LETTER FROM LISBON
ALL the church bells of Lisbon rang out in jubilation on May 31 to mark the signing of a ceasefire agreement between the warring parties in Angola and there is said to be a church in the capital for every day of the year, though I have never counted them!
This should bring to an end the civil war which has rent Angola since Portugal conceded independence to her African territories some 15 years ago.
The vast countries of Mozambique and Angola and the smaller Guinea had been Portuguese possessions since the 15th century. Although colonisation is now much despised, it -did prevent the tribal wars which have bedevilled so much of Africa since the inevitable withdrawal of the western powers.
The actual signing of the treaty took place in Lisbon's Foreign Office, witnessed by Prime Minister Cavaco Silva, who looked benignly on as the two rival Angolan leaders shook hands with James Baker, US Secretary of State, Alexander Bessmertnyk, Foreign Minister of the USSR, and Perez de Cuellar, Secretary General of the United Nations looking on. The latter body will be responsible for the cease-fire, the departure of all foreign troops from the territory which has already begun, and ultimately for legislative and presidential elections, due to take place between September and November of next year.
While they were in Lisbon, Baker and Bessmertnyk also agreed on the interpretation of the November 1990 treaty for the reduction of conventional arms in Europe, thus giving the green light for a summit meeting in Moscow.
MRS Baker, who was in Lisbon with her husband, is particularly interested in social work and while here met Dr Leonora Beleza, the former Minister of Health, the head of the main maternity hospital in the city, and other leading women in the social services over lunch. Mrs Baker went on to visit the Casa Pia, a school for over 2,000 boys and girls, with a special section for deaf and dumb children.
It was founded at the beginning of the last century and has very large premises behind the famous Jeronimos church at Belem, a suburb of Lisbon.
The Casa Pia has always been open to homeless and needy children, and gives then an excellent schooling with ample opportunities for higher education.
THE different Christian churches in Angola were so happy at the thought of peace at last that they staged an ecumenical service of thanksgiving at the main sports centre in Luanda, in the presence of President Eduardo Santos and his wife and the diplomatic corps.
Members of the Salvation Army sang and all those present joined in a hymn to the Holy Spirit. There were prayers and readings from the Old and the New Testaments by
representatives of over 50 different groups, many of them branches of the evangelical churches and the Union of Churches of the Holy Spirit.
Catholics were represented by Bishop Serafim Chyngo, auxiliary in Luanda, who spoke on the need for peace and unity among all Angolans in a profound national reconciliation. It will be recalled that all the bishops of Angola were at Fatima last month for the visit of Pope John Paul.
FOR the first time in many years there has been a blessing of the briefcases of the finalists of the different universities of Lisbon. Cardinal Antonio Ribeiro, Patriarch of Lisbon, presided at the mass and ceremony in a huge football stadium.
In his discourse, the cardinal appealed to the young to follow their consciences which are the inner sanctuary of every human being. He quoted Rabelais in saying that science without conscience is but a ruin.
Susan Lowndes Marques