CIURCH-STATE RELATIONS IN
EDUCATION IN ARGENTINA SINCE 1943
Virginia Waugh Leonard
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE
COUNCIL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL
FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR TI-!E DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Virginia Waugh Leonard
To prepare this study I received assistance from
institutions and persons to whom I am grateful. I would
like to thank the University of Florida for allowing me
the use of its library and for arranging my study schedule
so that I could pursue this work. I am also indebted to
the Organization of American States for awarding me a fel-
lowship for field research in Argentina. I acknowledge
the wonderful resources of the U.S. Library of Congress
and the Argentine Biblioteca del Congreso. I am especially
grateful to Miguel Petty, S.J., and the Centro de Investi-
gaciones y Accion Social for providing me with statistics
on Roman Catholic schools found nowhere else. I am also
grateful to Hermano Septimio, head of the Consejo Superior
de Educaci6n Catl6ica, for orienting me on Roman Catholic
education. I am most grateful to Dr. David Bushnell of the
University of Florida for his counsel, criticism, and aid,
at all stages of the writing and research of this manuscript.
The author of this study takes full responsibility for the
errors and deficiencies of the text in its final form.
Argentina is known as a Catholic country. Its Con-
stitution and laws favor the Catholic church. For example,
the President and Vice-President are required to be Roman
Catholics. The church also receives state subsidies for
its buildings, missionary work, and schools. A divorced
person is forbidden to remarry, a law which conforms to
Catholic doctrine. The church has always enjoyed a privi-
leged position in Argentina where over nine-tenths of the
people are Roman Catholic.
But Argentina also has a secular, anti-clerical, and
lay tradition which reached its zenith in the 1880's when
religious education was excised (though reinstated from
1943-1955) from the national schools. Protestants, Jews,
and lay groups may receive state subsidies for their pri-
vate schools. Presidents such as Frondizi have been nomi-
nally Catholic. The principal democratic parties and stu-
dent groups have fostered the national universities, sup-
ported the university "Reforma," and opposed Catholic uni-
Interest groups and political parties have opposed
the church on certain issues in the field of education.
Two issues in particular have engendered the largest and
longest disputes: catechism in the public schools and
state recognition of the titles and degrees of private
universities. On the first issue the church has lost out
to lay and secular education on the national level. But
this loss has not been uniform: religious education is
given in the majority of public provincial schools. On
the issue of Catholic or private universities, the church
won a stupendous victory in the post-Peronist era--the
state agreed to recognize the titles and degrees of pri-
vate universities under certain conditions. Yet this vic-
tory was not total: the state refused to provide finan-
cial aid to private universities.
Church-state relations on education were examined
because the church regards teaching its doctrine as a cen-
tral part of its mission and therefore enters the political
arena to fight for its way in education. To achieve its
educational goals the church must vie for social and po-
litical power with other groups and institutions. The two
issues selected for study were chosen because they were
major issues in Argentina. Economic support of Roman Cath-
olic schools was never much of an issue in Argentina, un-
like in the United States. On the other hand, private uni-
versities were disputed in Argentina but not in the United
States. The Argentine context itself thus established the
focus of this study. Peripheral contests over religious
freedom and economic support for Roman Catholic education
were examined insofar as they related to the above two
One conclusion that emerges from this study is that
the fate of private education is inextricably wound up with
the fate of Catholic education. The church and its pro-
ponents promote private schools and universities in order
to promote Catholic schools and universities. Another con-
clusion is paradoxical: private or Roman Catholic educa-
tion seems to thrive when Argentine governments are lay
and secularist. When the church was in an open alliance
with the government (1943-55), public--not Catholic--edu-
cation enjoyed its greatest promotion and expansion. The
recent progress of church education leads to a third con-
clusion: other groups, especially those that support lay
and secular education, are not able to compete with the
church on an equal political and socio-economic footing.
In Catholic and developing Argentina, the weakness of
countervailing groups and institutions makes for little
competition. The scholastic policy of the church results
in.the education of the elite in its schools, and it is
this group that wields socio-economic and political weight
in Argentina: if the elite is not in the key government
posts, it is not far from those in them. Thus, provincial
and national Ministries of Education become the main pro-
mDters of private education. This conclusion is warranted
in spite of church protests that government bureaucracy
restricts its schools and universities.
Church-state relations are not easily quantifiable.
They arouse passions and action behind the scenes. It is
difficult to predict when an Argentine Catholic will rally
around his church as he did during the overthrow of Peron
in 1955. Even statistics on the number of Catholic schools,
pupils, and teachers are difficult to obtain. This is due
to two factors: in statistical records church education
is lumped together with other private schools, pupils, and
teachers in the general category of private education.
Secondly, the church is reticent to divulge any information
The sources of church "influence" on politicians
are even more elusive. It can only be taken for granted,
and not proven, that elected legislatures reflect the opin-
ion of Argentines on church-state issues. During times of
dictatorship, it is even more difficult to ascertain the
feelings of Argentines about church-state relations, and
to conclude that the officials in command reflect the Cath-
olicity of the people. It is more likely that Argentine
governments reflect the religious opinion of the elite.
And the religious opinions of the elite may be linked to
the social and political power of the Argentine Catholic
church as an institution. Roll-call votes in Congress and
provincial parliaments can be tabulated; but the decision-
making process cannot always be ascertained from a mere
tabulation of yeas and nays. It is not easy to calculate
if a person acts in a certain manner because he is Roman
Catholic, or because he seeks church support behind his
career, or whether he fears the church's power to defeat
him rather than acting out of love for the .church. All
these factors may influence his decisions and the fact
that he was affected by them illustrates the "influence"
of the church. Oftentimes a practicing Catholic might not
side with the church on education issues whereas a nominal
Catholic promotes, say, church universities. Then, the
reasons for political decisions lie in the realm of pol-
itics or economics and will involve speculation and hypoth-
esizing, countervailing power, and compromise.
To understand church-state relations on education
in Argentina, therefore, it has been necessary for the
author of this study to supplement quantifiable data with
written reports and personal interviews. Interviews had
to be balanced between statists and clerics, between pol-
iticians of a pro-Catholic stance and those of a secular
bent. Among statists and clerics there were divisions.
Some interviewees had a clearer or less prejudiced opinion
of the issues than others; some simply lied. Few people
are neutral on the subject of church-state relations.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . iii
PREFACE . . .. . . . . . . . iv
KEY TO ABBREVIATIONS . . . . . . . . xiv
ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . .. . xv
One THE EMBRYONIC SCHOOL SYSTEM . . . . 1
Independence to 1884
Buenos Aires and the Confederation,
National Organization, 1862-1884
Two LAIC VICTORIES OF THE GENERATION OF 1880 . 22
Proponents of Secularism
The Educational Uproar of 1884: Law 1420
Roman Catholic Resistance
The Argentine Counter Reformation: 1884-1943
Acci6n Catolica Argentina
Religious Education in Provincial Schools
Church Built Its Own School System
The Universities: 1884-1943
Catholic Universities Blocked
Three THE 1943 COUP AND ENSENANZA RELIGIOSA .. 59
The Military Government
The Decree of Ensenanza Religiosa, December
Bishops Denied Collaboration
Administration of the Decree
Critiques of the Administration of
Four THE ALLIANCE BETWEEN PERON AND THE CHURCH:
1943-1954: PART I . . . . . . 86
Government Religious Policy
Religious Education Becomes Law
Presidential Election of 1946
Opposition to Religious Education in
the Public Schools
The Deputies Debate, March 1947
Five THE ALLIANCE BETWEEN PERON AND THE CHURCH:
1943-1954: PART II . . . . .. 115
Gratitude of the Church
Reaction of the Radicals
Educational Militancy of the Church
Acci6n Cat1lica Argentina
Estatuto del Docente, 1947
Other Educational Demands of the Church
Slow Growth of Private Schools
The Universities: 1945-1955
Six CHURCH-STATE STRIFE: PART I . . ... 148
Incipient Church-State Conflict
The Conflict Looms
Seven CHURCH-STATE STRiFE: PART II . . . . 187
Eight EDUCATIONAL POLICY OF THE PROVISIONAL
GOVERNMENT: 1955-1956 . . . . . 220
No Religious Education in the Public Schools
Expansion of the Catholic School System
The Universities: Moves to Change the Law
Catholics and the Decree
Reaction to Article 28
National University Rectors, Professors
The Supreme Court
The Junta Consultiva
Nine PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES FOUNDED AND DEFENDED .252
Catholic Universities Formed
Development of Catholic Campaign
Catholic Rectors and Professors
Gathering of Outside Support
Ten PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES LEGALIZED . . . 270
Preliminaries of Debate i-
Special Committee Report
National University Protest
Catholic Counter Protests
Heated Debate in Chamber
Question of Implementation
Eleven RELIGION IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS SINCE 1958 300.
Religion and Public Schools Since 1958
1958 Estatuto del Docente
EnseHanza Religiosa in Public Schools
Religious Objects in Classrooms
Religion in Public School Textbooks
Spread of Catholic Schools Since 1958
Increase in Number of Catholic Schools
Twelve UNIVERSITY EDUCATION SINCE 1958 . .. . 346
Political Background: Frondizi to Ongania
EPILOGUE . . . . . . . .. . . . 369
BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . 381
BIOGRAPHICAL. SKETCH.:*. . . . . . . 401
KEY TO ABBREVIATIONS
DSCD Argentina. Congress. Camara de Diputados. Diario
de Sesiones de la Camara de Diputados. The year
given in citations is that of the sessions, not
year of publication. Certain of the debates of the
1946 session actually took place early in 1947, but
they were printed as part of the 1946 series and
will be so cited.
DSCS Argentina. Congress. Senado. Diario de Sesiones
de la Cimara de Senadores. The year given in cita-
tions is that of the sessions, not year of publica-
ALA Argentina. Anales de Leqislaci6n Argentina. The
year given in citations is that which is found on
the bound volume and is not necessarily the year
of the decree, resolution, or law.
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
Council of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS IN
EDUCATION IN ARGENTINA SINCE 1943
Virginia Waugh Leonard
Chairman: Dr. David Bushnell
Major Department: History
Argentina is known as a Catholic country, but inter-
est groups and political parties have opposed the church on
certain issues in the field of education. Two issues in
particular have engendered the largest and longest disputes:
catechism in the public schools and state recognition of
the titles and degrees of private universities. In 1884,
Congress passed a law that established public education as
basically laic during school hours. The church never ac-
cepted this decision and openly collaborated with the Cath-
olic nationalists who implanted religion in the nation's
public schools in 1943. However, this alliance ended when
church and state became rivals in the field of education
and Juan Peron abrogated many privileges of the church,
including religious teaching in the public schools. Though
the nation's schools have remained laic since that time,
Catholicism has continued in or has been introduced into
the provincial schools of the most poulous provinces, and
the church's own school system has expanded rapidly, bene-
fiting from increasing state subsidization.
On the issue of Catholic or private universities,
the church won a stupendous victory in the post-Peronist
era when the state agreed to recognize the titles and de-
grees of private universities under certain conditions.
Yet this victory was not total: the state refused to pro-
vide significant financial aid to private universities.
This dispute, like the former, symbolized the inability of
a fragmented Argentina to attain either a true national
consensus on policy or even a coherent policy imposed by
one faction upon another. Church-state quarrels of the
19th century continued to absorb time, money, and energy
that could have been applied to pressing economic and
social problems, problems that did not receive adequate
attention from Argentina's private or public educational
*THE EMBRYONIC SCHOOL SYSTEM
This study undertakes to examine the church in Argen-
tina as a political institution. Its canon law, dogma,
doctrines, and official positions treat the field of educa-
tion: in fact, it regards its mission to teach its dogmas
and laws as its most important task. The Spanish crown
recognized this "right" of the church and helped finance
the educational aspect of the church's mission. But as
modernization and growth took place in Argentina after In-
dependence, the state began to view schooling as essential
to its aim to create an "educated" and "Argentine" citizen-
ry. This outlook which, at first, led to cooperation be-
tween church and state in educating the young, later led
to competition between these two socio-political institu-
tions toward the end of the nineteenth century.
Spanish monarchs willingly gave the church a free
hand in the education of Spaniards and the civilization of
Indians in the centuries preceding Independence. In the
colonial era there were three types of primary schools:
state schools established by the cabildo (also known as the
king's schools), religious schools, ani private schools.
Religious orders taught the Indians Spanish and catechism
in mission schools. Because there was little tradition
for the state school and because Argentina was sparsely
settled by Spaniards, a school was a luxury and usually re-
ligious, run by Roman Catholic clerics.
Secondary schools grew out of the need of regular
and secular clerics to further educate their prospective
members. They were also attended by laymen, almost always
the well-heeled sons of ranchers and merchants. If-a-stu-
dent wished to continue on to university studies, he had -
three choices: he could study theology for a doctoral- --
degree at the University of C6rdoba, which was founded by
the Jesuits in 1622; he could study for a doctorate of med-
icine at the University of Chuquisaca (La Plata), founded
in 1623 in what is now Bolivia; and he could study for a
doctorate of law at the University of San Felipe which was
founded in 1757 in Chile, pr at the University of CSrdoba
as of 1795,1 or at the University of Chuquisaca.
Juan Carlos Zuretti, Historia eclesiastica argen-
tina (Buenos Aires: Editorial Huarpes, 1945), pp. 113, 115,
In primary school a student learned the 3 R's and
catechism. He then entered a secondary school to study
grammar or Latin and Latin literature for two years; he
next graduated to courses of art or philosophy which last-
ed two to three years. Philosophy was a study of logic,
metaphysics, and physics, usually taught by a cleric who
gave an overall examination. The student who successfully
graduated was considered magister-artium and ready to
attend university to study law, theology, or medicine.
Those laymen who were teachers usually had failed in
other endeavors and took the job for the small recompense.
It was common for cabildos not to pay the teachers hired
by them, so teachers relied on the parents of their stu-
dents to pay them money or kind. By contrast, the reli-
gious schoolteachers did not charge tuition, since the re-
ligious orders supported them. The Jesuits, who ran the
best primary and secondary schools and Argentina's only
university, lived off the profits of their estancias; the
Franciscans lived off alms.3
2Ibid., p. 113.
For a good discussion of colonial education see
Juan Carlos Zuretti, "La evoluci6n de las ideas pedag6gicas
The Spanish Crown controlled all activities of the
church in the new world; similarly, the cabildos oversaw
religious as well as lay education. The Real Provisi6n de
1771 set standards for the hiring of teachers which includ-
ed an examination of their writing, reading, arithmetic,
and Christian doctrine, information of good conduct, and
limpieza de sangre. Cabildos had to approve the estab-
lishment of any schools within their jurisdiction as well
as the teachers, the tuition charged if it was a state
school, the salary of teachers (often paid to support re-
ligious teachers also) and the texts and equipment. And
state subventions supported many religious schools if the.
cabildo was willing and able to grant them.
Despite some state funding, education had a privi-
leged and aristocratic character and was mainly for boys.
Some poor students were able to attend state schools with-
out paying when they were supported by funds from the
cabildo and the tuition of other students. Girls attended
en la Argentina: II--La escuela colonial," Criterio, XIX
(November 28, 1946), 517-18.
4Antonio Salvadores, La Instrucci6n primaria desde
1810 hasta la sanci6n de la ley 1420 (Buenos Aires: Consejo
Nacional de Educacion, 1941), p. 19.
the few schools for them established by rich ladies and
nuns, often acting jointly. In general, not very many
school-aged children attended school because they could
not afford them, schools were scarce, and poor teaching
methods were used: rote memorization and drills, as well
as corporal punishment. 5
Lay teachers were expected to teach the Roman Cath-
olic religion to their pupils: religion was not excluded
from Argentine state schools until the latter half of the
nineteenth century. However, Argentine state schools began
to exclude clerics as teachers and administrators.6 For
example, Manuel Belgrano, honored as the father of Argen-
tine primary schools, left money to establish schools run
by laymen, but Christianity was to be taught in these
schools along with other subjects.7
Laicism in the sense of lay or state administration
of education was promoted by the rapid economic development
of Buenos Aires, which was partly stimulated by the Bourbon
5Rosalba Aliaga Sarmiento, La instruccijn priaria
durante la dominaci6n espanola (Buenos Aires: Consejo
Nacional de Educaci6n, 1940), pp. 84-86, 107.
6Salvadores, pp. 19-20.
7Aliaga Sarmiento, pp. 201-3.
reforms of Carlos III. More money was directed toward pub-
lic education and a system of municipal schools. In 1805
Buenos Aires even made public education free, the first
cabildo in Argentina to do so.8 But the English invasions
and the independence movement retarded this development.9
Independence to 1884
The upheaval that ensued with the revolution for in-
dependence caused education to retrogress because the
cabildos could not spare money for state schools and be-
cause authorities were occupied with other matters. Schools
disappeared altogether after the struggle for independence
began in 1810 in the provinces of San Juan, San Luis, and
La Rioja. In C6rdoba, the rural schools set up by Bishop
San Alberto and, later, Viceroy Sobremonte, disappeared.
Salta, once a leading center of education, was hard hit.10
Though Belgrano donated 40,000 pesos to found four schools
in the provinces, only one was ever completed--in Jujuy in
8These municipal schools were begun in 1720, and
were managed by the University of Buenos Aires from 1821-
1828 when they were dependent on the provincial government.
Later, they became national schools.
Salvadores, p. 17.
10Ibid., pp. 110-11; 198-99.
1825.11 In this period, school systems survived only in
those provinces with the means and traditions of public
support for education--Buenos Aires, C6rdoba, and Mendoza.12
The church was no longer in a position to step into
the educational vacuum left by the state. Its organization
was disrupted by the impact of the independence struggle
and the interruption of normal ties with Rome, which under
the patronato had passed through the Spanish court; all
existing bishoprics were vacant after 1819. The number of
clerics and, therefore, cleric teachers dwindled, and the
two seminaries in Cbrdoba and Buenos Aires were deficient
in graduating priests to replace those who left Argentina;
Without supervision many of the secular and regular clergy
fell into corrupt ways.3
State officials realized that education was deplor-
11Ibid., p. 230.
1Salvadores, pp. 64-66.
1The Pope finally appointed titular bishops to these
vacant sees in 1832. (J. Lloyd Mecham, Church and State in
Latin America chapel Hill: University of North Carolina
Press, 19347, pp. 57, 84-86, 226.) For a synopsis of the
sorry position of the church after independence consult
Guillermo Furlong, S.J., "El catolicismo argentino entire
1860 y 1930," Historia argentina contemporAnea, 1862-1930,
Academia Nacional de la Historia (4 vols., Buenos Aires:
El Ateneo, 1963-67), II, 251-52-
able in both the public and private sectors and interested
themselves in remedying it. In 1810 the cabildo of Buenos
Aires commissioned two reqidores to study educational re-
form: they visited every school in Buenos Aires. Church
and state were educationally allied: the priest Dean Funes
approved the recommendations of the two regidores for im-
proving instruction in church schools, and courses on
Christianity were favored for public schools. Reforms that
the cabildo and Junta tried to institute came to naught.14
As a minister in the government of Buenos Aires in
the early 1820's, Rivadavia carried out a reform of the
church with the support of the provincial legislature and
some liberal ecclesiastics who were opposed by other cler-
ics who even dabbled in plotting the overthrow of the gov-
ernment. In 1822 tithes and the ecclesiastical fuero
were abolished, and the smaller houses of the regular cler-
gy were disestablished. Some church properties were con-
fiscated and, in turn, the province agreed to give the
14Aliaga Sarmiento, p. 194.
15Ricardo Levene, A History of Argentina (Chapel
Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1937),
church an annual subsidy and to construct church buildings;
but the net effect of Rivadavia's measures was to weaken
In 1821 Rivadavia authorized the setting up of the
University of Buenos Aires under the direction of Dr. Al-
berto Shenz, an ordained priest. The cabildo eclesi&stico
provided funds from its treasury for the chairs of philo-
sophy and Latin.17
Rivadavia also concerned himself with the schooling
of girls. In 1823 he set up a separate school system for
girls under the Ministry of Government; money for these
schools was to be raised by rich ladies in the Sociedad de
In 1825 a commercial treaty between England and Ar-
gentina gave the English the right to found schools and to
16Guillermo Gallardo, La political reliqiosa de Riva-
davia (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Theoria, 1962), pp. 71-72.
17The University was inaugurated in 1821 and includ-
ed a department of primary schools which controlled all
primary schools except those for girls, which were organized
under the Sociedad de Beneficencia in 1823. Since the Uni-
versity contained all grade levels it was a microcosm of an
educational system for all Argentina. (Levene, pp. 365-67.)
18Salvadores, p. 106.
practice their religion publicly or privately (article 12).
In 1827 the first English academies opened: the curricu-
lum was humanistic and commercial, and religion was not
mentioned. The best families sent their children to these
English private schools, downgrading the public schools and
As governor of the province of Buenos Aires, Rosas
allied himself with the church and tried to diminish the
influence of the English schools since they were run by
Protestants, but neither they nor their teachers disappear-
ed despite two decrees of 1831 and 1844 requiring teachers
to profess the Roman Catholic faith.20 Rosas continued
the policy of preceding governments of granting state sub-
sidies to religious schools and backing religious educa-
tion in the public schools. The Jesuits, expelled from
Argentina since 1767, were invited to return by Rosas, who
restored the convent and school of San Ignacio to them.
But the Jesuits did-not adequately extol the virtues of
19Zuretti, "La evoluci6n de las ideas pedag6gicos
en la Argentina: IV--Las escuelas pdblicas y privadas de
1813 a 1829," Criterio, XX (January 2, 1947), 15.
20Salvadores, p. 195.
Salvadores, p. 195.
his government to their young pupils, so they were again
expelled in 1843; half of the total of 39 Jesuits had al-
ready emigrated since 1841. Rosas also purged the Uni-
versity of Buenos Aires of Unitarian professors and insti-
tuted religion courses in the curriculum. Government
financial stringency meant that subsidies were smaller,
and the University stagnated.
The government's ability to subsidize education was
diminished by a French blockade of its port, and in 1838 the
Sociedad de Beneficencia was notified that state funds were
unavailable and that it would have to charge tuition in its
schools. Private and public primary schools folded from
1830 to 1850; in 1830 there were 39 public primary schools
with 50 teachers serving 2,500 pupils and 75 private schools
with 80 teachers and 2,500 students; whereas, in 1840,
Buenos Aires province had only 5 public primary schools with
10 teachers and 700 pupils and 30 private primary schools
with 40 teachers and 1,500 students--a situation that did
not change materially for the remainder of the-decade.
Provincial schools were turned over to the police
2Enrique Arana (h.), Juan Manuel de Rosas en la
historic argentina, Instituto Panamericano de Cultura (3
vols., Buenos Aires: CompaTia General Fabril Financiera
S.A., 1954), I, 625-26.
22 pp. 554, 558 560.
Ibid., pp. 554, 558, 560.
department to administer in 1842.23 The poor remained
largely outside the educational system of Buenos Aires--
except in the girls' schools of the Sociedad--until the
advent of Sarmiento.
Provinces.--The state of education depended in large
measure on the governor or caudillo of a given province, a
strong man leaving his imprint upon the school system. Usu-
ally the municipalities attended to the schools in their
locale. Entre Rios stands out for the efforts of its gov-
ernors Pascual Echague and Justo Jose de Urquiza to extend
public education. Religious education was omnipresent,
teachers had to be Roman Catholic, and many provinces re-
fused to recognize the religious toleration of the 1825 Eng-
lish commercial treaty, e.g., San Luis, Tucuman, Corrientes,
Santa Fe, and C6rdoba.24 The governors of Mendoza, Entre
Rios, Salta, and Cordoba emulated Rosas in inviting the
Jesuits, although they did not necessarily act upon the in-
vitation,to set up schools (especially secondary) in their
23Ibid., p. 559.
24Guillermo Furlong, S.J., La tradici6n reliqiosa en
la escuela argentina (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Theoria,. 1957),
25Arana, I, p. 624.
In spite of economic blockage and internal civil
strife, provincial private--and especially public--educa-
tion gradually improved. Although the figures can be re-
garded as approximations at best, one source suggests that
by 1840 there were 76 public primary schools with 78 teach-
ers and 3,830 pupils and 36 private primary schools with
38 teachers and 1,740 pupils; whereas, in 1830, there had
been 45 public primary schools with 48 teachers and 3,010
students and 41 private primary schools with 45 teachers
and 2,010 pupils. And by 1850 there were 125 public pri-
mary schools with 139 teachers and 7,700 pupils and 45 pri-
vate schools with 52 teachers and 2,003 students.26
Buenos Aires and the Confederation, 1852-61
Buenos Aires.--After the fall of Rosas, Buenos Aires
functioned for a time as a separate state enjoying de facto
independence from the rest of Argentina. During this peri-
od, educational development was hurt by political infight-
ing, lack of economic resources, and administrative con-
fusion. There was a proliferation of educational agencies--
Sociedad de Beneficencia, the University, the municipalities,
26Ibid., I, pp. 554, 558, 560.
the province--as well as frequent changes in the adminis-
trative mechanisms charged with overall supervision of ed-
ucational problems.27 This state of affairs changed for
the better when Domingo Sarmiento became Chief of the De-
partment of Schools in Buenos Aires from 1856 to 1861.
Sarmiento worked to expand the public school system of the
province, but allowed the teaching of religion in the pub-
lic schools by Roman Catholic priests outside of class
The Confederation.--The other provinces joined to-
gether in a Confederation under the Constitution of 1853.
The Constitution made Roman Catholicism a state religion,
with the patronato to be exercised by the President and
Senate. Both the President and Vice-President of Argentina
had to be Roman Catholic, and the state was obligated to
sustain the church. Among other things, Congress was to
further the conversion of Indians to Roman Catholicism.
27Juan Manuel Chavarria, La escuela normal y la
cultural argentina (Buenos Aires: El Ateneo, 1947), p. 292.
28Speech by Deputy Absal6n Rojas, DSCD 1946, X, p. 573.
Juan Casiello, Iglesia y estado en la Argentina
(Buenos Aires: Editorial Poblet, 1948), p. 334.
Education, however, was left up to the provinces, as had
been the practice since 1821; article five made public ed-
ucation gratuitous but said nothing about it being obliga-
The Confederation Congress voted the church a reg-
ular subsidy that was to compensate it for its loss of in-
come from the tithes, which had now been abolished in all
provinces.30 Such funds were technically available for use
in founding church schools. But education advanced very
little except for the organization of its administration
on the provincial level. Governors regarded themselves as
vice-patrons in exercise of the national patronato and
thus converted convents into schools, contracted clerical
teachers,and invited orders to their provinces to found
schools. Some provinces such as San Juan and Corrientes
made education theoretically obligatory in their constitu-
tions, but most let the municipalities take care of it,
and they lacked the resources to reach more than a small
minority of the school-age population. The University of
C6rdoba was nationalized by the Confederation in 1854.
Urquiza also extended national secondary education, but
30Furlong, "El catolicismo," p. 256.
post-elementary education was rare in the Confederation.3
President Urquiza ordered in 1855 the publication
and use in the public schools of a catechism Instrucciones
cristianas by Escolastic Zegrada. His successor Santiago
Derqui also arranged with Pope Pius IX for the return of
the Jesuits to reopen the schools of C6rdoba and Santa F.32
National Organization, 1862-1884
In 1862, with Bartolom4 Mitre as president, Argen-
tina began its modern history as a unified nation. Educa-
tion could now be constructed on a national level: a Min-
istry of Religion, Justice and Public Instruction was set
up. An 1865 accord was signed with eight provinces to give
their schools financial aid from the national treasury.
Mitre became known as the "Founder of Secondary Education
in Argentina" when he set up in 1863 the Colegio Nacional
de Buenos Aires as a model for national secondary schools.
Its first rector, a cleric, was succeeded by a Frenchman
who drew up a six-year plan of studies for the bachillerato
degree with religion and sacred history included in the.
31Leoncio Gianello, "La ensenanza primaria y secund-
aria (1862-1930), Historia argentina contemporanea, II,
32Furlong, La tradici6n, pp. 71-72.
Sarmiento became president in 1868 and planned with
his education minister Nicolas Avellaneda to educate all
social classes everywhere in Argentina. Ley 463 of 1871
provided for the subsidizing by the national treasury of
school buildings, furniture, books, supplies, and salaries
of teachers and inspectors.3 Avellaneda as president
(1874-80) continued to promote education. Plans of study
were made uniform for national primary, secondary, and
normal schools. But since provinces for the most part
controlled education within their boundaries, no uniform
law of education was drawn up.
In 1875 the Province of Buenos Aires drew up a Ley
de Educaci6n Comun de la Provincia. A Consejo General was
created to approve the establishment of public and private
schools; every district would elect its own Consejo. Teach-
ers were no longer required to be Roman Catholic but only
to have good mental and physical health, good conduct, and
professional qualifications. Private schools were no long-
33Chavarria, p. 76.
34Anales de leqislacidn argentina: complemento, aeos
1852-1880 (Buenos Aires: Editorial La Ley, 1954), p. 934.
er subsidized. Roman Catholicism was still taught, but the
religious beliefs of others were to be respected.35
In the same year Congress passed a law, No. 758, to
establish normal schools for teachers of primary pupils in
the capital of every province. A previous law had already
established two in Parana and Corrientes. The four-year
plan of studies did not include the Roman Catholic religion,
only courses of morality. Sarmiento began to recruit teach-
ers from abroad to set up normal schools and to teach in
the universities. Sixty-five teachers from the United States
came between 1869 and 1898 to found or rehabilitate eighteen
normal schools, each with its model grade school and kinder-
By 1880 the civil strife between the Province of
Buenos Aires and the other provinces had receded enough to
allow the organization of the government on a definitive
basis. The city of Buenos Aires was federalized as the
capital of a united Argentina. At the beginning of 1881,
In accordance with this law, the Sociedad de Bene-
ficencia handed over its schools to the Consejo General
and Sarmiento was named the Director General of this Consejo.
(Salvadores, pp. 227-36, 336-48.)
36Alice Houston Luiggi, 65 Valiants (Gainesville:
University of Florida Press, 1965).
the municipality of Buenos Aires ceded its schools to the
Nation, and it was decreed that the provincial school laws
of Buenos Aires would still apply to these schools. Thus,
primary education was free and compulsory since these schools
were under the 1875 Ley de Educaci6n Comin de la Provincia.
At the same time, a decree created a Consejo Nacional de
Educaci6n to govern these national schools. Sarmiento left
the Consejo General de Educaci6n of the Province of Buenos
Aires to become the Superintendent of the Consejo Nacional
de Educaci6n (CNE); eight inspectors made up this entity
along with the Superintendent. Besides arranging for the
Congress Pedag6gico of 1882, the CNE also carried out a
school census in 1883, which showed that only 29.3% of the
school-age population (five to fourteen years old) was at-
tending school.37 Both the Congress and Census of 1883
spurred on efforts to draw up a national education law
that would encompass the former decrees and promote lit-
eracy. Congress began to work on such legislation during
the administration of Roca (1880-86), a procedure which
embroiled laicists in a battle with the church.38
37Salvadores, p. 360.
38Ibid., pp. 355-62.
The Church.--The Argentine church was plagued through-
out the nineteenth century by a lack of clerics, regular and
secular. Its hierarchy and leaders tended to reflect a tradi-
tionalist conservative mentality and did not favor progres-
sive Catholic organizations when they did appear. Rather
than come up with constructive ideas of their own, the
church's leaders tended to resist and to lash out at the in-
creasingly secular and liberal cultural and intellectual cli-
mate of Argentina. Argentine Catholicism was isolated from
Europe and did not meet the challenges from Masonry and anti-
clericalism which were gaining ground among professionals,
teachers, and politicians.
It was not until the 1860's that the church became
organized on a strictly national basis; until 1865 the
dioceses of Argentina were under the control of a foreign
metropolitan, the Archbishop of Charcas, but in that year
two archdioceses were established in Argentina, those of
Buenos Aires and Paran&. The church sought to restore its
influence by building up the number of clerics and teach-
ing catechism in both the public and private schools. The
39Nestor T. Auza, Los cat6licos argentinos: su
experiencia polftica y social (Buenos Aires: Ediciones
Diagrama, 1962), pp. 12. 72, 76, 125.
government agreed to subsidize seminaries to graduate more
priests, and Ireland and various European orders sent
clerics to help. The Jesuits, who had been invited back
to Argentina in 1860, opened schools in Santa Fe and Buenos
Aires (Colegio del Salvador) that became universities a
century later. Evangelization of the Indians in the North
and South was carried out after 1875 with federal aid.40
The church also received state subventions for its own
The conservatism of the church led it to hamper ef-
forts to create a public and secular school system. It con-
sidered the schoolteachers imported from abroad as enemies
of the faith and protested the "dechristianization" of ed-
ucation. Thus, in Parana, for example, clerical protests
succeeded in putting a course in religion, morality, and
civics into the curriculum of the local normal school. But
the national government insisted that it be taught by a
priest before or after regular class hours and.that it not
40Furlong, "El catolicismo," pp. 256-59, 262-63.
4Maria Elina R. B. Demaria, La instrucci6n primar-
ia en la Argentina, 1884-1936 (Buenos Aires: El Ateneo,
1936), p. 61.
42Chavarria, pp. 66-73, 76.
LAIC VICTORIES OF THE GENERATION OF 1880
Proponents of Secularism
Argentina's economically dominant classes of the
1880's sought to modernize the country and themselves by
adopting the ideas and institutions of the more developed
countries of England, France, and the United States. The
generation of 1880 turned to Masonry, liberalism, mater-
ialism, positivism, and laicism. Both the upper and middle
classes wanted to diminish the influence of revealed reli-
gion and provide an opportunity to the young through educa-
tion, itself an instrument for the modernization of Argen-
tina and a tool for its unification.
The groundwork laid by secularists in the post-inde-
pendence period flowered into a series of laic reforms in
the 1880's. These reforms consisted of civil marriage,
abolition of parochial registration of births, marriages,
and deaths, the secularization of cemeteries, and Law 1420,
Torcuato S. Di Tella, "Raices de la controversial
educational argentina," in Los fraqmentos del poder, de la
oligarqula a la poliarqula argentina (Buenos Aires: Edi-
torial Jorge Alvarez, S.A., 1969), p. 312.
which excluded religious education from the public schools
during school hours.
Lay and secular ideologies became entrenched among
the professionals, teachers, and politicians of the Argen-
tine upper and middle classes. Masonic lodges promoted
laicism, and President Roca's Minister of Justice and Pub-
lic Instruction Eduardo Wilde was a Mason, as was "Grand
Master" Sarmiento and other prominent politicians who had
the seats of power. French positivist thought permeated
the normal schools and the Faculty of Law of the University
of Buenos Aires and looked upon revealed religion as unsci-
entific. Normal school graduates became teachers in pro-
vincial schools and spread positivist philosophy. The
American instructors in these normal schools were mainly
Protestant and opposed to catechism in public schools.
Little wonder, then, that the growing professionalization
of Argentine teachers pitted them against clerics who had
long dominated Argentina's educational system because of
their superior formal education.4 French liberalism was
2Furlong, La tradici6n, pp. 67, 100.
Chavarria, p. 76.
4John J. Kennedy, Catholicism, Nationalism and Dem-
ocracy in Argentina (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of
Notre Dame Press, 1958), p. 190.
imitated by prominent Argentines, who also emulated its
anticlericalism and secular thinking which saw society as
made up of all creeds and the school as a neutral terrain
for all inhabitants, a source of solidarity and social uni-
ty. "Arqentinidad" would be promoted by the secular,
public school. And lastly, the material development of the
nation was to be patterned after that of the United States
which drew its immigrants from northern Europe. Argentina
could better attract these mainly Protestant immigrants if
its Roman Catholicism was downplayed and a free and lay ed-
ucation offered to their children.
The Educational Uproar of 1884: Law 1420
The culmination of lay and liberal influence in Ar-
gentina was Law 1420 which provided a national administra-
tive structure for primary education and established that
national primary schools would be tuition-free, based on
promotion between grades, and laic. It was this latter
Speech by Juan B. Terin in 1933, quoted in Bishop
Antonio Caggiano and Archbishop Nicolis Fasolino, "Pastoral
a los Catl6icos de la Provincia de Santa F6," April 22,
1945, in Criterio, XVIII (April 26, 1945), 367-69.
principle that raised a furor in the 1880's and is still
being disputed even today.
As early as 1877 Congress adopted Law 934 which gave
the state the exclusive right to grant titles to the grad-
uates of secondary schools. Graduates of private second-
ary schools had to pass examinations given by a committee
of five persons, three of whom represented the national co-
legios. Only then would their certificates be recognized
by the national colegios and universities. Another article
in this legislation of 1878 provided that students from pri-
vate or provincial institutes of higher education could en-
ter national university faculties only after passing exam-
inations given by the national universities on the subjects
studied in those institutes. This law thereby affirmed the
power of the state by which it could force private schools
on the secondary and higher levels to meet national stand-
ards. However, no uniform system of national secondary
schools was set up. Instead, laicists and liberals turned
their attentions to the primary level.
Ley 934, September 1878, is discussed in detail in
Americo Ghioldi, Libertad de enseTanza (Buenos Aires:
Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1961), pp. 48-77.
The question of establishing an administrative
structure for national primary schools funded by public
taxes also involved the question of religious education in
these schools. Two congresses that met in 1882 wrestled
with the issue of Catholic teachings in the national pri-
mary schools. One was a Congress of Workers presided over
by Pietro Geriomet in the Teatro Verdi in the Boca. Al-
though this congress was more concerned with working class
morals and salaries, it also addressed itself to the issue
of religion in the schools where workers sent their children.
The congress declared itself in favor of public schools
without dogmas. This secular position of the workers may
be explained by the fact that they were foreigners of di-
verse nationalities and creeds (or of no religious creed
whatsoever). Also, clerical influence upon the working
class was not strong. Since workers in Argentina had little
political power at the time, this congress influenced the
national Congressmen far less than the Pedagogical Congress
The Pedagogical Congress of 1882 was presided over
8Speech by Silvano Santander, DSCD 1946, X, p. 591.
by Onesimo Leguisam6n and influenced by Sarmiento's news-
paper articles in El Nacional: it was held under the aus-
pices of the Ministry of Justice and Public Instruction
headed by Eduardo Wilde. Its ostensible purpose was to
bring together the teachers who could help in improving
public instruction through a coordination of methods and
standards. Since participation was limited to secular
teachers, to the exclusion of clergy and religious teach-
ers, Catholic writers such as Furlong claim that it was
rigged against the church. One of the conclusions of this
Congress was: "Las escuelas del Estado deben ser esencial-
mente laicas: las creencias reliqiosas son del dominio
The struggle between opponents and supporters (who
included President Julio A. Roca ) of Law 1420 had one of
its principal battlegrounds in the press. Sarmiento, who
opposed catechism in the public schools during class time,
headed the journalistic battle. His nephew Belin obtained
Furlong, La tradici6n, p. 89.
11Much credit for this law must go to Roca who want-
ed Congress to formulate a law for primary schools and back-
ed its laicism from 1881-84. (Jose Arce, "Genesis y tram-
itaci6n de la ley 1420," Publicaciones del Museo Roca, XII
uenos Aires: Tecnica Impresora S.A.C.I., 19667, 149-83.)
the support of Mitre and other newspaper publishers, in-
cluding those of foreign language newspapers. Liberals,
as they came to be called, such as Sarmiento, Mitre,
Groussac, Gallo, Saenz Pena, shaped newspapers such as La
Naci6n, El Nacional, and Sudamerica as bastions of the
principles of laicism. The ideas diffused by this press
helped to prepare the educational as well as the political
and economic thought of the national Congressmen.12
Roman Catholic Resistance
Astounded by the headway that laic ideas were making
in Catholic Argentina, Argentine Catholics fought back. Of
all the lay reforms, none gave rise to such a fierce battle
as the issue of secular versus religious education in the
public school. The hierarchy of the church insisted on cat-
echism in the public schools as a necessary means to main-
tain the faith. Canon law and the Syllabus of Pius IX con-
demned the separation of education from Roman Catholicism.
In the first half of 1882, Argentine Catholics organ-
ized themselves to fight laicism. Catholic laymen head-
ed by Jos& Manuel Estrada founded a newspaper La Union in
Buenos Aires to counterattack the liberal press; the Jes-
12Maria Elina R. B. de Demaria, La instrucci6n
primaria en la Argentina, 1884-1936 (Buenos Aires: El
Ateneo, 1936), p. 10.
uits of the Colegio del Salvador aided La Uni6n. Two weeks
later the archdiocese began its own newspaper La Voz de la
Iqlesia, headed by an ecclesiastic. Other pro-Catholic
newspapers were founded in the provinces by laymen and
clerics. But it was realized that a religious press was
not enough to combat liberalism and laicism since the more
prominent newspapers, political parties, and the government
were in the hands of the liberals: political organization
would be necessary.
The Asociaci6n Catl6ica de Buenos Aires was formed
in 1883 by Jos4 Manuel Estrada as an offshoot of the Club
Cat6lico, founded in 1876-77 by the priest Felix Frias.
Aided by a monsignor, this Asociaci6n organized the Primer
Congress Nacional de los Cat6licos Argentinos in 1884.
Made up of lay and clerical leaders from all over Argentina,
the congress sought the entrance of Catholics into politics
to counter liberals and their programs, especially Law 1420.
A Catholic political party Uni6n Cat6lica emerged from this
Both Furlong, "El catolicismo argentino entire 1860
y 1930," Historia argentina contemporinea, 1862-1930 (Buenos
Aires: El Ateneo, 1964), II, 270; and Auza, Los catolicos
argentinos, pp. 27-29, contain a nice synopsis of the Cath-
olic press in Argentina but go into little detail.
14Auza, pp. 33-38; and Furlong, ibid., 270-73, 280.
But Roman Catholic resistance to Law 1420 was too
little and too late. The national Congress had debated it
from July 4 to 14, 1883, and had passed it on June 23, 1884.
Law 1420 dealt principally, though not exclusively, with the
national primary schools, which in 1884 were found only in
the Federal District, national territories, and certain-un-
important agricultural colonies. It reaffirmed the author-
ity of the Consejo Nacional de Educaci6n (CNE), which had
been established by decree a few years before, over these
schools, and it earmarked certain specific sources of rev-
enue for their support. It also provided that the CNE
should direct the national normal schools, whose curriculum
was to be established by Congress and the Ministry of Jus-
tice and Public Instruction. And it further set minimum
standards, for private as well as public primary schools.
A Consejo Escolar de Distrito was to oversee both private
and national schools in each school district. These public
bodies could approve or disapprove a private school's site,
1For a blow-by-blow account of the passage of this
law, consult Gregorio Weinberg (ed.), Debate parlamentario
sobre la Ley 1420, 1883-1884 (Buenos Aires: Editorial
building conditions, classroom conditions, and capacity of
a teacher to teach. They could inspect to assure that re-
quired subjects, plus hygiene and morality, were being
taught. If standards were not met, the Consejo Escolar
could close down a private school in its district..
The main debate on Ley 1420 was over its article
eight which stated the following:
La ensenanza religiosa s6la podrS ser dada en las
escuelas pdblicas por los ministros autorizados
de los differences cultos, a los niRos de su
respective comui6n, y antes o despu4s de la
horas de clase.
Catholic anxieties were fed by the fear that all public
schools might soon be secularized, even though this article
eight only pertained to the national primary schools. The
latter were not very numerous until the passage of the Ley
Lainez in 1905, which provided for the establishment of
national schools in the provinces. The more numerous pub-
lic schools belonging to the provinces were left out of
this legislation. Neither did it refer to secondary schools.
And proponents of the law further pointed out that it did
not ban religious education from the national schools: it
only restricted the hours in which it could be given. The
1A partial text of this law may be found ibid.;
article eight is quoted on p. xxvii.
required curriculum itself was not irreligious: it includ-
ed a course on morality that discussed God and His laws.
Catholic opposition to Law 1420 was not directed at
the state's prerogative to oversee and set standards for
private schools. Rather, it was against the restriction
of the teaching of catechism in the national schools. Cat-
echist classes in the more numerous provincial and private
schools were untouched by this law. Initial Catholic opposi-
tion, it must be concluded, was not just to the immediate
consequences but also to the presumed long-range intent of
this law: it was an effort to hamper the creation of a pub-
lic school system free from Catholic influence of control.17
The Argentine church maintained its opposition to
laicism, while the government demonstrated its intention
to expand public and lay education on the primary level.
Right after the passage of Law 1420 the government found it-
self embroiled in a dispute with the church: the Capitular
Vicar of C6rdoba issued a pastoral to the laity forbidding
them to send their children to a normal school directed by
1Luiggi writes that the church was "jealous of its
lost opportunities . was continually hampering the ef-
forts . of Sarmiento and the government .. to create
a school system free to every dweller in Argentina.- . "
(65 Valiants, p. 27.)
Protestant women. He was supported-by the Bishop of Salta,
who issued a similar pastoral to his own laity, and by two
other vicars. When the government tried to force the Ca-
pitular Vicar of C6rdoba to back down, the Cathedral chap-
ter protested and supported him, as did Catholic professors
at C6rdoba and Buenos Aires national universities. The
government retaliated by suspending all of the vicars and
the Bishop of Salta, and by dismissing the professors. The
government also ejected the Apostolic Delegate from the
country when he met privately with the Protestant director
of the C6rdoba normal school in hopes of getting her to
permit the teaching of catechism in the school in exchange
for the church's lifting of its pastoral ban against the
school. The government had made its point that the church
should not interfere in the public schools.
In 1884, the Primer Congreso Nacional de los Cat6-
licos Argentinos resolved to combat Law 1420. The govern-
ment replied with harsher rulings. An 1885 directive stat-
ed that ministers of different faiths must receive permis-
sion from the district school councils and have at least
fifteen pupils in order to hold religious classes in the
1See Furlong, "El cat6licismo," pp. 268-69; and
Mecham, Church and State in Latin America, pp. 239-41.
schools.9 Moreover, in 1904, the CNE ruled that religious
education was to be given only to those students whose par-
ents previously requested it. A later ruling said that
religion classes had to end one-half hour before school
began, or begin one-half hour after school classes ended.20
The Argentine Counter Reformation: 1884-1943
The church failed in the 1880's to convince Argen-
tines who held the reins of power and teaching posts and
guided political parties that a Roman Catholic education
was better for Argentines than a liberal and secular one.
Not only did the church not overturn Law 1420, but, as will
be seen, its one university folded after a decade (1910-
20). The greatest setback for the church after the laic
legislation of the 1880's was the Reforma of the national
universities, which further secularized them. In general,
Argentine Catholicism was not fecund in ideas and works
responding to new situations from 1870 to 1920: progres-
sive Catholic organizations were not supported by the hier-
archy and even stymied by it.21
1Casiello, Iqlesia v estado en la Argentina, p. 332.
Furlong, La tradici6n, p. 101.
Auza, Los cat6licos argentinos, pp. 23, 72, 76, 125.
On the national level, Argentines were not pursuing
"Catholic" goals and did not see religion as relevant to
the socio-economic issues of Argentina. They saw the legal
and constitutional traditions of Argentina as adequately
protecting Roman Catholic interests; after all, the church
was subsidized by the state and the president of Argentina
had to be Roman Catholic. Because of the prevalence of
such attitudes on the part of the laity, a Roman Catholic
political party hardly got off the ground.22
After 1920 Catholic groups with explicitly Catholic
goals began to attract more adherents. The church con-
vinced laymen to work for its ends especially through the
Uni6n Popular Cat1lica or Acci6n Cat6lica Argentina. More
conservative governments rescinded many of the gains of
the university Reforma and replaced liberal administrators
and professors with ultra-nationalist and Catholic ones.
But the greatest triumph of the church's "counter reforma-
tion" came in 1943, when a military junta suspended Law
1420 and established catechism in the public schools.
Ibid., p. 23.
Richard J. Walter, Student Politics in Argentina:
The University Reform and Its Effects, 1918-1964 (New York:
Basic Books, 1968), pp. 80-83, 90-115.
The Catholic press continued to fight liberalism and
laicism. The Third Catholic Congress held in C6rdoba in
1907 urged the diffusion of Roman Catholic ideas through
the press. At the same time, the Catholic press began to
expand, as a result of journalistic activities of clerics
and laymen. In 1911, the magazine Estudios was started by
Jesuits; it became rightist after the death of one of its
co-founders in 1925. Acci6n Cat6lica Argentina controlled
directly or indirectly 700 publications, plus publishing
houses such as Editorial Difusi6n. Its official daily
newspaper, El Pueblo, was anti-democratic, and during
World War II was nearly black-listed. A strongly Catholic
layman Manuel Fresco, who as governor of the Province of
Buenos Aires had implanted religious education in the pro-
vincial schools in 1936, was editor of the pro-fascist
24Furlong, "Breve historic de la revista 'Estudios,'"
Estudios, XLVII, no. 500 (December, 1958), 759; 761-62.
Overseas News Agency, "Memorandum on Argentina,"
Buenos Aires, February 24, 1944, p. 3. National Archives
file no. 835.404/42.
Acci6n Cat6lica Argentina forbade its members to
read a pro-democratic magazine, Orden Cristiano. (Ibid.,
Catholic daily newspaper Cabildo. Another Catholic lay-
man, Atilio Dell'Oro Maini, founded the magazine Criterio
in 1928; in 1932 the hierarchy named Monsignor Gustavo J.
Franceschi as its editor. This magazine best reflected
the thoughts of the Argentine hierarchy, becoming, after
Franceschi took it over, more ultra-nationalist and anti-
liberal, for the authoritarian views of many clerics and
Catholic laymen were being reinforced by the fascist ide-
ologies of Europe of the 1930's.
Acci6n Cat6lica Argentina
Catholic laymen and progressive priests had organ-
ized leagues and associations after the 1880's like the
Circulos de Obreros, Uni6n Dem6crata Cristiana, and the
Liga Social Argentina. All were impeded by a narrow and
conservative hierarchy that either disbanded these organ-
28James M. Byrne, "Catholic Influence on New Regime
in Argentina," Summary of despatch no. 13193. Buenos Aires,
December 14, 1943, p. 2. National Archives file no.
29Marysa Gerassi, "Argentine Nationalism of the Right:
1930-1946," Studies in Comparative International Develop-
ment, Social Science Institute, no. 13 (St. Louis, Mo.:
Washington University, 1965), 181-94.
izations or absorbed them.3
In 1919 the Argentine hierarchy approved the statutes
of its main apostolic organization, Uni6n Popular Cat6lica
Argentina, later to be called Acci6n Cat6lica Argentina
(ACA). It was modeled after an Italian organization which
was conceived of as the clergy's secular arm. ACA came
to be divided into four branches: the Asociaci6n de Hombres
de Acci6n Cat6lica (AHAC), the Asociaci6n de Mujeres de
Accion Catl6ica (AMAC), the Asociaci6n de los J6venes de
Acci6n Cat6lica (AJAC), and the Asociaci6n de las J6venes
de Acci6n Cat6lica (AJAC). A fifth branch was added in
1952--the Asociaci6n de Profesionales de Acci6n Cat6lica.
ACA was organized on the archdiocesan, diocesan, and
parochial levels. On the archdiocesan level was formed a
Junta Central in the capital, which was the seat of Se-
cretariados Centrales: Economic-Social (founded 1934),
Moralidad (founded 1935), Publicidad y Propaganda (founded
1937), Educaci6n (founded 1947 and dissolved in 1963), and
Auza, pp. 60-120.
Ibid., pp. 117-18; cf. Gianfranco Poggi, Catholic
Action in Ital'.y: The Sociology of a Sponsored Organization
(Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1967), pp.50,
Defense de la F6 (founded 1947).32
Institutions such as Scouts Catilicos Argentinos,
Congregaciones Marianas, and the Confederaci6n Argentina
de Maestros y Profesores Cat6licos (founded 1936) adhered
to ACA as affiliates and were assigned asesores or advi-
sors who were clerics with the final word on any decision.
Catholic students attending public schools were organized
into federations which were either in the boys' or girls'
branch (AJAC). Catholic students at Catholic schools were
organized into Centros Internos and also belonged to the
branch of their sex in AJAC. Catholic university students
could join the Federaci6n de los Centros Universitarios of
ACA; these federations and centros were headed by ecclesi-
A United States Embassy despatch from Buenos Aires
considered ACA to be the most important Catholic group
wielding political influence in Argentina in 1943. In-
deed, ACA did attract numbers. AHAC with 4,048 members in
Interviews with civilian administrators of ACA,
R. Diaz and J. Iglesias, Buenos Aires, August 18 and 21,
3Byrne, "Catholic Influence," p. 3.
1933 had an index of growth of 201 to total 8,161 members
by 1943; AMAC had 5,177 members in 1933 and 15,061 by 1943,
a growth index of 290; AJAC (girls) had 7,150 members in
1933 and 22,871 by 1943, a growth index of 319; and AJAC
(boys) had 3,831 members in 1933 and 12,407 by 1943, a
growth index of 323. There were also preparatory sections
founded in 1935 for little girls and boys, numbering over
7,000 and 6,000 members respectively, plus sections of
future members numbering 10,000 men and 13,000 women.
From the very beginning, ACA pressured for religious
education in the public schools. AHAC chose religious ed-
ucation as its campaign topic for 1933.36 The Junta Central
of ACA heard a paper in 1934 that described the laic school
as "atheistic" and "contrary to the national Constitution."
The Junta voted in favor of "reclaiming as a right the es-
tablishment of religious education for all orders of offi-
cial teaching."37 In 1938 the ACA organized its members to
35Faustino Aranguren, "Datos estadisticos," Boletin
de la Acci6n Catblica Argentina, XXI (April, 1951), 169-70.
36"Respuesta de la Acci6n Catl6ica Argentina al cues-
tionario de la Oficina Pontifica, 'Actio Catholica,'"
Boletin de la ACA, XVII (November, 1947), 307.
37Campobassi, Ataaue v defense del laicismo escolar
en la Argentina, 1884-1963 (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Gure,
1964), p. 27.
lobby in Congress against the Coll bill, which would have
maintained and extended the.neutrality of the public schools
in religious matters. ACA won this battle and went on to
organize in 1939 a Segunda Semana Nacional de Estudios Soci-
ales, held in Buenos Aires as the opening phase of another
campaign to install religious education in public schools,
and to make private schools independent of state control.
ACA's theme for 1939 for its congresses and assemblies was
"La Educaci6n Cristiana," based on the papal bull "Divini
Illius Magistri."39 In 1942 the ACA again took as its
campaign topic the theme of religious education in the
The ACA, it must be recalled, was reflecting the opin-
ion of the Argentine hierarchy. In turn, the episcopacy was
acting generally in accord with the policies and objectives
favored by the papacy itself. ACA's activities were to
bear fruit in 1943 when an ACA member, Martinez Zuviria,
became the national Minister of Education and decreed the
Mercedes Terren, "La ACA en la educaci6n argentina,"
in 30 anos de Acci6n Cat6lica, 1931-1961, ed, Manuel N. J.
Bello (Buenos Aires: Talleres Graficos de Don Rudecindo
Sellares, 1961), pp. 190-91.
39"Respuesta de la ACA," Boletin de la ACA, p. 306.
Overseas News Agency, "Memorandum on Argentina,"
reintroduction of religious education into the regular
class hours of the national schools.
Religious Education in Provincial Schools
Before moving on to the topic of religious educa-
tion in provincial schools, a few words must be said in re-
gard to the state of provincial education. Education had
been left to the provinces by the Constitution of 1853, but
they lacked the funds to establish an outstanding system of
primary schools. The provinces needed to receive national
subventions for their schools, a procedure begun in 1871,
but "the logical tendency of national authorities to place
funds, teachers, and efforts in areas where obstacles seemed
less staggering, robbed the interior of any fair share in
Argentina's educational campaign." In provinces such as
Salta, Santiago del Estero, and Jujuy, less than 50% of
school-age children attended any school in 1914, in con-
trast to the more than 60% who attended schools in the Prov-
ince and City of Buenos Aires. Though great strides were
made toward wiping out illiteracy from 1868-1890, efforts
James R. Scobie, Argentina: A City and a Nation
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1964), p. 154.
slackened from 1890-1930.43 According to the 1940 census,
30% of school-age children did not attend primary schools.44
The Socialist Americo Ghioldi pointed out in 1942
that the provinces received only 4,530,000 pesos in 1918
(the budget of 1917 gave them about this amount out of a
total of 26,531,228 pesos for all primary education45) from
the national government, and, as of 1942, they were still
receiving a small amount. Ghioldi proposed that the nation-
al subvention of provincial schools be increased in order
to guarantee provincial teachers 75% of the salary of
Although the provinces received national subventions
for their schools, many of them implanted religious educa-
tion through provincial laws, decrees, and reqlamentos.
Salta, for example, passed a law in 1886 which made the
Gianello, "La ensenanza primaria y secundaria,"
Historia argentina contemporanea, II, p. 155.
44Speech by Amirico Ghioldi, DSCD 1941, II, p. 638.
4Argentina, Ley del presupuesto general, 1917
(Buenos Aires: Talleres Graficos del Ministerio de Agri-
cultura, 1917), pp. 486, 528.
46DSCD 1942, I, pp. 700, 702.
teaching of the Roman Catholic religion obligatory. C6rdoba
followed suit in 1896, calling for the teaching of morality
and religion.47 A subsequent law in 1908 said that reli-
gious education should be given in schools to children
whose parents or guardians did not object. In Catamarca,
an education law of 1900 allowed the province's Consejo de
Educaci6n to dictate a curriculum that would include the
Catholic religion.49 Santa Fl's legislature passed an ed-
ucational law declaring the religious formation of children
to be necessary. Schoolchildren would be taught morality
and Catholic doctrine by a teacher if no cleric could do
When the legislature of Santiago del Estero passed
a law implanting religious education in its schools, the
CNE threatened to cut off national subventions to its
schools, and the governor vetoed the law. However, the
national Congress did not impose on the right of provinces
to make laws for their schools. A bill of December 1914
4Furlong, La tradici6n, p. 120.
48Speech of Deputy Alfredo Palacios, DSCD 1914/15,
VI, p. 684.
4As of 1914, this law was not applied but neither
was it repealed. (Ibid., p. 683.)
to cut off national subventions to provinces with laws
permitting religious education in their public schools was
defeated. It was pointed out by its sponsor that educa-
tion was lay only in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Corri-
entes, Entre Rios, Jujuy, San Luis, Mendoza, and La Rioja.51
In the 1930's the governing elites and military be-
gan to turn against the liberalism of the 1880's in reac-
tion to the socio-economic crisis of the great depression
and the challenge posed by new urban middle- and working-
class groups. Their self-confidence shaken, despite their
return to power, the Conservatives52 on the provincial and
national levels turned increasingly to a romantic tradition-
alism, one of whose features was support of historic Ca-
In response to this new climate Buenos Aires implant-
ed religion in its schools by a reglamento of its Consejo
General de Educaci6n (1936). A national interventor de-
5Ibid., pp. 685, 691.
5Conservative parties operated mainly on the pro-
vincial level and went by different names; only in the Pro-v-
-ince of Buenos Aires was there at one time a major party
by that name. Here the term is a generic designation for
53Henry Stanley Ferns, Argentina (London: Ernest
Bonn Limited, 1969), p. 160.
creed religious education in the provincial schools of Cata-
marca (1937), and a governor of Mendoza made it an optional
course in the provincial schools (1937). In one way or
another, between 1936-37 religious education was also im-
planted in the provinces of Corrientes, San Luis, La Rioja,
and Jujuy.55 It was also inserted in this period in prov-
inces where it had previously existed but had later been
eliminated: Santa F4, C6rdoba, and Salta. Hence, the most
populous provinces in Argentina had religion being taught
as part of the regular curriculum in the provincial schools.
Small wonder, then, that a 1940 pastoral of the Ar-
gentine bishops applauded those who had worked to conserve
a "Christian education" in the provincial schools, besides
reminding Argentine Catholics that religious education was
still a goal of the church. The church's influence on the
elite was helping it achieve a Catholic curriculum in
5Furlong, La tradici6n, pp. 121-22.
55Campobassi, Ataque y defense del laicismo, p. 36.
5Ibid., p. 36.
"Pastoral del Episcopado Argentino Sobre la Educa-
ci6n Cristiana," June 29, 1940, quoted in Revista Eclesiastica
del Arzobispado de Buenos Aires y del Obispado Sufraggneo de
Azul, XL (July, 1940), 385-98. (Hereafter cited as the Re-
vista Eclesiastica de Buenos Aires.)
Church Built Its Own School System
The Generation of 1880 was active in the field of
primary education, and national schools proliferated. In
1885, one-fourth of all primary students were attending
private schools; it may be assumed that three-fourths of
them were Catholic. By 1937, only 7.5% of Argentine pri-
mary students were in private schools; the overwhelming ma-
jority were evenly divided between provincial (46.2%) and
national (46.6%) primary schools. In fact, from 1908 to
1938 the number of primary schools had doubled, the number
of students had tripled, and the number of teachers had
quadrupled. This expansion was the result of Congres-
sional and Executive action: Ley Lainez and financial
support for national schools and teachers.
But by no means had the church given up on spread-
ing its own school system in the face of state activity.
At the same time that it began to organize lay groups such
58Demaria, p. 28.
59Alejandro E. Bunge, "Reflexiones acerca del regimen
educacional--constataciones numericas," La ensenanza national
(Buenos Aires: Espasa Calpe Argentina, 1940), p. 149.
60Ibid., p. 152.
as Acci6n Catilica, and at the same time that clerics and
laymen founded a Catholic press, the bishops founded the
Consejo Superior de Educaci6n Cat6lica (CONSUDEC). All
church-administered schools, parochial or religious, were
made dependent on CONSUDEC in 1922, their statutes being
dictated by the Argentine episcopacy. The goals of CONSUDEC
were to orient, coordinate, inform, and, if necessary, to
defend all Catholic schools.61
The church decided to concentrate on the establish-
ment of secondary and normal schools, and to leave the pri-
mary schools chiefly to the public sector. In 1918, one out
of five secondary students was enrolled in private schools;
in 1943, more than two out of five secondary students were
studying in private schools. (It is assumed that three-
fourths of these private schools were Catholic.) In 1918,
13% of Argentina's normal school students were enrolled in
private normal schools; in 1943, this percentage had in-
creased to 66%.63 Almost all of the private normal schools
Information in a letter to the author from Hermano
Septimio, the head of CONSUDEC, Buenos Aires, March 19, 1974.
62Di Tella, "Raices de la controversial educational
argentina," Los fraqmentos del poder, p. 314.
were Catholic. The church was assured of reaching the
children of the middle and upper classes by concentrating
on secondary school students. And the church was molding
the teachers of primary schoolchildren by operating more
normal schools, thereby reaching more primary school pupils
Ley 934 of 1877 only mentioned secondary schools,
stipulating that private secondary school students would
have to submit to state examinations given by the national
coleqios; left outside of this law were private normal
schools.64 Thus the graduates of Catholic normal schools
did not have to submit to state administered examinations
in order to receive state recognition of their diplomas or
certificates. Catholic normal schools faced no legal ob-
stacles, therefore, and increased in number faster than the
national ones. By the early 20th century Argentina had a
surplus of primary school teachers; while the state and
provinces moved to slow down the growth of their own normal
schools, the church kept on increasing its number of normal
64Ghioldi, Libertad de enseanza, p. 89.
65The CNE in 1920 projected a surplus of 25,000
primary schoolteachers by 1930 if present growth rate were
maintained. (Deputy Juan F. Cafferata, DSCD 1927, II,
The church's school system was also aided by the
state. The national government and some provinces gave
subventions to private schools. In 1938 the federal gov-
ernment spent thirty million pesos on private schools out
of a total education budget of 310 million pesos; 211 mil-
lion went to the national schools, and sixty-nine million
went to the provincial schools. In 1928, President Hip61-
ito Yrigoyen and his Minister of Education permitted pri-
vate secondary schools to waive the final national examina-
tions required by Ley 934 for those pupils who achieved a
high grade-point average, thereby lifting state control
over private secondary school certificates. The result was
an immediate upsurge in the number of private secondary
schools operating more like businesses than academic centers.
The church's growing number of schools was abetted
by the state's lack of action on the secondary (and normal)
school level. No state bureaucratic interest group devel-
oped to promote secondary education as one did on the pri-
mary level because Congress failed to pass a law creating a
Bunge, p. 148.
6Ghioldi, pp. 97-98.
Consejo Nacional de Enseffnza Secundaria.6
There were few national secondary schools in the
provinces; in 1900 there were only sixteen. In this same
year, there were 3,609 secondary students in the national
colegios and 3,272 secondary students in private schools
in all of Argentina. The national government was leav-
ing secondary education up to the provinces, but they did
not have the money, and, in fact, were closing down some
normal schools in 1900 because of lack of funds. What
the national government did do, however, was to commit re-
sources for non-bachillerato secondary schools, beginning
commercial schools (1890), industrial schools (1897), and
special schools for the deaf, dumb, and blind. In 1903
Congress approved a law creating an Instituto Nacional del
Profesorado which graduated teachers especially for the
68There were many attempts throughout the 19th and
20th centuries; for one example, see DSCD 1894, pp. 528,
69Deputy Alejandro Carb6, DSCD 1900, pp. 1180, 1269.
70Ibid., p. 1180.
71Gianello, pp. 120-23, 126-30, 140-44.
The Universities: 1884-1943
Presidents Mitre through Roca promoted education be-
cause they deemed it important for Argentina's social, eco-
nomic, and political development, and they saw the univer-
sity as the pinnacle of Argentine education. During the
period of lay reforms of public education, President Roca's
government (1880-86) defined the relationship of Argentina's
national universities to the federal government by sponsor-
ing the Ley Avellaneda (Law 1597). The law governed the
universities from 1885 to 1967 except for an interruption
during the Peron era, 1947-55. As originally passed, it
gave the university a juridical status known as "limited
autarchy": the university could decide its own regulations
and basic norms and administer its internal finances. Un-
der this law the national universities had the exclusive
right to grant professional titles. Their autonomy was
limited, however, in that the President of Argentina ap-
pointed professors on the basis of nominations of the
superior council of the university; the national executive
could also remove professors from their posts; and the leg-
islative and executive branches annually approved the uni-
versity budgets. Changes in university statutes had to be
approved by the President of Argentina.
At the time the Ley Avellaneda was passed, the only
national universities were those of Buenos Aires and Cordoba,
which had come under federal control during the period of
national reorganization. Subsequently, other institutions
were added to the national system. La Plata was originally
planned as a provincial university, but in 1905 was turned
over to the Nation and soon functioned as a national uni-
versity. Santa Fe originally had a Jesuit colegio with
a law faculty that awarded degrees recognized by the two
national universities, 1875-1884. In 1890 this colegio be-
came part of the provincial university of Santa F6, and in
1919 it was nationalized by Yrigoyen as the University of
the Litoral and included former institutes in Rosario, Par-
ana, Corrientes, and Entre Rios. TucumAn-was also a former
provincial university which was nationalized (1921) after
Reform statutes had been approved for it by President
Yrigoyen in 1920. Cuyo was made the sixth national uni-
Maria Terren de Ferro, "Educaci6n: la universidad
actual y su autonomia," Estudios, no. 496, XLVII (August,
3Gran encyclopedia argentina, ed.. Diego A. de
Santill5n, ( 8 vols., 1953-66, Buenos Aires: Ediar Sociedad
An6nima Editores, 1963), VIII, p. 250.
74Jos& Torre Revello, "Historia de las universidades
versity in 1939, growing out of various institutes in Men-
All the national universities, in existence or that
came into being from 1918-21, had their statutes written
and approved by the national executive to incorporate the
ideas of the "Reforma." This reform movement began at the
national University of Cordoba in 1918 and was carried out
by alumni, students, and professors. They wished to change
the rigid university structure that allowed certain tradi-
tional families from C6rdoba to monopolize professorships.
As these families were generally conservative and Catholic,
the struggle was also against the church and religious in-
fluences at the University of C6rdoba. The reform even-
tually spread to all Argentine universities and other Latin
American countries, bringing a tripartite system of univer-
sity government: alumni, students, and professors would
govern the university under conditions of university auto-
nomy---the state would not interfere in university life.
y de la cultural superior," Historia argentina contemportnea,
1862-1930 (Buenos Aires: El Ateneo, 1964), II, 188-90.
75Richard J. Walter, Student Politics in Argentina:
The University Reform and Its Effects, 1918-1964, pp. 39-77.
Other changes were that class attendance was no longer ob-
ligatory, examinations could be taken by students who did
not attend classes, and professors' chairs were opened to
other than the elite families' members.76
The Reform reflected student attitudes and ways of
thinking that would become characteristic: nationalism,
idealism, rhetorical solidarity with the working class,
support for social justice, and solidarity with youth in
other Latin American countries. Moreover, a by-product of
it was the creation of a national organization, the Fed-
eraci6n de Universitarios Argentinos (FUA), to coordinate
all of Argentina's student groups through pamphleteering,
meetings, etc., and to make the students' weight felt in
national politics--through meetings with the President and
violence if necessary.
The Reforma, like lay education, was soon subject
to a counter reformation. The government of Alvear inter-
vened the universities of the Litoral and Cordoba and rolled
back several of the Reformista renovations. Reform-
76Maria Mercedes Bergad5, Argentine Survey S.J.:
II--Situaci6n educational (Buenos Aires: Centro de Investi-
gaciones y Acci6n Social, 1968), Part 2, pp. 249-50.
7Walter, pp. 55-60, 77.
Ibid., pp. 80-83.
ists again suffered setbacks after 1930. Ironically, they
had worked to bring about the overthrow of Yrigoyen by mil-
itary coup in 1930, even though he had restored many of the
reforms to the universities; but they soon came to regret
their contribution to his overthrow. Under the military
dictatorship set up in 1930 and the fraudulently elected
Conservative coalition to which it gave way in 1932 (the
"Concordancia"), most of the universities were intervened,
and the administrators and professors opposed to the Re-
formista program replaced those of more liberal tendencies.
Governmental repression of students led to their increasing
politicization. Marxist groups grew in strength, as did
certain extremist groups of the right. But the main body
of university students identified with the democratic par-
ties (and with the Allies at the outbreak of World War II).
The principles of the Reform remained only as ideals dur-
ing the years 1930-43: and their university centers and
federations became foci of opposition to the national gov-
7The Second National Student Congress that met in
Buenos Aires in 1932 voiced opposition to the Concordancia
and demanded that the church not interfere in political af-
fairs. (Gabriel del Mazo, ed., La reform universitaria
/La Plata: Edici6n del Centro de Estudiantes de Ingenieria,
19417, II, 370-90.)
80Walter, pp. 90-115.
Catholic Universities Blocked
The anti-conservative and anti-clerical bias of the
Reform made Catholics more conscious of their own failure
to found a Catholic university. Various attempts had been
made before: in 1871 a bill submitted to the Buenos Aires
provincial legislature by Estrada was defeated; it would
have allowed private universities to grant scientific de-
grees, but not habilitating titles to practice a profession
unless the state approved. A Jesuit colegio in Santa Fe,
as noted above, had obtained approval of its law school
graduates' degrees from the two national universities,
1875-84. But it was not until 1910 that the church hier-
archy along with Catholic laymen founded the Universidad
Catolica de Buenos Aires. The state refused to recognize
the degrees of the university's graduates, and it ceased
to function around 1920-22.82
Meanwhile, however, Catholic activists as early as
1910 had formed Centros de Estudiantes Cat6licos in the na-
Horacio O. Domingorena, Articulo 28: universidades
privadas en la Argentina: sus antecedentes (Buenos Aires:
Editorial Americana, 1959), pp. 19-20.
82This Catholic University had faculties of law and
social science; Mons. Luis Duprat was rector. (Auza, Los
cat61icos argentinos, pp. 73-74.)
tional universities; they included secondary as well as
university students and alumni. Each Centro had an eccle-
siastical advisor, and Tribuna Universitaria was published
to propagandize their ideas and orient the movement. At
the same time, Catholic laymen organized the Cursos de
Cultura Cat1lica, in which Catholic professors met with
students in informal seminars to teach them about Catholic
culture and philosophy. The future Universidad Cat6lica
de Argentina grew out of these Cursos, as did the Ateneo
de la Juventud, founded in 1934. Many of the participants
such as Dell'Oro Maini, TomAs D. Casares, and Rafael Ayerza
became active in Argentine intellectual life and were to
use their influence to help the church achieve its educa-
The Tribuna Universitaria was edited by Dell'Oro
Maini, in 1917. See Tribuna Universitaria, October, 1917,
THE 1943 COUP AND ENSENANZA RELIGIOSA
The Military Government
On June 4, 1943, the government of Argentina was
forcibly replaced by a new group of military leaders. This
group identified itself with nationalist and Roman Catholic
forces. Its revolutionary proclamation stated that one
goal of the revolution would be "acercar a los ninos a la
doctrine de Jesuscristo" and "educar a la juventud en el
respeto a Dios."
Nationalist Catholics applauded this coup, and moved
into governmental posts. Six days after the new government
took office, Father Gustavo Franceschi wrote an editorial
for Criterio which praised the actions of the armed forces
and called the revolution "una racha purificadora del ambi-
ente social." The "duty" of Argentines was to support this
government. In the next issue of Criterio appeared a let-
ter from General Pedro Ramirez, who had become President,
1Campobassi, Ataque y defense del laicismo escolar,
"Comentarios: la revoluci6n," Criterio, XVI (June
10, 1943), 128.
openly thanking Franceschi and Criterio for their support.
Franceschi replied by complimenting Ramlrez for his "inte-
gral Catholic Christianity" and his proposal to seek social
justice in the manner laid out in the papal encyclicals.3
General Ramirez also called on Cardinal Copello and told
him that his government intended to lean heavily on the
church for assistance. Ramirez had a cleric as his per-
sonal advisor, Father Roberto A. Wilkinson Dirube, who
also was credited as being his speech writer.
The Catholic militancy of the new government showed
up in the field of education. The Minister of the Inter-
ior Hector Bernardo, who headed a nationalist group pro-
fessing to be followers of St. Augustine, issued an order
for the intervention of the province of Tucumin. While the
province was intervened, the provincial Minister of Educa-
tion sent out a nationalist circular to all schools that
called for the extirpation of liberal democracy. This was
followed by the installation of enseTianza religiosa in the
Franceschi, "Nuevas consideraciones sobre la re-
voluci6n," Criterio, XVI (July 1, 1943), 200.
Despatch no. 11024 from Ambassador Norman Armour
to the Secretary of State. Buenos Aires, July 17, 1943,
p. 7. National Archives file no. 835/1671.
provincial public schools. The action of the Catholic na-
tionalists in the public education system of Tucumin was a
preview of what they would do in the national schools.6
The new Minister of Justice and Public Instruction,
Gustavo Martinez Zuviria, was a member of ACA and an ex-
treme Catholic militant who had written nationalist and
anti-semitic novels under the pen name of Hugo Wast. In
December 1943, he issued the decree by which religious ed-
ucation was implanted in the national primary and second-
ary schools; by religious education was meant the teaching
of the Roman Catholic religion. The provincial governments
followed suit and established religious education in their
provincial public primary and secondary schools by local
Martinez Zuviria named another Catholic militant,
Jose Ignacio Olmedo, as President of the Consejo Nacional
de Educaci6n; he announced pro-clerical and nationalist
principles upon assuming office on March 25, 1944. Two
days later, Olmedo issued a decree suspending all primary
schoolteachers, specialists, and administrators, pending
Byrne, "Catholic Influence on New Regime in Argen-
tina," Summary of despatch no. 13193, Buenos Aires, Decem-
ber 14, 1943, p. 1.
a review of their fitness. All continued in their posts
until each individual case was decided, but the net effect
was to put primary education safely in the hands of the
clerics and nationalists.
Martinez Zuvirfa directed the intervention of all
the universities, except the University of La Plata, and
ended student participation in university administration.
He declared FUA and all its centers to be illegal and dis-
solved; FUA, however, continued to operate clandestinely.8
Pro-democratic professors and administrators were removed
from office or resigned in protest. Ultra-nationalists
and reactionary Catholics replaced them. The main uni-
versity with over 90% of all Argentine university students
was the University of Buenos Aires, whose interventor was
Tom5s D. Casares, a member of the Cursos de Cultura Cat6-
lica, ACA, the organizing committee of the First Congress
of Ibero-American Culture, the Club del Plata, and Con-
Telegram from Ambassador Norman Armour to the Sec-
retary of State. Buenos Aires, March 28, 1944. National
Archives file no. 835.42/185.
Despite government repression, university students
managed to force the resignation of some reactionary profes-
sors and administrators. (Walter, Student Politics in Ar-
gentina, p. 123.)
9Water, Student Politics in Argentina, pp. 121-22.
Walter, Student Politics in Argentina, pp. 121-22.
vivium.10 Other Catholics who belonged to some of these
same organizations played a role in the University's inter-
vention: Atilio Dell'Oro Maini, Interventor-Dean of the
Law School of the University of Buenos Aires; and Rafael
Ayerza, Interventor-Dean of the School of Science.
On May 4, 1944, Dr. Alfredo Baldrich succeeded Mar-
tinez Zuvirla as Minister of Justice and Public Instruction.
He, too, was a Catholic nationalist and appointed another'
Catholic nationalist as his subsecretary, Silenzi de Stagni.
So was Jordan Bruno Genta, the former interventor of the
University of the Litoral, who on June 6 became rector of
the Instituto del Profesorado, the leading secondary school-
teacher training center. A course in religious educa-
tion and morality had been added to its curriculum since
the decree for religious education also applied to second-
ary schools. By such means, secondary education was brought
10Casares was named to the Supreme Court in 1944 and
rose to be its president under Peron in 1946. He typifies
these Catholic nationalists in that he sided with the church
during its showdown with the government in 1955. (Inter-
view with Casares, Buenos Aires, September 11, 1972.)
Byrne, pp. 4-5.
Letter from Cultural Attach4 Hayward Keniston to
the Secretary of State, Buenos Aires, June 9, 1944, p. 6.
National Archives file n. 842.6/15018.
increasingly under the control of Nationalist Catholics.
Catholic nationalists had carried out the educa-
tional policies of the new government and vice versa. Gen-
eral Edelmiro Farrell, who replaced Ramirez as President
in February, 1944, summed up the government's educational
activities on June 4, 1944: dangerous elements had been
eliminated from the universities and the teaching profes-
sion generally; students would have no share in the govern-
ment of the university, nor should they devote themselves
to political problems. He explained the implantation of
ensenanza religiosa as the "restoration of the rule of
the National Constitution in the proper interpretation of.
its text and spirit."13
The government had sought the support of Catholic
nationalists because it genuinely shared the church's
values; there was a close identification between the mil-
itary men and the church on the critical importance of or-
der, hierarchy, authority, and tradition.14 When interview-
ed many years later, Colonel Enrique P. Gonzalez, President
Interview with Jose Luis Imaz, sociologist, Buenos
Aires, December 2, 1971.
Ramirez' secretary and a key advisor in the government dur-
ing its first phase, stated that the government had wanted
to use the Catholic religion to fight leftist ideologies:
communists and anarchists were seen as formidable foes who
wished to destroy the family and take Argentina into an era
of terrorism in order to establish a despotic regime. The
communists especially wished to infiltrate youth, attack-
ing the home and religion with their "ideas disolventes,"
which only could be combated with religious instruction of
the young in the schools. The Jesuit historian Guillermo
Furlong likewise claimed that ensefanza religiosa served
to combat totalitarianism, especially of the Soviet brand.
The military government already had support and did
not need to woo the Argentine church, but it'wanted the
church's backing. And the church wanted the national
government to implant religious education in the schools
so that the young would know its teachings. The church al-
so managed to eject other religions from the public schools.
15Interview, Buenos Aires, April 10, 1972.
16La tradici6n, pp. 125-26.
17Telephone interview with Robert A. Potash, Buenos
Aires, July 14, 1972.
Law 1420 had allowed the ministers of other religions to
teach their respective communicants. The 1943 decree was
exclusionary--only the Catholic religion could be taught.
The Roman Catholic Church of Argentina now enjoyed:
. el control mas o menos absolute de las
tres ramas educativas de la Naci6n por ele-
mentos cat6licos y clericales . el triunfo
politico mfs amplio q la Iglesia--la jerar-
quia--en el period.
The Decree of Ensenanza Religiosa, December 31, 1943
On December 31st the Minister of Public Instruction
Dr. Gustavo Martinez Zuviria promulgated decree no. 18.411,
Articulo Primero.--En todas las escuelas ptbli-.
cas de ensenanza primaria, postprimaria, secun-
daria y especial, la ensenanza de la Religi6n
Cat6lica ser& impartida como material ordinaria
de los respectivos planes de studio.
Quedan excluidos de esta ensenanza aquellos
educandos cuyos padres manifiesten expresa opo-
sicibn por pertenecer a otra religion, respe-
tandose asf la libertad de conciencia. A esos
alumnos se les dara instrucci6n moral.
Art. 2 .--Los docentes que tengan a su cargo la
ensenanza de la Religi6n Catdlica sergn desig-
nados por el Gobierno debiendo recaer las nom-
bramientos en personas autorizadas por la Au-
18Alberto Ciria, Partidos v poder en la Argentina
modern, (1930-46) (Buenos Aires: Editorial Jorge Alvarez,
1968), p. 220.
Art. 30.--Los programs y textos destinados a
la ensenanza religiosa seran aprobados por el
Gobierno, de acuerdo con la Autoridad Eclesiistica.
Art. 40.--En los: establecimientos de ensenanza
media y especial dependientes de las Universi-
dades Nacionales, asi como en las escuelas co-
munes dependientes del Consejo Nacional de Edu-
caci6n regiran las disposiciones del present
Art. 50.--Crease la Direcci6n General de Instruc-
ci6n Religiosa a los efectos de organizer y
dirigir esta rama de la EnseIanza en las escuelas
dependientes del Ministerio de Justicia e Instruc-
ci6n Publica y del Consejo Nacional de Educaci6n,
y la Inspecci6n General de Instrucci6n Religiosa,
cuyas funciones respectivas seran oportunamente
reglamentadas por el Ministerio en cada juris-
dicci6n, con el acuerdo o la consult que, segun
los casos, corresponda hacer a la Autoridad
Art. 60.--Los gastos que demand el cumplimiento
del present Decreto ser&n incluldos come Item
especial en el Presupuesto General de la Naci6n.
Art. 7 .--Communiquese, publiquese, an6tese, dese
al Registro Nacional y archivese.
Gustavo Martinez Zuviria, Luis C. Perlinger,
Cesar Ameghino, Benito Sueyro, Diego I. Mason, 19
Alberto Gilbert, Edelmiro J. Farrell, Juan Pistarini.
The decree was signed by all the ministers, giving
it the force of law. A long preamble to it gave the gov-
ernment's reasoning for instituting ensednanza religiosa in
19Casiello, Iglesia y estado en la Argentina,
the public schools: a school system without religion had
helped contribute to administrative corruption and "la de-
formaci6n del alma del pueblo" because it had stripped Ar-
gentina of "el inico fundamento valido de toda moral pri-
vada v public v, para nosotros los argentinos, la destruc-
ci6n de uno de los mAs fuertes vinculos de la unidad nacio-
nal."20 It was also pointed out that a future Argentine
President, since he was required by the Constitution to be
Roman Catholic, should know the catechism.
Bishops Denied Collaboration
The episcopacy never admitted that it helped draw
up this decree. Instead, it took the official position
that the decree was unilaterally issued by the military;
that the church had no hand in drawing it up; and that the
bishops were even surprised by it. This does not mean
that Catholics did not favor the decree. The bishops laud-
ed it in a letter to President Ramirez, and in a pastoral
letter: ACA praised it; Criterio enthusiastically greet-
ed it; clergy, bishops and Cardinal Copello publicly and
20Ibid., p. 335.
21See Franceschi, "La posici6n cat6lica en la Argen-
tina," Criterio, XVII (February 8, 1945), 133-40; Boletin
de la Acci6n Cat6lica Argentina, XXV (1955), pp. 55-62,
quoted in Casiello, p. 338; and DSCD 1946, X, p. 690.
repeatedly praised the government because of its restora-
tion of ensenanza religiosa.
It was reported that the church was well aware of
this decree before it was issued and, in fact, had with-
held its endorsement of the decree for several months out
of fear of a negative public reaction to it. Minister of
Public Instruction Martinez Zuvirfa purportedly overcame
Cardinal Copello's qualms, and the decree was issued the
end of December.22 Further verification that the church
did know of this decree was supplied by President Ramirez'
former secretary and chief advisor Colonel Gonzalez, who
stated that Martinez Zuviria periodically consulted the
episcopacy while drawing up the decree for enseianza re-
After the promulgation of the decree, an article in
Criterio reassured Catholics that the church would have a
major part in administering the decree. The government
could not impose its political will on the church because
the teachers and texts had to be authorized by the eccle-
22Letter from Counselor Edward L. Reed to the Secre-
tary of State, Buenos Aires, January 8, 1944, p. 2. Nation-
al Archives file no. 835.42/179.
Interview with Col. Enrique Gonzilez, Buenos Aires,
April 10, 1972.
siastical authorities. A Director General had to be con-
sulted on the organization and administration of enseManza
religiosa, and a distinguished priest with firm character
would be appointed with the concurrence of the hierarchy
to this post to ward off chances that the government would
dictate to the church.
The church was defensive in face of the charge that
it had meddled in politics to get by force what it could
not get by persuasion. The decree had been announced on
the same day that political parties were ordered dissolved,
thereby linking religious education with military dictator-
ship. The hierarchy maintained that they were not the on-
ly ones who favored religious education. They argued that
it had been a demand of the people, a right of the church,
and part of Argentine tradition; it was something the gov-
ernment was duty-bound to do by virtue of divine law.
El establecimento de la ensenanza religiosa cat6-
lica en las escuelas de un pals no constitute un
libre obsequio del gobierno a la Iglesia, sino
el reconocimiento del derecho de Cristo a llevar,
par- medio de dicha Iglesia, su Verdad al alma
de los niHos.25
2Franceschi, "Un 'grave problema argentino'
imaginario," Criterio, XVII (January 27, 1944), 83.
25"Pastoral Colectiva del Episcopado Argentino
Acerca de los Deberes de los Catl6icos en el Momento Actual,"
November 5, 1945, quoted in Criterio, XVIII (November 22,
Administration of the Decree
That the bishops, or at least those familiar with
their viewpoint, were almost certainly in on the drawing
up of the decree is apparent in the text of the decree it-
self, whereby the Argentine episcopacy must decide on the
texts and curricula and nominate the teachers for religious
education. The episcopacy was also to be consulted by the
government on the functions of the General Directorate of
Religious Instruction (Direcci6n General de Instrucci6n
Religiosa) and the General Inspection of Religious Instruc-
tion (Inspecci6n General de Instrucci6n Religiosa).
The Director General was responsible for religion
and morality in the schools. Underneath him were two head
inspectors--one for the primary schools and the other for
the secondary schools. The Director General's activities
were regulated by the Minister of Justice and Public In-
struction and were to be conducted in close consultation
with the Church hierarchy. The chief inspectors, in turn,
headed a staff of inspectors situated all over Argentina.
These inspectors would visit the schools every week through-
out Argentina, and mainly were to orient the teachers of
ensenanza reliqiosa and morality. However, the Director
also tried to have a priest appointed for every school to
serve as an advisor for the teachers of religion and moral-
MINISTER OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
primary schools secondary schools
I I I I I i I I
I I 1 I I I
i i I i
The General Directorate was officially established
by decree on May 20, 1944, although the first Director Gen-
eral was appointed in March to set up the office. It was
composed of four members plus the Director General, all of
whom were nominated by the government, and a sixth member
appointed directly by the episcopacy. It thus epitomized
Interview with Pbro. Dr. Jesus E. Lopez Moure,
Second Director General, 1944-47, Buenos Aires, August
collaboration between church and state on public education.27
All of the Directors were clerics. The first, Juan
R. Sepich, lasted two months, March-April, 1944. He was
succeeded by Father L6pez Moure, who directed the program
of religion and morality in the schools from April 1944 to
April 1947. The hierarchy approved books for use in the
teaching of morality and religion before they were finally
screened by the Directorate. They were checked by the bish-
ops for doctrinal errors; the Directorate checked them for
their suitability in the classroom. The hierarchy approved
the teachers of religion and morality if their diplomas and
titles showed them to have had formal training in Roman
Catholic dogma. The Director reviewed the list and passed
it on to the Minister of Public Instruction (for secondary
and normal schools) or to the CNE (for primary schools),
who then appointed them to teaching positions within the
schools. The CNE was appointed by the Minister of Public
Instruction, who in turn was appointed by the Chief Execu-
When the program began, there were few teachers pre-
pared to teach religion and morality, and the Directors,
27L. Edward Shuck, Jr., "Church and State in Argen-
tina," Western Political Quarterly, II (December, 1949), 438.
therefore, used graduates--mainly clerics--of the Instituto
de Cultura Religiosa Superior and an institute run by the
Benedictines in Belgrano. Meanwhile Directors Sepich, and
later Moure, pressured the bishops to begin training courses
in the dioceses for future lay and clerical religion and
morality teachers. Teachers were certified to teach these
classes in secondary schools only if they passed an examina-
tion, written and oral, made up and administered by the
individual bishop of the diocese. The training courses
consisted of three years of dogma, morality, sacred liter-
ature, church history, ascetic theology and mysticism, lit-
urgy, philosophy, and sociology. At the end of three years,
a teacher of morality or religion would be awarded a cer-
tificate recognized by a diocesan bishop.
On the primary level, the training and selecting of
teachers was handled in a different way. There, volunteers
were sought among the regular elementary teachers to teach
morality and religion. This was because the religion con-
Interview with L6pez Moure, Buenos Aires, August 9,
Around 1949 a Corporaci6n de Profesores de Religi6n
y Moral was founded with an ecclesiastical advisor appointed
by the bishops. (Luis R. Capriotti, "Documentos: los cat6-
licos, el profesorado de religion y de moral y la ley 12.978,"
Criterio, XXII /June 9, 19497, 310.)
tent of the courses was simple enough to be handled by a
volunteer, and there were already so many teachers in the
primary schools that additional ones to teach religion and
morality would have added excessively to the numbers.30
However, the church did act to ensure that its religious
doctrines were taught by lay teachers. Priests or inspec-
tors who were priests were sent to the schools twice a week
to give one-half hour training courses to the volunteers.31
Texts and curricula.--In 1944 the only books avail-
able as textbooks for ensenanza religiosa were catechisms.
Pages were mimeographed from these catechisms and distribut-
ed along with religious pamphlets to the classes. By 1948,
however, there was a published series of books for indivi-
dual grades that followed the church-approved curricula.
A decree of November 28, 1944, issued by the Con-
sejo Superior de Ministros with the collaboration of the
Directorate General of Religious Education stated: "Ensenarfn
Religion los mismos maestros en sus respectivos grades; si
algin maestro no se creyere capacitado hacerlo . sera
reemplazado en esta signature por la Direcci6n General de
acuerdo con las Autoridades del Consejo Nacional de Edu-
caci6n." (Quoted in Gustavo J. Franceschi, "El problema
de la enseRanza religiosa," Criterio, XVIII 1guly 26, 19457,
Interview with L6pez Moure, Buenos Aires, August
3Ensenanza reliqiosa: programs aprobados por el
poder ejecutivo de la Naci6n (Rosario: Editorial "Apis,"
1948), p. 2.
Under the first Director General experienced teach-
ers of catechism drew up the curriculum for the first two
years of primary school and secondary school. The lack of
money and teachers of religion initially impeded religion
from being offered in the other grades. Two years of moral-
ity or religion had to be passed by secondary students in
order to graduate. Later on, the curriculum for religion
and morality was drawn up for all grades. These curricula,
too, were submitted to the episcopacy for their approval.
For the primary grades, ensenanza religiosa consist-
ed of Doctrine (faith and law) and Sacred History (Old and
New Testament). On the secondary level--national colegios,
liceos, escuelas normales, comerciales, y industriales--
ensenanza reliqiosa was more specialized. In general,
Faith was offered the first year of secondary school, Law
the second year, Sources of Grace the third, History of
the Old and New Testament the fourth, and Social Doctrine
of the Church the fifth year. But these course varied
somewhat according to the type of school: normal schools
offered a course on the Teaching Profession of the Church
in the fifth year; professional and technical schools taught
33Interview with L6pez Moure, Buenos Aires, August
History of the Old and New Testaments in the third and fourth
years in lieu of Sources of Grace and Social Doctrine of the
The texts and programs used to teach religious ed-
ucation were similar to the ones used for religion classes
in the church schools. Dr. L6pez Moure explained the small
difference between religion texts used in the public and
private Catholic schools in a 1945 circular:
Que la Gnica diferencia que poseen con los pro-
gramas oficiales es que los mismos temas se tra-
tan con mayor amplitud, consecuencia l6gica de
ser institutes de formaci6n integral religiosa.
If parents asked that their children be excused from
classes of enseanza religiosa, their children would be en-
rolled in the alternative course of morality. But a con-
tent analysis of the texts used for morality reveals that
they hardly differed from those used for ensenanza reliqi-
osa. The morality texts taught the Roman Catholic view-
point of man, God, society, family, and civil authority.
They taught that the only true, legitimate, and valid mar-
riage between Christians was between baptized persons
34Enseianza reliqiosa, pp. 5-6, 22-48.
"Circular No. 32," Buenos Aires, November 7, 1945,
quoted in Criterio, XVIII (November 22, 1945), 501.
married with the sacraments of the church. Adultery, free
love, and prostitution were denounced. Hobbes' and Rous-
seau's theories of civil society were denigrated as false;
St. Thomas of Aquinas' views were presented as good. Lib-
eralism was denounced as an erroneous doctrine.37 Humility
was a virtue achieved by submitting to the will of God.
Remedies for pride were the recognition of God as the Sumo
Bien and Suma Bondad, and the recognition of reality as
God, neighbor, and society.38
These morality textbooks would also have had to con-
tain nothing contrary to Catholic teaching because they
were subject to the approval of the Argentine episcopacy,
just as were the texts of religion.
Critiques of the Administration of Ensenanza Reliqiosa
The hierarchy's role in making up curriculum and ap-
proving teachers and textbooks meant that any shortcomings
or violations of the decree of religious education could
36Miguel Angel Etcheverrigaray and Alberto Franco,
Moral, libro IV para 40 ano de la ensenanza media (Buenos
Aires: Ediciones Itinerarium, 1951), pp. 129-34.
Ibid., pp. 170-78, 205.
Etcheverrigaray and Franco, Moral, libro II para
2 ano de la ensenanza secundaria (1949), pp. 143-44.
be attributed to the church as well as to the government.
When criticism was leveled at the disruption of regular
classes by the addition of religion and morality courses,
the church was not directly criticized. But, however o-
blique the criticism, church spokesmen and groups took it
upon themselves to answer the charges, since the church was
responsible for these classes.39 The government itself al-
so disciplined those who were critics or potential critics
of religious education courses in the public schools. Dr.
Manuel Villada Achaval suspended the rector E. F. Rondanina
of the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires for writing an arti-
cle that criticized ensenanza religiosa.40 The church was
purportedly in on the arbitrary dismissal of public school
rectors and teachers, including a large number of Jews.41
Father Franceschi did not wholly deny this charge but
claimed that members of the clergy intervened to save many
"Comentarios: diligencia por una parte y caballer-
osidad for otra," Criterio, XXIII (February 25, 1950), 113.
40Osvaldo Francella, "Comentarios: el Profesor Ron-
danina," Criterio, XVII (April 27, 1944), 393.
41George P. Doherty, "The Cross and the Sword: A
Catholic View of Argentine Nationalism," Harper's Magazine,
CXC (June, 1945), 110.
42Gustavo J. Franceschi, "La posici6n cat6lica en la
Argentina," p. 138.
Clerical teachers of religion were found ill-pre-
pared and inept by their critics. Priests in the second-
ary schools teaching religion, a Protestant American liv-
ing in Buenos Aires charged, were improvising as teachers,
unable to handle increasingly dissatisfied students with
inconvenient questions. A Peronist priest claimed post-
1954 that the hierarchy violated the intent of the decree
by nominating priests instead of laymen for secondary teach-
ers of religion.
The religious education program was also scored by
the United States Cultural Attach& in a private letter for
teaching ideas of an authoritarian nature. Religion and
morality classes taught that civil authority came from di-
vine authority and thus, implicitly, that political obedi-
ence was required by God. Along this same line, the
General Directorate of Religious Instruction asked that in
classes of ensenanza religiosa the teachers explain to the
George P. Howard, "Clericalism in Argentina's Cri-
sis," The Christian Century, LXII (October 17, 1945), 1184-85.
44Pedro Badanelli, Per6n, la iglesia y un cura
(Buenos Aires: Editorial Tartessos, 1960), p. 77.
Letter from Cultural Relations Attache Keniston
to the Secretary of State, Buenos Aires, June 9, 1944.
National Archives file no. 842.6/15018.
el fundamento solidisimo de la autoridad de
los propios padres, es la representaci6n de la
autoridad divina, representaci6n que se exti-
ende, tambign, al maestro, y se agranda en la
autoridad civil, necesaria para el ordenamiento
de la vida de relaci6n sobre la tierra, y que
culmina en la autoridad eclesiastica, como
orientadora de la vida del hombre hacia su
destino supremo y definitive.46
Thus, church and state were acting in concert to instill
concepts about the sacredness of the church-state relation
and their institutional infallibility.
Critics charged that the church wanted all classroom
textbooks, instruction, and teachers to conform to its reli-
gious teachings. This accusation could not be denied by
the church since this is what it indeed wanted. Critics
pointed to a 1945 circular signed by Father Alberto Escobar,
Inspector General de Enselanza Religiosa, as proof for their
charges. In this circular, he told schools to apply Roman
Catholicism to the teaching of all subjects: for example,
history should consider Christ as the center of world his-
"Circular," June 3, 1944, Boletin del Ministerio
de Justicia e Instruccion Publica, VII, no. 52 (June, 1944),
7Octavio Nicolis Derisi, "El fin ultimo y los fines
inmediatos de la educaci6n cat6lica," Criterio, XIX (Decem-
ber 19, 1946), 583.
tory; in writing class, students should copy "yo amo a
Dios" or "quiero ser buen cristiano." A "unified" school
was the goal: "En la escuela unitaria, el maestro puede
ensenar religi6n juntamente con las demrs materials"4 8
This circular went on to recommend that religion
classes begin with prayer and the sign of the cross and
that trips be taken to temples and sanctuaries to explain
Roman Catholic dogma and symbols, giving rise to more
charges that the intent of the decree of 1943 was being vi-
olated. The point is perhaps arguable, but Colonel Enrique
Gonzalez later agreed that religion classes were not meant
to be religious services but theoretical and historical in
their treatment of religion.50
Detractors pointed out the intolerance built into
the religion and morality classes. First of all, the text-
books were biased against other religions and civil laws.
One such text, La religion explicada by Ardizzone, scorned
Protestantism as sustaining "principos que conducen a la
4Critics of this circular were Deputy Alberto Candi-
oti, DSCD 1946, X, p. 693;'and Campobassi, Ataque y defense
del laicismo escolar, pp. 48-49.
4DSCD 1946, X, p. 693.
50Interview with Col. Enrique Gonzalez, Buenos Aires,
April 10, 1972.
immoralidad y al crimen."1 The Manual de instrucci6n re-
ligiosa, a text provided by the CNE, attacked civil mar-
riage and the lay school, although both had been sanctioned
by national laws.52 Secondly, pressure was put on students
not to opt for the morality classes, even though they hard-
ly differed from the religion classes. Students who left
the classroom to attend them were often jeered by their
classmates and called "Jews";53 parents had to take the ini-
tiative in requesting that their-children not be enrolled
in religion but in morality classes and often would not
bother or be too intimidated to go to the school authorities
with this request; and students graduating from secondary
school faced difficulties, it was charged, if they had
taken morality instead of religion.55
Church spokesmen countered almost all of the above
charges by insisting that morality was an accepted alterna-
5DSCD 1946, X, pp. 696-97.
5Deputy Cipriano Reyes, DSCD 1946, X, p. 776.
Interviews with former students of morality,
Buenos Aires, 1972.
54Deputy Absal6n Rojas, DSCD 1946, X, p. 705.