Indonesia Denies Sacraments to, Then Executes, Trio

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Sept. 22 — Despite continued appeals from religious and international organizations, three Christians convicted of leading a deadly attack on Muslims six years ago were executed by firing squad, Associated Press reported.

The men, Fabianus Tibo, 60, Marinus Riwu, 48, and Dominggus da Silva, 42, were taken before the firing squad at 12:15 a.m. local time, said a senior police officer who asked not to be identified because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

The case against the men has heightened tensions in the world’s most populous Muslim nation and raised questions about the role religion played in punishing those allegedly behind the violence that swept Sulawesi province from 1998 to 2002, killing more than 1,000 people of both religions. Only a handful of Muslims were convicted in the violence, all for 15 years in prison or less.

According to a report from AsiaNews, authorities in Indonesia denied the three Catholic men availability of Mass and the Eucharist on the day before their execution. The report stated that prison officials refused to allow a priest to hear the men’s confessions and celebrate Mass for them one last time.

The execution had been due to take place in August, but the three were given a reprieve after a plea for clemency from Pope Benedict XVI and demonstrations by thousands of Indonesian Christians.

Cardinal: Open Dialogue Key to World Peace

THE AUSTRALIAN, Sept. 19 — Cardinal George Pell of Australia said Pope Benedict was correct to stress the need for dialogue to bridge the differences between Christianity and Islam.

In an editorial published in the Australian daily, the cardinal emphasized the Holy Father’s words that “‘a reason that is deaf to the divine and that relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering a dialogue of culture.’ This is particularly true in any dialogue with Islam, especially for our secularized Western societies.”

The cardinal said, “Dialogue among friends does not preclude public questioning and public criticism, which should be constructive, not designed to make a situation worse by threatening peace or inciting hatred. ... These are the fixed points: Western democracies are at war with Islamic terrorists. Security agencies … are working regularly to thwart terrorist attacks. These Islamic terrorists want a clash of civilizations, they want the West to overreact, to make mistakes and so bring this Armageddon closer.”

Alluding to the Pope’s remarks at the University of Regensburg that caused a tide of criticism and violence from Muslims, the cardinal said, “A major thread in the address was that violence was incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. Pope Benedict acknowledged that religions contain many different strains. One commentator claimed that the Pope’s explicit appeal to reason was ‘a building block towards finding a way to argue with each other without using weapons.’”

Grisly Discovery Draws Attention to Abortion in India

REUTERS, Sept. 18 — The discovery of the remains of scores of aborted babies at a private hospital in India has focused the spotlight on the country’s continued campaign of female feticide, reported Reuters.

An excavation of pits surrounding a hospital in a small town in Pattran in the Punjab state was ordered after authorities received information that the hospital was operating an illegal abortion business.

Manual laborer Gulzar Singh said, “Inside the well I found bones. Small ones. Little, little ones. There were some baby skulls too.” Singh said he removed the flesh and bones of around 300 aborted babies, however, authorities said it was somewhere between 20 to 100. They assume that all were female, although gender tests results will only be ready next month. The business was allegedly run by an untrained, unqualified retired soldier and his wife.

According to a study published in the British medical journal The Lancet, about 10 million female babies may have been aborted in India over the last 20 years. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called female feticide an “unacceptable” crime.