Remembering Bishop Basílio do Nascimento of Timor-Leste

Bishop Basilio Nascimento

With heavy hearts, we share that Peacemaker in Action Bishop Basilio of Timor-Leste passed away on October 30, 2021 in Dili at the age of 71. Bishop Basílio do Nascimento was the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Baucau in Timor-Leste. His t of reconciliation among Christians, Muslims, and Hindus of different political persuasions. He negotiated the peaceful evacuation of Baucau by Indonesian troops and hostile militias. 

Fellow Peacemaker in Action Deng Giguiento worked with Bishop Basílio in Timor-Leste and was deeply inspired by him when they worked together and his influence and kindness had lasting effects for her own peacebuilding work.

Deng shares some reflections below, including a time she and her colleague believed that they were singing a “happy birthday” song in Tetum, when in reality, it was the revolution song. We are grateful that Deng shared her memories of her friend.

You laughed and did not scold us when [colleague] Myla and I sang a revolutionary song on your birthday, thinking it was the proper birthday song in Tetum, and there was the chief of the policy among your guests! You hosted us and protected us during the early days of the peace talks between the pro-integrasi and pro-merdeka. You provided the balance when the other Bishop would lose his cool. You were the solid rock we could lean on during those very turbulent times.

Thank you, Bishop Dom Basílio do Nascimento of the Diocese of Baucau, Timor Leste. You have served God well. Rest in God’s loving arms.????”

Timor Leste has lost a moral compass????”

In a wide array of online articles honoring his life, Bishop Basílio is noted as having a “wise and serene presence” and honored for his integral role in Timor-Leste. He is recalled as “one of the most listened to voices in the period before the 1999 referendum, especially within comments on the situation in Timor-Leste.” 

Antonio Costa, the Prime Minister of Portugal, mourned Bishop Basílio’s passing on Twitter where he shared: “It was with sadness that I learned of the death of Dom Basílio do Nascimento, Bishop of Baucau. Always on the side of the people and in defense of freedom and democracy in East Timor.”

After his passing, Bishop Basílio received the country’s highest honor, the Order of Timor-Leste. Timor-Leste president Francisco Guterres honored Bishop Basílio’s conflict transformation work noting how he held a secret meeting with rebel leaders during the struggle for independence from Indonesia, calling it a “bold act.”

Tanenbaum is grateful for the bright light of Bishop Basílio do Nascimento.