THE president of the official commission from the United States to the Philippines has returned. In published interviews he has made some statements that are of much interest to all who would study and trace the course of national affairs. In the interview published in Chicago Times-Herald, it is said that “he seemed to regard the Talagos, the real rebels, rather than as brave and promising children who had been led astray by bad counsels and who would be all the better when their castigation at the hands of the United States soldiery had put them in a position to appreciate the real meaning of the coming American rule.”
That he more than “seemed” to regard them as children is plain from the fact that he plainly said in the interview as published: “It will not do to consider the natives in the same way you would fully civilized peoples. They are to be regarded more as children. The great difference between such half-civilized peoples and the fully-civilized races is that the former lack an adequate sense of fact. They are easily led astray.”
And so the United States must become altogether a paternal government, for the sake of these misguided children on the other side of the earth, and by live libera [sic.], “castigation at the hands of the United States soldiery” give them “an adequate sense of fact,” and so put them in a position to appreciate the real meaning of American rule. Then how long will it be before this same paternalism will be exercised at home to convey to people here “an adequate sense of fact” and teach these too how to appreciate the real meaning of American rule. Indeed we do not need to ask how long; for the thing has already begun and is steadily going on.
And it is American rule, do not forget. Now and henceforth it must be borne in mind that the President of United States is a ruler: not a presiding officer, to learn and execute the will the people; but a ruler, a pater patre, to decide what is best for the children of the State, and deal it out accordingly.
However, it is on the subject of the Filipinos and the Catholic Church that Commissioner Schurman makes statements that reveal a new and interesting feature of the American-Philippines matter.
One of these statements is that “the armies on both sides are very apt to use the church buildings as headquarters or barracks, because the churches of the most strongly built structures.” Now since only last year the United States Government paid to the Methodist Church South $484,000 for the occupancy of only one building that belonged to that church during the war of Secession, is it likely that the Catholic Church will fail to use the precedent? Will she not most surely present her claim to damages in the case of every church building and every piece of church property that has been in any way occupied or used by the United States in the Filipino war? And since the Methodist Episcopal Church South obtained $484,000 for the occupancy of only one piece of church property, how much will the Catholic Church probably get for the occupancy of all the pieces of church property touched in the Filipino war?
Another statement is, “I think it would be one of the best things that could happen if many Catholic priests would go to Luzon, as they would undoubtedly have a great influence for good, and I have written some of my Roman Catholic friends, telling them how strongly I feel about it.” He says that the Filipinos all insist that they are “devout Roman Catholics,” however much they may be opposed the religious orders and Spanish priests in the islands.
The Times-Herald explains and approves president Schurmans plans in the following words:—
“Professor Schurman’s discussion of the church question in the Philippines is of great importance in its bearing on the general situation. It presents a delicate and intricate problem which must be carefully studied if it is to be solved satisfactorily.
“In order to understand it we must go back of the origin of the Tagalo insurrection against Spain. This we found in the ill-treatment of the natives by the friars. Four religious orders had acquired possession of the immense tracts of country, and their members abused their powers in various ways. They finally exercised a tyranny in which there was confiscation, corruption of the courts and desecration of the home.
“When we succeeded to Spain’s title to the island by treaty we assumed the obligation to maintain property rights is the were. But that Tagalo had determined upon reprisals. He proposed to despoil the friars. When, therefore, his leaders told him that the United States would not consent to this the conclusion was accepted that the Americans were prepared to become the champions of the old abuses.
“The question is complicated by the fact that notwithstanding his hatred of the religious orders, the Tagalo is a devout Catholic. His complaint is not against the church as a whole, but against the offending orders only. Hence it will be necessary to persuade him that we are neither the friends of the friars nor the enemies of Catholicism. In the opinion a Professor Schurman our best advocates would be American Catholic priests.
“The professor cites the experience of Father  McKinnon, chaplain of the California regiment, to show how easy it would be to avail ourselves of such an agency. The father has been given a parish by the Archbishop of Manila, and will enter upon his duties with the greatest enthusiasm. Other appointments of a similar nature might be procured without difficulty, and there would soon be in numerous body of the most influential peacemakers at work in the islands.
“Those priests would be equally loyal to church and country. They would speak with authority to the natives, and our interests might safely be confided to their care. They could explain as no one else could why we were constrained to respect property rights, and at the same time they could and would make it clear that though church and state were separated in this country the former had nothing to fear from the latter. They would show how the church had flourished here, how it had expanded and grown with the growth of the nation and enjoyed with all others the blessings of liberty and equality under the law.”
This phase of the Philippine situation offers the best possible opening for the Catholic Church to secure a further hold upon the United States Government, and a permanent recognized place in national affairs. For as certainly as this scheme is accepted by the Catholic Church, and her priests do become these “most influential peace-makers at work in the islands,” so certainly this Government will be obliged to make for such service returns that will be as detrimental to the nation as they will be advantageous to the church. For it should never be forgotten that always it has been so that the “peace” of which Rome is the author is only the greater destruction to all concerned. From the beginning of Rome’s career it has been written that “by peace” she “shall destroy many” and she should “destroy wonderfully.”
A. T. J.