LETTER FROM LISBON
THE forthcoming visit of the Pope to Indonesia is naturally causing great concern in Lisbon as the situation in East Timor, the fermer Portuguese territory which was occupied by Indonesia in 1975, is reported still to be catastrophic.
Archbishop Cassidy of the Vatican Secretariat of State said to have reassured Rebel° Sotto Major, the Portuguese Ambassador to the Holy See, that their position over the matter has not altered, and that the diocese of Dili in the occupied section of the huge island, was still directly dependent on the Vatican. But the latest official programme of the papal visit omits any mention of East Timor, though that issued on August 28 stated that Pope John Paul would go to Dili on October 12 for a visit scheduled to last for four hours and speak there in addition to celebrating an openair Mass.
So it is widely believed that the Vatican has given way to pressure from Indonesia since the issue of the first programme, as there has been no further reference to East 'Timor. In the meantime, Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, of Dili, receives daily telephone threats, the inhabitants are imprisoned without trial, or tortured to act as informers on their friends.
The Sub-Commission on the Rights of Man of the United Nations recently passed a motion condemning the occupation of East Timor and the violation of human rights there. The motion was proposed by representatives of Great Britain, France, Greece, Norway, Mexico and Japan. They also asked the Indonesian authorities to allow representatives of human rights organisations to visit the territory.
THE new nuncio in Lisbon, Archbishop I uciano Angeloni, has only just arrived here, so this question of East Timor will he his first serious problem. It is believed that Mgr Atigeloni's appointment is due to his experience in various delicate parts of the world such as Syria, South Korea and Iraq which should help him to deal with the problems of the former Portuguese possessions in Africa where there are now only apostolic delegations.
The civil wars which have torn Mozambique and Angola apart since independence, seem now to be within sight of the end, at least as regards Angola. Both the United States and Cavaco Silva, the Portuguese Prime Minister, have offered to act as mediators, and have not been refused.
THE transfer of Macau to China in December 1999 will be a challenge to the local Catholic population, said Bishop Domingos Lam who was born in Hong Kong in 1928 and who was Vicar-General before his appointment. The diocese which
at first included the whole of China and Japan, was erected 20 years after the Portuguese annexed the territory in 1557
It will be recalled that the Portuguese government in Lisbon has announced that every citizen of Macau has a right to a Portuguese passport and can therefore leave whenever they wish. The bishop was aware that if a large number of the inhabitants left, it would be a problem. But he was not afraid that his would happen as the people are free to choose. The bishop is a member of the Commission on the Basic Law which will apply to Macau after 1999.
ORDINATIONS to the priesthood have this year shown a definite increase in Portugal. Archbishop Dias Nogireira of Braga, who is rrimate of Portugal, receetiy ordained eight
priests and five deacons who will all work in the diocese as secular priests.
Bishop Antonio Xavier Monteiro of the diocese of Lamego in the centre of the country ordained five candidates and in the adjoining diocese of Viseu, three new priests were ordained on separate days in the villages where they were born and brought up.
In the meantime, Cardinal Antonio Riberi, Patriarch of Lisbon, stressed that 190 of the 249 priests in his archdiocese were over 50 years of age. So without the help of other diocese and religious institutes, pastoral work in the capital would be reduced to a minimum.
PRIME Minister Cavaco Silva is due to visit Braga this month for the commemorations of the 900th anniversary of the founding of the diocese, the oldest in Portugal. There is to be an International Congress on the history and art of Braga and a Pontifical High Mass in the Braga Rite, which the diocesan priests can still use if they wish to do so.
The former Vilar Seminary in the suburbs of Oporto is being altered to make a Fastoral, Spiritual and Parochial Centre in addition to a Priest's Home for the retired or incapacitated. The late Bishop Ferreira Comes considered this to be a primary need for the diocese and made attempts to get it off the ground before he was exiled from 1959 to 1969, but the project never materialised.
It is planned to have semiindependent sections which can also be used in conjunction, a parish church, the diocese secretariat and conference halls with an auditorium for some 1,200 persons which will occupy the buildings already existing. Even so the total cost is estimated to be around a thousand million escudos
Susan Loundes Marques