Viewing cable 05VATICAN561
Title: EAST TIMOR: JESUIT VIEWS CHURCH, BISHOPS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VATICAN5612005-12-20 09:43:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
VZCZCXRO0847
RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHSR
DE RUEHROV #0561/01 3540943
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 200943Z DEC 05
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0205
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0006
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 0003
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0230
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 000561 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
EUR/WE (JLARREA), INR, JAKARTA PLEASE PASS DILI, EAP/IET 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  12/20/2030 
TAGS: PREL KIRF PGOV PINR ID VT TT
SUBJECT: EAST TIMOR: JESUIT VIEWS CHURCH, BISHOPS 
 
REF: A) VATICAN 473, B) STATE 172079, C) JAKARTA 6805,  D) VATICAN 557 
 
VATICAN 00000561  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
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 second of two cables on the East Timorese 
Catholic church viewed from Rome six months after the May 
anti-government protests led by Bishops Basilio Nascimento and 
Alberto Ricardo da Silva.  Ref (D) presented the perspective of 
the Holy See's Country director for East Timor.  In contrast, 
another Vatican-based source, East Timorese Jesuit Father Joao 
Piedade (protect), continued the criticism of Bishops Nascimento 
and da Silva he last raised with us in Ref (A).  He feels that 
the bishops are overly combative in relations with the Fretilin 
government, and consequently neglect their roles as pastors. 
Piedade was glad to hear that Archbishop Don, nuncio to East 
Timor, will leave Jakarta, as he was appointed to the Vatican's 
Congregation for Divine Worship December 12.  End Summary. 
 
 
¶2. (C) East Timorese Jesuit (Society of Jesus) Father Joao 
Piedade, a professor of Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian 
University graduate school, told us recently his fellow East 
Timorese Jesuits were quietly opposed to the April and May 
protests incited by Bishops Nascimento and Ricardo.  Piedade 
maintains close touch with East Timor, and spent much of last 
summer at the Society of Jesus residence in Taibesi.  There are 
approximately 20 Jesuits in East Timor, divided between the 
headquarters at Taibesi, and a small presence in Relaco and 
Suai. 
 
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Bishop Basilio Nascimento of Baucau 
----------------------------------- 
 
¶3. (C)  Piedade argued that Bishop Basilio Nascimento of Baucau 
and Bishop of Dili Alberto Ricardo da Silva have no strategic 
vision and no leadership skills.  Piedade felt that Bishop 
Nascimento is intelligent, yet opportunistic.  "When the 
Indonesians were gaining the advantage, Nascimento supported 
them," Piedade explained, "but when the tide turned, he went 
with it -- he follows the power."  According to Piedade, 
Nascimento "knows how to back the winning side, and how to get 
things done."  He pointed to the large new church in Baucau as 
an example.  However, Piedade noted that, "as a result of these 
machinations no one has confidence in Nascimento's positions." 
 
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Bishop Ricardo da Silva of Dili 
------------------------------- 
 
¶4. (C) Piedade stated that he had known Bishop Ricardo da Silva 
for some years, and felt that da Silva was generally quite 
reserved, "a quiet man, who is silent even when in opposition." 
He felt that da Silva was intelligent, but  "easily influenced 
by the others."  One individual known to exercise influence on 
da Silva is Father Filomeno Jacob, Ref (A) who had been working 
for Bishop da Silva.  According to Piedade, Father Jacob was 
recently called back to Rome to consult with the Jesuit Superior 
General, apparently because of this influence.  "He was told it 
was time to leave da Silva," Piedade said, explaining that the 
Jesuits felt Jacob was getting too involved in diocesan 
politics.  Da Silva also appears to be distancing himself from 
his predecessor, Nobel laureate Archbishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes 
Belo.  Belo celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his 
ordination as a bishop last July, and had planned to return to 
his native East Timor.  According to Piedade, he was discouraged 
from coming back by Ricardo and Nascimento.  Piedade claimed 
that the two bishops "didn't want him back to steal the 
limelight." 
 
--------------------------------------------- - 
Consolidating control despite internal dissent 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
¶5. (C) According to Piedade, Bishop da Silva "retaliated against 
critics" of the bishops' support for the May demonstrations, 
reassigning two priests who spoke out publicly against the 
protests.  Piedade said that one priest was sent from the parish 
of Montalero back to Australia where he had served previously. 
Another priest who had been critical was sent from Dili to a 
parish in rural Becora. 
 
¶6. (C) Piedade said that during his summer visit to East Timor 
he came away with the impression that "if you opposed the 
demonstrations you are against the Church."  The bishops were 
creating an atmosphere in which   there was "no freedom of 
thought or ideas, and no one was allowed to contradict them." 
According to Piedade, "it wasn't like this with [Archbishop] 
 
VATICAN 00000561  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
Belo.  Even the priests that wanted to stay with Indonesia were 
never retaliated against."  Piedade feels that the bishops are 
in competition with the state.  "The Church is not an opposition 
party- but it takes positions just to be in opposition to the 
Fretilin government."  He noted however that the government was 
not blameless.  "Prime Minister Alkatieri has been handing out 
jobs to the incompetent," Piedade said, thus giving the bishops 
easy targets for their attacks. 
 
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Politics Distracting from the Pastoral? 
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¶7. (C) Piedade feels the bishops are overly involved in 
politics, and neglect their pastoral leadership.  He also thinks 
they are over-reaching.  He pointed out that despite their 
ambitions for a university, in the Dili seminary there are "no 
professors, no library, and no books."  Another Jesuit contact, 
Fr. Joseph Doan, East Asia director for the Society of Jesus, 
also criticized the plans for a Catholic university, suggesting 
that it would be more practical to increase teacher training, 
and create more high schools or middle schools, especially in 
the more remote mountain areas. 
 
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Nuncio Returns to Rome 
---------------------- 
 
¶8. (C) December 12 Pope Benedict appointed the nuncio to 
Indonesia and East Timor, Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith 
Patabendige Don as deputy at the Holy See's Congregation for 
Divine Worship.  Don had been nuncio for less than two years, 
and was criticized for what was seen as an inflammatory role 
during the May protests Ref (A).  At the time the Holy See 
reaffirmed its support for Don, but both Vatican MFA and other 
Vatican-based contacts said recently that Don was not a "natural 
diplomat."  Piedade was also glad to hear of Don's return to 
Rome. "He was not a mediator. He's out of touch," he said.  With 
this change, and the possibility of the creation of the new 
diocese of Same, Piedade thought that it was possible one might 
see a changed dynamic in the East Timorese Church in the coming 
year. 
 
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Comment 
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¶9. (C) Piedade's criticism of the East Timorese bishops is 
nothing new, as he blasted them in conversations with us at the 
time of the spring demonstrations.  However, that the intensity 
of his feelings has not waned over the intervening months is 
notable.  And although Piedade has little or no influence over 
official Vatican policy on East Timor, he wields some influence 
within the Jesuit Curia on the issue. His views also provide 
insight into critical elements within the East Timorese Church. 
End Comment. 
ROONEY