Timor-Leste bishop reminds youth of peacekeeping role

Prelate uses 'university cross' ceremony to galvanize young people into making sure upcoming polls are peaceful
Timor-Leste bishop reminds youth of peacekeeping role

University students parade the 'university cross' from the Institut Superior Cristal to Dili Cathedral on March 25 (Photo by Thomas Ora)

Bishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili has reminded young people of their special role in maintaining peace in Timor-Leste, particularly as the country prepares for polls in May.

Bishop Da Silva said during a special Mass held for youths on Palm Sunday — and to mark the annual passing round of the so-called "university cross" — that young people should look up to Jesus’ cross as a source of inspiration in daily life.

The university cross is a Dili Diocese initiative that started in 2013 where a image of crucified Jesus is passed from one university to another to be venerated by students.

"The presence of the cross at a university is not for public view or a decoration. It symbolizes Christ as the bearer of light and peace," Bishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili said during the Mass.

"Young people must stay closer to Christ’s cross and his resurrection which is celebrated this week," the prelate said.

He also called on young people to keep the peace, particularly as the country prepares for elections on May 12. The country experienced deadly violence during parliamentary elections in 2007.

Father Angelo Salsinha, president of Our Lady of Fatima Minor Seminary in Dili, said the idea of a cross being passed between universities has its origins in the World Youth Day Cross that stopped in Timor-Leste for three days on its way from Germany to Australia in 2007.

"By having a university cross and seeing it, young people can reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ suffering, which was to save all people," Father Salsinha said.

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