Ramos-Horta pledges support for Church

Saying the Catholic Church stands for human education and East Timorese culture, new President Jose Ramos-Horta pledged to work closely with "our Pope in Rome and our two bishops".

UCA News reports that dressed in his customary black suit for his installation as president, Mr Ramos-Horta said: "As we all know, the Catholic Church has been with the people of this country for centuries. It stands for human education and has been a part of our culture."

Mr Ramos-Horta, who wore a "Jesus" T-shirt during his election campaign, stressed that many times during his campaign, he told the people, "I have three leaders - our pope in Rome and our two bishops." He was referring to Bishops Basilio do Nascimento of Baucau and Alberto Ricardo da Silva of Dili.

Ramos-Horta, 57, was an independent who won 69 percent of the votes in the May 9 race against Francisco "Lu Olo" Guterres of the Fretilin party for the position of president, a largely ceremonial post. Parliamentary elections, which will yield the next prime minister, are scheduled on June 30.

The president called for peace in this small, predominantly Catholic and violence-plagued country. The latest wave of violence was touched off in April 2006, following a dispute within the army that involved charges of regional discrimination.

"I ask youths to leave violence and put down your weapons," the president said. "If you don't do so, when can we live in peace?" he asked.

Hours after he took office, a clash of stone-throwing youths in the capital left one man dead and several others wounded, police and hospital officials said. United Nations peacekeepers were deployed to help restore order.

Bishops do Nascimento and da Silva, who attended the swearing-in ceremony at Parliament House, congratulated the president and urged all people to work together to restore peace.

"The Catholic Church will collaborate with him (Ramos-Horta) to develop this country," said Bishop da Silva told UCA News the same day.

He also congratulated the people for their part in the peaceful elections. "You have shown to the world we can live in peace, and I would ask you to continue for the parliamentary election to come on June 30," the bishop said.

Bishop do Nascimento told UCA News he is optimistic about Ramos-Horta's leadership. "I believe he can lead this country to a better future. He is a well-known diplomat, so he can solve the crisis in the country. And the Church will collaborate with him to develop peace and calm in the country," the bishop said.

Father Jose Filipe of the Justice and Peace Commission of Dili diocese told UCA News the new president will foster good relations between Church and state.

New President Stresses Close Ties With Church, Vatican (UCA News, 23/5/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
East Timor (Wikipedia)
Jose Ramos-Horta (Wikipedia)

Call for sacking of Catholic rep on Timor election body (CathNews, 17/4/07)
Ramos-Horta seeks Catholic nod for Timor presidency (CathNews, 26/2/07)
Indonesia-Timor commission promotes reconciliation (CathNews, 8/2/07)
First graduates from ACU Timor teachers course (CathNews, 23/11/06)
Former Timor PM blames Church over ouster (CathNews, 10/11/06)
East Timor situation calm for All Saints (CathNews, 3/11/06)
Nobel prize Bishop meets Timor rebels and ex-PM (CathNews, 27/10/06)
Men killed outside Dili Church as Timor's PM leaves to see Pope (CathNews, 24/10/06)
Timor bishop in bid to prevent new violence (CathNews, 13/10/06)
Timor highlanders back fugitive rebel with prayers (CathNews, 11/9/06)
'Big people' must reconcile, say displaced Timorese (CathNews 15/8/06)
Priest says coffee growers big losers in Timor unrest (CathNews 21/7/06)
Ramos-Horta wants Vatican embassy for Timor (CathNews 11/7/06)
Timor Church accused of plotting coup (CathNews 29/6/06)
Timor Church to pursue truth and dialogue (CathNews 28/6/06)
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)
West Timor bishop tells Govt it's time to act on refugees (CathNews 13/3/03)

24 May 2007