The Catholic Church in Dili has called for people to turn their backs on violence and ensure that presidential elections scheduled for March 17 are carried out peacefully. To get its message of peace across it recently held a five-kilometer walk and is currently conducting 111 days of prayer meetings. Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva of Dili led the walk on Tuesday from Nossa Senhora Auxiliadora Church in Komoro to the bishop’s residence in Lecidere. With him were around 5,000 people, including priests, nuns, seminarians, laypeople, government officials and foreign ambassadors. “People of Timor Leste must participate in the presidential election with peaceful hearts and sense of unity. This is for the development of Timor Leste,” the prelate told them. Violence, disunity and war must not happen, he warned. “The Church takes part in promoting peace in Timor Leste. So we must keep asking God for strength and also Mother Mary for protection,” he added. He called on participants to have peace in their hearts and families according to Jesus Christ’s teachings. “By doing so, we will live in harmony and peace as a nation,” he continued. To help make this happen, prayer meetings began yesterday in every basic ecclesial community in the predominantly Catholic country. These prayer meetings will end on June 12. Pedro da Costa, a legislator, thanked Bishop Ricardo da Silva for the peace initiative. He also hoped that all politicians will abide by the call. “It is not only words. It must be realized in the presidential election,” he said. Eleven male candidates and two female candidates are vying for the top job in the upcoming election. Campaigning starts on February 29 and ends on March 14.