to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Buenos Ayres , June 16, 1884. (Received July 31.)
Sir: The clerical question, or the struggle between church and state, has again come to the front and is occupying much attention both in and out of Congress.
In the normal schools, established and supported by the National Government, are employed many Protestant teachers, mostly ladies from the United States.
On the 25th of April last, Dr. Clara, a Catholic ecclesiastic and acting bishop at Cordova, issued a pastoral letter prohibiting, among other things, the parents of families from sending their children to the normal schools where Protestant teachers are employed.
The National Government, considering it an act of disrespect and insubordination, took up the matter, and, after the exchange of several notes between the minister of education, the governor of the province of Cordova, and Dr. Clara, referred it to the attorney-general for his opinion.
The report of the attorney-general is extensive and a full review of the relations of the state and the church, in which he gives the opinion that the Government, which confirmed church nominations, could discipline and dismiss.[Page 4]
The President, accepting this opinion as sound doctrine, issued his decree dismissing Dr. Clara. This has been followed by a sharp discussion in the press and in Congress on a resolution calling for all the correspondence and protests by the authorities of the church, charging priestly subversion on the one side and encroachment and persecution by the civil authorities on the other.
Notwithstanding the decree, Dr. Clara refuses to accept his dismissal, continues to exercise the functions of his priestly office, and has, within the last few days, issued his second pastoral, in which he asserts that it is his first duty to obey instructions from Rome, rather than the orders or laws of the National Government, which brings the whole matter to a simple but sharp issue.
I have no doubt the Government will maintain its position of supremacy, and it will lead sooner or later to a final result—the separation of church and state.
I have, &c.,