Church in Timor Leste (East Timor)
  • Capital:
  • Dili
  • Population:
  • 1.06 million
  • Catholic:
  • 1 million (97 %)
  • Diocese:
  • 2 dioceses
  • Major religion:
  • Catholicism 97%, Islam 1%, Protestant 1%
Despite Portuguese and Dutch traders’ contact with East Timor in the early 16th century, missionaries maintained a sporadic contact until 1642 when Portugal took over and maintained control until 1974, with a brief occupation by Japan during World War II.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed the former Portuguese colony. The Church played an important role in society during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. During the occupation, Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo became one of the most prominent advocates for human rights in East Timor and many priests and nuns risked their lives in defending citizens from military abuses.
Pope John Paul II's 1989 visit to East Timor exposed the occupied territory's situation to world media and provided a catalyst for independence activists to seek global support. In 1996, Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and José Ramos-Horta, two leading East Timorese activists for peace and independence, received the Nobel Peace Prize for "their work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor".

  • Capital:
  • Dili
  • Population:
  • 1.06 million
  • Catholic:
  • 1 million (97 %)
  • Diocese:
  • 2 dioceses
  • Major religion:
  • Catholicism 97%, Islam 1%, Protestant 1%
Since its independence from Indonesia 1999, East Timor became only the second predominantly Catholic country in Asia (after the Philippines), a legacy of its status as a former Portuguese colony. While just 20% of East Timorese called themselves Catholics at the time of the 1975 invasion, the figure surged to reach 95% by the end of the first decade after the invasion.

The local Catholic Church remains very involved in politics. The number of churches has grown from 100 in 1974 to over 800 in 1994. About 89% of the population is Catholic as of 2006, which means over 900,000 faithful.

The country was divided into three dioceses: Dili, Baucau and Maliana (erected in 2010). The Apostolic Nuncio to East Timor is concurrently the nuncio to Indonesia.

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Dili