|East Timor||HALF OF EAST TIMOR'S PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS HAVE FLED|
The campaign against the Catholic Church in East Timor has decimated the presence of priests, and men and women religious, some of whom have been cruelly murdered. The Vatican's missionary news agency Fides says half of the 53 diocesan priests, 160 religious and 300 nuns, who worked in East Timor, have had to flee.
There is no news on the the wellbeing Divine Word priests in Baucau. The three who work in Oekusi have decided to stay with the people. Another Divine Word missionary working in Maliana, will also stay in the school he directs. The centres in Nenuk and Kupang, directed by Divine Word priests and located in West Timor, are offering assistance to refugees in the mountains.
The most numerous group of religious sisters were the Canesians: 112 distributed in 11 communities, in addition to 20 novices and postulants. Following the outbreak of war, 42 Sisters were fled to West Timor; 7 are in Atambua, and 4 in Jakarta along with 10 postulants. Others have been able to stay in East Timor to assist the refugees.
The Salesian Sisters are helping throughout the territory. The 26 who are natives of Timor, have been able to stay in the country, while others have been forced to flee.
Of a total of 60 Carmelite Sisters, 45 have gone to Kupang, while another 15 remained in Timor to help the refugees. The Army has forced 8 Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres to leave East Timor and go to West Timor.
Meanwhile, Bishop Anton Pain Ratu, of the diocese of Atambua in West Timor, asked all his priests and faithful to do everything in their power to receive and protect the unending flow of refugees from East Timor, who now number over 100,000.
Zenit (available soon) 11:04am 15/9/99