Separation and Cooperation: Toward “Fairness” model of Inclusion of the Other Religions, Catholic Church and the State in Timor-Leste
Martinho G. da Silva Gusmão
This paper was presented in International Symposium: Religious Pluralism in Global Perspectives; hosted by the University of California, Santa Barbara – Religious Studies Department and funded by US State Department, 13 July 2016
The role of religions in building the nation is very important. This idea was writen and set out in the Constitution of República Democrática de Timor-Leste. Admittedly, the concept of nation building is distinguished from state building. Since the restauration of the independence of RDTL in 20 May 2002, state building has become a central and even a specific approach by the United Nations and international support to the country. The political and academic spectra have come to see the state-building as the preferred strategy to build a high-profile of the State institutions, like, Presidency of the Republic, the National Parliament, Government and Judiciary system. Most of United Nations Missions in Timor-Leste were focused on a security dimension, a law enforcement and political dimension, and an economic dimension to measure the progress of state building smoothly.
The focus of this paper is on nation-building. Unfortunately in many efforts, the United Nations and International engagement in Timor-Leste have used this concept interchangeably with state-building. The two concept have a complex relationship, but state building cannot guarantee nation building. In this paper, I argue that nation building has to deal with nation, which conventionally refers to the given group of people, their culture and customary, their socialization and internalization, more specially their faith and religions. Timor-Leste is one of only two predominantly Catholics countries in Asia; the other being the Philippines.
In 22 March 2002, the Assembly of Constituent of Timor-Leste solemnly presented the new Constitution in vigor. According to the Constitution, the Nation of Timor-Leste is built on the conviction by “Interpretando o profundo sentimento as aspirações e a fé em Deus do Povo de Timor-Leste” – interpreting the profound feeling all the aspirations and the faith in God of the People of Timor-Leste. It means that the State recognize religions as part of the nation building. Nonetheless, Constitution retains the “laïcite” of the State – i.e., secular state or “Estado laico”. In this line, the State solemnly proclaims, as it puts in the preamble of the Constitution, the sacred duty “erigir uma cultura democratica” (to build a democratic culture) and “estabelecer as regras essenciais da democracia pluralista” (to establish the essentials rules of a pluralist democracy). Concerning religious life, the Constitution uses two overall interconnecting terms, namely, “separação” (art 45, no. 1) and yet “cooperação” (article 12, no. 2).
Now, does the State of Timor-Leste choose Catholic Church as a preferential religion, for the obvious reason that Catholicism is the dominant religious confession of the people? Where is the place and role of the other religions, i.e., Protestantism, Islamism and native religious cult toward nation building in course?
Nation Building: Does it Really Work?
Nation building is the process of constructing the identity of the “nation”, “nationalism” or “nation-ness”. In this regards, I echo with Ben Anderson, which was suggested that, “nation is an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign” (italics is mine). Indeed, he belived that constructing the nation and structuring nationality begins with the territorialization of religious communities and traditional kinship even if in the limit of imagination alone. In other word, nation building had anticipated state building.
Timor-Leste is imagined by the people from Lospalos to Oe-Cusse, from Loromonu (western) to Lorosae (eastern), firaku (eastern ethnic) and kaladi (western ethnic), even if not everyone know well their fellow-members. Anderson referred to this imagining in a subtle formulation that Timores aware of their “natives … They were now conscious of being subjected to a single development project, and of having in common, in the minds of their rulers, their ineradicable ‘nativeness’ …”. He pointed out very clearly about ‘their ineradicable nativeness’. The word ‘nativeness’ has to do with the word “nascere; natio” (verb, Lt): to born, to raise, to grow; and “natus” (noun): place where some is born, live and grow up. From this word derives “nation” (Fr): place where someone belongs to and what someone believes in! Note that, in the general theory and philosophy of politics, the idea of nation, nationality and nationalism, or “nation-ness” came into relief following the French Revolution (1789) and has gained peace-meal works of scholars during wartime 1942 until 1955, year of Asian-African Conference in Bandung. Furthermore, the self-consciousness of being “timores” was not constructed by Portuguese colonialism, but in fact, imagined particularistically nets of Liu-rais (traditional kinship) and Catholic missionaries. On the other hand, Catholicism had helped to define the style in which timores can be imagined, as it is today. Effectively, the first promoters of “nacionalismo” had been students from Catholic schools, like Nicolau Lobato, Ramos Horta, Francisco Xavier do Amaral, Francisco Borja da Costa, Francisco Xavier Lopes da Cruz, Cesar Augusto Mouzinho, Domingos de Oliveira, José Fernando Osório Soares, and so on! They came to the political arena in 1975 in fostering the revolution toward the independence of the country.
Furthermore, Anderson argued that Timor-Leste is limited to the eastern part of the island of Timor. In fact, the other side – Timor Barat – is part of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT), an Indonesian province. In 1896, under the Den Hag Treaty, Timor was divided in two parts, and colonized by Portugal and Holland, respectively. Of course, there were political and military reasons running behind the division of the island. But, they were also included the religions matter in the process of negotiation between Portugal and Holland to establish “catholic regions” and “protestant regions”. Consequently, from the beginning, Timor-Leste has been imagining as limited to catholic regions. During Indonesian occupation, dramatically, Anderson depicts this separation by saying that, “… at the same time a popular Catholicism has emerged as an expression of a common suffering … This Catholic commonality in some sense substitutes for the kind of nationalism … Moreover, the decision of the Catholic hierarchy in East Timor to use Tetun, not Indonesian, as the language of the Church, has had profoundly nationalizing effects”.
Finally, after the restauration of the independence, the Constitution vibrantly stated that, the foundation of the State is “ … a construção de um país justo e próspero e o desenvolvimento de uma sociedade solidária e fraterna” – building of a just and prosperous nation and the development of solidarity and fraternity in society. Ultimately, Timor-Leste is based on this horizontal comradeship or fraternity that makes the impossibility in gaining the independence becomes possible. During the 1975–1999s struggle, so many people suffer to death in reaching the sovereign of Timor-Leste. People of Timor-Leste imagined themselves in the community which “speaking” the same language – Tetun – voicing the sufferings and exploitation. I would think that, “the language of the Church” is not a merely vocabularies or tool of communication, but ontological vernacular which made people to understand the reality in working. For example, in religious songs and liturgical worship, the people of Timor-Leste express their profound repercussion of real life in spiritual language, vice versa. As one most suggested phrase said, “liu husi rai fuik ema halerik, liu husi nakukun ema tanis … sira buka Ita Boot naroman” (crossing the desert people are lamenting, crossing the darkness people are tearing; they are searching Your Light oh Lord). Abundantly, in so many spiritual songs and worships in the Catholic Church, there are expressions like “terus” (suffer), “tanis” (cry), “halerik” (lament), “kanek” (wound), “moras” (sick), “hamlaha” (hungry), “hamrok” (thirsty), “mate” (death), and the like. Paradoxically, this language of the Church resounding what Karl Marx said that, “Religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sight of the oppressed creature, the feeling of heartless world, and the soul of soulless circumstances”, however he theatrical added, “It is the opium of the people”. Perhaps the emblematic and appropriate words is, when Bishop Carlos F.X. Belo SDB awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 1996, he summarized the whole history by stating that the Catholic Church has been “voice of voiceless people of East Timor”.
Today, nationalism has reoccupied the central problem in Timor-Leste. In spite of the dominant discourse of State-Building, the question is: what does really make people continue to sacrifice when they realize that most of “warrior statesmen” imagined themselves as new aristocracy class of the ancien regimé and are leading this country to such a huge social injustice? How does then Catholic Church to dream of a wholly Christian planet, if the people still live in the valley of crying? Does Catholic Church need to have networking with other Religions? The answer in this paper is Catholic Church and other Religions must work together shoulder on shoulder with the State in constructing and structuring the nation.
Concordat 2015: The Cooperation After Corporate Statism
Within the constitucional framework, the State tremendously recognizes the fundamental role of Catholic Church during the political struggle for independence of the nation; she became the moral force of and humanitarian assylum for the people of Timor-Leste. As it is stated in the Preamble of the Constitution, “Na sua vertente cultural e humana, a Igreja Católica em Timor-Leste sempre soube assumir com dignidade o sofrimento de todo o povo, colocando-se ao seu lado na defesa dos seus mais elementares direito” – in its cultural and human aspect, the Catholic Church in East Timor always knew assume with dignity the suffering of all the people, putting up at his side in defending their most basic right. Then following by the article 12, no. 2, said that, “O Estado reconhece e valoriza a participação da Igreja Católica no processo de libertação nacional de Timor-Leste”; – The State recognizes and values the participation of the Catholic Church in East Timor national liberation process.
In the eve of 500 years of evangelization in Timor island, the State of Vatican and Timor-Leste have signed a memorial treaty in settling another milestone for the better cooperation of both in the county where the people predominantly are catholic. The celebration of that concordat – 14 August 2015 – are represented by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of Vatican on behalf of the holy see, and Prime Minister Dr. Rui M. Araujo from the part of Timor-Leste. Cardinal Parolin stated that the concordat aims to boost the cooperation of “the integral development of the people in justice, peace and the common good”. In force of that agreement, Catholic Church will continue her contribution in the service of the people, in educational and social matters, based on the constitucional framework.
From long standing of its historical presence in Timor since 1515, Cardinal Parolin stated that Catholic Church “has been radically rooted in the history of the Timorese people who embraced the Catholic Church, not by the force of the sword, but by the opennes of their heart”.
This concordat led the memory back to what Professor Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, the President of Portugal (1932-1968), did with the holy see represented by Cardinal Luigi Millione, plenipotentiary representative of Pope Pius XII, in 1940. The concordat was to reiterate and regulate the mutual cooperation “for peace and the greater good of the Church and the State”. In the same document, it was stated that this “solemn Convention which recognises and guarantees the freedom of the Church and protects the legitimate interests of the Portugues Nation, including what regards the Catholic Missions and the Patronage of the Orient”.
In his Historia, the former bishop of the Diocese of Dili, Dom Carlos F.X. Belo SDB (Nobel Peace Prize 1996) depicts how this patronage worked through the figur of Vice del Rey (viceroy) in the past history of Timor-Leste. The viceroy was indicating the existence of and extension of power at the center (metropole) Portugal in his Far East province based in Goa (India) and Macau (China). Timor-Leste was taking part in Macau’s province. Vice del Rey is the control center of administration and commander of military, including religious activities of the missionaries in the colony. Apparently around him there are a number of oficials representing each aspect, i.e., “Governador” for administration, “Capitão-mor” for military affairs; and “Bispo” (bishop) in charge of the missionaries. For better and for worse of the control of power were highly dependent on Vice del Rey. Even though in 20 April 1911, Portuguese First Republic put in force the Law of Separation between Church and State, it did not give very much implication to the ultramarine Patronage of the Orient.
That concordat of 1940 was somewhat mostly to recognize or legitimate “the Patronage of the Orient”. One of its repercution was the foundation of the Diocese of Dili by bishop Dom Jose da Costa Nunes. He was the bishop of Macau, one of the Far East Province in the colony of Portugal. Through his long “eloquent diplomacy”, in September 1940, the Diocese of Dili was erected and gained its autonomy from Macau. After the horrible invasion of Japanese militarism in Far East, by October 1945 the first bishop was ordained and established in Dili, Dom Jaime Garcia Goulart.
In addition, the history of concordats begins in 325, when the Emperor Constantine made the first agreement with the Church and privileged catholic faith as the religion of the empire. Again, with Pope Theodosius I (378-395), the same Emperor strengthened the religious monopoly of the church, laying the foundations of the temporal power of the popes and of the Papal States. That was the beginning of collusion between terrestrial power and spiritual authority, nepotism between emperors and religious leaders, corruption within the so called caesaropapism.
From then on, Popes always made concordat with Catholic nations arround the world. The most crucial and intriguing concordats, were probably that of Pope Pius XII with Benito Mussolini from Italy (1929), Adolf Hitler (1933) from Germany, and Francisco Franco (1953) from Spanish, including Salazar (1940). They were, obviously, best known as the most authoritarian regime in Europe. Behind these agreements laid a prety clear political interests in which Catholic Church endorsed ‘civil liberty’ of regime in exchange for the privileges granted to the Church.
After Second World War, the Catholic Church reviewed all concordats in the light of Second Vatican Council. The modern version of concordat was resuscitated with the Polish Concordat in 1993, following by Slovenia and Brasil, and so many others. The concordat signed with Portugal in 1940, was reviwed in 1975, following the Revolution lead by the Captains Movement in Portugal – Movimento das Forças Armadas (MFA). That treaty was reviwed again in 2005.
It is prety clear when Primier Rui M. Araujo applauded that concordat signed by himself, stating that, “The people of Timor-Leste have known that the Catholic Church has played a significant role in the past 500 years, much more during our struggles for independence. The Catholic Church has helped in moral and religious education of the people and provided them with spiritual dan material assistance during the liberation process”. The Premeir publicly always demonstrates his catholic devotion.
The concordat has the defect that can lead the cooperation of the State and Catholci Church toward corporate statism (state corporatism). From political culture perspective, it means that religions (i.e., Catholic Church) adhere to the State as one body. The State could require religions to join officialy designated “national interest”. In many sense, this interest (or interests) defined by the State as sacred duty in national policymakeing. As the result, the State has power to control over the groups (including Catholic Church); and perhaps Catholic Church has great control over her members. Timor-Leste had have this experience of corporate statism in the era of Salazar.
Timor-Leste had that experiencies during the dictatorship of Salazar, when concordat 1940 put in place which affected very much the policy of the colonial regime. After the fall of Salazar and the decline of Portuguese colonialism (1974), Timor-Leste was occupied by Indonesia (1975-1999). That period was plainly dominated by “New Order” regime headed by General Soeharto. He strongly believe that a nation must be built on three pillars – Government, Military and Religions.
“Separação”: Rethinking the Multi-façade of Catholicism in Timor-Leste
In the light of Concordat, the Catholic Church and the State have had permanent legal force. From this concordat, I understand that, the separation between Religions and State become find the clearly drawing line.
The concept of “separação” precisely means sharing of power; dividing the ruling body into executive, legislative and judicial, indeed. It was what Baron de Montesquieu suggested in his The Spirit of Laws (1750). This work had scandalized French Monarch and was banned by Roman Catholic hierarchy. Plainly, this separation was developed in political theory to define the independent powers and areas of responsibility in such a way that the power of each part are not in conflict of interests with the others.
Imprecisely, often the idea of “separation of power” is used to designated the limits and frontiers of the State and Church; or, Religions. It is not the case. Basically, the separation of power means the division of responsibility in exercising the core functions of each branches (executive, legislative, judicial) in the process of building the state. It requires, of course, legal control for checking and balancing such power in order to prevent the concentration of any sort.
Interestingly, the Constitution states that “A toda a pessoa é assegurado a liberdade de consciência, de religião e de culto, encontrando-se as confissões religiosas separadas do Estado”; – every person is guaranteed freedom of conscience, religion and worship, facing that religious confessions are separated form the State (article 45, no. 1). What does it mean? How is this possibly to understand?
I argue that the separation of Religious Confessions and the State must be placed in moral control. Religions cannot be a part of the State, let alone coopted in it. For a long time, Catholic Church in Timor-Leste had playing the role as “voice of voiceless people of Eat Timor” (taking from Bishop Belo’s speech). Grievances were always present, and so could not explain the up and down or the rise and fall of Catholicism in Timor-Leste, which were determined by multi-façade of Catholic Church.
Multi façade of Catholicism in Timor-Leste consists of discrete, measurable items, such as doctrinal (rituals, devotionals, hierarchical), political (fusions of power) and popular (culture of silence).
From the last point, popular catholicism which is largely characterizing majority of people of Timor-Leste. Why did the catholicism become so popular within timores communities? Obviously, the factors involved are complex and various. One case can be made clear that, from the beginning there were the conflation of catholic doctrin and traditional or cosmic religious, namely “lulik” (the sacred), which lives in the imagination of timores (people of Timor). The term “lulik” is always understood in it correlatedness with the environment and human life. For example, “fatuk lulik” (sacred rock), “we lulik” (sacred water or river), “rai lulik” (sacred land), “uma lulik” (sacred house), and so on. In the soil of Timorese cultures and customs, there are rather pantheism than monotheism. The step took by catholic church has been that of inculturation, where missionaries and traditional kinship lived side by side in harmonious way. Indeed, catholic church adopted “local language” and “religious expression” then obsorved them in a spontaneous and brilliant way of doing inculturative theology. For example, the concept of “na’ilulik” (lordship) which was adpoted to call the priest; “Maromak” (you are the light) to name God as eternal Light. In 1856, Father Gregorio de Virgem Maria Barreto, OP (the first native priest) was brilliantly working hard to convinced the Dominican Order to provide catechism in local language: Tetum and Baiqueno. Today, Tetum becomes national language. The cohabitation between catholicism and new effort of using local language, slowly created the genesis of nationalism. In effect, Fr. Gregorio spontaneously changed “monopolize Latin” and made Latin’s religious authority be part of political analogue.
But the real “vernacular language” was, of course, voicing the suffering of people. This is the point where we find the conflation of cultural tradition and political allegiance – i.e., nationalism and catholicism in a very strong sense.
Nowadays, popular catholicism faces the conflation of so-called “new religons” which are dominating, and creating conflict, till to violence among religions. The intriguing point is that, the center creed of popular catholicism is suffering. They believe that faith and life, suffering and God is one. In their mind, they believe that there is cause of and way out from that suffering; the path to end this suffering is catholic church (in minor tone, they affiliated to protestant and islam). For long experience, in the very dark ages of the history of Timor-Leste, people have been founding and trusting the church as the place where they find the strong defense for their life. Somehow, the suffering also related very much to economic life. Consequently, it is also hugely come as relativism religiosity or materialism spirituality; they worship god of food, god of shelter, god of medicine, and so on. The people can easily leave their catholic faith and commitments for encountering benefits from “new religions” because they have fund and food. These alone already bring about conflict among mainline religions (catholic, protestant and islam) which is also spread to the mainstream sects like jehova’s witness, christian visions, and others.
Next point is on doctrincal catholicsm, wherein the hierarchy plays the fundamental and strong role in the society of Timor-Leste. Bishops and Priests are the preachers which transmit the messages from God. They proclaim the faith of catholic in the Bible and teach the people to worship God. People obey God through accepting the preaching and put in practice. They provide ministery of sacraments, which express living faith toward God and eternal life. But, in one way or another, not rarely this model can fall into clericalism. In pejorative manner, clericalism is often become political power of Bishops dan Priests (and their supporters, or “cronyism”) in politic, economic and social affairs. Outside the clergy, very frequently clericalism also means an application of church-based thought (or theology) to secular issue. In the aforementionded of history, it is important to discern in very clear way the implementation of concordat, namely, how to work in fair way the separation and cooperation of church and state. Because, clericalism is not truly involving of clericalism. Bishops and Priest should not act as a powerful force in matters beyond the internal concerns of catholic church. If the legal framework clearly put in force, then every wrongdoing of clergy or their leadership cannot be covering up easily. If so, then clericalism has come to mean a division between ordained church leader and the lay leader which are also catholic faith devoted.
The history of Timor-Leste told that in wartime, Bishops and Priest played such tremendous role in defense to the worst-off people. Not infrequently, they form the central point of power, and become the energetic engagement with pluriformity in politics matter. For example, Monsenhor Martinho da Costa Lopes were playing the ever strong role against the communism movement inside FRETILIN, but also brought a robust opposition against Indonesian militarism in 1975-1983. Following him, Bishop Carlos F.X. Belo SDB, which eminently has become the symbol of political resistance but yet “voice of voiceless people of Timor-Leste” against Indonesia, as well as to guerillas resistance in Timor-Leste in 1983-2003. The visit of Pope John Paul II (12 October 1989) had remarkable put Catholic Church in the front line of Timor-Leste’s liberation movement. Indeed, from this monumental visit the Pope opened the door and broken every kind of the diplomacy isolation in Indonesian foreign policy. Today, this doctrinal catholicism forms coroner stone of informal authority, and, in certain measure, Bishops dan Priests in Timor-Leste become “moral opposition” with big traffic between Protestan and Islam leaders, not excluding political parties leaders. This moral force is not only a given, but also achievement of long struggle in Timor-Leste for Timorese people. Conflicts with political catholicism, in consequence, will be a reality of everyday tensions.
Finally, political catholicism which is the active seeking of understanding across lines of politicians and clergies, but yet, the most fascinating political intrigue among parts. Exaggeratedly to say, political is coined with clerical within catholicism in very long historical standing. One cannot understand politics in Timor-Leste, if he/she does not understand catholic religion. Here is the place wherein intrigue raises up, which in Italian is called “svolta cesaristica” (cesaristic turn). In the Gospel, it is said, “give to the Cesar what is belong to the Cesar, and to God what is belong to God”. Generally it is interpreted as if Jesus Christ insists the separation between politic and religion. However, in modern theology of politic, the words mean exactly “cooperation”, or at least dialectic between moral and power. In many occasion, “svolta cesaristica” occurs in a sort of “soft dictatorship”, when a regime takes religion and put it in the overall corporation. Consequently, when a priest keep “silencio magno” (big silence) on political issues then he will be considered as a piety and saint pastor; but as soon as he puts the question on social injustice, corruption, collusion and nepotism then he will be blamed as “red pastor”, reaccionista or communist.
Plainly, in the history of Timor-Leste, there were three authorship of this kind of political catholicism, i.e., Salazar (Portugal), Soekarno and Soeharto (Indonesia). Salazar was known as a devoted catholic person. His political policy was designed in a way that catholic church privileged in the whole imperium in “metropolis” (Portugal), but also “regards the Catholic Missions and the Patronage of the Orient”. His regime has been the longest in Europe (1932-1974) because of coorporative system. Salazar always said “orgulhosamente sós” – that is, the Portuguese people should be proud of their own force; they should not be subjected to the whims of other nations. He also counted the “cooperation” of catholic church in maintaining and curing his power. Facing the opposition critiques, Salazar used to say, “sei muito bem o que quero, e para onde vou” (I know very well what I want, and to where I go). He is no sympathetic of criticism and opposition.
From 1975 to 1999, Timor-Leste was occupied by Indonesia. Basically, in these periods, Indonesia has strongly dominated by the regim of Soekarno and successively by Soeharto. These two presidents of Indonesia had their specific way of cooperation with religions, mostly Islam. The first president of Indonesia, Soekarno (since 1945), famously played the conceptional game of NASAKOM (Nasionalis, Agamis, Komunis) – that is, an awesome combination of nationalists, religious leaders and communism. They were all submited to so-called “Demokrasi Terpimpin” (Guided Democracy): a corporative of religion and state, including communism. Soekarno was taking very big burden in his political adventurism. And, he failed to manage his power. He falled in 1968 when the communist party (PKI: Partai Komunis Indonesia) betrayed Soekarno by conducting coup d’etat in 30 September 1965. The propaganda and manifest of communist party was end up by killing 7 generals from Indonesian army.
Indonesian army reacted against the communist party. During 2 years after September ’65 turmoil, Soekarno was still in power. But for security measure, he delivered the authority to General Soeharto to take control over ‘communist rebellions’. General Soeharto took the very first opportunity to congeal PKI. And, softly he put Soekarno in “special custody” from communist influence. By the end, Soeharto handed over the power in 1968. Under the regime of “Demokrasi Pancasila” (Five Principle of Democracy), Soeharto managed to uniforming the pluralism society of Indonesia under the principle of One God, humanity, unity of Indonesia, representativeness, and social justice. Concerning, the relationship of State and Religions, Soeharto prevailed Islam. Nontheless, in Timor-Leste he treated in very special way, so that, the catholicism increased in fantastic way from 29% during Portugues colonialism to 98% during Soeharto dictatorship.
Democratic regimes constructed by Salazar, Soekarno and Soeharto had deeply influenced the characteristic of Timores leadership. The term democratic regime is likely ambivalent and intriguing. Generally, a regime is composed by three main elements, i.e., a conception of worldlife (subjective, objective and social view of values and norms); the structural organization of power that aims to achieve and manage the power (example: political parties); and, the praxis of making power implemented by all means. So, the regime is the power which is systematically arranged in order maintain as long as possible, and unfortunately, by all means that power. The regime basically emphasizes uniformism and monolythic to sustain the national stability and social obedience. Particularly, when one links regime with the democracy, then it looses the sense of freedom which gives the atmosphere for pluralism and opposition.
Today Timor-Leste is living under two main protagonists: Xanana Gusmão (catholic confessed faith), the ruling party leader and Mari Alkatiri (islam) from opposition party. They both are in one sense or another constructing Timores politics under democratic regime. On the surface, either Xanana and Alkatiri do very well in stablishing the relationship with religious leadres, specially catholic hierarchy. Nevetheless, the “svolta cesaristica” is there, when it is concerning any kinds of criticism from priests in relation to the “use” and “abuse” of power. Quiet unbelievable that, opposition leader like Mari Alkatiri and his party Fretilin are very much unwelcomed for any critique from activists and scholars, including catholic church. Naturally, in any case oppositions need very much different voicess from societies to increase their political manuver. Surprisingly, the opposition leaders and party prefer to submit to the ruling party (or parties), rather than doing political supervision and social control on behalf of people. Rarely, Mari Alkatiri will reacting intelectually before any well-balance point of view from catholic church and civil society organizations. Mainly, he will fight back to his opponents with synical and sometimes sarcastic, or at least not sympathetic. On the other side, Xanana Gusmão frequently plays as an “unknown hand” behind so many stages of political scenes. His is unpredictable in analyzing, but effectively can be observed in many political noisy in Timor-Leste.
Interestingly to mention that, all the members of National Parliament are catholics (except the opposition leader, Dr. Mari Alkatiri, of islam and Leonel Marçal, of protestant), including members of Government. They will become very catholic devoted in the eve of elections, or, in any social conflicts which bring about the escalation of violence. During turmoil times, the politician always trust catholic church to do better in handling the conflicts. When the rumors had been overcome, then they easily put aside that good relation with priests or catholics base activists.
But, the main point is that, most of the Members of National Parliament are imagining themselves as Timorese “aristocracy” of ancien régime as a new emerging class. Notwithstanding, it is surely false imagination. They consider Xanana Gusmão as “the lord of Timor-Leste”, and Mari Alkatiri as the “Barrone de Oe-Cusse”, and their family are member of “aristocracy”. Sadly sounds that MNP are clients of “Duca de Gusmão” and, moreover member of Fretilin are living in the thrall of “dynasti of Alkatiri”. Even though Fretilin-party are opposition, but they never play that role. These two bigger parties imagined their sovereign over people and nation. They believe in the past time of revolution, wherein they wanted to destroy church and people of Timor-Leste. Now, they still imagine that, religons, or, catholic church (hierarchy) must be de-territorilized, and, the gage and emblem of this nation is the sovereign state of Timor-Leste. For this purpose, political parties (Fretilin and CNRT) dominate the channel of TVTL and radio to launch the verbal violent attack and insinuate of “ungrateful” of the hierarchy of catholic church for “finance grant” that provided by state.
In sum, the interaction between statesmen and clergies are always dynamic and complex. They do not linear of any sort, but dialectial. It means that their relationship is working in an unending mutual negation, contradiction and mediation.
“Fairness” Model of Inclusion: Constructing the Democratic Culture
Concordat has been a very helpful entry point to construct the cooperation between Catholic Church and the State. The problem is, of course, where are the positions of the other religions (Protestant and Islam)? There are at least three points of concordat, which can be considered as entry point and agenda for all inclusive cooperation of Religions and the State. Following Jürgen Habermas, inclusive-ness and inclusion contemplates solidarity, form a community that resists all abolishing discrimination and harm. More specifically, the inclusion of Religions and the State are open to each other, and yet each remain in their otherness. Cooperation of the State and Religions do not and shall not mean collusion and nepotism which lead all into the ruin of corruption.
First, the concordat reminds that both parts are working together “in line with constitutional norms and local legislation”. Clearly, this is the notion where the State and Religions need to address the matter of religious freedom which play a helpful role in resolving social and political conflict. Timor-Leste had very bad experience in the past time. The most devastating conflict was back in May 2005, when Catholic Church resisted against the government of Mari Alkatiri which forced, under law, to remove every “religious teaching” from public schools. Fretilin party, as single majority in Parliament, issued the law and had come into vigour without any public consultation, not including catholic church either. The hierarchy and people came together in 19 days of non-violence protest against the government to remove the law and that “pilot project”. Arrogantly, against this demonstration, Mari Alkatiri said, “I am the ruler! No comma or point should I change”. Alkatiri also ordered the security force to shoot the crowd within the ultimatum day. But after 19 days, he declined. In effect, he undermind catholic church as majority faith base community. But, he just drops his minority muslim community into dilemma. For in one hand, they are very small community which has no power for bargaining; and yet they trust in Mari Alkatiri as a precious Islam representative in politics, in the other hand. The Protestant churches were keep to wait and see into what direction the wind will blowing. The resolution was, government of Alkatiri settled a joint commission to discuss a framework for cooperation between the State, Catholic, Protestant and Islam. That was really a fabulous lesson learning of how to tackle the conflict between the State and Religions, power and moral. Naturally, the first agenda is that the State should address the legal framework for religious freedom claims.
Secondly, it is stated that “The agreement defines … performing works of charity, establishing schools at every level and assisting Catholic parents in the education of their children in their own fatih”. Agenda of religious education is at stake. Catholic Church promotes an ambitious agenda in the schools, namely educating to intercultural dialogue … living in harmony for a civilization of love. This document emphasizes intercultural dialogue based on pluralism. Catholic Church is key articulator of “living in harmony for a civilization of love”. Protestant Church and Islam Community are including in the alliance to articulate this model of education. Their sheer number enhances awareness of choice, at least when Religions aim to persuade, to do their job well, which need a certain critical distance. In this perspective, Protestant Churches and Islam Community together with Catholic Church construct their alliance, capable of conceiving alternatives and arriving at a definition of what “we” really want, as well as discerning what commands “our” adherence. The State accommodates this intercultural dialogue in an official act.
Third, both the State and Catholic Church agree in concordat for “mutual collaboration for the integral development of the people in justice, peace and the common good”. This claim is very crucial point. Constitution of RDTL stated that, “The State shall promote cooperation with the the various religious confessions that contribute to the welfare of the people of Timor-Leste” (article 12, no. 2). Within the same line, the Constitution put in force that the objective of the State is to promote a nation-building which is based on social justice, by establishing material and spiritual welfare of citizens (article 6, e]). So, social justice is coming into play. How could the State does so fairly? According to John Rawls, the best principle is fairness. In this principle, the State and Religions would not suffer or benefit from any biased institutions. The State will not use any legal power to institutionalize the violence against religions; and, from another part, the religions will not use people power to insinuate clash. Fairness will provide for the highest minimum standards of justice in the projected the future of Timor-Leste.
To use the real ilustration, I write several articles on ZEESM (Zona Especial Economia Social de Mercado) – especial zone of social economic of market in Oe-Cusse! The State had the task of “To promote the harmonious and integrated development of sectors and regions and the fair distribution of the national product” (article 6, i]). Rather than choosing “fair distribution”, the State let the opposition leader in National Parliament who cuts unequally and get the largest share of cake to small people (74,000) in Oe-Cusee, and led to big people (740,000) in whole country who receive the last piece of cake. Following John Rawls, I argue in many occasions, the rational State would only choose to establish Nation-Building, that would at least conform to the rawlsian rules, that, “ Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty comptible with similar liberty for others.  Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both: a) reasonably expected to be to everyone’s advantage and; b) attached to positions and offices open to all”.
Regarding “equal right” (often called the liberty principle), the State of Timor-Leste failed to provide a minimun standard for basic and universal respect for people of the country. Morally, all people of Timor-Leste are equal. It means that, in the “real world”, the State should not create conditions that lead to social and economic inequalities. In fact, the basic and universal need of all people, like education, health care, agriculture and infrastructure are very slow to put in place. National Parliament and the Government prevail the “pilot project” of ZEESM in Oe-Cusse, without any measurable effective return to the justice for all. In the absence of a strong opposition in National Parliament, I would suggest that the coalition of Religions for Justice and Peace must be institutionalized in order to accommodate “the other voices” of people. In this regard, Religions make a well-balanced to the State which permits such “social and economic inequalities” (often called difference principle) be to the advantage of all. At least, Religions and the State work hand in hand to meet fairness in constructing the society of Timor-Leste.
In spite fo Nation-Building, Constitution provides a very clear moral paradigm, “… to ensure the principle of separation of powers in the organization of the State and establish the essential rules of pluralistic democracy, in a view to consolidation of a fair and prosperous and the development of solidary and fraternal society” (preamble). It must be clear that, there is no peace without justice; there is no justice without working in solidarity and fraternity; there is no solidarity and fraternity unless the role of religions be included in.