Speaking on Vatican Radio, Archbishop Tauran said that the international community-- which lent its full support to the recent referendum on independence for East Timor-- "cannot tolerate" the violence which now threatens to overturn the results of that referendum.
"In East Timor, an event of capital importance has taken place, and it cannot be erased," the Vatican diplomat said. Observing that 80 percent of the Timorese people had voted in favor of independence from Indonesia, he added that the crisis must be resolved "through respect for the history and traditions of the people, and of international law," and "certainly not through violence."
In Darwin, Australia Bishop Carlos Belo of Dili celebrated Mass in Darwin on Wednesday and called on the world to stop the slaughter of thousands of East Timorese after the territory voted for independence from Indonesia.
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. On August 30, the region held a Jakarta-proposed referendum to allow Timorese to choose either autonomy within Indonesia or full independence. After the pro-independence results were revealed on Saturday, anti-independence militias, armed and backed by Indonesia's military, went on a rampage killing hundreds and forcing thousands to flee the former Portugese colony.
Bishop Belo had fled East Timor on Tuesday after his home and offices, where 4,000 people had sought refuge, were attacked and burned. The Nobel Peace Prize winner asked the world to welcome in refugees from the territory and to act to stop the massacre. Bishop Belo also prayed for the souls of the victims of violence.
One of the worst reports came recently when the United Nations said on Wednesday that it was investigating reports of a massacre of more than 100 people at a Catholic church in the East Timor town of Suai.
UN spokesman David Wimhurst said, "We have unconfirmed reports that there was a large number of people killed, we heard up to 100 people killed around the church in Suai, but we have not been able to confirm that, we will keep working on it."
An East Timorese woman told Reuters news agency she had been told by a friend who had fled Dili for Kupang, the capital of West Timor, that militias on Tuesday attacked a church in Suai. "The last time he looked there were about 40 people on the floor, he assumed they were dead. There was blood everywhere, people had been macheted and shot," she said. "He saw a priest on his knees begging and screaming for people's lives, saying 'please have mercy.'"
An Australian Catholic religious brother told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio that he witnessed militias attack and East Timorese child and cut him to pieces as a group of people were trying to flee to the UN compound in Dili. "The child was actually being cut up. He was chopped up and parts of his body were actually thrown about in Dili outside the UNAMET compound," he said.
The United Nations has said tens of thousands of East Timorese have been forcibly deported across the border to West Timor by militias and military in the past few days. Other reports said thousands of people have been forced onto ships and boats by army troops and militias.
Jakarta declared martial law in East Timor and a shoot-on-sight curfew on Tuesday, but reports from the capital Dili said the violence continued unabated with militias attacking people under the gaze of Indonesian security forces. The UN said its mission, which has been besieged by militia forces and was acting as a refuge for thousands, will be closed on Thursday morning, leaving more than 1,500 people without protection.
Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary William Cohen said on Wednesday that US troops would definitely not be sent into East Timor, either as part of a UN peacekeeping force or independently.
The Holy Father is expected to meet with Catholicos Iliya II, Patriarch of All Georgia, President Eduard Shevardnadze, and the small Georgian Catholic community. The report quoted the apostolic nuncio in Tbilisi as saying the decision to visit was made in July.
"After a careful assessment of the situation in the region Rome decided on a specific date for the Pope's visit to Georgia. The Vatican knows that there are parliamentary elections in Georgia at the end of October and about the military operation in Dagestan," said nuncio spokesman Georgy Tskitishvili.
Officials in the Georgian government and the Orthodox Church reportedly suggested that the Pope could visit either in November of this year or sometime in 2001. They also cautioned that the conflict between Soviet armed forces and guerrillas in nearby Daguestan should be taken into consideration. After "careful evaluation" of those factors, the papal nuncio in Georgia reported, the November date was selected. So Pope John Paul will arrive in Georgia on November 8, as he returns from his voyage to India.
There are only about 70,000 Catholics in Georgia, constituting less than 2 percent of the country's population. They are served by 30 parishes, under an apostolic administration that serves Latin-rite Catholics in Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as Georgia.
The Holy Father canceled a planned trip to neighboring Armenia twice this summer, once when Catholicos Karekin I of Armenian Orthodox Church fell ill and then after the Pope fell ill during a trip to Poland. Catholicos Karekin later died of his illness.
At what point is the process? Is there any chance of Mother being beatified in 2000?
ARCHBISHOP D'SOUZA: The whole process is quite rigorous and Bishop Lobo, the Notary, and the Promoter of Justice are very busy. They are working to complete the process in Calcutta by the end of November. As regards the date of beatification, that is not in our hands.
What did Mother Teresa leave to the diocese, the Church and the country?
ARCHBISHOP D'SOUZA: The inspiration of Mother Teresa continues to move people. There is a steady stream of devotees who visit her tomb. Many bishops and priests say Mass there. The volunteers still come in large numbers and are seen working in homes as usual. I visited the Shishu Bhavan home for abandoned children in Nimtola last month and was edified to see many foreigners, one or two were Japanese, feeding and taking care of the disabled and handicapped children there. I believe that Mother has left us a legacy which is much cherished by all people of every faith. It is a legacy of the value of the human person and the duty to do whatever is possible to assist the needy. She told India, at the time of our 50 years of independence, that the country is blessed with so many natural resources and such beauty of rivers, trees, hills and mountains: but its greatest asset is its people. This message is still to be learned and put into practice.
Has anything changed in the life of the Missionaries of Charity since Mother's death? Are there still vocations?
ARCHBISHOP D'SOUZA: The inspiration of Mother still continues to give energy and strength to the Sisters. There is no diminishing of vitality and the number of those attracted to the Congregation is still high. ZE99090520
Many experts on China have stated that the government is actually afraid of the Pope's influence and of the Catholic Church, especially in relation to its defense of the family. If the Catholic Church were to organize a vocal opposition to the one-child policy, it could easily lead to generalized revolution in China, since the policy is accepted only grudgingly.
In an interview in the Italian magazine "Jesus," Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun of Hong Kong stated, "We wanted the visit, but we had very little hope, even though Beijing itself would have obtained a great improvement in its image, also giving the impression that nothing had changed in Hong Kong since its passage to China."
When asked what had actually changed, Bishop Zen answered, "Many are apocalyptic. Trying to remain balanced, I say that with respect to the English period, things are going backwards. This is dangerous and creates a sense of frustration. Hong Kong deserves more democracy. The formula is, 'One country, two systems,' but you have to look at whether they are insisting more on the unity of the country or on the respect for the two systems. We have to remain alert. Now it is somewhat dangerous for me to speak, because they have a great fear of dissidence; nonetheless, I maintain that it is a service to the truth to say what is happening."
Freedom of action has been limited somewhat in Hong Kong already. Bishop Zen Ze-Kiun stressed that "Before I went to China six months a year to teach in the seminary. Now I am a Bishop and don't teach, and I find it difficult to travel at all."
Chinese seminarians also have difficulty getting permission to study in Hong Kong. "They give them permission to go anywhere in the world, but not with us, where they would have advantages due to the language. But at one time, Hong Kong was labeled the 'base of subversion,' so..."
As to the situation of Catholics, the Bishop explained, "Catholics still go to Mass; from this point of view, nothing has changed. But I want to clarify something about China, because many maintain that there is a net difference between the so-called two churches. In reality, this is a division created not by the Catholics, but by the government. Even the so-called Patriotic Church is made up of Catholics, and it is a public secret that the Holy Father has 'secretly' recognized a large number of Bishops of that Church." ZE99090605
During his visit, Mitchell, who oversaw the 22-month negotiation process that produced the 1998 accord, is meeting with politicians on both sides of the dispute. A key meeting on the first day of Mitchell's mission was with Sinn Fein, which wants two seats in the envisioned 12-member Cabinet -- but whose Irish Republican Army allies have repeatedly refused to disarm in support of the agreement. The major Protestant party, the Ulster Unionists, refuses to form the Cabinet until the IRA disarms.
"Neither I nor anyone else has a magic wand that will wave away these problems. But I believe it can be done. Whether it is done is up to the political leaders," Mitchell told reporters. "There is a chance -- the best in many years -- to set Northern Ireland on the path to enduring peace and political stability. The political leaders of Northern Ireland must seize this opportunity," he said.
David Trimble, who would lead the government as the Cabinet's first minister, said Sinn Fein and the IRA "need to do something to prove whether they are committed to peace or not. In the present situation, words are not enough."
Sinn Fein says it cannot force the IRA to disarm but insists it is abiding by the accord's demand that it must strive to achieve disarmament by May 2000. "We welcome George Mitchell's involvement. We welcome his independence and his good offices ... We intend to go in here with, as the Americans say, a can-do attitude," Sinn Fein Vice President Pat Doherty told reporters on arrival. ZE99090721