Subject: Nascimento asks Macau Diocese for support

Ponto Final

East Timor Bishop Basilio do Nascimento asks Macau Diocese for support Posted Jan 12, 2004 - 11:46 AM

East Timor's Roman-Catholic Bishop, Basilio do Nascimento, asks Macau Diocese to support educational and social programmes in his country

An appeal for solidarity dominates the current visit of East Timor's Roman-Catholic Bishop, Basilio do Nascimento, to Macau at the inviation of his local counterpart, Jose Lai.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Ponto Final, Basilio do Nascimento said he had asked the Macau Diocese to support educational and social programmes of the Church in East Timor, based on Macau's centuries-old ties with his country.

Basilio do Nascimento also said that education was one of the most important aspects of the Roman-Catholic Church's activities in East Timor. "We are without means to maintain our schools, and we don't have the means to support the necessary human resources, it's a vicious circle," Basilio do Nascimento said, adding he was in Macau to seek "human support, solidarity and exchange of experiences."

The 54-year old bishop also said that relations between the Roman-Catholic Church and his country's Moslem prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, were good. "Mari Alkatiri has, until today, never taken any position that alienated the Church," Basilio do Nascimento said.

In the interview, Basilio do Nascimento - who is the bishop of both Baucau and Dili - also said that East Timor's security depended on a "harmonious political relationship between Jakarta and Dili," stressing he believed that Indonesia was "aware of its international situation.

"In spite of its size, Indonesia is not in a condition to ignore international bodies or to be self-sufficient in its economic development," Basilio do Nascimento said.

The bishop also said that between 30,000 and 40,000 East Timorese refugees were still in West Timor, whose situation he described as "complex" since some of them wanted to return to their homeland but were still waiting for the right moment, others wanted to return but did not know how to do so, and some wanted to stay in West Timor, which is part of Indonesia.

"Even those who I met in Bali and who have blood and ash on their fingures, even they would like to return [to their homeland] as long as there are guarantees that they will not be subjected to any judgement but by the Judiciary," Basilio do Nascimento said, adding he had noticed a "readiness to atone - but not in an arbitrary way."

Basilio do Nascimento also said the Catholic Church continued to support his country's reconciliation process, although it was no longer leading the process that was now overseen by East Timor's post-independence government and the United Nations. "If you allow me to say so, at this moment it's no longer the Church that is pulling the cart, fortunately enough."


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