IT is proposed by the United States Government—after due consultation with several distinguished Catholic prelates—to make a “temporary loan” of the people’s money for the maintenance of the Catholic Church in Cuba. It would be too bad for this church to be obliged to suspend operations in the island, or to be seriously crippled in her work, even temporarily, for lack of funds. So, as this Government has undertaken to supervise affairs in Cuba, and there is no appearance of funds forthcoming from any other source, they will be supplied from the United States treasury. Such is evidently the conception upon which this remarkable proposal rests.
This proceeding is of course a gross violation of the truth reposed in the officials responsible therefore, as the representatives and servants of the people, sworn to uphold the Constitutions and the fundamental principles of republican government. But aside from this, the query naturally arises, What is the Catholic Church in Cuba, that it should be essential to maintain her even at the sacrifice of American principles? What great benefits for the Cuban people depend upon the continuance of her rule? What dire calamities would follow from the lessening, even temporarily, of her efficiency?
Happily the moment is opportune for finding a satisfactory answer. The evidences in the case are plain to every Protestant mind, but we do not need to apply to any Protestant source of information. A notable and trustworthy Catholic authority has spoken on the point,—even no less a person than the Spanish general, Weyler. Elsewhere in this issue we print some references to a letter written by General Weyler to the Queen Regent of Spain on the subject of what the Catholic Church has done for Spain. In this letter he states that she has done nothing at all, but on the contrary has stood in the way of all reform and progress, and has been the robber of both the government and the people. The letter is, in short, “the most frightful arraignment ever made of a religious denomination.” And coming from General Weyler, it must be accepted as a reliable statement on the subject of which it speaks. That leading citizen of Spain has had abundant opportunity to know whereof he speaks, both with reference to the Spanish government and country, and the Roman Catholic Church.
This is a statement of what the Catholic Church has done for Spain. And what is true of Spain in this respect, is true of Cuba to an equal and even greater degree. For in Cuba the Catholic Church has had full sway, without serious opposition from any source, for centuries.
And now, when General Weyler, himself an eminent Spaniard and a Catholic, denounces the Catholic Church in almost unmeasured terms as the robber of the people and an incubus upon the country,—behold! professed Protestants who stand at the head of this American Government propose to give money from the public treasury to the Catholic Church in Cuba, in violation of fundamental American law, because it is so essential that this church in Cuba shall continue on in her career unchecked!
To a true Protestant, it should be evident that the very reason why Spanish dominion in the island has been broken, is that, the bars of intolerance being let down, the people, so long robbed in purse and bound in superstition and ignorance, may have a favorable opportunity to free themselves from the yoke of a religious despotism.
And what business has the Government to make a “temporary loan” of the people’s money to any church, or for any purpose not authorized by the Constitution? That is setting a very bad example, to say the least. The principle of that proceeding has been sufficiently tested in numerous cases of “temporary loans” made to themselves by trusted employees of banks and other institutions. It is a principle which the courts and all experience have pronounced to be bad in the extreme.