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Timorese Catholics pray for end to leadership crisis

Nine-day devotion to the Divine Mercy aims to break impasse over naming rest of Timor-Leste's cabinet
Timorese Catholics pray for end to leadership crisis

Timor-Leste President Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo (front left) and Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak (front right) at the cabinet swearing in ceremony in Dili on June 22. (Photo by Thomas Ora)

Published: July 19, 2018 04:55 AM GMT
Updated: July 19, 2018 04:58 AM GMT

Timor-Leste Catholics are doing whatever they can to prevent another political crisis, including a nine-day devotion to the Divine Mercy that ends July 19 in Dili.

The Novena, being held at St. Michael's chapel in St. Anthony's parish, aims to ask for peace and for a stable new government under the leadership of Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak, 62.

Ruak, who served as president from 2012-2017, took office on June 22, after the Alliance of Change and Progress won an election on June 12. The election was the second in less than a year in the impoverished Catholic majority country and was called after the previous minority government failed to pass any legislation.

Father Evaristo Fernandes da Costa Soares, who was appointed by Bishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili to lead the Divine Mercy devotion, said the new government is still on shaky ground since several cabinet posts have yet to be filled.

"So, we are encouraging Catholics to pray to the Divine Mercy to end this impasse," the priest said.

People should not underestimate the power of prayer if they want the country to get out of a gloomy situation, Father Soares said.

"It's also to bring people closer to God and feel His presence through difficult times," he added.

Mery Gajeng Chang, 51, one of the devotees, said the emphasis of the Divine Mercy devotion is to ask for personal fidelity and humility.

"We hope our politicians have that trait of humility, so they can work together to solve political issues," she said.

According to Bishop Basilio do Nascimento of Baucau, political uncertainty can lead to distrust and drive away investment from Timor-Leste.

"If the president, the prime minister, or judiciary act too independently it will create another problem," said Bishop Nascimento, also the chairman of Timor-Leste Bishops Conference told the Timor-Post newspaper, July 14.

On July 22, the prime minister is scheduled to present his program, and budget proposal, to parliament, despite his cabinet not being complete.

Last month, President Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo only swore in the premier and 10 ministers. However 11 were knocked back by the president because of graft investigations and have yet to be confirmed.

"I ask public officials to continue dialogue and find better solutions for the country, instead of looking after their own interests," Bishop Nascimiento said.

He urged Lu-Olo and Ruak to work together more closely in the country's interests.

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