Nuncio ‘still optimistic’ Pope will visit Timor-Leste

Monseigneur Marco Sprizzi, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at the Apostolic Nunciature (Vatican Embassy) in Dili (15/01) Monseigneur Marco Sprizzi, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at the Apostolic Nunciature (Vatican Embassy) in Dili (15/01) Foto

Tempotimor (Dili) - The Vatican Embassy in Dili is ‘still optimistic’ that Pope Francis will visit Timor-Leste this year. Recently president Francisco Guterres – Lú-Olo – sent an official invitation to the Holy Father. The bishops conference of Timor-Leste united itself behind the initiative.

Now everybody is waiting for the Pope’s decision. ‘The fact that there is no official answer yet, can be taken as good sign,’ stated Monseigneur Marco Sprizzi, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at the Apostolic Nunciature (Vatican Embassy) in Timor-Leste, in an interview with Tempo Timor. Because if the visit would not take place, ‘we probably would already have known,’ Monseigneur Sprizzi said.

‘The Holy Father himself mentioned his desire to come to Timor-Leste,’ the Vatican’s Chargé d’Affaires said. This happened last year when Pope Francis was answering media questions. He told journalists that he would not visit Argentina, but said he wanted to go to Timor-Leste.

The Apostolic Nunciature in Timor-Leste is ready. ‘We made the Pope and his entourage aware of our readiness, willingness and desire to have him here and bless this country and people with his word and presence,’ Sprizzi said.

Although Timor-Leste is one of the most catholic countries in the world, ‘paradoxically this is not a special reason for the Pope to come here. The Pope likes to go to peripheries, in every sense. He goes to many Muslim countries, Buddhist countries, Hindu countries. He goes to the people who are far from religion. He is like a good shepherd that Jesus spoke about, who go more to the lost sheep, because he is sure about the sheep wo are already safe,’ monseigneur Sprizzi stated, acknowledging that at the same time ‘he is father of the children of the church’ who need his presence as well.

If the Holy Father would come to Timor-Leste, it would be the first time after the historic visit in 1989 of Pope John Paul II which took place during the dark years of the Indonesian occupation when the people were suffering brutal repression and the country was much isolated from the world. The Holy Father spoke out against human rights violations by the Indonesian military, and people felt much supported by his presence. ‘That visit was so influential, meaningful and important in the history of Timor-Leste in terms of recovering national identity and going forward in the struggle for independence,’ Monseigneur Sprizzi said.

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