“The Church in Portugal greatly benefited from his wise and serene presence, in particular the Archdiocese of Évora, where Dom Basilio studied, was ordained a priest and exercised various functions such as pastor, theology professor, spiritual director at the seminary and responsible for pastoral ministry vocations”, refers to a note sent to the ECCLESIA Agency by the General Secretariat of the CEP.
The Portuguese bishops recall the “relevant role” of Dom Basílio do Nascimento in the “democratic construction of the young Timorese nation, being one of the most listened to voices in the period before the 1999 referendum, especially with comments on the situation in Timor-Leste” .
The text evokes the “sudden death” of the Timorese bishop, at the age of 71, victim of a heart attack. “Returned to Timor-Leste in 1994, he was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Baucau two years later, becoming diocesan bishop of Baucau since 2004.
He was the first president of the Timorese Episcopal Conference since its creation in 2011, constituted by the dioceses of Dili, Baucau and Maliana”, adds the note from the Portuguese episcopate.
The CEP highlights that D. Basilio do Nascimento has always sought the support of the Portuguese dioceses in his various ministries, “at a pastoral, liturgical, academic and material level”, even participating in the Plenary Assembly, as a guest. In the sense of the renewal of the Church in the light of the Second Vatican Council, which he had in mind and heart, he never tired of promoting the formation of priests, consecrated persons, lay people, catechists and leaders of Christian communities”.
The person in charge has been bishop of the second diocese in the Portuguese-speaking country since March 2004, after having been appointed, on November 30, 1996, by St. John Paul II, as apostolic administrator of Baucau; he was ordained bishop in 1997 and was also apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Dili.
In 2011, he became the first president of the Timorese Episcopal Conference. “In this moment of pain and hope, we pray that the Lord will welcome Dom Basilio into his eternal peace and we express our friendly prayer with his relatives and with the Diocese of Baucau”, concludes the CEP note.
The Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa, used his Twitter account to lament the death of the Timorese official. “It was with sadness that I learned of the death of Dom Basilio do Nascimento, Bishop of Baucau. Always on the side of the people and in defense of freedom and democracy in East Timor.
He played a leading role in the referendum on the independence of the territory in 1999,” wrote the head of government.
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, president of the Portuguese Republic, published an official note in which he “deeply regrets the death of the Bishop of Baucau, a prominent figure in the struggle for independence in Timor-Leste” and recalls “the fundamental role he played in defending freedom and democracy in your country”.(*)