“I began to ask myself, ‘Is there no remedy?’”

Today marks the death of Father Edward McGlynn (1837-1900), a New York priest and social activist. Ordained in 1860, parish work in New York’s immigrant neighborhoods strengthened his commitment to the urban poor. In 1866, he became pastor of St. Stephen’s, then the city’s largest parish. He was troubled by “the never-ending procession of men, women and little children coming to my door begging, not so much for alms as employment… I began to ask myself, ‘Is there no remedy?’” McGlynn allied himself with reformer Henry George, who proposed a single tax on land, the proceeds of which would be shared by society. This sounded too socialistic for many Church leaders, including New York’s Archbishop Michael Corrigan. When George ran for Mayor of New York in 1886, McGlynn campaigned for him, even after Corrigan forbade him. He was removed from St. Stephen’s and called to Rome. When he refused to go, he was excommunicated. The ban was lifted in 1892, but Corrigan sent him upstate where he might attract less attention. But McGlynn continued lecturing and writing on social issues until his death. (His nephew Frank McGlynn was a character actor who played Abraham Lincoln no less than twelve times on screen.)

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About Pat McNamara