Social reformer who exerted considerable influence, particularly in New York City, between 1865 and 1900;b. New York City, Sept. 27, 1837; d. Newburgh, New York, Jan. 7, 1900. His Irish immigrant parents sent him to the public schools of New York until the age of 13, when he was sent by bishop John Hughes to the Urban College of the Propaganda in Rome. He received a doctorate in divinity, and was ordained there on March 24, 1860. On his return, he was assigned as an assistant to Thomas Farrell (1823–80), pastor of St. Joseph's Church, Waverly Place, New York City. Farrell, noted for his interest in social questions, became a counselor to McGlynn and a small group of priest friends. In 1866 McGlynn was appointed pastor of the large and important New York City parish of St. Stephen's, where the plight of his poverty-stricken parishioners moved him deeply. He was disturbed by the widespread unemployment, and began to study political economy. Eventually he accepted the doctrine of Henry George (1839–97) that the single tax was the universal and fundamental remedy for poverty.
McGlynn was active in George's campaign for mayor in 1886, and McGlynn's eloquence and influence among New York's Catholics and Non-Catholics were of inestimable advantage to George. However, on Sept. 29, 1886, McGlynn's ordinary, achbishop Michael corrigan, forbade him to speak on behalf of George at a scheduled public meeting. When the priest replied that he could not prudently withdraw at such short notice but would refrain from any later meetings during the campaign, he was suspended by the archbishop for two weeks. In late November another temporary suspension was imposed on McGlynn, who refused to cease his public addresses on the single tax, and in January of 1887 he was removed from the pastorate of St. Stephen's. Two days later a cablegram from Cardinal Giovanni Simeoni, Prefect of Propaganda, commanded McGlynn to retract his land theory publicly and to come to Rome immediately. McGlynn's friend and canonical advocate, Dr. Richard burtsell, replied that his client would go on certain conditions. Failing to receive a reply from McGlynn, Leo XIII ordered him to come to Rome within 40 days under penalty of excommunication. Unaware that Dr. Burtsell's reply had never reached the pope, McGlynn, on the basis of health, refused to obey the order. He was excommunicated on July 4, 1887.
For the next five years while he was under censure, he defended the single tax doctrine at the Sunday afternoon meetings of the Anti-Poverty Society, which he helped found, and of which he was the first president. In December of 1892, upon the assurance of four professors of The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., that McGlynn's single tax views were not in conflict with Catholic teaching, archbishop (later Cardinal) Francesco Satolli, the papal ablegate in the United States, reinstated McGlynn in the ministry without retraction of his land views. In June of 1893 McGlynn visited Rome and was cordially received by the pope. Meanwhile, Cardinal James gibbons and his supporters had been exerting themselves to prevent the Holy See from passing the condemnation of George's works that Corrigan and his followers were equally intent on obtaining. In 1889 the Holy Office stated that George's land theory deserved to be condemned. This condemnation was received by Corrigan in 1893, but it was forbidden to make the decree public. In 1894 McGlynn was appointed pastor of St. Mary's in Newburgh; he continued without censure from his superiors to defend the single tax theory. Six years later his funeral, attended by all the Protestant ministers and the one Jewish rabbi in Newburgh, was termed the most impressive event of its character ever seen in the Hudson Valley.
Although McGlynn was a man of marked intellectual capacity, for the greater part of his mature years he was not a close student, and did not read widely. Although not the most eloquent or effective orator of his time, he was certainly, from 1865 to 1887, the one who was most in demand in Catholic circles. The land theory that brought him into conflict with his superiors continued to find only limited support. His conception of the parochial ministry, emphasizing the paramount importance of doing an apostolic rather than a pedagogic work, and his advocacy of public rather than parochial schools were likewise unconventional views for a Catholic clergyman of his time.
Bibliography: s. l. malone, Dr. Edward McGlynn (New York 1918). f. j. zwierlein, Life and Letters of Bishop McQuaid, 3 v. (Rochester 1925–27); Letters of Archbishop Corrigan to Bishop McQuaid and Allied Documents (Rochester 1946). s. bell, Rebel, Priest and Prophet: A Biography of Edward McGlynn (New York 1937), partial to McGlynn and largely undocumented but with pertinent factual information. j. t. ellis, The Life of James Cardinal Gibbons, 2 v. (Milwaukee 1952) 1:547–594. c. a. barker, Henry George (New York 1955). Burtsell Diaries (1865–1912), Archives, Archdiocese of New York. j. a. ryan, Dictionary of American Biography, ed. a. johnson and d. malone, 20 v. (New York 1928–36) 12:53–54. b. mitchell, Dictionary of American Biography, ed. a. johnson and d. malone, 20 v. (New York 1928–36) 7:215–216.
[e. h. smith]