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Press Release

19 June 2008

The Vatican Voices Support for Chega! 

On Tuesday, 18 June, the Apostolic Nuncio to Timor-Leste, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, visited the Post CAVR Technical Secretariat (STP-CAVR) to personally view the work of CAVR and inquire about the implementation of CAVR's recommendations. He was accompanied by the Bishop of Dili, Dom Ricardo da Silva, the Dili Diocese Vicar-General, Apollinario Guterres, and the Dili Diocese Secretary, Pastor Filomeno Jacob.

Archbishop Girelli toured the historic Comarca site in Balide where the STP-CAVR is located. “The suffering that the Timorese people experienced was extreme and warrants the attention of the Timorese government”, he stated after viewing photos about the resistance and Indonesian occupation on display in the Comarca library and CAVR archive. He also praised the work of STP-CAVR in disseminating the final CAVR report; Chega!, both within Timor and internationally.


Director STP-CAVR, Apostolic Nuncio and Dom Ricardo da Silva.

The Catholic Church played an important role in Timor Leste during the Indonesian occupation. As Timor-Leste was closed off to the outside world, the church remained the only independent organisation within Timor-Leste which could communicate details of the human rights abuses occurring to the international community. Pope John Paul II's visit to Dili in 1989 provided a breath of fresh air to the Timorese people. This was the first time since 1975 that a world leader had visited Timor-Leste. The Pope demonstrated solidarity with the Timorese by acknowledging their suffering and insisting on using Italian in his meetings with the Timorese clergy. This allowed the clergy to speak freely to the Pope without fear of reprisal from the Indonesian military. Both leaders of the Dili Diocese, Monsignor Martinho da Costa Lopes and Dom Carlos Belo were outspoken critics of the Indonesian regime. The awarding of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize to Bishop Belo went some way towards recognizing the church's contribution to peace in Timor-Leste. There were also nuns and priests who died trying to protect their people.

The Papal Nuncio affirmed the Catholic Church's commitment to seeing the CAVR recommendations implemented. He stated that the Catholic Church is ready to support the implementation of Chega! 's recommendations and urged the Timorese parliament to endorse the report.

The following day, the Norwegian Special Envoy to Timor-Leste, Bishop Gunnar Stålsett, and the Nowegian Chargee d'Affaires, Eva Tuft, visited the STP-CAVR to ask how they can support STP-CAVR's work. The Norwegian government has already provided valuable financial support to the CAVR process and is keen to see implementation of Chega's recommendations.

“STP-CAVR is honoured by the visit of the Papal Nuncio, the Dili Diocese representatives, Bishop Gunnart and the Norwegian Chargee d'Affaires. We deeply appreciate the support of the Catholic Church and Norwegian government and hope that we can continue to work together to further peace and reconciliation in Timor-Leste”, said the Executive Director of STP-CAVR, Agustinho Vasconselos.

Media Team Post-CAVR Technical Secretariat (STP-CAVR)

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