Catholic Church guards its dominance in E Timor
Maliana: A few years ago Domingos Pereira and his wife did something dangerous. They quit the East Timorese Catholic Church.
It started in 2004 when a handful of foreign Jehovah’s Witness missionaries showed up in their tiny village near the Indonesian border. Every week the missionaries held services from their home and by 2006 they had converted five families, including the Pereiras..
The Catholic Church, which claims near total support in this tiny Asian country, lashed out. A couple of nuns drove to the Pereira home and accused the family of selling their faith for cash.
Domingos protested. He said he was never given money – only a Bible, which he and his wife read. After they read the Bible he said he and his wife believed what the missionaries had to say.
Domingos said the nuns were furious. “They told us, ‘You can’t study the Bible. If you read the Bible every day, you’ll go crazy,’” he said. “They said the Bible was for the catechist, the sisters, the priest and that’s it. They said it wasn’t for everyone.”
Five hours from the capital, Maliana is one of the most remote large cities in East Timor. Here the church, overseen by a local priest who refused to be interviewed, is the highest authority, superseding even the police.
The Pereiras say they have faced Catholic Church torment as well as abuse from their neighbours. Their story is not unique. Other members of the evangelical religion reported visits from nuns, death threats or beatings. Meanwhile the police do nothing.
After their 2006 roust, the Jehovah’s Witnesses lasted two years. Last month a group of about 20 people surrounded their home and told them to get out. The mob was led by Anise Barreto, a 54-year-old grandmother and a self-proclaimed disciple of the Catholic Church. Barreto lives across the street from where the missionaries used to teach.
“We’re Catholic,” she said. “We have been Catholic since birth and we don’t want any other religion here.”
Barreto said the Jehovah’s Witnesses would take photos of their converts and, for each photo, they’d hand over money. But Barreto couldn’t say how much money was given as no Catholic interviewed had attended a service.
Domingos Pereira said rumours are rampant. “People believe the foreigners gave us money so we would join them,” he said. “Because we were no longer Catholic, people would ask why we’d left the Church. They assumed we were given money.”
When the Indonesians left in 1999, they took with them the Buddhists, Protestants and most of the Muslims.
To some, questioning the Catholic Church is heretical and traitorous. But the church’s authority is being questioned, and not just by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“People hate me because I burned my statue of Mary in front of my house,” she said. “Lots of people didn’t like that because they said it went against the church.”
A few months ago the priest and some others came to her house to ask her why she’d changed religions. They asked about the statue.
To some she is evil. Carlito Guterres, a middle-aged man and father of four, assaulted her on the main street in town in broad daylight. He said he’d do it again, too. He said she was walking down the street and he called her over to talk religion.
One reason I have NO RESPECT for the CATHOLIC CHURCH
Well, that is certainly terrible, but I hope you're not seriously saying you have no respect for millions of Catholics just because a few nutcases acted up in one church.
I agree with you that one incident is not enough to condemn other Catholics who were not involved. But this is an example of how the church has acted in the past when it had authority over the majority of people. The history of the Catholic Church is deplorable! The persecution of other faithful Christian groups ended up with the killing of thousands of men, women and children. Its inquistions and crusades caused the murder of thousands of innocent people. These can not be easily forgiven and forgotten by an apology from the Pope. In many ways, Catholics are victims of a religious system very much like Jehovah's Witnesses are. No one is questioning the sincerity or goodness of the individual members of these churches. But one does lose "respect" for these institutions and their leaders when they claim to do these things "in the name of God."
Sounds like a few extreme individuals. The vast majority of Catholics I know are not like this. As for the claims about the Bible, Catholics are encouraged to read it. It is part of Catholic worship.
But this is an example of how the church has acted in the past when it had authority over the majority of people. The history of the Catholic Church is deplorable!
Well certainly there were bad things done centuries ago. But this was when Catholicism was part of the political institution, and a tool for those in power. It is not like this today.
These can not be easily forgiven and forgotten by an apology from the Pope.
Well, the Pope has tried to make amends for things done by long dead people, to long dead people, why not give it a chance?
In many ways, Catholics are victims of a religious system very much like Jehovah's Witnesses are.
How much do you know about modern Catholicism?
I have no respect for Jehovah's Witnesses who refuse to let you leave there religion peacefully without being disfellowshiped.
I always have a hard time grasping the concept of disdain for an organization rather than individuals. I don't understand how it's possible to hold an organization (intangible thing) rather than the individuals in it.
The Crusades were undertaken by individuals. Granted, there were many individuals doing it in concert with each other, but the blame still rests firmly in their own lap rather than a church (which is a building and also a nonprofit organization).
The GB members are each totally responsible for their own actions, and for deceiving, controlling, and manipulating others. It's not the building in Brooklyn or their 501c3 that's responsible.
I always have a hard time grasping the concept of disdain for an organization rather than individuals.
Hey, that's good to keep in mind. So we cannot blame the WBTS for the problems of in the organization, we must all remember it's just the individuals.
We should respect the WBTS organization, just not the individuals. Is that how it works?
This opens a can of worms.
What right did the Catholic Church have in taking the traditional religion from the Timorese OR The Catholic Church educated them and freed them from ancient superstions.
What right do JWs have taking the modern cultural religion from the Timorese OR ...
All organized religion wants to grow, and it is always at expense to others.