Wednesday, October 14, 2009

East Timor, Bishop Belo

Bishop Belo ( born 3 Feb 1948), a Roman Catholic bishop received jointly the Nobel Peace Prize for 1996 for their work "towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict of East Timor.Belo being the fifth child of his parents was born in a village on the north coast of East Timor. His father, a school teacher, died two years after his birth.After taking some lessons in Catholic schools at Baucau and Ossu, he graduated himself from Dare Minor Seminary, Outside Dili, capital of East Timor, in 1968. He had his practical training (1974-1976) , came back to east Timor and Macau and went to Portugal and Romewhere having become a member of the Salesian Society to study Philosophy and Theologybefore being ordained as a Priest in 1980.Returning to East Timor in July 1981 he became a teacher for 20 months and then a Director for two months at the Salesian College at Fatumaca.

On the resignation of Martinho da Costa Lopes in 1983, Carlos Bishop was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Dili Diocese, becoming head of the East Timor church and directly responsible to the Pope . In 1988, he was consecrated a Bishop ( of Lorium, Italy).

Father Belo was the choice of the Vatican's Pro Nuncio in Jakarta and the Indonesian leaders because of his supposed submissiveness, but he was not the choice of the Timorese priests who did not attend his inauguration. However within only five months of his assuming office he protested vehemently, in a sermon in the cthedral, against the brutalities of the karas massacre (1983) and condmned the many Indonesian arrests. The church was the only institution capable of communicating with ouside world, so with this in mind the new Apostolic Administrator started writing letters and building up overseas contacts, in spite of the isolation arising from the opoosition of the Indonesians and the disinterest of most of the world.

In February 1989, he wrote to the President of Portugal, the Pope, and the UN secretary-general, calling for a UN referendum on the future of East Timor and for international help for the East Timorese, who were "dying as a people and a nation", but when the UN letter became public in April, he became even more of a target of the Indonesians. This precariousness increased when Bishop Belo gave sanctuary in his own home, as he did on various occasions, to youths escaping the Santa Cruz massacre (1991), and endavoured to expos the nnumbers of victims of various killed.

Bishop's Belos Courageous labours on behalf of the East Timorese and in pursuit of peace and reconciliation were internationally recognized when, along with Jose Ramos Horta, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Dec 1996. Bishop Belo capitalized upon this honour through meetings with Bill Clinton of the United States and Nelson Mandela of South Africa . Belo has also beeen awarded the john Humphrey Freedom Award.

Resignation as Apostolic Administrator and new pastoral activity :

In the afternoon of East Timorese independence on 20 May 2002, the presure of events and the ongoing stress he endured began to show their effects on Bishop Belo's health. Pope John Paul II accepted his resignation as Apolostic Administrator of Dili on November 26, 2002.

Following his resignation Bishop Belo traveled to Portugal for medical treatment. By the beginning of 2004, there were repeated calls for him to return to East Timor and to run for the office of President. However, in May 2004, he told portuguese state-run television RTP, that he would not allow his name to be put up for nomination. "I have decided toleave politics to politicians", he stated. One month later, on june, 2004, Pascual Chavez, rector major of the Salesian Society , announced from Rome that Bishop Belo, returned to health, would take up a new assignment. In July,2004 he took up missionary work in Mapito, capital of Mozambique and this was his saying to the Christians of East Timor.