Melbourne prayers for troubled East Timor

A Melbourne church has led a prayer service for East Timor in which the country's honorary consul-general, Kevin Bailey, spoke about the long-term task of nation-building in the troubled country.

The Age reports that Mr Bailey, a former Special Air Service soldier, was among 300 people who attended the service at St Ignatius' Church, Richmond, for peace and unity in East Timor.

Mr Bailey told those present that the return of foreign forces to East Timor indicates that they previously left too soon.

"The fact that (troops) have come back is a very, very proper and appropriate response," Mr Bailey said yesterday after a prayer service in Richmond for the troubled nation.

"And the fact that Australian peacekeepers are back in there is really indicative of the fact that perhaps we left too soon and I think we all need to acknowledge that."

Mr Bailey said the challenge of nation-building could take 10 to 15 years or more. "It's not something that takes two or three years and then you just race away and leave it all behind," he said.

Mr Bailey said the recent return of foreign forces would act as a "circuit breaker" that would enable the job of nation-building to be done "properly over the long haul".

Jesuit Fr Peter Norden conducted the service. He said almost half of the East Timorese refugees who had come to Australia in the past 15 years had found a home in his Richmond parish.

Fr Norden said he supported a petition calling on the Senate to reject a bill before Parliament that would legalise the off-shore assessment of all asylum seekers in Australia.

"This will bring us back to the detention of children and the indefinite housing of those who seek refugee status in Australia, on the remote island of Nauru," he said.

Prayers for a troubled nation (The Age 5/6/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Australia
St Ignatius Parish, Richmond | Prayers for Peace and Unity in East Timor (St Ignatius Parish, Richmond 1/6/06)

Caritas commences Dili humanitarian response (CathNews 2/6/06)
Dili Salesian tells of anarchy in "city of fear" (CathNews 1/6/06)
Mission head hit by stone-throwing mob (CathNews 31/5/06)
Catholic Mission supporting sanctuary for Dili children (CathNews 30/5/06)
Caritas monitoring Dili crisis (CathNews 29/5/06)
Aid agencies alarmed at growing violence in East Timor (CathNews 26/5/06)
Josephite says unemployment underlies Timor trouble (CathNews 25/5/06)
Priest calls frightened Timorese home (CathNews 22/5/06)
Church joins fray in Timor (CathNews 17/5/06)
Diocese prepares to aid fleeing East Timor refugees (CathNews 11/5/06)
East Timor Catholic leaders appeal for calm after riot (CathNews 5/5/06)
Thousands shelter in Catholic centres after East Timor riots (CathNews 3/5/06)

Refugees find shelter in church buildings in East Timor (catholicireland.net 4/6/06)

5 Jun 2006