I. History and Statistics.
I. History and Statistics: Since October, 1910, Portugal has been a republic. It is situated in southwestern Europe, between Spain on the north and east and the Atlantic Ocean on the south and west; area, including the Azores and Madeira, 35,491 square miles; population, 5,423,132. The present boundaries were established in 1255. At that time began the struggles between the royal sovereignty and the clergy, owing to the clergy's opposition to royal taxation, or following measures against particular bishops. The Jesuits very early gained influence at court, became a ruling force in the educational establishments of the country, and through them the Inquisition (q.v.) was introduced. This development prevailed so that, in the first half of the eighteenth century, the aggregate of the clergy and nuns amounted to ten per cent of the population. Under John V. (1706-50), with very great pomp, the archdiocese of Lisbon was exalted to the rank of a patriarchate, and the king of Portugal obtained the title of rex fidelissimus. The property of the Church increased more and more through the donations of real estate, so that from the twelfth century the cathedral churches have received one third of the parish church tithe. King Joseph Manuel (1750-77), however, indorsed his minister Pombal's demand for the expulsion of the Jesuits, 1759, and the secularization of a great part of the church estates. The clergy grew very powerful again under the next king and continued so by virtue of the repeal of the constitution of 1821. But a strong reaction set in again in the period 1834-1836. The Jesuits, who had been recalled, were again expelled; the tribunal of the papal nuncio was abolished; not a few bishops and cloister clergy were dismissed from their positions, and the assignment of parishes was defined to be a function of the civil government. All the monasteries for men and their educational establishments were declared abolished. This, however, was not practically enforced, and a concordat in the year 1842, failing only in receiving the final state acknowledgment, gave evidence of a new reaction. It obtained a lease of existence both by the extension of orders and congregations and by the multiplication of fraternal organizations. These brotherhoods are supported largely by gifts; because they serve to establish orphanages and the like. In 1862, indeed, most of the church estates were sold; but the proceeds were turned over to the clergy, and a considerable yearly provision for the entire spiritual body (700,000 milreis; $752,500), on the part of the State, was fixed by statute. Though, in 1878, the civil class-list was introduced on account of the marriage of non-Roman Catholics, yet every other innovation undesired by the clergy was omitted. The hierarchy consists of the three ecclesiastical provinces of Lisbon, Braga, and Evora, under which, on the mainland, there are nine bishoprics covering twelve diocesan districts and upward of 3,800 parishes. The constitution of 1821, which long since recovered its validity, declares the Roman Catholic to be the only authorized church. No building of worship may be erected by those of another faith. [On the proclamation of the republic action was taken looking to the elimination of the religious orders.]
Education is retarded; only about one-fifth of the population can write. Of the forty-one colleges, eighteen belong to the clergy. There are German Evangelical congregations at Oporto, Lisbon, and on Fayal Island. Congregations of the Church of England and of the Free Church of Scotland are at Corunna, Oporto, Lisbon, and Porta-Legre.
II. Evangelical Work: (§ 1). The Conditions. Of all European countries Portugal is the only one that was never touched by the Reformation. At the beginning of the sixteenth century Portugal was enjoying the most brilliant period of her whole history, and by reason of her maritime and colonial enterprises was rapidly advancing to the front ranks of European powers. Nevertheless, in the sphere of religion, she seems to have escaped the stimulus which came to all other European countries, during this or the following centuries, from the Protestant Reformation. Several reasons may be offered in explanation: (1) The relative isolation of Portugal and her remoteness from the centers of the religious movement, together with the lack of easy means of communication in that period, precluded the possibility of the Portuguese coming in contact with the followers or the literature of the Reformers. (2) The absence of that preliminary preparation which came to other countries through the preaching of such early Reformers as Wyclif in England, Huss in Bohemia, Savonarola in Italy, and Lefevre in France, had left untilled the seed-plot in which the seeds of the Reformation might have taken root. (3) The most important factor, perhaps, in closing Portugal against the influences of the Reformation was the political despotism, united with that of the Church, which prevailed in Portugal at that time. This union was further strengthened in 1536 by the formal establishment of the Inquisition, and still more firmly cemented in 1540 by the admission of the Jesuits, into whose hands were committed the destinies of the nation for the two centuries that followed. Whatever the reasons may be, it is to be remarked that Portugal has continued down to modern times the most exclusively, if not the most intensely, Roman Catholic of all the Latin nations; and until to-day there has been no serious effort at religious reform.
(§ 2). Anti-Roman Tendencies. Through all the stormy history of the little kingdom, Roman Catholicism has remained the State religion, and but few crises have arisen in which the voice of the Roman Catholic Church has not determined the policy of the nation. The only considerable defection from that church so far may be traced either to educational or political movements, rather than to the desire for religious reform. Toward the close of the eighteenth century the gradual infiltration of the ideas of the French philosophers inaugurated a "liberal" tendency among the cultured classes, which has steadily grown until to-day about fifty per cent of the educated Portuguese, if not professedly infidel, live in open opposition to the clergy. This movement away from the Church has been limited somewhat by the dense ignorance of the great mass of the people and the scant attention paid to education. In 1878 the illiterates were 82 per cent of the population and in 1909 they still comprised 78.6 per cent. In 1900 there were only 240,000 pupils in the elementary schools of Portugal, though education has been declared compulsory since 1844. Likewise in the political affairs of Portugal the nineteenth century marked a persistent struggle by certain elements of the population for "liberal" principles. The pernicious interference by the Roman Catholic clergy to defeat the aims of this movement attracted a constantly increasing hatred from the working classes and has developed a strong anticlerical party among the masses themselves. Indeed, the overthrow of the monarchy in October, 1910, with the flight of young King Manuel, seems to indicate that liberal principles have now won to their support the majority of the people. And Senor Sebastiano Magalhaes Lima, one of the leaders in the new republic, has announced that "the program of reform will include the separation of Church and State." On the other hand, the most recent statistics indicate that the secular clergy in Portugal numbers 93,979 parish priests in a total population of 5,423,132, an average of one priest to every fifty-seven inhabitants.
(§ 3). Evangelical Activities. The foregoing facts would lead to the anticipation that the history of Evangelical Protestantism in Portugal does not begin until the nineteenth century, and that it owes its origin not to any stimulus received from the Reformation of the sixteenth century, but to the missionary activity of Protestant denominations during the last century. As far as can be learned, it was not before 1845 that the Gospel was for the first time persistently proclaimed in Portugal. Meetings were commenced almost simultaneously in Lisbon and in Oporto. In Lisbon it was Mrs. Helen Roughton, wife of an English merchant, who first, with her husband's assistance, held private meetings in her house and established a school for Protestant instruction. The Roughtons belonged to the Church of England, and their humble efforts resulted in the establishment of the Anglican Church of the Taipas, Lisbon. Mrs. Roughton lived until 1885, but a few years before her death adopted the views of the Plymouth Brethren (q.v.). At Oporto the first Evangelical worker was Miss Frederica Smith, who began work privately in 1845. She was born of English parents in Oporto and was subsequently married to James Cooley Fletcher, United States consul at Oporto. At Oporto, there labored also about this time, Rev. A. de Mattos, one of the converts of a mission in Madeira, a naturalized American and probably the first Portuguese Protestant to preach in Portugal. Since these early beginnings several British societies have opened stations at Lisbon and Oporto, as well as at several other of the principal cities of Portugal. The Plymouth Brethren have considerable strength, especially in Lisbon. The Scotch Presbyterians also have a mission there. The Wesleyan Methodists have an important work in Oporto, under charge of Robert H. Moreton, who has spent thirty-seven years at this post. The strongest Evangelical church in Portugal is the Anglican. It has several stations in both Lisbon and Oporto. Besides this there are independent Protestant churches at Oporto and Porta-Legre, supporting their own pastors, while all over Portugal there are little bands of believers, without organization or a pastor, which are centers of influence thoroughly Protestant in spirit.
(§ 4). Agencies Employed. It has been remarked that the first Evangelical work in Portugal was done in connection with the school. It is hardly necessary to state that this method has been largely adhered to by the foreign societies. In connection with almost every station, schools have been organized as the basis of operation, there being at least a dozen Protestant schools in the two cities Lisbon and Oporto. Scarcely less important than the work of the missions and schools has been that of the great Bible and Tract societies. Says a writer from the field: "Representatives of the union of Protestantism, the British and Foreign Bible Society, and the Religious Tract Society have done and are doing the widest and deepest, though the least apparent, Gospel work. Their general agent, Rev. Robert Stewart, with headquarters in Lisbon, keeps constantly employed six or eight colporteurs, canvassing the different provinces in Portugal and distributing Scriptures, tracts, and Christian literature." Of the Portuguese versions of the Scriptures, only two have become generally known: a Roman Catholic version by Antonio Pereira de Figueiredo in twenty-three volumes (1778; see BIBLE VERSIONS, B, XIV.; reedited in seven volumes and greatly improved in 1804), and a Protestant version by Joaô Ferreira d'Almeida (1693, for use in the Portuguese colonies; revised and republished in Lisbon in 1874, and again in 1877). Besides, the American Bible Society published a version of the New Testament in 1859, and more recently the committee representing the Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Wesleyan churches, has prepared, under the superintendence of Rev. Robert Stewart, a complete new version of the Bible. In connection with the mission and Bible agencies there have been established at Lisbon and Oporto several Protestant papers, which have a relatively wide circulation and have proved valuable adjuncts in spreading the word of truth.
The latest official census of Portugal credits the Protestants with something less than 500 members, including foreigners. But this is obviously inaccurate; no complete statistics are available from the several societies, but conservative estimates place the number of communicants at over 1,000, with possibly 3,000 adherents.
(§ 5) Results and Prospects. It will be seen that the record of evangelistic work in Portugal is brief, uneventful, and to the unsympathetic student uninspiring; indeed, measured in terms of adherents won, churches built, and schools or colleges opened, it must be admitted that the results have hardly justified the expenditure of money and toil and the sacrifice of life at which they have been secured. Nevertheless, to the intelligent student of missions, who has an adequate grasp of conditions in Portugal, the Protestant propaganda conducted there does not appear so fruitless, nor the outlook so hopeless as the bare statistics seem to indicate. So far, the work in Portugal has been preparatory merely, and it has encountered those obstacles which are incident to pioneer efforts at evangelism in all Roman Catholic countries, namely, the ignorance, irreligion, and intolerance of the people. It may be that in Portugal these conditions have been more acute than in other Latin countries. The large percentage of illiteracy has already been noted, and when it is considered that the uneducated classes are the only portion of the population that are accessible, ordinarily, to evangelistic effort, it will be seen that the growth of Protestantism must depend almost entirely upon the educational facilities which the missions can offer. In particular the ignorance of the Portuguese concerning Protestantism is amazing. Both the peasant and the educated, the layman and ecclesiastic are wholly ignorant of its nature. The peasant and the layman confound Protestants with Jews, Moors, and unbelievers, and, taught by their priests, they have associated with Protestantism everything that is despicable and immoral. As for skepticism, it is not confined to the educated but, as in other nominally Roman Catholic countries, practical infidelity prevails to a distressing extent among the priests and people, and gives rise to the most appalling vices and immoralities in all walks of life. The Portuguese people know nothing of tolerance as Protestants understand it. A clause providing for religious tolerance has long been in the national constitution, but it has no reference to Protestantism. To the people the only representative of Christianity is the Roman Catholic Church, and tolerance means nothing more than the right to oppose the Roman Catholic clergy. It has not infrequently happened that the people incited by the Jesuits and priests have indulged in violent persecutions of Protestants. In addition to all this the missionary activities of Protestants have been projected in a haphazard fashion and on a scale wholly inadequate to the measure of the need. Despite these untoward circumstances enough has already been accomplished to constitute a solid and necessary foundation for the great work that yet remains to be done. Moreover, when account is taken of what has already been done in the face of such obstacles, and of its significance in the light of the new era that is even now dawning for Portugal, there is room for the assertion that Protestantism has a great mission to this priest-ridden people. The missionaries are on the ground. They have occupied the strategic points of vantage. They have entrenched themselves in various directions, reaching out from these centers. They have established a few schools and churches and gathered at many points the nuclei of Protestant communities. They have sown the seed of truth broadcast by the printed and preached Word, and are now ready for the harvest. Meanwhile recent years have brought about a vast change in the attitude of the people toward education and the progressive ideas that have brought prosperity to other nations. There is a noticeable and increasing respect for literary attainments, and recent writers display literary ability of no mean value. There is a general desire among all classes of people to give their children the benefits of education. There is a wide-spread clamor for industrial and commercial reform; and the almost peaceful establishment of the new republic with its liberal program of reform demonstrates the unanimity with which the people are awaking to the need of radical change in national policies. Along with this there comes from the bosom of the Church itself, in a communication from the Franciscan monks to the hierarchy, an urgent demand for religious reform. In other words, Portugal is approaching her renaissance, political revolution, and Reformation all at once, and there is no reason why the Reformation should not be cast in the mold which Protestant evangelism has provided.
JUAN ORTS GONZALEZ.