Friday, June 07, 2024

Indonesian priest suspended for love affair

A priest in Indonesia has been suspended from pastoral ministries following his love affair with a married woman in his parish on the Catholic-majority Flores Island.

Father Agustinus Iwanti was canonically suspended by Bishop Siprianus Hormat of Ruteng on June 6 following threats by the woman’s husband of legal action.

Bishop Siprianus said in a statement that the criminal charges leveled against Iwanti were "serious, outward, and can be proven judicially."

A diocesan official involved in the probe against the priest said the diocese approached the husband and wife seeking reconciliation.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the diocese was trying to find a "solution in line with Christian values."

However, due to the strong opposition from the husband, he said the move was given up.

Iwanti acted as a parish priest of St. Joseph church in Kisol in East Manggarai Regency when he was caught in the room of a married woman on April 24 night.

The woman's husband, Valentinus Abur, tried to hack the priest with a machete, but the priest escaped in his car.

The priest claimed he went to his parishioner’s house for dinner but slept there because he was invited.

The diocesan official clarified that they gave the priest “time to rethink his priestly status."

The priest was "proven to have committed the crime against the sixth commandment," the diocesan statement said.

The bishop imposed "the sentence of suspension a divinis," which in the Canon Law (Article 1333) prohibits a cleric from exercising "every act of the power of orders which one obtained either by sacred orders or by privilege."

Father Alfons Segar, vicar general of Ruteng diocese, said the diocese “followed strict canon law provisions and procedural mechanisms” in this case.

He said that the initial investigation was carried out "carefully" by Church law experts.

He, however, did not respond to UCA News' question about the suspension period.

After the diocese's efforts to pacify the husband and wife failed, Abur warned the diocese in a May 4 statement. He threatened to register a police complaint if the diocese failed to act against the priest.

When UCA News contacted, Abur refused to divulge details of his next move and said: "Currently, my family and I are discussing it."