MALIANAI, TIMOR LESTE – Timor Leste’s newest diocese is not only struggling to cope with the demands of local people and establishing an infrastructure, it is also trying to address various issues related to its status as a “border diocese”.

Established on Jan 30 last year, diocesan officials say being a border jurisdiction with Indonesia throws up added problems made worse by the fact that diocesan facilities have yet to be fully established.

Created after the division of Dili diocese, Maliana geographically stretches over an area of 3,646 square kilometers covering Liquica, Bobonaro and Covalima districts, where most people are Catholics.

Its 10 parishes serve around 200,000 Catholics.

“The Church frequently handles cases of illegal entry, cattle and motorbike theft, which worries local people,” said diocesan secretary Fr Marcal Diaz Ximenes.

In response to these issues, Bishop Norberto do Amaral of Maliana, 54, who was ordained on April 25 last year, established a diocesan commission for social issues.

Other commissions are also being formed, and are in the process of getting the right people for various positions.

Fr Natalino Verdial De Sousa Gama, head of the diocesan commission on education and youth, said the diocese is also tackling problems resulting from broken families.

He said almost all the border issues require serious work as they can lead to other problems.

Illegal entry, for instance, could spread HIV/AIDS cases and the black market trade along border areas, he said.

He admitted the Church’s preparation and response to these issues have been slow as the diocese is also focusing on establishing facilities including a bishop’s residence, cathedral, parishes, and chapels, as well as structuring the commissions and organisations.  - UCANEWS.COM

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