Subject: LUSA: PM Alkatiri welcomes new pope, wants dialogue with local church

20-04-2005 17:16:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-6933664 Temas:

East Timor: PM Alkatiri welcomes new pope, wants dialogue with local church

Dili, April 20 (Lusa) - Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, locked in a power struggle with East Timor's influential Catholic Church, Wednesday welcomed the election of German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope, saying he hoped the new pontiff would help "strengthen relations" between Dili and the Vatican.

"I+m certain, as prime minister, that Pope Benedict XVI will continue the work of Pope John Paul II, giving them his own touch", Alkatiri said in a statement.

Turning to the deepening rift between his government and the Timorese church, Alkatiri said the country was facing "a complicated, difficult moment".

"But I believe that good sense will win out and that a solution for this divergence of opinions will be resolved through dialogue", he added.

Hundreds of Catholic demonstrators have camped outside Dili's government headquarters since Tuesday to press for changes in government policy, namely plans under way to demote religion classes in public schools to an optional subject.

EL/SAS.

Lusa

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