Father McGlynn Again
Father McGlynn Again.
It is well to follow up Father McGlynn. He is in some sort a representative man, pointing to that inevitable breaking away from the arbitrary claim on human ignorance that keeps alive the so-called Catholic Church. It is not what he may think of Henry George or any opinions he may hold on the land question. In all that pertains to labor problems he has shown himself neither profound as a thinker nor wise in methods. Neither he nor George are to be credited with much beyond the good that may lurk in the stirring up of the stagnant pools. Their philosophy, or their science, limps and goes sadly astray.
But as a protestant against " infallible" Rome, this earnest-hearted and courageous priest may turn out a new and most serviceable pioneer in America. He yet claims for himself that he is a sincere adherent of the church; but that just now the church is in the hands of a "machine." From pope, from archbishop, he appeals. He waits for new popes, new archbishops, and new priests. In other words, he looks to the time when the church shall not be run by a "machine," — as though that time ever existed, or ever will exist. Does Dr. McGlynn believe the church infallible? What, pray, is an infallible church but a "machine," — a power that sets up its authority over individuals and turns them in paths of its own making, with no appeal from its dictatorial will possible? If this pro
testing priest may turn to his mother church and say to the officiating Pope: "You are drunk with power; I appeal from the church drunk to the church sober," what confusion will such conduct work in the Catholic brain?
Dr. McGlynn says: "If you go to the confessional and the priest asks, 'Do you sympathize with Henry George, and go to his meetings?' tell him it is none of his business. If no priest will receive your confession, then confess to God. The priest, at best, is but an agent of God. If the agent will not hear you, you are still free to turn to the priest's Master." I quote from memory, but have, I think, stated the idea correctly.
Now, what does this mean ? Nothing less than this: upon a pinch a man can do without the church. God made the church, but, if the church won't hear you, God will. Perhaps the time has come when God doesn't need the mediating church any longer. He and his children can get along in a more democratic way. They can have direct communication with each other, and dispense with all officiating middlemen,— popes, bishops, priests.
This seems to be the substance of the new thought Father McGlynn and his adherents find themselves unexpectedly indulging in. The free air of the new world is clearing the brain of thinking men everywhere — Catholic and Protestant alike — of the many old mediaeval cobwebs spun there so industriously by mother church.
As a leader in this so-needed emancipation Father McGlynn is interesting, and may, perchance, become a historic character. H.