DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     December 1, 1999     vol. 10, no. 228

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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        VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- In an interview published on November 30 by the Italian daily Avvenire, the leader of East Timor's Catholic population said that while "pardon is important," it is essential for the people to see justice done in the aftermath of the massacres in that land.

        Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo of Dili, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate of 1996, told Avvenire: "One cannot close one's eyes in the face of all that destruction." He pointed out that many thousands of people had been killed in an orgy of violence after the elections that brought victory to the independence movement of East Timor.

        Bishop Belo criticized the world's leaders for waiting too long to step in, and thus allowing a tragedy to occur in East Timor. "On several occasions I asked for the international community to send a multinational force," he recalled; "but no one budged until it became evidence that they would have to intervene to stop the massacres."

        When it did finally come, the international force did restore "peace and tranquility" to the land, the bishop reported. However, the people of East Timor must still confront the back-breaking task of rebuilding their society. "Everything has been destroyed," Bishop Belo said. "In East Timor, you cannot find a nail or a brick to rebuild your house. We have no houses, no schools, no work, no medicine. We lack everything."

        The Catholic Church remains vital and active in East Timor, the bishop reported, despite the destruction of many church buildings and parish facilities. "We have already begun our own Jubilee: a jubilee of suffering and death," he said. "But it will also be a jubilee of hope." The Church, he said, "is always on the side of the people."

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 1, 1999       volume 10, no. 228


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