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Catholic World News News Feature

Bishops encourage new premier in East Timor July 18, 2006

The Catholic Bishops of East Timor have congratulated and encouraged the new Prime Minister, José Ramos Horta, who was sworn in on July 10 in the capital city of Dili.

The bishops urged the prime minister to make national reconciliation a government priority. For months East Timor has been the scene of unrest and disorder bordering on civil war.? Bishop Ricardo da Silva of Dili said the appointment of the new premier “could be a first step towards solving the national crisis”-- an opinion shared by the other Bishop of East Timor, Bishop Basilio Do Nascimento of Baucau. The bishops assured the nation's new government leader of full cooperation on the part of the local Church and said they hoped East Timor would soon be again on the path to social harmony and economic growth. ?José Ramos-Horta, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo in 1996, was appointed by the nation’s President Xanana Gusmao. ?In his first address to the nation after taking the oath of office, Ramos-Horta promised more funds for the economic and social development of the people and said he would give special attention to the problem of security.

The new premier said the Catholic Church is the only “solid institution which had absorbed the Island’s cultural tissue. She is to be respected and involved again in dialogue with our young state, she is helping to find the way out of this crisis, healing the wounds, helping the people to progress in every area: social, educational, cultural, spiritual and moral.” For this reason, he continued “this government calls on the Catholic Church to assume a greater role in education and human development of our people and in the fight against poverty."

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