Saint Joseph in Pare, a few kilometres from Delanggu subdistrict in Klaten Regency (Central Java). The building is regularly used by local Catholics to pray during weekends.
On Wednesday, a group of young shepherds saw smoking coming from the front of the building. When they came closer, they saw some inflammable material, including used tyres and fuel containers, at the entrance, under the windows and near gates and a fire starting to take hold.
Usually, the chapel is not monitored at night, or when it is not in use. Fr Saptaka, the parish priest at the Delanggu church, said that a similar attack occurred on 12 December 2009 but did not cause any victims.
Local Catholics do not know who might be responsible for the act, but they think they must be outsiders.
Fr Sutrasno, parish priest at St Maria Assunta Church in Klaten, told AsiaNews that when the previous attack took place in December 2009, he surveyed local Catholics to see if they had had any “problems” with local Muslims.
“Local Catholics told me they have good relations with other residents,” he said. “In fact, the area in front of the church has been used for volleyball matches involving both Catholics and non-Catholics.” People also use the church’s compound to store the harvest.
“It is almost impossible that locals are behind this. They have always respected the chapel,” the clergyman said.
Yesterday morning at dawn, another arson attack hit a Protestant church in Gebyog at Ngemplak, Kartasura subdistrict, some 20 kilometres from Delanggu. Someone saw flames coming out of the building.
Still, Rev Setyo Budi Utomo said that the fire caused very little damage, mostly the windows.