East Timor President Meets Pope

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II received in audience President Xanana Gusmao of East Timor and a group of top officials from the Asian island country.

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During the meeting Saturday, they recalled the papal visit to that country, then occupied by Indonesia, on Oct. 12, 1989.

Gusmao was unable to meet the Pope in 1989 because the former was in the jungle leading the independence movement. Gusmao was elected president after the country’s independence was internationally recognized in May 2002.

The Vatican press office gave no further details on the meeting.

In June, Gusmao was awarded the Path to Peace prize for his key role in the process of reconciliation and pacification of East Timor. The Holy See’s U.N. mission conferred the award.

East Timor is a former Portuguese colony of about 997,000 inhabitants, of whom 95% are Catholic.

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