DAILY CATHOLIC TUESDAY August 24, 1999 vol. 10, no. 159
NEWS & VIEWS
BISHOP BELO SAYS CHURCH OUT OF POLITICS IN EAST TIMOR
DILI, East Timor (CWNews.com) - Bishop Carlos Belo of Dili affirmed that no matter what the outcome of this month's independence vote, the Catholic Church will stay out of politics in the region.
The bishop, who was a co-winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, said his goal is to reconcile warring factions of pro- and anti-independence militias ahead of the August 30 referendum. Bishop Belo told Indonesia's official Antara news agency, "The Church will not seize power. It has no desire at all to share earthly power."
Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, invaded mainly Catholic East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognized by the United Nations. In January, President B.J. Habibie proposed a UN-supervised referendum to allow Timorese to choose either autonomy within Indonesia or full independence.
Violence has flared in the region as anti-independence militias trained and armed by the Indonesia military have sought to intimidate voters. Dozens of people have been killed and thousands displaced from the homes.
In the latest violence, pro-and anti-independence
supporters fought in Ainaro, about 30 miles south of Dili,
on Saturday, when the office run by independence activists
was damaged, along with a house occupied by UN personnel.
One man was wounded. "People in this region are in rival
political groups, suspecting each other and even killing
their own brothers," Bishop Belo said, urging
reconciliation. "There can be no peace without sincere
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NEWS & VIEWS