How funny it all reads, — the "excommunication," cursing McGlynn inside and out! What a string of heavenly celebrities are invoked! Quite new to this generation. But not a terror, it would seem. Nobody's afraid. McGlynn goes on serenely, and the thousands who packed the Opera House in Philadelphia last Sunday night, mostly Catholic, rose en masse to cheer him. He was their hero. Why? Because he would not go to Rome. He withstands the pope and defies him; tells the Head of the Church that he has no right to do this and that. Curious. What sort of a Head has the Church got in these modern days that common priests and their flock can say: "O Head, you have no right," etc.? What right have priest or people to say this? Verily, no right as Roman Catholics. Only the poor right of human beings. But that they have waived by their membership of a church that does not recognize it, permit it, or have aught to do with it, except to put it down.
" Ah I" the reply comes from these McGlynn " Roman Catholics," "in all matters of religion concerning the Church we submit. But not as to our politics in America, or our views on social problems here."
But, alas! for them, the Roman Church kuows no such distinction. It is all " religion " with the Roman Church. Could it maintain the power, verily, little else would be left to a world that the Christ is to bring to his feet by means of this his Church, as the Church claims.
But Father McGlynn insists that it is not so, and he is still as good a Roman Catholic as ever.
At the same time both he and Mr. George dwell upon the fact that the great social struggle now begun for the industrial emancipation of the people is preeminently a religious one. In all their meetings they sing, "Nearer, my God, to thee," and other religious hymns. You cannot, they affirm, divorce religion from life.
Now, all Pope Leo has clone is to say, "Just so, and therefore I propose, as Christ's vicar, to regulate your life, the whole of it."
What remains for Father McGlynn?
Simply to fall back upon his own human right to regulate his own life for himself and let the Church go. What he appears to be trying to do is to reduce the Church to a mere salvation-insurance agency for the future world, denying it all prerogative for dealing with the world that now is.
But everybody sees in this age of approaching common sense that the Church, so bereft of function,
would become speedily an affair of very little import. No; Pope Leo has no such suicidal vision before his eyes. The Church is political and social. It is quite as much for this world as for any other; yea, more so. How much more Father McGlynn and his insurgent brethren must learn by experience. And is not the Church consistent ? If it can claim divine authority over Father McGlynn's soul, why not also over the body that for the time being holds that soul? How can the Great Shepherd guide the flock into heaven, if he lose sight of it in its most perilous wanderings on earth?
Verily, the Good Shepherd is not so remiss in his duty.
It seems, then, that Father McGlynn must submit wholly, or not at all.
As an American, as a man, let the decision be, " not at all."
Neither to popes nor to kings, far or near, let him submit. His only refuge is in the Sovereignty of the Individual, the individual and supreme control of his own affairs. H.