Chili, a republic of South America, with an area of about 170,000 square miles, and, according to the census of April, 1805, a population of 2,524,476 souls, almost exclusively Roman Catholic. There is one Roman archbishopric at Santiago, and three bishoprics at Serena, la Conception, and San Carlos de Chiloe (Ancud). The number of parish priests in 1858 was 153, of convents of monks 41, of convents of nuns 77; and a law provided that in future none of the 13 provinces should have more than one convent of every order. In 1824 the landed property of the Church was confiscated, and since that time the clergy have been paid by the state. In the budget of 1847,180,030 pesos [Spanish dollars] were appropriated for this purpose. The educational institutions are far ahead of those of any other South American state. At the University of Santiago, which was reorganized in 1842, and which superintends, as the Supreme Educational Board of the state, all other educational institutions, several German Protestant professors have been teaching since 1857. The Rivista Cattolica, published at Santiago, is considered by Romanists as one of the best papers of the Roman Church in South America.
In July, 1865, the Chilian Congress had a long and animated discussion on amending Article 5 of the Chilian Constitution, which is as follows: "The religion of the republic of Chili is the Roman Catholic, to the exclusion of the public exercise of any other." The discussion terminated in a way quite satisfactory to the Liberal party, notwithstanding the full strength of the Ultramontane party was brought to bear in favor of the old article. The amendment to the Constitution, as adopted by Congress and sanctioned by the executive, declared:
1. That worship within buildings belonging to private persons is allowed to those who do not profess the Roman Catholic religion; and,
2. That dissenters are allowed to establish and sustain private schools for the instruction of their own children. The first Protestant mission of Chili was established for Americans and Englishmen in Valparaiso in 1846, and has now become self-sustaining. The congregation had in 1857 50 communicants, and the number of Sunday-school scholars rose in 1859 to 100. A second Protestant mission has been established in Valparaiso for the German residents. In Santiago, the capital of the republic, the Protestant (chiefly American) residents in January, 1866, fitted up a chapel at an expense of $800, capable of seating 125 persons. The press of the city generally made a kindly notice of the opening exercises, in which the American and the English ministers took part, and not the least sign of dissatisfaction was manifested, The Protestants with great unanimity came forward in support of the movement, and within one week after the opening of the chapel all the pews were rented. In 1860 a missionary of the South American Missionary Society (of England), the Rev. Alien Gardiner, established himself at Lota, in Arauco Bay (Southern Chili), a town which derived its chief importance from the coal mines in its neighborhood. In 1859 not less than 34 of these were worked, and some 3000 workmen were connected with them. At the request of the English and Scotch families engaged in the Lota mines, Mr. Gardiner established Sunday services at the mission-house, and a Sunday-school for the children. The opposition at first shown by a portion of the Roman Catholic population was gradually overcome, and the Protestant mission procured and secured religious toleration for the Protestant community of the Lota mines, by a contract signed to that effect at the company's office in a public manner. and after a public meeting, and without a dissenting voice. The missionaries also took care of the spiritual interests of the sailors visiting Arauco Bay, and provided the German settlers in the neighborhood with opportunities of Christian worship. Having in the meanwhile acquired and perfected themselves in the Spanish language, they, in 1865 and 1866, made several itinerant visits into the territory of the Indians, and took the preliminary steps for establishing the Indian missions upon a firm basis. In 1866 the society had stations at Lota and Coquimbo, at El Carmea in Northern Patagonia, Keppel Island (Falkland), besides one or two stations among the Araucanian Indians. In Dec. 1866, the society's ship, the "Allen Gardiner," left England with four natives of the Terra del Fuego, who had received a Christian education in England. The first German missionary was sent to Southern Chili in 1866 by the Gustavus Adolphus Society of Germany. He began preaching half of the time at Orsono, and the other half at Puerto Monte, a (mostly German) town of 15,000 inhabitants, in a region which, as late as 1850, was peopled only by small bodies of savages. The German Protestants of this town have bought a house in the principal square, and propose to build a chapel.