Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Origins of Radical Catholicism IV-- The McGlynn Story part 4

Well McGlynn was absolved and Corrigan was beside himself with Fury.  What was even more aggravating to him was that Satolli brushed off  his protests saying that he (Corrigan) had never initiated a formal ecclesiastical trial of McGlynn and had abdicated the case to the Holy See, and he (Satolli) was authorized by the Holy See to handle the case so Corrigan had no right to be grieved that his, (Corrigan’s) prerogatives had been brushed aside.  Corrigan’s foes in the hierarchy—Gibbons, Ireland, Moore, and—in Rome—Dennis O’Connell who was Rector of the North American College were elbowing each other in glee at having pulled over this fast one on him, especially as it signified the power of their liberal (American) party over Corrigan’s Europeanist party. 
This might be time for a brief explanatory aside.  I have just said “Europeanist” faction.  A more precise word would be Ultramontane.  The Ultramontane faction was (and I think still is) a faction within the Church that rejects local custom and tradition in favor of the Roman—or what they perceive to be the Roman—custom.  “Perceive to be” is the crucial phrase.  Having lived in Rome a fair chunk of my life and being somewhat fluent in Italian, I have long noticed that sometimes the religious tourists—and in particular the Americans—are often more “Italian” than the Italians.  I always pointed out to my guests that when you see a priest in Rome wearing the soutane in the street nine times out of ten he will be an American; nine times out of the next ten, he is an American visitning
Rome (as opposed to living there).  When you see one wearing the saturno—the low-crowned round clerical hat—you can bet your rent that he is an American tourist (unless, of course, he is the famous “Father Z” who is neither fish nor fowl in terms of being a tourist or a Vatican pezzo grosso .  I do understand that he is fun to be with, however, and a charming dinner guest but we didn’t travel in the same circles during my time in Rome.  But I have strayed.  The Ultramontanes of the 19th century were almost invariably Oxford Movement Anglicans who had swum the Tiber and were self-conscious of their English (heretical) roots.  Manning was one.  Newman was not.  But more on all that some other time.
Speaking of swimming the Tiber, McGlynn didn’t have to swim it exactly but he did need to cross back onto its sunnier bank.  The excommunication lifted he ultimately had to show up in Rome to be interviewed by the proper authorities to make sure his radical ideas about property had been duly adjusted to be in line with Church Teaching.   (The papal encyclical Rerum Novarum had shifted the ground somewhat in his favor.) He also had to make his personal submission to Pope Leo XIII who, making him out to be something akin to a dancing bear or some such curiosity was most anxious to see him.  McGlynn’s reluctance may have had something to do with unproved allegations of sexual misconduct—perhaps even an illegitimate child.  Historians quibble whether there was a basis for these charges or if it was the Corrigan party trying to discredit McGlynn, but the Roman authorities insisted they weren’t concerned about the allegations one way or the other.  In fact, Corrigan was nervous about how McGlynn’s time in Rome would go; it seems McGlynn had information about the New York Archdiocese that Corrigan was anxious not to have the tables turned on him.  The Archbishop sent his Italian secretary, Father Gherardo Ferrante over for damage control.  But in the event there was no great drama.   Like so many conflicts it ended not with a bang but a whimper.  For his audience with the Pope, McGlynn needed to borrow a cassock.  Father Frederick Rooker, vice-Rector of the North American College loaned him one.  (The Rector, Dennis O’Connell who from the shadows had played some significant role in McGlynn’s vindication and Corrigan’s defeat had fled Rome when McGlynn actually showed up and was visiting Protestant Norway.)  To judge just how petty some people are, Corrigan’s suffragen, Bishop McDonnell of Brooklyn, withdrew his students from the North American in protest over the loaning of a cassock to that rebellious McGlynn.   Well, that ends the saga of the Reverend Doctor Edward McGlynn; but Corrigan, Gibbons, Leo and others hall have further roles to play in the radicalization of the American Church.  But I think we will take a break for a few days and perhaps return to one of our unfinished strains.
The image today is Leo XIII

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