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Statement from the New Zealand Catholic bishops on East Timor

12 September 1999

The Bishops' Conference commenced its meeting this weekend in Wellington.

The immediate priority was to prepare the statement given below about East Timor. We cannot stress enough the sense of urgency we feel as we ask you to read this statement in full at all Masses in your parish this weekend.

Each day the carnage in East Timor goes on. Each hour brings more news of cruel and barbaric killing, the mindless destruction of homes and schools, clinics, churches and convents. Words no longer suffice to describe these terrible happenings. So many words have fallen on ears which refuse to hear. We grieve.

We grieve for all who have died. For the hundreds, perhaps thousands, who have sought refuge in the churches of East Timor, and who have been brutally murdered as the militia have violated the right of sanctuary of the church.

We grieve for the Timorese children who will never know what might have been. We grieve for the young Timorese who have died, young people who have never known freedom, and yet have longed and struggled for it instinctively and with all their hearts.

We grieve for the slain church workers, those of Caritas, the priests and religious sisters, and diocesan staff.

We stand in solidarity and sorrow with our brother Bishops, Carlos and Basilio, and the Church and the people of East Timor.

Yet as Christians, impossibly it would seem amid such tragedy, we hold on to Hope.

We hope, on the eve of the new Millennium, that the nations of world will act to stop this genocide, as they have committed themselves to do, under the United Nations Convention on Crimes against Humanity.

We hope, and call on, the Government and the Armed Forces of Indonesia, that they will immediately invite an international peace keeping force to go at once to East Timor.

We hope, and we call on, our fellow Bishops' Conferences around the world, that they may exert every possible pressure, to seek action from those nations which have the influence and resources to restore peace and safety to Timor urgently.

We hope and we place our trust in the God of Justice and of Peace, that soon the oppression and suffering of the East Timorese people will be over, and that those who will remain will find, in the depths of human solidarity, the solace and the strength they will need to face the future.

Hear the cry of the people of East Timor. Grieve with us. Hope with us.

Pray with us.

+ Cardinal Thomas Williams

+ Bishop Leonard Boyle + Bishop Denis Browne

+ Bishop Peter Cullinane

+ Bishop John Cunneen

+ Bishop John Dew + Bishop Owen Dolan

+ Bishop Patrick Dunn

+ Bishop Robin Leamy SM

+ Bishop Max

Takuira Mariu SM

From : Peter Zwart, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, PO Box 12-193, Wellington, NEW ZEALAND; Ph: +64-4 496-1742; Fax: +64-4 499-2519; Email:

Link to main East Timor page

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