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Workers in a rice field in Indonesia on June 3, 2020. Workers in a rice field in Indonesia on June 3, 2020.   (ANSA)

Indonesian bishop condemns pandemic profiteers

Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi says some people are exploiting the suffering and chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic for political and material gain.

By Robin Gomes

An Indonesian bishop has hit out at individuals and groups who have exploited the Covid-19 chaos for economic and political benefits.

Profiting from misery

Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Amboina in Maluku province said he could not believe that amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused so much misery worldwide, there are people and groups wanting to profit from it.

“They are now becoming richer,” the Sacred Heart bishop said during a live-streamed Mass on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Ambon.  He said these exploiters did not want to see a decline in the number of new cases, “because if the pandemic subsides their income will also drop.”

Speaking to UCA News on Tuesday, Bishop Mandagi explained that he spoke out because he could not tolerate people profiting from the suffering of others.

Profiteers want pandemic to continue

"I was saddened because as the nation struggles to stop the virus, some individuals, politicians and groups want the pandemic to continue," he said.

Without mentioning any name or groups, the 71-year old bishop said these profiteers want the economic situation in Indonesia to get worse, and more people to become jobless and poorer so that the government will be blamed and they can demand a new government.

“They are power-hungry people and want to maintain wealth gained through corruption. They are against the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Pope Francis on profiteers

Bishop Mandagi was sharing the sentiments of Pope Francis who had earlier condemned these profiteers. 

At the start of a Mass streamed live from the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta on April 8, the Pope urged prayers for people who during this time of the pandemic make business at the expense of the needy. 

“May the Lord touch their hearts and convert them,” the Holy Father said, regarding people such as the mafia, usurers and others who profit from the needs of others.  

At another Mass on April 23, the Holy Father again hit out at unscrupulous money-lenders who are profiting from the misery of the situation.

“This is another pandemic, another virus: It's a social pandemic,” he said.

Many families who are not working and do not have food to put on the table for their children, the Pope continued, are prey to usurers who end up taking the little that they have.

Political gain

Stanislaus Riyanta, an intelligence analyst at the University of Jakarta, agreed with the Bishop Mandagi, saying there were groups using the pandemic for their own political interests.

Besides extremist groups wanting to establish a caliphate, there are also political groups spreading discontent and inviting people to weaken a legitimate government.

Economic downturn

Indonesia on Wednesday reported 684 new coronavirus infections, taking the total number of cases to 28,233, with close to 1,700 deaths.

Southeast Asia’s biggest economy is trying to ease its large-scale social restrictions (LSSR) in a bid to restart the economy battered by the pandemic.

According to the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, in the nation of 265 million people, the fourth most populous country in the world, some 9 million Indonesians were already out of work when the virus hit.  Since then, another 2 million have lost their jobs. 

“We cannot stay at home until next year. There will be more people hungry and they will become angry,” Airlangga Hartarto, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs said on May 26.

He warned that rising unemployment could cause a crisis in the financial sector, which may have further adverse consequences.  (Source: UCA News)

03 June 2020, 12:44