D. JOSÉ DA COSTA NUNES
A case-study of the Azorean episcopacy as a
subaltern elite of the Portuguese colonial rule in
Teotonio R. de Souza
shall delve more extensively on the Archbishop-Patriarch of Goa, D. José da Costa Nunes, because he symbolises
better than any other Azorean bishop in
By choosing to analyze the functioning of D.
should not be very difficult to understand my choice of the gramscian concept
of subalternity. Reduced to subalternity among the colonial powers,
particularly after their loss of control over great part of Asia, and with a
status further weakened by the loss of
Archipelago of Azores, made up of 9 islands,
was strategically located in the Atlantic Ocean at the cross-roads of
the maritime trade routes of the East and
To understand this better we need to recall the
conflicts of the Padroado and the Asian natives right from the start of the
Portuguese colonial presence. The Portuguese missionary drive was never without
resistance. The so-called “Martyrs of Cuncolim”, is just one major
conflicts of the Padroado with St. Thomas Christians in Malabar during the 17th
century in particular are well known. Also talented Goan native clerics were
systematically bypassed and their claims to occupy posts of responsibility in
parishes were resisted by the white Religious Orders. Even the respectable
Jesuits, like Francis Xavier and Valignano, are known to have expressed
feelings of colour prejudice towards the populations of the Indian
happened largely because the natives were unwilling to give up their cultures
or to easily given in to the western cultural pressures of the white missionaries.
In the first half of the 17th century Propaganda Fide consecrated the first
native Goan bishop, Matheus de Castro,
but his functioning was resented and blocked by the Portuguese Padroado
authorities. There is also the
famous instance of Goan clerics
leading a political revolt in 1787, known as the Conspiracy of the Pintos. It
ended in a ruthless suppression by the Portuguese authorities, who accused the
rebels of “high treason” and deported to
Following a brief presentation of the thirteen Azorean
bishops who were sent to the East from five islands of the archipelago,
namely Terceira, São Miguel,
The very first Azorean bishop appointed in 1636 to
serve in Asia, or more precisely in São Tomé of Mylapore, was a Franciscan,
Afonso de Benevides, from
Friar Cristovam da Silveira, born at the Angra do
Heroísmo, is the only Bishop from
São Jorge islands went out two bishops to Asia:
Manuel Bernardo de Sousa Ennes, a Franciscan, who after the suppression
of the religious order under liberal regime, joined the Faculty of Theology at
Two Azorean bishops in Asia were from the
Portuguese Padroado and its evolution
For the benefit of the less informed readers, here
follows a very brief sketch of the Padroado
or the Portuguese Crown Patronage in the East to help us situate the theme
under discussion. The Padroado had
its beginning in the age of Discoveries
in the XV century. In exchange of
the recognition of the exclusive Portuguese right to discover, dominate and
evangelize the countries and peoples of the East, the Papacy imposed upon the
Portuguese crown the obligation of taking care of all the expenses connected
with that process of evangelization, including the costs of building and
maintaining human and material resources. The bull Romani Pontifex of Nicholas V in Jan.
1455 gave the Portuguese authorities of the Order of Christ the right to
establish and maintain churches and monasteries and of presenting candidates to
run them in the newly discovered territories and in territories yet to be
discovered. In March of the same year Pope Calixtus III issued the bull Inter coetera confirming the earlier
privileges and obligations, conceding to Prince Henry, as Master of the Order
of Christ, the spiritual jurisdiction which would be exercised through the
Prior of Tomar. The bull Praeclara charissimi
of Julius III allowed the incorporation of the three existing military Orders
(Christ, Avis and
From 1514 the expansion of the Portuguese Padroado to
the East was done from the island base of Funchal, in
The Padroado system fared sufficiently well while the
Portuguese could enforce their maritime presence without much effective
resistance. During the union of the
Iberian crowns (1580-1640) the Dutch and
the English also looked for a share in the Eastern trade. The European rivalry
emboldened the native rulers to resist. The Portuguese military weakness and
lack of human resources to fulfil the obligations of the Padroado led the Holy See to establish the Congregation of
Propaganda Fide in
King John IV of
The expulsion of the Jesuits from
The other native of Pico was Jaime Garcia Goulart. Born in the parish of
Candelária in 1908, left for
The fifth and the last Azorean bishop from Pico island
was D. Arquimínio Rodrigues da Costa,
born in the parish of São Mateus, on 29
July 1924. He was admitted to Macau Seminary at the age of 14 anos. Was
ordained priest in October 1949, and in 1955 was interim rector of the
seminary. Two years later left for
Archbishop Costa Nunes was known to exercise himself
physically every day with long walks, had given up smoking since 1925, and was
frugal in his eating and very regular with his night sleep. His intellectual
capacities and talent for writing won him admiration in
The Indian government had been pressing
The performance of D.
The religious-political convictions of D.
D. José da
Costa Nunes was given a reception-cum-farewell party
at the Governor’s palace in the capital city of
But the same Patriarch was writing a piece of history
of the Portuguese Crown Patronage in the East some decades earlier: “
On his arrival and taking charge of Goa Archdiocese,
the Patriarch changed the name of the Archdiocesan Bulletin from Voz de S. Francisco Xavier to Boletim Eclesiástico da Arquidiocese de Goa, and started publishing therein with
regularity his “Letters to Priests of the Archdiocese”. Sixty of these letters
published between 1942 and 1946 were gathered into a book that was released in
From the third letter onwards there are constant
recommendations to the clergy to promote Catholic Action in order to prepare
the Christian elite to counter the threats of rationalism and communism to the
established social order. He cites examples of the success of Catholic Action
movement in various European countries. His forty-two letters addressed to the
youth contain his more detailed vision for the youth. In his letters to the
priests he touches upon several issues
that interest us: He sees no place for caste system in the Catholic community.
He points to cases of open protests of the oppressed castes in the subcontinent
and expresses fears that protests from below may lead to breakdown of the
Indian society. He recommends changes from above. He admits the reality and
even the need of different levels of functioning of the “classes” in a society,
but does not see place for caste in the modern times and does not want to see
any trace of it in the functioning of his priests. Regarding Indian nationalism and tendencies
to curb the freedom of missionary preaching, he sees them as contrary to
freedom of conscience that is guaranteed
in a democracy. He questions the veracity of accusations levelled
against the use of force by the Portuguese in converting people. He admits that
there may have been stray cases, but that it was not a rule. He explains the
“violence” as methods of a society moulded by Christian principles to allure
pagans to church by favouring the converts in every possible way. He sees that as measures adopted to safeguard
the freedom of cult against the social controls of the Hindus. The Patriarch
laments that in more recent times the Portuguese authorities have failed to
keep up the policy of the early colonizers. He imagines that if
Patriach’s silence about
Tristão Bragança-Cunha, a Goan nationalist and
freedom-fighter, was the first Goan deported to
“For us, Portuguese, this
“Why wonder if we refuse to quit? A soldier who sheds his blood for his national territory is worth more than a coffer full of gold or fine speeches which move audiences. Numbers do not count, but only the quality of each unit. In the past, with few we did great things….
Goa and other Eastern lands, where lives the race sung
by our national poet, are in our days the greatest centres of culture and
T.B. Cunha wonders about the partiality and double
standards of the
The clearest political utterance of D.
In 1958, the Portuguese dictator,
text is Part II of a conference at the XI International Seminar of
Indo-Portuguese History (Golden Jubilee Session) held in
 Casimiro Cristóvão de Nazareth, Clero de Goa: Seus serviços à Religião e à Nação, Nova Goa, Casa Luso-Francesa, 1927.
the fag end of the Portuguese colonial regime in Goa two Goans were appointed
bishops in Africa, but none was deemed fit for taking charge of their church at
home or elsewhere in the colonies or in Portugal. There were in the meantime at
least 20 bishops of Goan origin in the Indian dioceses, and two were cardinals,
 Cristiana Bastos, “Um Centro Subalterno?
A Escola Médica de Goa e o Império”. Comunicação apresentada no Seminário
“Tensões coloniais e Reconfigurações pós-coloniais”, Convento da Arrábida, 1-5
de Novembro de 1999. Uma
versão mais expandida foi publicada
 Avelino de Freitas de Meneses, “Angra na
rota da Índia: funções, cobiças e tempos”, A
Carreira da Índia e as Rotas dos Estreitos, org.
 http://www.terravista.pt/aguaalto/2365/Calamidades/calamidades.htm There is information about earthquakes and
volcanic eruptions covering past five centuries with almost a decennial
frequency. The last major occurrence was on 9th July 1998 around
5:19 morning with a magnitude of 5,6 Richter scale, with its epicenter at NNE
of Faial island, causing widespread destruction. Several zones of Pico and a
parto f St. Jorge (Rosais) were also
affected. 8 persons died in
 Miguel Tremoço de Carvalho, Gaspar Frutuoso: O historiador das Ilhas, Funchal, CEHA, 2001.
first two cases of this disease were detected in
The disease is
associated with a mutation of the MJD1 gene of chromosome 14. Clinical features
include progressive ataxia, dysarthria, postural instability, eyelid retraction
and facial fasciculations. Dystonia is prominent in younger patients (referred
to as Type I Machado-Joseph Disease). Type II features ataxia and ocular signs;
Type III features muscle atrophy and a sensorimotor neuropathy; and Type IV
features extrapyramidal signs combined with a sensorimotor neuropathy. It is
found to affect 1 out of every 2402 persons
 Teotonio R. de Souza,”Why Cuncolim
Martyrs? Na historical re-assessment”, Jesuits in Índia: in Historical Perspective,
Teotonio R. de Souza, “The Indian Christians of St. Thomas and the Portuguese
Padroado: Rape after a century-long courtship (1498-1599)”, Christen und Gewurze, ed.
 J.H. da Cunha Rivara, Goa and the Revolt of 1787, Ed. Charles J.Borges, New Delhi, Concept Publishing Company, 1996.
 Casimiro Cristóvão de Nazareth, Clero de Goa: Seus serviços à Religião e à Nação, Nova Goa, Casa Luso-Francesa, 1927, pp.10-14.
 Teotonio R. de Souza, “Christianization and cultural conflict in Goa, 16th-19th centuries”, Congresso internacional de história: Missionação portuguesa e encontro de culturas, Actas, Vol.IV, Braga, 1993, pp. 383-393.
 José Augusto Pereira, “Memória Histórica
de Açorianos que foram Bispos”, I Congresso Açoriano (Lisboa, Grémio dos
 Fortunato de Almeida, História da Igreja em Portugal, vol. II, Livraria Civilização Editora, Porto, Lisboa, 1968, p. 702.
 José Augusto Pereira, “Memória Histórica de Açorianos que foram Bispos”, Livro do I Congresso Açoriano,Lisboa, 8- 15 de Maio de 1938, Grémio dos Açores, Ponta Delgada, 1995, p. 275.
 Luís Salgado de Matos, “Os bispos portugueses: da Concordata ao 25 de Abril – alguns aspectos”, Análise Social, Lisboa, vol. XXIX, nos. 125-126, p. 350.
 Charles-Martial de Witte, Les lettres papales concernant l’expansion portugaise au XVIe siècle, Immensee, Nouvelle Revue de Science missionaire, 1986.
 Manuel Saturnino da Costa Gomes, “Nomeação de Párocos e Bispos – artigos IX, X”, A Concordata de 1940 – Portugal – Santa Sé, Lisboa, Edições Didaskalia, 1993, pp. 174-185.
 Luís Doria, Do Cisma ao Convénio: Estado e Igreja de
 Eduardo Brazão, Colecção de concordatas estabelecidas entre Portugal e a Santa Sé de
 João Paulino de Azevedo e Castro, Provisões e Outros Escritos, vol. II, Macau, 1997, p. 749.
 Ermelindo Ávila, “Picoenses – Emigrantes no Mundo”, II Congresso de Comunidades Açorianas, (26 - 30 November 1986), Angra do Heroísmo, 1986, pp. 259-260.
 Ermelindo Ávila, “Picoenses – Emigrantes
no Mundo”, II Congresso de Comunidades
 João Paulino de Azevedo e Castro, Provisões e Outros Escritos, vol. II, Macau, 1997, p. 750-756.
 José Augusto Pereira, “Memória Histórica de Açorianos que foram Bispos”, I Congresso Açoriano (Lisboa, 8 -15 May1938) Ponta Delgada, Grémio dos Açores, 1995, pp. 275-277.
 Arquiminio Rodrigues da Costa, “A response to «Church and political transition in Goa», Tripod, 1989, Nº. 2, pp. 56-65.
 Cardeal Costa Nunes – in Memoriam no Centenario do Nascimento 1880-1980, ed. José Machado Lourenço, Secretriado Braga, nacional do Apostolado da Oração, Editorial A O, 1980, pp.11-12.
 O Heraldo, Panjim, 29-30 November , 1-2 December 1977.
Christian response to the Report is contained in Truth Shall Prevail, ed.
 New edition was brought out by The Other Press at Kualalumpur in 1993 with a new preface by Claude Alvares and Teotonio R. de Souza.
 Manuel Braga da Cruz, O Estado Novo e a Igreja Católica, Lisboa, Ed. Bizâncio, 1998, p.111.
 Loc. cit.
 Ibid., p.7.
 Ibid., pp. 26-28.
 Ibid., pp. 35-41.
 Ibid., pp. 43-53.
 Ibid.,pp. 71-74.
 Ibid.,pp. 81-85.
 Ibid.,pp. 87-91.
 Ibid.,pp. 93-94.
 Ibid.,pp. 105-109
 Ibid.,pp. 112-115
was recognized as the prime representative of Goa’s freedom struggle and his
ashes are preserved in a monument dedicated to those who died for Goa’s freedom
struggle in the capital city of
 "Gilberto Freyre in India: Championing Transnational Luso-Tropicalism", Studies in History of the Deccan:Medieval and Modern: Professor A.R.Kulkarni Felicitation Volume, [Eds.] M.A.Nayeem, Anirudha Ray and K.S.Mathew, New Delhi, Pragati Publishers, 2002, pp.253-262.
“Anti-Indian activities of Catholic Missionaries”, in Goa’s Freedom Struggle: Selected Writings of T.B. Cunha,
 Cartas aos Sacerdotes, p. 279-280.
 Ibid., pp. 115,143.
de História Religiosa de Portugal, IV, ed. Carlos Moreira Azevedo, Lisboa,
Circulo de Leitores, 2000, p. 409; António Marujo, “Quando o bispo do Porto se
demarcou da oposição”, Público, Lisboa,
22 April 1999;
 Manuel Braga da Cruz, op.cit., pp.69-77.
 Textos do Cardeal Costa Nunes – Pastorais, Vol. V, Macau, 1999, p. 33.