Funes, Deán Gregorio

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Argentine priest and political figure in the independence movement; b. Córdoba, May 25, 1749; d. Buenos Aires, Jan. 10, 1829. He was buried in the Cathedral of Córdoba.

Funes obtained his doctorate in theology at the University of Córdoba (1774), his degree in civil and Canon Law at Alcalá de Henares, Spain, and was admitted to the practice of law before the Royal Councils in 1778. He held numerous ecclesiastical posts in his native city, including that of dean of its cathedral (1804). He was also vicar-general and governor of the bishopric. Funes served as rector of the Colegio de Monserrat and of the University of Córdoba (then called San Carlos) between 1808 and 1813. His ideas and achievements in the field of education are set forth in his Plan de Estudios of 1813. In this work he included new ideas without breaking with tradition. Through education he tried to mold the student's personality, orienting his teaching around philosophy and theology.

In 1810 he joined the revolution that won Argentina its independence, and he performed many important services as a member of the first revolutionary governments and as deputy in the congresses that drafted the constitutions of 1819 and 1826. He advised the government on drafting decrees, such as those on freedom of the press and on the creation of provincial juntas foreshadowing federalism. He reformed ordinances and influenced public opinion through contributions to the newspapers Gaceta, El Argos, El Centinela, and La Abeja Argentina.

Funes was, above all, a politician concerned with the practical problems of his country in a time of great change, and he put his great learning into the service of his vocation, the independence of his country. His conception of the revolution was analogous to that of Bolívar. He was democratic and drew support for his ideas from the Spanish theological school, with influences from French ideology. As a liberal in politics, he advocated an ethical liberalism respectful of religion. He supported the organization of his country on a federal basis.

He was deeply concerned over the relations between Church and State, then disturbed by the patronato real and the attitude of the Holy See, which continued to respect Spanish patronage and thus cut off the Argentine Church, with serious damage to its discipline. To Funes, the Patronato was tied to national sovereignty and therefore could be exercised by the revolutionary government. He felt the Church and the State differed in origins, means, and ends, but should act together and aid each other. The one, universal Church was subordinated to the pope, but within the Spanish tradition, the Church had granted to the State certain powers in the field of ecclesiastical discipline. He supported the intolerance of the Church but admitted State tolerance limited by the requirements of public order and due protection of religion.

Funes's writings are numerous and varied. They include articles on ecclesiastical matters and on civil rights, and a three-volume work, Ensayo de historia civil del Paraguay, Buenos Aires y Tucumán (Buenos Aires 181617).

Bibliography: g. furlong, Bio-bibliografía del deán Funes (Córdoba 1939). e. martinez paz, El deán Funes: Un apóstol de la libertad (Córdoba 1950).

[e. martÍnez paz]