LATE dispatches from Manila indicate that there was truth in the report recently circulated that the Catholic friars would be maintained in office in the Philippines under American authority. At a reception given by Filipino priests to Archbishop Chapelle, which was attended by the most prominent citizens of Manila, these dispatches state, the “woman principal of the municipal school,” who was “one of the guests,” “started to read a petition praying for the withdrawal of the friars from the islands,” when “Archbishop Chapelle stopped her, saying that question would be regulated by the pope, Gen. Otis, and himself.”
Previously, according to report, both the archbishop and Gen. Otis assured the Filipinos that the friars would not be forced upon them against their wish; but now the archbishop’s declaration is that the question will be settled according to the wishes of the pope, Gen. Otis, and himself.
The statement was received with an angry demonstration by the Filipino audience, and cries of “no friars in any capacity.”
It is clear enough that if the question of subjecting the people to the friars is to be settled by the pope, the archbishop and the American general, it will be settled by the pope and the archbishop; for against these two it is wholly improbable that the American commander, whose business is with military rather than with religious affairs, would offer any serious opposition. All that is wanted of Gen. Otis in this matter is to furnish the military authority and force necessary to carry the decree of the pope and the archbishop into effect.
And what business, it may well be asked, has the American commander in Manila—the representative of the United States—to act in conjunction with the pope and the archbishop in a question to government in the Philippines? Has the United States gone into a government partnership with the papacy in this new territory? and what business have religious officials with civil or military affairs? Whether then the question which is to be regulated by the pope, the general, and the archbishop be a civil or a religious question, what business have these three officers—the religious and one military—to act together in deciding it? How can the American Government do this without playing into the hands of the papacy?
The Filipino people do not want the friars; that is plain. But if they are to have civil and religious freedom, as has been so loudly promised from this side of the Pacific, what have they to fear in the matter? How can the friars be imposed on them against their will, if they are to be religiously and civilly free, as are the people in America? And if they are to be thus free, who but themselves will decide whether they are to have the friars over them or not? And if the people are to be free in the matter—if they are to decide the question themselves for themselves, as would be done in America—how happens it that the question is to be decided by the pope, the archbishop, and Gen. Otis alone? Evidently, if these reports are true, there is neither civil nor religious freedom for the Filipinos under American rule.