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Pope Francis with Cardinal Virgílio do Carmo da Silva after presenting the red biretta to him during a consistory for the creation of 20 new cardinals in 2022. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Timor-Leste’s cardinal has said Pope Francis’s upcoming visit to the country is not only a moment of joy for local Catholics, but also represents an opportunity to send a message of peace and reconciliation after their independence. Source: Crux.

Cardinal Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili said it is “with great joy” that Catholics in Timor-Leste welcomed the recent announcement of a papal visit to the country in September,

“The people have been waiting for long time and the last visit was 35 years ago,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will undertake a tour of Asia and Oceania later this year, visiting Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and Singapore from September 2-13, making it the longest foreign trip of his papacy.

Francis will stop in Jakarta on September 3-6 before travelling to Port Moresby and Vanimo from September 6-9, Dili from September 9-11 and Singapore from September 11-13.

“As one of the newest countries in the new millennium, as well as the fact that the majority of the people are Catholics, we have long desired the Pope because the head of Catholic Church’s presence here in East Timor is a blessing, a moment of unity, moment of love and hope,” Cardinal Silva said.

He voiced his hope that the Pope’s presence would help consolidate reconciliation efforts and encourage the people to live “in harmony with each other as well as the nature”, saying the message of peace the Pope is expected to deliver “is very relevant.”

“East Timor and Indonesia more than two decades after the independence have been working on the theme of reconciliation,” Cardinal Silva said, saying the topic of reconciliation “needs to improve” and ought to be promoted in other countries who face similar situations where it is “difficult to reconcile with each other”.


East Timor cardinal says papal visit will bring message of peace, tolerance (By Elise Ann Allen, Crux)