Archbishop Peña Parra speaks on Human Fraternity, inaugurates new nunciature

By Francesca Sabatinelli, Vatican News

The Substitute of the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Peña Parra, visits East Timor and in the capital Dili inaugurates the new nunciature. He also speaks at a local Catholic University about the importance of the document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, signed in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

Speaking to East Timor government representatives, dignitaries and guests at the inauguration of the new nunciature, Archbishop Peña Parra, said “it is the hope of Pope Francis that this new Apostolic Nunciature will serve as yet another concrete sign of the solicitude and concern that the Popes have always shown for the people of this noble island country.”

Archbishop Peña Parra, Substitute for General Affairs of the Holy See’s Secretariat of State, travelled to East Timor for this occasion and to visit with the nation’s leaders and community representatives. He warmly welcomed all those attending today’s inauguration of the new papal diplomatic mission in the capital Dili. Among them was President Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient in 1996.

East Timor, 500 years of Catholic faith

The new Nunciature, a totally green building “in accordance with the teachings of Pope Francis in his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’,” Archbishop Peña Parra explained, reflects a “desired architectural harmony” as a sign of the excellent relations between the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. An inauguration that “takes place in the year marking both the twentieth anniversary of the country’s independence and the establishment of diplomatic relations,” also testifying to the great progress made so far between the two States, thanks to the implementation of the 2015 agreement regarding “various aspects of the Catholic Church’s life and service in the country,” where the Catholic faith “has served as a source of strength and comfort to the people during good times and bad for over five hundred years.”

Document on Human Fraternity, a guide for young people

Pope Francis recently named as cardinal the nation’s first one in history, the Archbishop of Dili, Virgilio do Carmo da Silva. The Substitute of the Secretariat of State then underscored with satisfaction the decision of Parliament to adopt the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together signed in Abu Dhabi in 2019 by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb. The Document is now part of the school curriculum and can offer guidance to “young people in their desire to be good citizens not only of this country but also of the world. For it is only by recognizing the intrinsic dignity of all people that we can attain true reconciliation and peace for past hurts and create a just and prosperous society for future generations.”

Salt, a symbol of brotherhood

Regarding the importance of education of future generations, Archbishop Peña Parra spoke yesterday on the theme at the Catholic University of East Timor, Universidade Católica Timorense, at a lecture focusing on the historic Document signed in Abu Dhabi in 2019. The Archbishop offered insights on the Document’s importance “in the context of interreligious dialogue and in the life” of East Timor.

Recalling Pope John Paul II’s 1989 Eucharistic celebration on in the nation at the Tasi-Tolu esplanade, he quoted from the Pope’s famous address on the ‘salt of the earth,’ reiterating its dual function: that of giving flavor and that of preserving. Salt can then serve as a symbol of fraternity, as well as the example set by the people of East Timor who, he said, “are not only reconciled, they are reconcilers.” He described it as a “taste of fraternity” that is an “indispensable condition for achieving peace,” as highlighted in the Document on Human Fraternity.

Interreligious dialogue helps humanity

Salt then can offer a “taste” of brotherhood and a way to preserve peaceful coexistence, thanks also to education and upbringing. The decision then of the Parliament and the State of Timor-Leste to adopt the Document on Human Fraternity in the curricula of primary, secondary and university schools, Archbishop Peña Parra said, takes on even greater historical importance. Just as salt preserves food, it may be possible to preserve what has been learned “so as to form an ever more mature consciousness.” “Interreligious dialogue…is a precious salt to give taste for and preserve fraternity,” Archbishop Peña Parra said, and recalling words of Pope Francis, human fraternity is no longer just an opportunity but an urgent and irreplaceable service to humanity.