Ryan Dagur, Jakarta – An Indonesian priest has issued an apology after remarks he made on same-sex marriage sparked protests from within the Catholic community, including church leaders and fellow priests.
Divine Word Father Otto Gusti Madung, head of the Ledalero Catholic School of Philosophy in Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara province, sparked outrage by saying that "it is possible that same-sex marriage will be recognized in the Catholic Church."The comments, reported by UCA News on May 25, were also published by Indonesian media outlets, including the Media Indonesia daily on May 27.
The priest said the newspaper wrongly stated that he was encouraging the Church to allow Catholic priests to give the sacrament of marriage to same-sex couples.
Father Madung said he has since told Media Indonesia that he was only commenting on the possibility that the Church's attitude towards same-sex marriage could change in the future "in my capacity as an intellectual who teaches about human rights."
Even so, the priest's comments have caused a wave of protests from many Catholics including his fellow priests. Several alumni of the Ledalero school have called for his removal, saying his comments appeared to give the position of the school on the subject.
Some Catholics have defended the priest and believe his comments were an attempt to revive public discourse on LGBT groups within the Catholic Church.
Speaking to UCA News, Father Madung acknowledged that he had "generated controversy, discussion and also the anger of many of the faithful."
"Therefore, personally and from the bottom of my heart, I apologize for ... hurting the religious feelings of my brothers and sisters as Catholics," he said on May 31.
"Hopefully my brothers and sisters will forgive me and we can pray for one another so that we will remain faithful followers of Christ. God bless and greetings from me in love."
He also stressed that his comments were his personal view and did not represent the position of the Ledalero Catholic School of Philosophy.
Father Yosef Kladu, deputy chairman of the school, said he hoped that the uproar linking Father Madung's comments to the school's view on same-sex marriage will end.