Just Kill Him

By: Fr. Orlando Cantillon, CMF

Fr. Orlando Cantillon is a Claretian Missionary in Kupang, Indonesia Timor. Not to be confused with East Timor which is a former Portuguese colony and is recognized by the United Nations as independent.

Here in Nusa Tenggara Timur Province which includes West Timor, Flores, Sumba, there have been systematic provocations to hurt the feelings of the Catholics. It started in the Island of Flores where the majority of population are Catholics, about 56%. Almost a weekly occurrence, in one parish church or chapel, a Christian fundamentalist or a Muslim youth will attend the Eucharistic celebration. During the communion rite, she or he will receive the Sacred Host and then perpetrate a sacrilege either by smashing the Host until it is broken into small pieces or else throwing the host on the floor and stamping on it. And this is done in public to be seen by all.

Beaten to Death
These events naturally angered the Catholics especially the youth. There is a clear pattern in all these events. First, there is money involved. In most cases, a young girl or boy from the barrio is taken to the city, where she or he is promised a job. They are given a substantial amount of money ranging from Rp 50,000 – 500,000 ($25-250). After the fellow is caught, he will not identify the person who paid him. The tension rose to a climax when in the Cathedral of Ende (Flores), they caught a Muslim. The priest tried to calm the people but the emotions were already high. The man was beaten to death outside the Cathedral. A horrific tragedy! The Eucharistic sacrileges spread. They even spread to Kupang, the Capital of the province and lately to East Timor.

I will Stop Coming
I went to celebrate the mass in Lasiana Chapel just a few kilometers outside the city. This chapel was entrusted to the Claretian by an SVD parish priest. The mass started as usual at 8:00 in the morning. During the communion, a young fellow approached the altar. But I noticed something strange. He came to me smiling and wanted to take the Sacred Host with the only two fingers. It is our custom here to receive the Host on the palm of the hand. Seeing this, I did not give him the Host but asked him twice  if he was a Catholic, on both occasions he did not reply. Lay leaders approached and brought him to the sacristy. Immediately, the people reacted with murmuring and I felt the tension heating up. I made an appeal for calm so that we could continue the mass. Before giving the final blessing, I made an appeal again for calm saying that the boy has not done any sacrilege. But we will question him so well know the truth. Remembering what happened in the Cathedral in Ende, I even threatened them that should anything happen to this boy, I will stop coming to this chapel to celebrate the Mass. I asked the people to go home but nobody went home, everyone was eager to know who exactly this boy was.

Just Kill Him
I gave the final blessing and then we started to question the boy, and we learned that he was taken from a barrio about 100 kilometers from Kupang and that he is a Christian Fundamentalist. Somebody paid him to make the sacrilege but no matte how much we questioned he could not or would not identify the mastermind. During the interrogations; he was contradicting himself many times because of this he received many blows especially when I was not around. The people outside after learning this became more emotional. May where shouting: Just kill him, just kill him. We will teach then another lesson. We are ready to go to jail, just kill him! One was so emotional that he broke the church stained glass window. I made a appeal telling then that killing this boy will not solve the problem, he is also a victim, we have to catch the people behind this. Besides, we cannot kill in the name of God who is life-giving, and this is the exact opposite of the meaning of the Eucharist. In the Eucharist Jesus allowed himself to be broken and to die so that we’ll have life? Eucharist is meant to be life giving not death giving. But nobody was listening. So I called the police.

Police Arrive
It was already 11:00 am when 5 police came. They tried to negotiate but to no avail. The police suggested that we’ll have to take the boy to the police station in my car. When the people knew about the plan, they placed big stone in the front of the car warning me that they will destroy the car if I tried to save the boy. So that attempt failed.

Military Arrive
About 3:00 in the afternoon about 25 military men with guns led by a senior officer came to negotiate and finally they were able to persuade the people to hand over the boy  to them on condition that the boy will be out in the prison in the meantime and be charged according. I came home to the Claret seminary at 4:00 pm, very tired, angry and hungry. But the feeling thankful because I was able to save the boy from harm perhaps even from death.
Two Reasons
Why are these events happening? We don’t really know. Many explanations are given. One, there is a fundamentalist group (Christian/Muslim) who are behind these sacrileges because they are afraid to the fast growth of Catholicism especially in Kupang, which was formerly their stronghold. Secondly, somebody is orchestrating these quarrels among religions so as to hide the real political and social problems. May both reasons are true.

Besides, we cannot kill in the name of God who is life-giving, and this is the exact opposite of the meaning of Eucharist