Friday, March 11, 2011

The Origins of Radical Catholicism III--The McGlynn Story part 3

McGlynn was not the only priest who had been having difficulty with his bishop; in fact Roman authorities were concerned with the number of complaints they had received from American priests who complained about the arbitrary and authoritarian ways some bishops were handling their office.  In 1892 the Holy See sent Archbishop Francesco Satolli to the United States as Papal Ablegate ostensibly to represent the Holy See at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago—the “World’s Fair” to  mark the fourth centenary of Columbus’ arrival in the “New World.”  However a Papal Ablegate is “able” to do a lot more than cut a ribbon at an exhibition hall. Satolli had also been charged—discreetly—to investigate the conflict over public vs. parochial schools that was dividing the hierarchy (we will look at this in the not-to-distant-future) and to investigate the complaints against several bishops for their dictatorial ways, and in particular to investigate the McGlynn case.  Satolli was being managed during his American tour—and he did not realize quite how much he was being managed—by liberal Archbishop (and foe of Corrigan) John Ireland of Minneapolis-St. Paul and (somewhat in the shadows) Cardinal Gibbons). 
There had been a change of actors back in Rome with Cardinal Simeoni having died and been succeeded at Propaganda Fidei by Polish Cardinal Mieczysław Halka Ledóchowski who was very interested in bringing McGlynn back into the good graces of the Church.  Moreover, Gibbons who had bungled things four years earlier when he had not passed McGlynn’s letter explaining his position and why he (at least in his own mind) could not come to Rome to personally answer the charges against him to the Pope and Simeoni, was anxious to repair the damage.  Gibbons was a friend of McGlynn’s and, as we shall see in future postings, a strong advocate for the rights of the working classes whom McGlynn was championing, but he was also an implacable foe of Corrigan and a victory for McGlynn would be a defeat for Corrigan.  With Bishop John Moore of Saint Augustine Florida acting as intermediary, inquiries were made of Satolli what would be necessary for McGlynn to do to have the censures lifted.  Satolli and McGlynn met privately and Satolli cabled Rome for all the permissions needed to lift the excommunication. McGlynn had to submit a written statement outlining  his opinions on the rights of property and it was submitted to a panel of theologians who agreed that it was consistent with Catholic doctrine.  McGlynn further agreed to go to Rome within the next several months to formally make his submission to the Holy See.  Satolli then lifted the excommunication. 
Satolli never informed Archbishop Corrigan of his communications with McGlynn or his intentions to lift the excommunication.   Corrigan found that his punishment of McGlynn had been reversed when he read it over breakfast in the papers on Christmas Eve morning 1892.  It ruined his day.  He was furious.  He proclaimed to his mentor, Bishop Bernard McQuaid of Rochester “Our people are terribly worked up; especially the better classes.”  Well that was part of the problem.  The “better classes” were terribly worked up, but to the ordinary New Yorker—and to many of the clergy and religious to whom Corrigan was a tyrant—McGlynn’s vindication was their victory as well.  The New York Tribune proclaimed “the McGlynn incident …means that American Catholicism is adjusting itself to the free institutions of this country.  There is no doubt that the mission of Monsignor Satolli is to hasten this process.”  Well, it was most certainly not Satolli’s mission to do so—he had been maneuvered into this by the liberal wing of the bishops—but it did mark the triumph of the American wing of the Church over the Europeanists.  The victory would not last, however, and the McGlynn story is still not finished.   
The image today is the "villian' our our story, Archbishop Corrigan of New York

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