Soler, Mariano

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Catholic polemicist and intellectual; b. San Carlos, Maldonado, Uruguay, March 25, 1846; d. at sea, Sept. 26, 1908. He studied in Santa Fé, Argentina, and at the South American College in Rome, where he received the degrees of doctor of theology and canon law. He was ordained Dec. 20, 1872. In Uruguay he was appointed ecclesiastical attorney. In 1875 he founded and directed the Liceo Universitario. He combated the very active liberal campaign of the Ateneo and the Sociedad Universitaria. In 1879 he entered the House of Representatives. Combative and well versed in sacred and profane learning, Soler directed the campaign against the irreligious attacks of the government of Gen. Máximo Santos. This campaign found expression in the daily El Bien Público, edited by the poet Juan Zorrilla de San Martín, and through the Catholic Club, dominated by the powerful eloquence of Francisco Bauzá. The pulpit of the church of El Cordón, of which Soler was pastor, was a focal point of resistance that elicited governmental objections since Church and State were united. In 1886 Soler went to Europe; he visited also the Orient and several Latin American republics. When Bp. Inocencio María Yéregui died in 1890, Soler acted as apostolic administrator of the diocese, and on Feb. 8, 1891, he was consecrated the third bishop of Montevideo. When Montevideo was raised to an archbishopric on April 19, 1897, Soler was appointed the first metropolitan archbishop. To his apostolic ministry and a militant defense of Catholic doctrine, Mariano Soler brought the gifts of a facile writer, skillful in answering his opponents. He was a powerful dialectician who treated a wide variety of subjects, many of which were forced on him by circumstances and had to be developed without the time for careful study. His writings were numerous, and his intellectual reputation is still in the forefront of Catholicism in Uruguay.

[a. d. gonzÁlez]