Response to P.J. O'Regan
on the Biography of Edward McGlynn
[Reprinted from Land and Freedom,
I want to express my appreciation of and thanks for P. J. O'Regan's
comment on my book, Rebel, Priest and Prophet, which is most
informing as well as interesting. I can find in it only one point on
which he seriously dissents from my view of Father McGlynn, who, he
insists, was not a "rebel." The word seems to carry in Mr.
O'Regan's mind an odium it entirely lacks in mine. There are rebels
and rebels, and judgment on them must hinge on one's judgment of the
merits or demerits of their rebellion. That Father McGlynn was no
rebel against the true Church or its doctrines I will admit at once,
yet it is a historical fact that a misuse of ecclesiastical authority
by his archbishop forced him into the attitude of a rebel against such
misuse of authority. His subsequent complete vindication and
restoration to the priesthood without being required to retract one
word of the Georgean land doctrine which his archbishop had condemned
so strongly, seems to me to have justified his rebellion against the "ecclesiastical
machine" rather than altered the fact of his rebellion.
I want especially to thank Mr. O'Regan for his recital of former
rebels against misuse of ecclesiastical authority who were later
vindicated, much of which is news to me, and most informing. It would
be well for the present "higher-archy" of the Church of Rome
and the authorities of other Christian churches as well to ponder
their mistakes of the past, re-examine their present attitudes on the
issues which impel men, classes and nations to conflict, and see if
and how far they have departed from "the law and the prophets"
which Jesus of Nazareth so strongly endorsed in His Sermon on the
Mount (Matt. V, 17-18).
Especially do I regret knowing nothing of the letter of Archbishop
Walsh of Dublin in which he said of Archbishop Corrigan's pastoral
letter of 1886: "It is very plain, very painfully so indeed, that
the Archbishop of New York whose pastoral condemns it ('Progress and
Poverty') so strongly, cannot have read it at all," for I would
have been pleased to quote so high an authority on that point.
In the recent Encyclical of Pope Pius XII I think I see the beginning
of a fulfillment of Mr. O'Regan's confident prediction that "men
will yet arise in the Church to pursue the path indicated by Bishop
Nulty and Father McGlynn," for in the course of it he commented
thus on St. Paul's declaration that "God hath made of one blood
all mankind to dwell upon the whole face of the earth":
"A marvelous vision, which makes us see the human
race in the unity of our common origin in God, one God and Father of
all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all, in the unity
of nature, which in every man is equally composed of material body
and spiritual immortal soul; in the unity of his immediate end and
mission in the world; in the unity of the dwelling place, the earth,
of whose resources all men can by natural right avail themselves to
sustain and develop life."
Man has travelled far from the path of freedom and justice blazed by
Moses and the prophets and confirmed by Jesus of Nazareth, and it will
be long ere he regains that path, but that he will do so eventually
there can be no doubt. He could regain it quickly if he but would.