Subject: LUSA: Bishop Belo denies report he planning to resign

11-11-2002 21:36:00. Notícia nº 4327064

East Timor: Bishop Belo denies report he planning to resign

Oporto, Nov. 11 (Lusa) - East Timor's spiritual leader, Catholic Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, has denied a report that he intends to resign because of poor health and Vatican plans to reorganize the Timorese church hierarchy.

"I don't confirm the report, I deny it", Bishop Belo told journalists Saturday in the Portuguese city of Oporto, where he is undergoing medical treatment for high blood pressure and other health problems.

But the Nobel Peace Prize laureate conditioned his denial, saying, "Let's see, everything depends on the evolution of my health".

He is scheduled to return home Friday.

On Saturday the Portuguese weekly "Expresso" reported that Belo, the bishop of Dili, planned to resign because of his health and Vatican plans to create a third diocese, a move which could lead to his elevation to cardinal.

Belo said the creation of a new diocese, an initiative which would give East Timor a bishops' conference and full ecclesiatical independence, was originally his idea and that he continued to back it.

In an interview with Lusa two years ago, Belo said he was not interested in becoming a cardinal or moving to Rome.

In the event of the creation of a third diocese, after Dili and Baucau, Belo indicated then that he would prefer transfer to the new diocese for relief from Dili's heavy work load.

ALL/SAS -Lusa-

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