Denial of reports of threat to East Timor Protestant pastor
A story that has been circulating that Rev Ferdinando Flores will soon be executed in retribution for converting East Timorese Catholics to his own Christian denomination, are false, according to the Rome-based AsiaNews agency.
AsiaNews reports that the story, that included calls for prayers, was spread by hundreds of mobile text messages and e-mails in the United States, the Philippines, the UK, and even in Italy.
The message asked people to pray for Pastor Flores who was going to be executed by being beaten to death in East Timor.
In the English town of Leicester 300 Christians gathered in a vigil prayer for the unfortunate pastor who was waiting to die.
AsiaNews says that Flores' own web page says, the "information you have received [about the imminent execution] is not correct."
For some months the pastor had been preaching in the area and had "converted" and re-baptised ten Catholics. This led some local catechists to protest against his proselytising. At one point, the whole village came out and surrounded the clergyman's house where they engaged in an animated discussion over his methods of evangelisation.
According to Rev Flores, the tensions caused his colleague to have a nervous breakdown.
After the publicity his case received as a result of the many and e-mails, one of his colleagues said that "Ferdie experienced quite a bit of persecution recently instigated by the Roman Catholic Church . . . but there has not been any physical harm done".
The story, blown out of proportion by the chain of SMS and e-mails, seems to be just a local matter, so much so that the Superior of the Jesuits in Dili, which is just a few dozens kilometres from the village, told AsiaNews he never heard about it until now.