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commonly said, in those days, that a priest had no chance of gaining a good parish unless he and his friends were active supporters of one of the dominant political factions, which were strongly tinged with Freemasonry and sham Liberalism.
The wealthiest parish priest in Portugal, at that time, was a man who paid a small fraction of his income to the curate of his northern parish, and lived handsomely on the remainder in Lisbon, where he was an active politician. His Bishop was powerless to interfere with him. Other men, after being ordained, abandoned the priesthood altogether, and betook themselves to law, or politics, or trade. Facts such as these were widely known among the people, and tended to aggravate the scandals already existing.
Nearly twenty years ago, a zealous young Lisbon priest, who is now deservedly a Monsignore, assured me that he was compelled to sit at his desk for five hours a day, filling up conscription-forms and other government returns; the result being that he had practically no time for the discharge of his duties as pastor. In those days also, if a priest desired to have Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in his church, he was bound by law to present a notice or petition, written on stamped paper, a certain time beforehand, to the civil authorities.
Facts such as these may suffice to indicate the tyrannies and wrongs which the Church endured at the hands of the Monarchy, during the last century or two of its existence. This grinding slavery was demoralizing alike to clergy and people; it inevitably led to countless evils and abuses. Even in the last years of the Monarchy, which were far from being the worst years, it was impossible to resist the conclusion that religion in Portugal was hopelessly paralysed by State tyranny,
It had long been evident to every intelligent observer that the Monarchy was tottering to its fall. King Carlos and his eldest son were assassinated in 1908, and two years later the doomed dynasty was expelled, its palaces sequestrated, and its adherents persecuted. Thus did the Monarchy itself meet with the fate which it had meted out to the Jesuits and other religious bodies. "The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small.'
Let us now glance for a moment at the efforts, timid as they were, by which the Church in Portugal had sought to repair the disasters of 1759 and 1834. In the half-century
which preceded the Revolution of 1910, a partial restoration of the religious Orders had taken place. The Franciscans had nearly a hundred priests, who gave missions and retreats, especially in the northern provinces, though even there the work had to be done more or less sub rosa, to avoid offending the tender susceptibilities of the sham Liberal politicians. I remember being told, on passing near a village in the Alemtejo district, that a Franciscan who had lately come to preach a mission, had been stoned out of the place by an illiterate ‘Liberal' mob. That, be it remembered, was in the days of the Monarchy.
For nearly forty years prior to the proclamation of the Republic, the Jesuits had a spacious and flourishing College at Campolide, besides a few small houses in other places. The Holy Ghost Fathers had an excellent College in Braga, along with a couple of small places elsewhere. The Dorothean Sisters had a few schools, hardly more than ten, in Lisbon and the provinces. The Dominican Nuns of Bemfica, founded by the noble D. Thereza de Saldanha, had seven or eight houses, of which three were Sanatoria, supported by the munificence of Queen Amelia. To their honour be it said, the various members of the Royal Family were personally favourable to religion, even after the establishment of the Constitutional and 'Liberal' system in 1834, though they could do little to prevent the misdeeds of their ministers. It is hardly too much to say that they were victims of a vicious system which they were powerless to control.
The Little Sisters of the Poor had two or three large establishments for aged and infirm people, while the Good Shepherd Nuns had a house in Lisbon and another in Oporto. The Salesian Fathers had a reformatory for boys, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny an orphanage for girls - both in Lisbon. The Visitation Nuns of Lisbon had a large boarding-school, which, by a rare and happy exception, had escaped the spoilers of 1834. The Franciscan Sisters of the Third Order had a number of houses, and performed heroic work among the poor. If to these we add two houses belonging to the French sons and daughters of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Irish Dominican Convents of Corpo Santo and Bom Successo, which have happily weathered every revolutionary storm, the list will be entirely exhausted. Two or three other Congregations -notably the Benedictines and the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary
—which had one or two houses apiece, were driven out by a burst of anti-clerical frenzy in 1900 or 1902. This was but the prelude to a far more destructive cyclone.
The Revolution of 1910, in a military sense, was a paltry and even ludicrous affair. But from a religious point of view, it was an event of capital importance. In reality, it was a revolt against Christianity even more than against the Monarchy. The reason is not far to seek. Irreligion had been one of the chief characteristics of the Monarchist parties for a whole century, and more especially from 1834 until the fall of the Monarchy. Not that, as parties, they were avowed enemies of Christianity : they posed as Catholics while persecuting the Church. Occasionally they would pay lip-homage to the theory that Catholicism was the religion of the State. But they were · Liberal 'Catholics, all their warfare was professedly waged against ‘ Jesuitism and ‘Reaction. In their parlance, ‘Jesuitism' was wide term, which covered such matters as the restoration of the religious Orders, the frequent use of Sacraments, pastoral zeal on the part of a priest, and so on. Any priest who tried honestly to discharge the ordinary duties of his office was set down as a 'Jesuit.' Any layman who heard Mass on Sundays and received the Sacraments regularly was a “Jesuita de casaca,' which may be translated as Jesuit in disguise.' Any Catholic lady of ordinary piety was stigmatized as a “ beata,' which meant a false and hypocritical devotee. Reaction was a word which suggested something insidiously wicked. In practice any Catholic, whether cleric or layman, who stood up for civil and religious liberty, was denounced as an odious ‘Reactionary.' The truth was, of course, that any man whose moral sense was not hopelessly blunted could hardly fail to be a Reactionary; he could hardly fail to react against the hypocrisy, the legalized robbery, and the habitual despotism of the sham Liberals.
Two parties alternately misgoverned the country from 1834 until 1910. These parties vied with each other in their professions of 'Liberalism.' Both parties—the Progressives, who were quite unprogressive, and the Regenerators, who were incapable of regenerating anything-were irretrievably committed to the accomplished fact' of 1834, that is, to the suppression and robbery of the religious Orders and the legalized oppression of the Church. When either party wished to create a diversion, in order to dupe the public,
it followed the base French model, by working up a frantic agitation against ‘Jesuits' and 'Reactionaries'
-and the trick was done.
The Republicans improved on this plan. Irreligion of a still more violent type became the dominant characteristic of the Republican party, who were eager to defeat the Monarchists with their own weapons. Fanatical irreligion became a sort of perverted religion with the Republican faction. Once in power, the Republicans proceeded to carry out their principles, and to wreak their vengeance on the Church with a malignity which earned for the new régime the nickname of the mad Republic.' Affonso Costa, the ablest man among the Republican leaders, proclaimed exultingly that religion would be extinct in Portugal in a single generation.
Priests like the saintly Father Barros Gomes and his Vincentian colleague, M. Fragues, were murdered in cold blood. Nuns were subjected to the vilest insults, ejected from their homes, and robbed of all their property. Bishops were deprived of their seminaries and residences, and hunted from their sees. Some three dozen religious houses, the slow growth of half a century, were abolished in a day. No upright man can read Os Prossritos-the two volumes in which the Jesuits have recorded the brutal indignities heaped upon them-without a burning feeling of indignation and shame.
A Separation Law, designed for the strangling of religion in the shortest possible time, was passed by the Republican Parliament. This act might be described as a masterpiece of bungling malignity, which in some measure defeated its own purpose. The mask was now thrown aside : the new persecutors of religion were open and avowed infidels. The attitude of real Catholics could no longer be in doubt. The shameful and vindictive unfairness of the Separation Law roused the hostility of every genuine Catholic in the country. In their haste, or perhaps blinded by their hatred of religion, the framers of this Separation Law overlooked the fact that in future the Holy See would be free to nominate the Bishops, and that the Bishops would be free to appoint and control the parish priests. Mentivit iniquitas sibi. The Republicans, intending the direst injury to the Church, unwittingly presented her with a charter of liberty. If they blundered, it was not from lack of evil intention.
The teaching of religion in schools was rigorously forbidden. It was made a penal offence for any Jesuit to enter the country, or for any resident to communicate with a Jesuit outside. About a year ago, a distinguished and cultured writer, Father Cordeiro, who happened to be an exJesuit, returned to Portugal, and was promptly arrested and brought to trial. Condemned in one or two of the lower courts, he has appealed to the higher tribunals, and his appeal is still pending. This indicates the conception of religious liberty which is entertained by Portuguese Republicans. A Jesuit may freely live among Turks or Chinese, or in any civilized nation of the world, but not in Portugal.
For a long time after the revolution many of the churches remained closed, and it was dangerous for a lady to be seen going to Mass with a prayer-book in her hand. Many churches, notably those which belonged to religious Orders, were either closed altogether or turned to ignoble uses. For instance, the public church attached to the historic Convent of Sacramento (Dominican Nuns) in Lisbon, now serves as a shelter for the rubbish-carts of the corporation, or something of that kind. The church of the Irish College, in the same city, has been closed for nearly ten years, and is now falling pitiably into decay. The church and residence of the Jesuits in the Rua do Quelhas, Lisbon, have been converted into a Revolutionary Museum, where among other trophies the rifle used in the assassination of King Carlos is lovingly shown; and the whole collection has, very appropriately, been placed under the care of an apostate Jesuit.
The revolutionists did their utmost to induce the clergy to apostatize, but in vain. Pensions were offered to the clergy, with the idea of bribing them to forsake the priesthood and betake themselves to some secular calling. Some few priests accepted the bribe, and abandoned the ministry; one of these, attired as a layman and wearing a moustache, is now employed in the National Library of Lisbon. Others accepted the pension and continued to discharge the duties of their sacred calling, as, it seems, they were legally and morally entitled to do. Some Bishops absolutely forbade their clergy to touch the pension ; others left the question to the conscience of each individual. The vast majority of the clergy spurned the bribe, and for this they deserve the most unstinted praise. Rather than subsist as the paid pensioners of a nakedly anti-Christian government, they nobly preferred independence and poverty. Their action was a courageous leap in the dark; it was a perilous experiment, in extremely unfavourable circumstances, an experiment never before tried in the history of Portugal; and happily,