Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/149

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

ular mind to the habit and method of independent thought. In the parochial schools of the present, where the children have their first and, generally, their only training, the object appears to be the drilling into the young mind supreme reverence for the power of the clergy to inflict future punishment and bestow reward, with the church as an object of veneration in place of Deity.

The Roman pontiff is now without influence in appointing the archbishops, or superior clergy, in any Latin republic. The supreme political power of the state nominates the candidate because of his political relation to the party in power, and he is confirmed by the pope without question. By this method only can Rome maintain the slim hold it now possesses on a people, of whom the educated classes, clergy and laity alike, are agnostic when they are not absolutely atheistic. Their church is simply an institution of society, which confers a child's name with ceremonious dignity, marries him with the customary, established form and receives his dying breath in such compliance with ecclesiastical demand as shall secure for the corpse a burial in consecrated ground, which means a "respectable" interment.

So universally detestable is the popular reputation of the Latin American priest that in the more civilized cities of their realm they are not admitted to social life in the upper circles of society by self-respecting husbands and fathers of young wives and daughters. A result of this moral debasement in the font of ethical teaching is the general dull public conscience concerning all obligations, social, political and economic, that we actually find in existence throughout Latin America. It is seen in the smallest business transactions and the most important financial contracts. A South American bond without hypothecated security is a broad jest in all financial centers.

The aboriginal population of those regions are not civilized, but have been christianized through a system of oppression that has endured five centuries. Sarcastically entitled "citizens," they are without a voice in government, and when their tribal center is far removed from the larger cities, they are in a more repulsive condition of barbarism than when the cross was first raised over them.

When Pizarro subjugated the gentle subjects of the Incas, PerĂº had a population of 12,000,000 industrious, virtuous and contented souls, since reduced by Spanish slavery to less than 3,000,000; to-day, after a half century of recuperative government, raised to nearly 4,000,000, the systems of their christian conquerors having slain 9,000,000 in the mines by the meta, which kept one seventh of the population always at work for their masters, the Spaniards. Cannibals still roam in the territories about the head waters of the Amazon. In Mexico are districts where the women know no other dress than a piece of cotton dropping from the waist to the knee; and the Jesuits have controlled