GARRO, D. Fr. Lourenço (c.1565-1646)
9th bishop of Cape Verde.
He was born in Tomar circa 1565; he entered the convent of Tomar, where he was ordained and entered the Order of Christ; he studied theology in the University of Coimbra, where he was Lente de Prima; he was the superintendent of the hospital Nossa Senhora da Lux; he ascended in the Order of Christ, where he became preacher-general, visitator-general and finally prior-general. He was considered an expert in humanities, logic and theology (having taught several subjects), in addition to being an acclaimed preacher. He was introduced as bishop of Cape Verde at the end of 1624; he was confirmed on August 18, 1625 and was consecrated the following year. He established residence in the diocese in 1626. The bishopric of D. Fr. Lourenço Garro in Cape Verde was quite different from the ones of his predecessors in terms of duration, dedication and conduct. His ministry in Cape Verde went on for about 20 years; he stayed in charge of the diocese longer than the four previous prelates all together, whose residences lasted only 6 years. He was quite assertive with the central offices, so much so that his demands were satisfied while he was still in Lisbon, namely those concerning the allowances for expenses, ornaments and salaries due. Apart from that, he was graced with an Alvará das Faculdades and was appointed superintendent of the construction of the cathedral, which the Crown insisted be built. Bishop Garro felt consternated with the information he was receiving from Cape Verde, revealing that in the kingdom no one could imagine what Cape Verde was like. He even feared that he would be the last prelate of the diocese, because it was rumored that the bishopric would be dismantled and ?it would regress to the old days? when it was administered from the diocese of Madeira. In 1626, the debts owed to the clergy of the diocese grew to more than 19,000 cruzados. Only after a lot of insistence and sending procurators to Lisbon was the bishop able to have the allowances and expenses partially paid for by the slave traders. Another immediate problem that the bishop tried to resolve was the mission of the Jesuits in Cape Verde. Both governors Francisco Vasconcelos da Cunha (1624-1627) and João Pereira Corte Real (1627-1630), along with Bishop Garro, received expressed royal orders to resolve this subject definitively. The mission had never been made official and no permanent establishment was founded. In the decade of 1630 the mission stagnated, and there were only 3 or 4 unqualified missionaries, and they cast all sorts of ?anathemas? across the land as a way of pressuring the clergy to abandon the mission. In 1642, the last Jesuits abandoned Cape Verde and the missionary work experienced a pause until the arrival of the Franciscans from the province of Piedade in 1657. In 1644 D. Fr. Lourenço Garro wrote to the general of the society and later to D. João IV accusing the province and the Jesuit missionaries of simply and illegitimately abandoning Cape Verde and breaking their promise to provide spiritual care there. But not only in relation to the Jesuit missionaries did Bishop D. Fr. Lourenço Garro reveal his vigorous position. Once ?the diocesan chapter and the clergy perished? and threatened to leave Santiago and head to other islands in search of sustenance, he wrote to Filipe IV bitterly complaining about the ?vexation? that was imposed on him by the Council for Ecclesiastical Affairs, as they were manipulated by the requests of some absentee and less scrupulous clergymen who were able to obtain payment and provisions for visitations to the Rivers of Guinea without the consent of the prelate. Even in the reign of D. João IV, after the Restoration, his tone was of disenchantment and disillusionment. He described himself as an old and tired 84-year-old man, and he affirmed that he was never involved in slave trading because ?it seemed very cruel to sell his own sheep.? This conveys his high moral and ethical position, which was very unusual in a slavocratic society in which everyone, even bishops, sold or bought slaves. He confessed that he had only accepted the bishopric because of threats of censures from the superior of his order. In September of 1645, Governor João Serrão Cunha (1640-1645) died without designating a successor for the government. The bishop was elected governor; however, he was not accepted and soon after there was a strong contestation that deteriorated into a conflict. The bishop died on All Saints Day in 1646 while he was still provisional governor. The memorials registered that he contributed actively to the discipline and internal organization of the diocese. In 1627 he elaborated one of his first prescriptive regulations, in this case, the statutes of the diocesan chapter and ?other orders to the clerical regime.? Not one copy of these regulations exists. According to historian Ferreira da Silva, they were reformed in 1797 by Bishop D. Fr. Cristóvão de S. Boaventura.
Anónimo (1784), Notícia Corográfica e Cronológica do Bispado de Cabo Verde, ? edição e notas de António Carreira, Lisboa, Instituto Caboverdeano do Livro, 1985.
ALMEIDA, Fortunato de, História da Igreja em Portugal, nova ed.preparada e dirigida por Damião Peres, vol. II, Porto-Lisboa, Livraria Civilização, 1968, pp. 686.
PAIVA, José Pedro, Os Bispos de Portugal e do Império, 1495-1777, Coimbra, Imprensa da Universidade, 2006.
REMA, Henrique Pinto, ?Diocese de Cabo Verde?, História Religiosa de Portugal, dir. de Carlos Azevedo, Lisboa, Círculo de Leitores, 2001, vol. II, A-C, pp. 280-284.
SANTOS, Maria Emília Madeira; SOARES, Maria João, ?Igreja, Missionação e Sociedade?, História Geral de Cabo Verde, vol. II, coord. de Maria Emília Madeira Santos, Lisboa-Praia, IICT-INCCV, 1995, pp. 408-412.
SOUSA, António Caetano de, Catálogo dos bispos das igrejas de Cabo Verde, S. Tomé e Angola in Colleçam dos documentos, estatutos e memórias da Academia real da História Portugueza que neste anno de 1722 se compuzerão e se imprimirão por ordem dos seus censores, Lisboa, Pascoal da Sylva, 1722.
Ttranslated by: John Starkey