July 27, 2020
By Ivany Atina Arbi, Evi Mariani and Dwi Atmanta
Victims of sexual abuse and harassment in the Indonesian Catholic Church face “thick walls” of silence, secrecy and denial, having to bear trauma while the priests who they have accused remain on a moral pedestal.
Sisca, who has chosen to use an alias to protect her privacy, said she was molested by a Catholic priest in Jakarta when she was 11 years old. The 38-year-old watches the same priest greet school children in the same Catholic school every morning, and in December of last year, she heard His Eminence Ignatius Cardinal Suharyo, the highest-ranking member of the Indonesian Catholic Church, deny that he had ever received any reports of sexual abuse in the Church.
Sisca did not believe the cardinal could have possibly been oblivious to the alleged sexual abuse. “Where has he been? We had high hopes for him. He was appointed cardinal by the Pope. It’s a prestigious title. A cardinal is a chosen figure, and [the Pope] would not appoint a random priest,” she told The Jakarta Post in early February. “It hurts me to hear him say that. He doesn’t know how it feels,” Sisca said.
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