Subject: AFP: Catholic church in East Timor to be neutral in August vote: report
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 10:10:02 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Catholic church in East Timor to be neutral in August vote: report

JAKARTA, May 16 (AFP) - The church in predominantly Catholic East Timor will remain neutral and accept the results of the August vote on the troubled territory's future, Bishop Carlos Belo was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Roman Catholic leaders in East Timor will not take sides and respect the outcome of the August 8 ballot on autonomy or independence, Indonesia's state Antara news agency quoted the Dili bishop as saying at Sunday mass.

The Nobel laureate also reiterated to his congregation in East Timor's capital Dili that East Timorese should "decide their choices on the autonomy ballot ... based on their conscience" and not through force or intimidation, Antara said.

Pro-Indonesian militias in East Timor have been waging a bloody campaign against supporters of independence since Jakarta announced in January it was prepared to relinquish the former Portuguese colony.

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