Today, with the situation so grave in East Timor, we bring you the Holy Father's letter to Their Excellencies
Bishop Carlos F. Ximenes Belo, SdBM, Apostolic Administrator of Dili and Bishop Basilio Do Nascimento, Apostolic Administrator of Baucau on September 9, 1999 in which he commisserates with the flock in East Timor and assures them he is doing all he can to help alleviate the suffering.
We also bring you the Holy Father's brief words from his regular weekly Wednesday Papal Audience on the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Pope recalled during his catechesis the parable of the prodigal son, which he called the "pinnacle" of the revelation of God's mercy in his theme of conversion.
Letter to the Bishops of East Timor
It is with great sadness that hour by hour I am receiving ever more tragic news from the cherished land of East Timor and I
am profoundly saddened that the glimmers of hope born of the recent popular consultation have been transformed into the
terror of today, which nothing and no one can justify.
In these hours of suffering, I wish to send to both of you, to the clergy, seminarians, religious and faithful of the two
Dioceses this expression of my spiritual closeness, while remembering in prayer those who have died, the injured, the
refugees, the deportees and all who are in distress. I call on everyone to cling to hope in the victory of the Cross, even as
they are living once again the sorrowful experience of the passion.
In most firmly condemning the violence, which has also been furiously unleashed against the personnel and property of the
Catholic Church, I implore those responsible for so many acts of wickedness to abandon their murderous and destructive
intentions. It is also my heartfelt wish that as soon as possible Indonesia and the International Community will put an end to
the slaughter and find effective ways to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Timorese population.
With such sentiments and fervent wishes, and as a pledge of divine comfort, I impart with all my heart to you and your
Christian communities my Apostolic Blessing.
Papal Audience Address from Wednesday, September 8, 1999
The day before the Holy Father imparted the following short address during his regular weekly Papal Audience on Wednesday, September 8 - the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Saint Peter's Square to a packed crowd:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Parable of the Lost Sheep proclaims that, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over
ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance” (Luke 15:7). In the Old Testament, in the writings of the
Prophets and Psalmists, we find that Israel’s sins are forgiven and cancelled by God the Father, with a Father’s love and
mercy towards his children: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear
him” (Psalms 103:10-13). In the New Testament, God’s forgiveness is made present through the words and deeds of Jesus who
reveals to us the merciful face of the Father. The forgiveness of sins is offered by Christ to all the baptized through the
sacramental mediation of the Church. As in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, all are invited to return to the Father, to the
communal banquet of joy, where divine mercy triumphs over human wrong and injustice. This invitation is addressed with
particular emphasis to the whole Church as an essential part of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.