E. Timor mourns death of Pope John Paul
Sunday April 3, 7:21 PM
E. Timor mourns death of Pope John Paul
(Kyodo) _ The government of East Timor on Sunday expressed condolences over the passing of Pope John Paul II, hailing him as a man of peace.
The Council of Ministers chaired by Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri declared a three-day national period of mourning. The decree also ordered the country's flag to fly at half-staff for three days.
Alkatiri told reporters that John Paul was a force for world peace who contributed to East Timor's independence.
John Paul visited East Timor on Oct. 12, 1989, when it was still under Indonesian occupation.
During the visit many East Timorese held a demonstration drawing the attention of the pope as well as the international community to the plight of the people as dozens were arrested by the Indonesian authorities, Alkatiri said.
"Hence, the people have an endless memory of his name," he added.
The government has also decided to build a monument to the pope in Tasi Tolu, 10 kilometers west of the capital Dili, where he celebrated mass during his visit.
see also BBC: East Timor mourns 'catalyst' Pope
PRESIDÊNCIA DA REPÚBLICA GABINETE DO PRESIDENTE
Communiqué of the Presidency of the Republic On the Death of His Holiness Pope John Paul II
Having learned the sad news of the passing of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, His Excellency, President of the Republic, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, recognizing the enormous loss to the world and to the people, stated:
“We accompanied, with great emotion, the last and difficult days of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, who demonstrated His immense perseverance and serenity in His struggle against His health condition. He also demonstrated a greatness of spirit by keeping in communication with the faithful and the world.
Pope John Paul II shall remain in the history of humanity as a Man, loyal to the principles of human dignity, a devoted advocate for the respect of freedom and choice of religion, a tireless messenger for reconciliation between societies and peoples, and for justice and peace in the world.
In the last years, notwithstanding His health condition, demonstrating His generous heart, He continued to travel throughout the world, in defense of the dignity of the poor and the oppressed.
Timor-Leste had the honour of receiving His Holiness Pope John Paul II, in difficult moments of our struggle for the recognition of the right to self-determination and independence. The visit of His Holiness to Timor-Leste helped to break down the wall of silence and indifference of the international community.
Today, the people of Timor-Leste join with the rest of the world in a final and worthy tribute to a world leader, beloved and revered by all, regardless of belief and race, who they recognize as the Pope of the People!”
Palace of the Ashes, 3rd April 2005
Agence France Presse -- English
April 1, 2005 Friday 8:33 AM GMT
Catholic East Timor prays for ailing Pope
DILI April 1
Mainly Catholic East Timor was praying Friday for Pope John Paul II, anxious about his struggle for life after he suffered a heart attack in the latest blow to his health.
"I am very worried that something will happen to the pope," said housewife Rosalia da Costa, tears running down her cheeks.
"He is a figure who is much admired and whom all people listen to. I will always pray so that he can recover," she said.
The pope is much loved in this country, where 90 percent of people are Catholic.
He was a rare foreign visitor in the late 1980s, when East Timor was still occupied by Muslim-majority Indonesia.
Independence activists used the spotlight on his 1989 visit to publicise their cause, storming a podium during one of his appearances and unfurling a banner objecting to Indonesia's occupation.
"We do not know what will happen if the pope suffers from a serious bout of illness, because the pope is a figure who has a high level of charisma and can unite all, from various races, ethnic groups and relations," said another Catholic, Isabel Ferreira.
"For him to recover, what I do is to always include a prayer for the pope's recovery in my night prayers," said 30-year-old Ferreira, a top government advisor on human rights issues.
Other East Timorese were however shocked to learn of the seriousness of the pope's condition. The Holy See said the 84-year-old pontiff had received the last rites Thursday evening after suffering the heart attack.
"I am sorry, but I do not even own a radio, or a television. The fact has also not been announced by our church," said vegetable seller Faustino Santos.
"I am worried but I can only offer prayers for his recovery," Santos said.