Letter from Lisbon
THE visit of the Portuguese prime minister, Cavaco Silva, to Angola , is expected to help bring to fruition an agreement between the
' country's warring parties signed in Lisbon at the end of May. Eduardo dos Santos, president of the huge west African nation, greeted Cavaco Silva at the airport in Luanda where he was received with rapture by a large crowd.
But the leaders of the main opposition groups UNITA and FNLA did not appear.
• On arrival Cavaco Silva said • that when Portugal becomes president of the European . Community next year, special attention would be given to the ' problems of Africa as being of primary importance to Portuguese foreign policy.
In an interview with a local newspaper, he stressed that in spite of a few incidents, the ceasefire had been respected both by the government and UNITA.
The prime minister went on to say that the best guarantee for the future of the agreement would be the creation of greater confidence between the parties which would result in their united efforts to create a democracy which would lead to free elections and a government chosen by the
peoples of Angola.
XANANA Gusmao, leader of the guerrilla forces in the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, stated in a message to a supportive Japanese organisation in Tokyo that the present political climate could lead to an acceptable solution of Timor's problem. Japan, with her strong economic links with Indonesia, could play a decisive part in persuading the government in Jakarta to agree to discussions, he said.
The more so as there is now a stalemate between the opposing forces. So there is now a gleam of hope for that war-tom land.
IT IS an odd fact that few references have been made to the connection between the Portuguese shrine at Fatima and the momentous events taking place in the Soviet Union. Yet in her Memories, Sr Lucia, the only survivor of the three children who saw the vision in 1917, the year of the Russian revolution, writes that Our Lady said that Russia would
be converted when that country was consecrated to her Immaculate Heart by the Holy Father.
Pope Pius XII did make a somewhat timid consecration, but it was the present Pope who definitely fulfilled this request in 1985, when it would have seemed impossible that the Soviet regime would come to an end within six years.
The presence of the Russian Ambassador to Lisbon at the mass for the sick celebrated at the shrine by Pope John Paul in May was a confirmation of the extraordinary change that had taken place.
Our Lady seems often to have chosen remote places in which to appear and Fatima is no exception. Situated on the summit of a range of low hills, there has always been a serious problem over the water supply. A well was sunk near the chapel of the apparitions in 1924 and for many years 15 taps supplied water to the pilgrims.
Since then several large water cisterns have been built along with a water conduit from Ourem, the local town. But this does not
provide sufficient water for the pilgrimage centre, now virtually a small town, so the water supply of Leiria, the county town and seat of the local bishop, has been called on to reinforce the supply.
It is thus hoped that for some years to come the amount will be adequate. Indeed when over one million people congregated at the shrine on the occasion of the papal visit in May, there was no problem.
THE European Community is helping to finance the heating of the Centre for the Seriously Subnormal which the Union of Portuguese Misericordias is building in Fatima. Portugal is still happily a family orientated country, so there is a notable number of mentally handicapped men, women and children who do stay with their families.
But more and more are finding this difficult, particularly when most or all the members of a family are out working. So this new centre, planned for 450 very disturbed patients, is badly needed. Hot water will also be supplied by this new system which runs on the brushwood being cleared from forests.
Susan Lowndes Marques