Subject: Pope appoints new head of E Timor Catholic church

Also: CIIR: East Timor: Pope names new bishop of Dili

Last Update: Sunday, March 7, 2004. 9:54am (AEDT) Pope appoints new head of E Timor Catholic church

Pope John Paul has appointed a new head of the Roman Catholic church in East Timor to succeed Nobel Peace Laureate, Bishop Carlos Belo, who has stepped down for health reasons.

The Pope named 60-year-old Alberto Ricardo da Silva, who has been rector of the seminary in the capital Dili since 2000, to succeed Bishop Belo as Bishop of Dili, a Vatican statement said.

Bishop Belo resigned in November 2002, citing ill health.

The outspoken and often fiery Bishop Belo shared the Nobel Peace Prize with then exiled resistance leader Jose Ramos-Horta, now East Timor's Foreign Minister, in 1996 for working toward a peaceful solution to the territory's occupation brutal rule by Indonesia.

Predominantly Catholic East Timor voted to break from 24 years of Jakarta rule in a United Nations-sponsored ballot in August 1999, which unleashed a wave of violence by pro-Jakarta militiamen in which the UN estimates more than 1,000 people were killed.

At the time, thousands of East Timorese sheltered in Bishop Belo's seaside presbytery in Dili, which was later destroyed.

-- Reuters


CIIR E-News 12 March 2004

East Timor: Pope names new bishop of Dili

Pope John Paul II has named Father Alberto Ricardo da Silva, rector of the major seminary of Dili, as bishop of the diocese.

The diocese had been previously led by apostolic administrator, Basilio do Nascimento, who was named bishop of the nearby Baucau diocese.

Alberto da Silva was born in Aileu, in the Dili diocese, in 1943. He studied in the minor seminary of Dili and was sent to Macao to study philosophy and to Portugal to study theology in the major seminary of Leira. He later received a licentiate in spiritual theology from the Gregorian University in Rome.

Former CIIR employee Steve Alston expressed his delight at the appointment. He said: 'I have met Fr Ricardo many times and know him to be a Dom Camillo character - very approachable, jovial and slightly mischievous. It's great news. Fr Ricardo has been an important support to the East Timorese during the turbulent time of the Indonesian occupation.'

Fr da Silva's duties have included spiritual director and rector at the Seminary of Dare, as well as vicar general of Dili. Since 2000, he has been rector of the Dili seminary.

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