Ryan Dagur, Jakarta – A popular Islamic cleric in Indonesia has come under fire for claiming that Catholics only go to church on Sundays to pray to St. Dominic.
In a sermon that went viral on social media on May 3, Adi Hidayat, who has 3.1 million followers on Instagram and preaches via his YouTube channel, claimed that Minggu – the Indonesian word for Sunday – was adapted from St. Domingo, as St. Dominic is also known.
St. Dominic lived between 1170 and 1221 and was the founder of the Dominican Order.
"When going to church on Sundays, Catholics want to worship the saint. The Catholic way of worshiping is not directly worshiping their Lord, [but] through intermediaries [saints]," Hidayat said in the video.
"So, when they go [to church], where are they going? To worship St. Domingo," he said.
The sermon drew an angry response from Catholics.
Holy Cross Father Postinus Gulo from Bandung Diocese responded with a series of tweets to "set the record straight." He said Sunday is very important to Christians as it is "the Lord's day."
"Sunday is the first day of the week, which according to the Scriptures is the day of the Resurrection of Jesus, the center and core of the mystery of the Christian faith," he said.
He also said that Christians go to church for various purposes and not only on Sunday. He called on Catholics to forgive the cleric. "May he be blessed by God, spread the truth and not lies," he said.
The priest's tweets also went viral and have been viewed more than 320,000 times.
Father Gulo told UCA News on May 5 that he felt he had to respond as some Catholics had asked him whether there was any truth to the cleric's claim.
In dealing with statements that offend other religions, he said that "there is no need to strike back" and that it is better to "clarify matters in a mature and friendly manner."
Father Jufri Kano, a writer, responded by saying the cleric "doesn't know what he is talking about."
Attacks on Christianity by conservative Muslim clerics in sermons are frequent in Indonesia
In an article on Jalapress.com, a Catholic website that focuses on catechesis, he said: "It would be better for religious leaders, whatever their religion, to discuss the core of their own beliefs so that their followers can understand it."
They should not feel the need to "jump the fence and try to guess the teachings of other religions," said the priest, who belongs to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Attacks on Christianity by conservative Muslim clerics in sermons are frequent in Indonesia.
On April 27, Yahya Waloni, a controversial preacher, was reported to the police for claiming that the Bible was fake.
In 2019, another cleric, Abdul Somad, drew the ire of Christians for describing Jesus as an "infidel genie on the cross," which he called an "element of the devil."
Muslim clerics are increasingly using social media to spread their sermons as it is a platform used by nearly 150 million of Indonesia's 268 million people.