Subject: afp: Chruch must quit politics, Bishiop Nascimento

Agence France Presse

January 4, 2000, Tuesday

Church must quit politics says Timorese bishop

LISBON, Jan 4,

The Roman Catholic Church should quit politics in East Timor, the Bishop of the Timorese town of Baucau, told the Portuguese paper Diario de Noticias in an interview published Tuesday.

Basilio do Nascimento said the church should abandon the leading role it had played in East Timor since the 1976 Indonesian annexation.

"There is currently a different situation and it would be a bad sign for the church to stay at the forefront. It must leave the political scene," he added.

During the 24-year occupation, which ended in 1999, the church was the only institution capable of making itself heard to denounce the crimes and injustices carried out by the occupying forces, he said.

Now however, it should turn towards teaching or work in the community.

It would take up to seven seven years for East Timor to get to the point it was at before the destruction wrought by the Indonesian military and the militia that backed them, said the bishop.

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