|Subject: Timor: sorting out the confusion
Timor: sorting out the confusion
DILI: 22nd August 2007 -- Accurate reporting is a tricky business at the best of times, and trickier still when alleged incidents happen in isolated areas and are widely reported in both the secular and Catholic press - as has occurred recently in East Timor where reports on an alleged intrusion into a 'Catholic convent' identified first a Canossian convent (quickly denied), then a convent belonging to the Salesian Sisters in Baguia (also quickly denied).
And that is fully accurate, for there is no convent or dormitory belonging to the Salesian Sisters in Baguia. Their convent is in Laga, a Salesian parish, and all was well for them there, relatively speaking. What was accurate was that there was an incident relating to entry by a youth into the dormitory of an orphanage in Baguia, a mission outpost of the parish. Subsequent investigations reveal that the girl at the centre of the incident was 11 years of age. The youth concerned is in police custody. The dormitory was being looked after by lay people, since there are no resident members of either the SDBs or FMAs there, and by long agreement, some villages maintain a degree of ownership and control and even build the orphanages in some parts of the country, Baguia being one such case.
The Salesian Sisters have an orphanage in Laga, as also another orphanage and a professional school in Venilale. These were unaffected directly by the unrest, though the violent reactions of dissaffected persons due to political appointments has been a matter of deep concern to the Religious communities in the area and to law-abiding citizens. The problem in Baguia, our sources tell us, was that a mob had been roaming the streets and issuing threats for about three days. The area is isolated and the power company turns off the power to the village at midnight. The darkness and the general disturbance led to one youth, presumed to be part of the mob, forcibly entering a dormitory with some 8 girls in it. One sees, then, how reports of 'gangs' and '8 years old' begin to develop.
Beyond the seriousness of the particular intrusion and attack on a minor, the other victim in these events can be the good and essential social work of the Church, more especially in outlying areas.
Beyond this there are few other details available, but it helps to clarify the situation.