Viewing cable 05VATICAN557
Title: EAST TIMOR: VATICAN EXAMINES ROLE OF CHURCH, BISHOPS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VATICAN5572005-12-15 12:09:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L  VATICAN 000557 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/WE (JLARREA), EAP/IET 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  12/15/2015 
TAGS: PREL KIRF PGOV PINR ID VT TT
SUBJECT: EAST TIMOR: VATICAN EXAMINES ROLE OF CHURCH, BISHOPS 
 
REF: VATICAN 473, VATICAN 471, STATE 172079, JAKARTA 006805 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Fleur Cowan, Political Officer, POL, STATE. 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
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Summary 
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¶1. (C) This is the first of two cables on the East Timorese 
Catholic church viewed from Rome six months after the May 
protests incited by Bishops Basilio Nascimento and Alberto 
Ricardo da Silva.  This first message will focus on the Holy 
See's official position, as laid out by Holy See East Timor 
country director Luis Montemayor.  The second cable will present 
a contrasting and more critical view of the East Timorese 
bishops from another Vatican-based source.  Montemayor is 
concerned that the bishops continue to be involved in political 
battles with the Fretilin government, but feels that if they 
don't go as far as to incite demonstrations similar to the ones 
in May, their actions are acceptable.  Montemayor hopes that the 
two East Timorese bishops will be more prudent in their public 
statements, but feels it is important that the Church continues 
to be vocal in East Timor.  Montemayor also encouraged contact 
between U.S. Embassy Dili and local Church leaders.  End Summary. 
 
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The Holy See's View of the Bishops 
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¶2. (C) Holy See East Timor country director Luis Montemayor 
(protect) expressed alarm at some of Bishop Alberto Ricardo da 
Silva's statements against the government of East Timor during 
and since the May Church-led protests against the government 
decision to end religious instruction in public schools.  "The 
Church should be a voice of the people, but it does not speak 
for all the people," Montemayor said, implying that Ricardo was 
attempting to do so.  He said that after the May church-led 
protests against the government, "the church had been vocal, and 
thought it had won."  In fact, Montemayor continued, "this is 
only the beginning." Though he might differ with some of 
Ricardo's statements and tactics, Montemayor underlined his 
belief that without an organized opposition party, the Church 
still had a role to play in East Timorese political dialogue. 
 
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Church Divided 
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¶3. (SBU) Montemayor feels that divisions within the Church over 
its role in political society have historical links to the 
conflict with Indonesia and the move to independence.  He said 
the East Timorese clergy was divided in its support for 
independence and that there was "no common view of the Fretilin 
party."  Montemayor told us some of the "best educated and 
trained church staff used to support Fretilin."  He said that 
even now there was no consensus of opinion within the Church in 
favor of or against the current government. 
 
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Allegations of Corruption 
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¶4. (C) According to Montemayor, Bishops Basilio Nascimento and 
Alberto Ricardo da Silva are convinced that PM Mari Alkatieri 
leads a faction of "Mozambicans," East Timorese leaders that 
have returned from political exile in Mozambique, who are trying 
to limit the influence of the bishops and the Church.  "The 
bishops think Alkatieri's faction is trying to push them into a 
corner," he explained.  Montemayor added that the bishops were 
convinced that the government was corrupt and rife with nepotism 
and bribery.  "The bishops think Akatieri's family is lining its 
own pockets," he concluded.  Montemayor allows that these 
allegations might be exaggerated, but were perhaps not entirely 
off the mark.  Still, as he has tried to explain to the bishops, 
"a bad government is better than no government at all." 
Montemayor also pointed out that while government bureaucrats in 
East Timor might be lacking in experience and education, the 
East Timorese Church was in a similar situation.  Both 
institutions needed to mature, he suggested. 
 
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A New Same Diocese and a New Dili University? 
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¶5. (C) Montemayor mentioned the Holy See's planned creation of 
the new diocese of Same.  He confirmed that the creation of this 
third East Timorese diocese had been in the works for some time, 
as according to canon law a local episcopal conference requires 
three dioceses.  However, he emphasized that serious resource 
and staffing constraints remained before the diocese would 
become fully functional.  The Same diocese must be economically 
self sufficient, and not a drain on the other two, he noted.  In 
addition, he said it was hard to attract staff for the bishops, 
both locally because they don't have enough qualified local 
 
priests, and internationally as there is no longer a close link 
between the Portuguese and the East Timorese churches. 
Montemayor said he explained these obstacles to the creation of 
a new diocese in his last meeting with FM Jose Ramos-Horta. 
Montemayor felt it could be "two months or two years" before 
administrative issues are addressed and the Vatican finds a 
bishop for Same. 
 
¶6. (SBU) Montemayor mentioned the bishops' plan to create a 
university in Dili, and felt it was overly ambitious.  "Maybe 
they could start a small university, but their plans are too 
grand," he said.  According to Montemayor, "at the most they 
should start simply with departments of education, language and 
medicine."  Commenting more broadly on education in East Timor, 
he praised the work of the Jesuits in the field, pointing out 
the order's great impact in East Timor. 
 
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Comment 
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¶7. (C) Montemayor expressed his thanks for Embassy Dili's role 
in calming tensions during the May protests, and encouraged 
contact between Embassy Dili and Church leaders.  He said the 
bishops would welcome increased opportunity to present the 
diplomatic corps with its version of events, as opposed to the 
government version that is commonly heard.  Montemayor has the 
impression that the bishops do not trust personnel from the UN 
mission in East Timor.  End Comment. 
ROONEY 
 
 
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 2005VATICA00557 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL