Castro, Mateo de
CASTRO, MATEO DE
First Brahman bishop of the Latin rite; b. Divar, near Goa, India, c. 1594; d. Rome, 1668 or 1669. Castro, converted by the Theatines, studied under the Franciscans in Goa. Then, convinced that his aspirations for the priesthood could not be realized under the Portuguese padroado (royal control of ecclesiastical appointments), he went to Rome, where he completed his theological studies under the Propaganda of the Faith. After ordination he was named missionary apostolic and entrusted with the evangelization of the Brahmans of India. He was already known as a critic of the Portuguese and of the Jesuits and other orders working in the padroado, and what was to be a long and bitter conflict between the padroado and the Propaganda began. Following a prolonged dispute with the bishop of Goa over the exercise of his faculties, Castro returned to Rome to present his case. In order to promote the more effective evangelization of peoples outside the patronage jurisdictions of Spain and Portugal, the Holy See was formulating its plan for erecting vicariates apostolic, and Castro was the first vicar apostolic so appointed. As titular bishop of Chrysopolis in partibus infidelium he was sent to Bidjapur in the native state of Idalkan, bordering directly on Portuguese Goa. There he established a seminary and consecrated a native Brahman clergy affiliated with the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. Although in accordance with the instructions of Propaganda, this move intensified the struggle between himself and the Portuguese, who resisted any encroachment upon their padroado rights. Charges of personal irregularities were levied against him in order to undermine his work. These difficulties led to Castro's making subsequent trips to Rome. Although aware that his conduct was at times intemperate and imprudent, Propaganda maintained its confidence in him. As a result of these storms, Castro spent his last years in Rome at the College of the Propaganda. His turbulent career highlights one of the tragic chapters in the history of the Church's missions. His zeal and sincerity are unimpugned, and the charges that he was plotting against the Portuguese political power have not been substantiated. Unfortunately, under the impact of opposition, he resorted to diatribe and imprudent conduct. His failure, and that of his two cousins, Custodio de Pinho and Thomas de Castro, who also became vicars apostolic, served to postpone efforts of the Holy See to foster a native episcopacy in mission lands until the policy was once more vigorously renewed by Pius XI, Pope of the Missions.
Bibliography: s. delacroix, ed., Histoire universelle des missions catholiques, 4 v. (Paris 1956–59), 2:138, 194–197. t. ghesquiÈre, Mathieu de Castro, Premier vicaire apostolique aux Indes (Louvain 1937). a. huonder, Der einheimische Klerus in den Heidenländern (Freiburg 1909). a. jann, Die katholischen Missionen in Indien, China und Japan: Ihre Organisation und das portugiesische Patronat vom 15. bis 18. Jahrhundert (Paderborn 1915). e. d. maclagan, The Jesuits and the Great Mogul (London 1932). b. de vaulx, History of the Missions, tr. r. f. trevett (New York 1961).
[a. m. christensen]