Vatican City (Fides Service) – The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II has (12 June 2003) created the new ecclesiastical province of Palembang separating it from the ecclesiastical province of Medan (Indonesia). The new ecclesiastical province will include the suffragan dioceses of Pangkal-Pinang and Tanjuungkarang.
The Holy Father has also appointed (12 June 203) first Metropolitan Archbishop of Palembang, Bishop Aloysius Sudarso S. C. I., until now Bishop of the same diocese.
The new ecclesiastical circumscription of Palembang
As it is today, Medan ecclesiastical circumscription embraces the vast territory of the Island of Sumatra (455.152 sq. km.), the nearby island of Bangka-Belitung and the archipelago of Riau which form the Diocese of Pangkal-Pinang (33.442 sq. km). It has 5 suffragan dioceses. There are 1.052.393 Catholics amidst a population of about 48 million.
The diocese of Palembang was created in 1961 when the hierarchy was established in Indonesia. Evangelisation in the area began in 1923 with the Dehonians (SCI). This is the largest ecclesiastic circumscription in Indonesia. It has an area of 157.000 sq. km., a population of 11 million 77.000 Catholics, 27 parishes and 200 chapels, 72 priests (27 diocesan and 45 religious SCI), 227 Sisters, 21 major seminarians, 25 catechists.
After the division, Medan archdiocese will embrace the northern part of the island of Sumatra, and the civil provinces of Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Raiu (mainland) and a district of Jambi province. It will have as suffragan dioceses Padang and Sibolga.
The new ecclesiastic circumscription of Palembang will comprise the southern part of Sumatra, and the civil districts of South Sumatra, Jambi, Bengkulu, islands Bangka-Belitung, archipelago of Riau and Lampung province. As suffragan dioceses it will have Pangkal-Pinang and Tanjungkarang.
The see of the new archdiocese will be Palembang, capital della vast civil province of Southern Sumatra, where there are most of the Catholics of whom about 60% came originally from Java. In Palembang there are government offices and main civil structures of the zone. (Fides Service 1/7/2003 EM lines 26 Words: 312)