Four days after returning from the Netherlands in early February, the writer Felix K. Nesi — the author of the novel Orang-Orang Oetimu — heard about the transfer of a priest with the initials A to Bitauni St. Vocational High School (SMK). Pius X Insana, Kiupukan Parish. Father A is a religious leader who was convicted by the Diocese of Atambua for committing sexual violence at the Tukunenu Parish in 2019. Apart from being transferred and prohibited from giving mass, the perpetrator was also fined Rp 200 million.
It was the decision of the Bishop of Atambua, Dominikus Saku, which then made Felix uneasy. One of the closest people became victims of the same perpetrator. This is because the vocational high school is only 700 meters from his house in North Central Timor Regency, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). Even his two younger siblings — boy and girl, graduated from there. When he was in intermediate seminary, Felix slept, got up and ate there every vacation.
"I didn't expect it. I think the next victim is if it is not a school child, my neighbor or my younger sister, ”Felix said when contacted by Jaring.id on Saturday, July 12, 2020.
Uneasy with the presence of Father A around his residence, the winner of the 2018 Jakarta Arts Council (DKJ) novel contest visited SMK Bitauni in late February. There he argued for almost an hour with the Head of SMK Bitauni, Pastor Vinsen Manek. In the meeting which took place at the Bitauni Vocational School rectory house, Felix asked Father Vinsen not to accommodate A in the school of agriculture, livestock and agricultural processing technology.
"I said the diocese doesn't have a good decision. People who commit sexual violence why are transferred? " asked Felix, repeating what was conveyed to Father Vinsen.
"At the end of the discussion, the Head Father said, yes, this SK Romo A is only temporary, only for one or two months. After that, he will move again. This term is just a refresher, ”wrote Felix on July 3 on his personal Facebook page.
After one month, around March, Felix still held the words of Father Vinsen. However his confidence ebbed a little at the end of March. This is because the perpetrators were not withdrawn from SMK Bitauni. For the second time, Felix questioned the whereabouts of Father A. Even in front of Father Vinsen and MGR Anton Pain Ratu, Felix expressed his disappointment while accusing Father Vinsen of lying. The meeting in the rectory's dining room, right at the time of the dinner was also attended by the perpetrators.
“Father, please, move from here. Look for a quiet place to reflect, to make choices, before working again, ”asked Felix to Father A before the talks stuck until three months passed.
The climax was on Friday night, July 3, 2020. Felix, who was reminded of the sexual violence case involving Father A, drove his motorcycle to SMK Bitauni. There he asked one of the school guards a question and found that Father A had not yet left.
Felix, who had twice pleaded for the church's firmness, could no longer contain his anger. He smashed the glass from the seven windows in front of him with his helmet until it shattered. He also slammed a number of green plastic chairs on the porch of the rectory house. After venting his anger, Felix straightened his motorcycle back to the house.
“In less than 30 minutes, the police came and brought two cars to my house. Then I was taken to the Insana Police, ”said Felix, remembering the incident of his arrest. Felix was reported by the Bitauni Vocational School Pastor's community for destroying windows and chairs.
Even though it was only last night at the police station, the vandalism case was not completely resolved. Felix was declared a suspect two days after his arrest. He was charged under Article 406 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) with a maximum imprisonment of two years and eight months.
After the legal status was determined, Felix and his family felt that they were being watched. Several times, said Felix, his parents received phone calls from unknown persons. In fact, he also received threats via social media.
“My family is very uncomfortable. My mother is from a family of religious leaders. Mama's younger brother is a priest. They are sad and don't want to talk, ”said the former activist of the Student Press Institute for the Civitas University of Merdeka Malang.
Still a suspect
Contacted separately on Wednesday, July 22, Atambua North Central East Police (TTU) Police Chief, AKBP Nelson Filipe Diaz Quintas, stated that the status of the man who graduated from the Lalian Atambua Seminary High School was still a suspect. According to Nelson, the police are waiting for the Atambua Diocese's decision whether to continue the legal route or settle it in a family way.
"The church wants internal talks first. We are waiting for the good faith of the diocese, ”said AKBP Nelson Filipe Diaz Quintas when contacted by Jaring.id.
Even though ten days earlier or Friday, July 10, 2020, Bishop Dominikus Saku of Atambua had a one-on-one meeting with Felix. No one was allowed to attend the meeting in Atambua.
According to Felix, the talk, which was dominated by Bishop Dominic, lasted about 30 minutes. Mainly regarding the arrest by the Insana Police, North Middle East (TTU) and Felix's Facebook status which alludes to cases of violence within the Catholic church. The diocese claims to have investigated the case that occurred last year. The perpetrator has also been found guilty and received canonical punishment.
"For them, this problem (sexual violence case-ed) has been resolved," said Felix to Jaring.id.
The head of the Atambua Diocese's Justice and Peace Commission, Father Paulus Nahak I, Pr, confirmed the meeting. However, he himself has not received orders from Bishop Dominic Saku regarding what steps will be taken to resolve the Felix case. Although still hanging, the diocese will try to prevent the vandalism from continuing.
“The damage will not be borne by Felix. While in reporting we are ready to make withdrawals. Wait a while longer, ”said Father Paulus Nahak when contacted by telephone on Friday, July 17, 2020.
The transfer of Father A, which was questioned by Felix, according to Father Paulus, could not be separated from the consideration of Bishop Dominikus Saku which was written in the Decree of Bishop Atambua No: 41/2020. The letter is part of a pastoral suspension. In it contains a request for Father A to carry out self-cultivation in the area of the SMK Bitauni preschool.
"He knows the Old Bishop (school manager-ed) well so it is hoped that (the perpetrator) will receive direct guidance from the old bishop. The transfer was for reflection only, ”said Father Paulus.
Paulus added that the perpetrator's status is still a pastor. The church thought that the pastoral suspension was enough to deter A. Meanwhile, sanctions in the form of removing robes are not easy to do because they have to go through a process at the Vatican.
"He is still a priest, but cannot serve the public," said Father Paulus.
The coordinator of the religious-based human rights organization Truk-F, Sister Estochia disagrees with the church's policy of removing criminals. According to him, the transfer will not solve the problem of sexual violence in the church environment.
"If I feel it is just running away from the problem. This is a matter of relation (power - ed), "said Sister Estochia to Jaring.id, on Thursday, July 16, 2020.
In line with Sister Estochia, Commissioner of the National Commission for Women, Theresia Sri Endras Iswarini, assessed that sanctions in the form of moving religious leaders from one place to another are an effort to protect perpetrators of sexual crimes. This action, according to him, is against the teachings of the church both in Catholic and Christian circles.
Theresia urges perpetrators of sexual violence to be criminalized, both with the General Criminal Code (KUHP) and Law Number 35 of 2014 concerning Amendments to Law Number 23 of 2002 concerning Child Protection.
"Sexual violence occurs everywhere, including in religious institutions. So the law used should be positive law for crime or criminality (sexual violence-ed), "said Theresia via Whatsapp message, Thursday, July 16, 2020.
Before the Glass Is Broken
Long before the sexual violence incident by Father A, the Amnaut Bifel Kuan Foundation (Yabiku), an organization working in the field of women and gender, had assisted four cases of sexual violence in the church environment. Yabiku Director, Maria Filiana explained, the case involving church officials under the Atambua Diocese occurred in the 2003-2019 period.
In 2003, 2005, 2007, cases of sexual violence occurred at the Parish of St. John the Baptist of Naesleu in South Kefamenanu, North Middle East. Meanwhile 2019 took place in the Parish of St. Virgin Mary Appointed to Heaven, Eban, TTU. Unfortunately, said Fili - Maria Filiana's nickname, all cases of sexual violence in the church did not end up on court.
The church often resolves cases of sexual crimes in secret through mediation between families. Even though this situation is often detrimental to the victims. Most of the cases handled, according to Fili, were resolved when priests agreed to remove their priestly robes and marry the survivors.
"The criminal law route has never been taken. This case is a real legal case. However, it is difficult when families and survivors do not want to bring them to the realm of law, ”said Fili to Jaring.id when contacted by telephone, Thursday, July 16, 2020.
Some of the cases compiled by Yabiku above reveal the veil of repeated sexual violence in Atambua diocese. Meanwhile, the church leadership is considered not firm in resolving cases involving clergy.
"When uncovering a problem is tantamount to helping many other people so they do not fall victim to it. Then it also helps pastors to be careful, they are not free to commit offenses, "said Fili.
The head of the Atambua Diocese's Justice and Peace Commission, Father Paulus Nahak, denied the series of sexual violence cases.
"As far as I know nothing. But as long as we were not informed, it could be a case beyond our reach, but that is not our concern. It could be illegal information because it is not proven, ”said Father Paulus.
He also rejected the notion that the church was hiding the cases that had occurred so far. For Father Paulus, all cases submitted to the Justice and Peace Commission were always dealt with in accordance with church law and state law.
“Not really hiding. So far, all cases have been responded to. It's just not announced, "he said.
This is because the Coordinator of Truk-F, Sister Estochia considers that the cases of sexual violence in the church environment that are currently being exposed are only the tip of the iceberg.
“A sexual assault case is a lifelong wound. If that happens we have to help the survivors until they really recover. Don't let them be in pain for life, ”said Sister Estochia.
He believes that the church is putting pressure on cases of sexual violence not to appear in public. The excuse of the good name of the church becomes a dogma that is repeatedly presented to solve problems in a familial way.
"I have to be honest, the church might intervene," he said.
Sister Estochia hopes that the bishops in Indonesia will start referring to the documents of the Catholic Church, Motu Proprio issued by Pope Francis, namely Vos Estis Lux Mundi. According to him, every diocese must have a system that can be accessed publicly for reporting cases of sexual violence committed by clergy. This system should be created by a diocese by June 2020. In this case, the church leadership must be actively involved in taking responsibility for reporting crimes against humanity.
"This is a warrant like a law, so this letter must be carried out by Catholics. Those who know but do not report it means that he protects and can be reported to the diocese, "he concluded. (Abdus Somad)