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Patrick A. Smythe
'The Heaviest Blow' - The Catholic Church and the East Timor Issue
The author examines responses within the international Catholic community to the annexation and rule of East Timor by Indonesia from 1975 - 1999. Theoretically the Catholic Church is committed to prioritise the needs of the poorest and weakest members of the human family but the evidence put forward here reveals that there were significant shortcomings in its reaction to the plight of the East Timorese. Yet the Church also played a crucial role in their eventual achievement of independent nationhood. This study scrutinises the disposition of the Catholic community in several countries closely involved in the issue of East Timor - Indonesia, Portugal, Australia, Japan, Britain, the United States - and of the Vatican, and calls upon the Church to live up to its own social doctrine. Bishop Carlos Belo, Apostolic Administrator (emeritus) of the Diocese of Dili, East Timor, comments in an 'Afterword' to the book: 'This excellent study carries concrete lessons for the global community as we face the many challenges of the new millennium. In essence, how can we best help our brothers and sisters who often suffer in silence? This book helps to answer that question'.