Catholic World News

Indonesian bishops’ official: ‘Fanatical’ Protestant missionaries encourage radical Islam

July 02, 2010

A government weakened by scandals and Protestant missionaries who spread their faith “fanatically” are fostering a climate in which Muslim extremism against the Church is on the rise, according to two prominent Indonesian priests. Radical Muslim groups, led by the Islamic Defender Front (FPI), have recently launched an “Islamic campaign against the Christianization of the country.”

“Radicals of the FPI are taking advantage of the weak central government, rocked by scandals of corruption and misrule, which have affected political, financial, military leaders,” said Father Emmanuel Harja, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, in an interview with the Fides news agency. “This explains how militant Islamists have once again reared their heads and gained ground … We ask the government to stop them and ensure freedom of religion and faith in all religious communities. It’s a matter of justice and respect for fundamental rights.”

“The Church’s line is this: not to react on her own to the provocation by radicals, but to always seek ecumenical fellowship and full harmony and cooperation of other religious leaders, starting with Muslims,” adds Father Ignazio Ismartono, SJ, an official of the Indonesian bishops’ conference. “At the root of the matter it seems to me that there is a problem that affects the relationship between Islamic groups and Protestant Christian groups, within their spheres of action and influence … Every religious community not propagate their faith so fanatically. This approach only leads to a reaction of fanaticism in other communities. It's a vicious circle that we must emerge from.”

3% of the nation’s 224.9 million people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics; 6% are Protestant and 86% are Muslim, making Indonesia the country with the largest Muslim population.

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  • Posted by: Defender - Jul. 03, 2010 2:57 PM ET USA

    It doesn't matter what kind of Christian you are, it's the fact that you are one that is the focal point of Islam in Indonesia (et al). I'm sure asking the Islamic community of 86% not to fanatically evangelize is probably met with laughter by the Islamic Defenders.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Jul. 03, 2010 12:12 AM ET USA

    Are the Protestants telling people to convert, be enslaved, or be killed? Sadly, I think Ismartono is going to give cover to Muslim violence against these fellow Christians and then say "see I told those guys to do it on the down-low". Perhaps effective Christian evangelization requires one to risk being called a "fanatic" by a Muslim or a Jesuit. If I recall correctly St Stephen did not have a regard for the "spheres of action and influence" of the Jews in Judea.

  • Posted by: Bigs2480 - Jul. 02, 2010 10:27 AM ET USA

    That might be part of the reason that 6% of the country is Protestant and only 3% are Catholic. Maybe we could use a little "fanaticism". Pretty sure the martyrs of the Church were a bit fanatical about their faith.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jul. 02, 2010 10:01 AM ET USA

    I have nothing against Muslims on a personal level...; But unfortunately the biggest Christian breech with regard to Islam is NOT "fanatical protestants" not being "nice" but our insipid and lukewarm Catholic stand internally on the subject of abortion, which is abhorrent to them (Muslims). Overcoming darkness is not so much a matter of being everybody's "friend" but rather giving bold and fearless testimony to the truth.

  • Posted by: marttywinston6762 - Jul. 02, 2010 9:22 AM ET USA

    With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord... (1 Kings 19:10, DRV)