Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope's secretary of state was given a festive welcome by joyful crowds when he arrived in Dili on Thursday at the start of a visit which coincides with the 500th anniversary of the evangelisation of East Timor.
The central event of the visit, during which there will be the signing of a Concordat between East Timor and the Vatican, will be a Mass celebrated on Friday at Taci Tolo, the same place visited by Saint Pope John Paul II 25 years ago in 1989.
Coinciding with the much-loved feast of the Assumption into heaven of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the visit is particularly important as it will mark the first time that the Catholic Church signs a Concordat outside the Vatican and also because the visitor, Cardinal Parolin is the highest Catholic Church authority to visit East Timor since the visit by Pope John Paul II on 12 October 1989.
For Bishop Basilio do Nascimento, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of East Timor, apostolic administrator of Dili and Bishop of Baucau, the event is an historic one for Timor-Leste and for the local Catholic community. In a message released last week, Pope Francis recalled the many "missionaries" who had the "courage" to go to Timor-Leste.
The East Timor government said in an official statement the "the Catholic Church for 500 years has provided great spiritual, human and material support for the people of Timor, making a decisive contribution towards East Timor's process of liberation".
We Need Your Support
ICN aims to provide speedy and accurate news coverage of all subjects of interest to Catholics and the wider Christian community. As our audience increases - so do our costs. We need your help to continue this work.
Please support our journalism by donating today.Donate