Subject: UCAN: Forgive one another, Bishop urges Catholic youth during World Youth Day Mass

UCAN: Forgive one another, Bishop urges Catholic youth during World Youth Day Mass


UCANews DILI, Timor Leste (UCAN) ­ During World Youth Day celebrations held recently in Timor Leste (East Timor), Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva of Dili has urged young people to forgive each other, reconcile and forge ahead in rebuilding their violence-racked country.

Young people must work hand in hand for national unity, Bishop da Silva told some 2,000 young Catholics during Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Dili on Palm Sunday, April 1, to commemorate the 22nd World Youth Day. The theme for that Mass was “The word of God gives light to me and my steps.”

The late Pope John Paul II had designated Palm Sunday as a special day of gathering for young people worldwide, since it begins the special liturgical events during the week leading to Easter. The day is celebrated on a diocesan level in the absence of international celebrations that are usually held every other year.

"It is time for young people to forgive each other, to turn away from sin, in order to bring this country on the right path of development," Bishop da Silva said. The bishop cautioned young people against falling prey to political traps and sin. "Youth are the future of the nation and Church," he stressed.

This special day the church designates for youth has an important meaning for young people in Timor Leste in their commitment to follow Jesus Christ, Bishop da Silva told the young people, who gathered for Mass carrying palm leaves and banners describing Christ as the guide for youths.

Many young Catholics admit to participating in the recent arson, looting and gang violence following a military mutiny in April 2006 that was rooted in tensions between people from eastern and western parts of the country.

Dili, where the violence was concentrated, is still reeling from the mayhem, with thousands of people seeking shelter in makeshift camps, afraid they would face further violence if they went home.

After Mass, Pope Benedict XVI's message for this year's World Youth Day was read to the gathering. Addressed to "my dear young friends," the message urges young people to love one another, just as God loves them.

"The purpose of my message is to help reawaken in each one of you ... a love that generates peace and joy; a love that binds people together and allows them to feel free in respect for one another," he said in his message.

The pope also enumerated practical ways to do this. "You should stimulate, with your enthusiasm and charity, the activities of the parishes, the communities, the ecclesial movements and the youth groups to which you belong," he said.

The holy father also appealed to young people to "cultivate your talents, not only to obtain a social position, but also to help others to grow." He also told young people: "In addition to your professional training, also make an effort to acquire religious knowledge that will help you to carry out your mission in a responsible way."

Manuel Sarmento, a 25-year-old Catholic from western Timor Leste, said he saw the importance of the church's appeal for young people to contribute to peace and stability in the country. "I would like to appeal to my counterparts (in eastern Timor Leste) to not look back at what happened between us but to collaborate in building the country," he told UCA News April 1.

Nivio Freitas, 27, could "feel something special" that day, when he met young people from other parts of the country. He told UCA News that this experience was not to be wasted. If young people could unite to free themselves from occupation, "why can't we unite now?" Freitas asked.

Timor Leste, where Catholics form 96 percent of about 1 million people, has faced decades of violence, especially under Indonesian occupation from 1975 to 1999. It became a fully independent nation in 2002, after a couple of years under the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor.

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Republished by Catholic Online with permission of the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News), the world's largest Asian church news agency (

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