In a move to strengthen pastoral ministry in East Timor, Bishop Carlos Belo has called for research on native religious traditions and practices.
   While entrusting such research to Divine Word missioners, Dili diocese will also send young priests abroad for studies for the development of pastoral services, and in preparation for a major seminary that will be opened in East Timor, Bishop Belo, apostolic administrator of Dili, told UCA News.
   The research on native religions could provide a clearer understanding about syncretism and inculturation issues in East Timor, Bishop Belo said.
   "The research would help us find an appropriate pastoral method that is suitable with East Timor's socio-cultural condition," he added.
   He noted that Divine Word missioners have set up a missiological research institute in their major seminary in Ledalero, in Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province. The institute is doing research on the dynamics of religion in social, economic, political, religious and cultural context.
   "We know that the Divine Word congregation is competent in missiology research. Its research in Nusa Tenggara has benefited local Churches where the Divine Word missioners are working. It is possible that they will expand their research to East Timor," he said.
   "I believe that such research would enrich Church life here," he said. The Rome-based Divine Word congregation has promised to help the East Timor Church with funds and personnel. Such assistance reflects the missioners' great attention to the local Church, Bishop Belo added.


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