Indonesian bishop, three priests die of COVID-19

Bishop Anicetus Bongsu Sinaga, 79, of the Diocese of Siboga in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province, died of the new coronavirus disease last week.

The Capuchin bishop, who was reported to have tested positive of COVID-19 on Oct. 20, was the first Indonesian prelate to die of the disease.

At least three Catholic priests in the same diocese were also reported to have succumbed to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bishop Sinaga, who was archbishop emeritus of Medan and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Sibolga, died on Nov. 7 at St. Elisabeth hospital in Medan.

He was the first bishop of the Diocese of Sibolga, ordained in Rome by Pope St. John Paul II on Jan. 6, 1981.

In 2004, he was chosen coadjutor bishop of the Archdiocese of Medan, where he became archbishop in 2009.

Archbishop Sinaga resigned due to age on Dec. 8, 2018.

When Bishop Ludovicus Simanullang died of a heart attack, the Holy See appointed Archbishop Sinaga as apostolic administrator of his former diocese.

On Nov. 6, Father Barnabas Johan Winkler of the same diocese also died from COVID-19. He was 89.

The German-born Capuchin missionary was administrator of the Diocese of Sibolga from 2003 to 2007.

Another Capuchin priest, Father Theophile Odenthal, also died of COVID-19 on Oct. 29. He was 86.

On Oct. 10, Father Servatius Sihotang, also a Capuchin, died at the age of 47, also of COVID-19.

Archbishop of Kornelius Sipayung of Medan is the first Indonesian prelate to have successfully recovered from COVID-19. He tested positive for coronavirus in July but quickly recovered.

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