« Bolingbroke, Henry Saint-John, Viscount Bolivia Bolland, Jan, and the Bollandists »


BOLIVIA: A republic of western South America, bounded on the north and east by Brazil; on the south by Paraguay and Argentina; and on the west by Chile and Peru. The area is estimated at from 520,000 to 600,000 square miles, the population from 1,900,000 to 2,500,000, of whom 1,250,000 are Indians and over 500,000 half-breeds. The constitution adopted in 1826 after independence had been attained recognized Roman Catholicism as the state religion and prohibited the public exercise of any other form of faith, toleration existing only in new colonies. Nevertheless, the properties of the Church were confiscated and sold, only the bishops being allowed a moderate annual sum. Complete religious liberty was granted by the government in 1905.

In its hierarchical organization, Bolivia forms the province of La Plata, under the archbishop of La Plata (Chuquisaca de la Plata) or Sucre (diocese since 1551; archdiocese since 1609 with 135 parishes). The suffragan bishoprics are those of Cochabamba, La Paz, and Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Cochabamba, founded in 1847, has fifty-six parishes; La Paz, founded 1608, has thirty-eight; and Santa Cruz, founded 1605, fifty-four. In addition to the secular clergy, members of orders, including the Jesuits, are actively engaged in missionary labors among the Indians, of whom some 200,000 still cling to their pagan faith. The schools among the converted Indians are under religious control. There are four seminaries for the clergy, six "universities," and sixteen higher schools.

The inaccessibility of Bolivia renders immigration, especially from Europe and North America, scanty. The number of Protestants in the country is accordingly small. There is a Presbyterian chapel in Sucre. Canadian Baptists have been engaged in missionary work in the country since 1898 and have organized churches at Oruro, La Paz, and Cochabamba. More recently the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States has entered the field with headquarters at La Paz. An interdenominational mission is being conducted at Cochabamba by Australians. The educational system is being reorganized under the direction of an American missionary.

Bibliography: Bolivia, issued by Bureau of American Republics, Washington, 1891 cf. the Annual Reports of the Bureau since then; A. Bellessont, La Jeune Amérique. Chili et Bolivie, Paris, 1897; C. Matzenauer, Bolivia in historischer, geographischer und cultureller Hinsicht, Vienna, 1897; J. S. Dennis, Centennial Survey of Foreign Missions, New York, 1902; T. C. Dawson, The South American Republics, vol. ii, New York, 1904; J. Lee, Religious Liberty in South America; with special Reference to recent Legislation in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, Cincinnati, 1907.

« Bolingbroke, Henry Saint-John, Viscount Bolivia Bolland, Jan, and the Bollandists »
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