Edward McGlynn, Thomas McGrady, and Peter C. Yorke: Prophets of American social Catholicism

Dominic Pasquale Scibilia, Marquette University

Abstract

This dissertation argues that an historical and theological analysis of the social theologies of Edward McGlynn (New York, 1837-1900), Thomas McGrady (Kentucky, 1863-1907), and Peter C. Yorke (San Francisco, 1864-1925) discloses an organic Catholic social vision underlying the wide diversity in American Catholic social thought during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This examination also maintains that an organic Catholic social concept serves as an alternative to Robert Bellah's concept of a biblical covenantal and strictly republican Enlightenment definition of the American experiment. The methodology of the historical investigation employs economic, political, social, moral, and religious categories, e.g., populism, the social gospel, to establish the milieu of American Catholicism during the Gilded Age. This dissertation also utilizes systematic theological categories, e.g., creation, nature and grace, to order McGlynn's, McGrady's, and Yorke's sporadic and primarily pastoral reflection on the social question. Chapter one locates the varieties of American social Catholicism within the parameters of the nineteenth century debate of the nation's political economy. The second chapter argues that McGlynn was a social Catholic within the equal rights, jacksonian tradition. He called the Church to engage American culture in Christ's transformation of its political and economic systems in accord with the continuing recreative activity of God in history. Chapter three maintains that McGrady created a synthetic, organic, and evangelical Catholic interpretation of a social democratic vision. It was based upon the millennial, egalitarian, and emancipatory teachings of Scripture and Catholic tradition. The fourth chapter asserts that Yorke developed a theology of social conversion which emphasized that a regenerative turn to Christ, through which supernature (the spirit) was restored to humankind, was the best hope for realizing the personal liberty and common wealth for which the jeffersonian individual aspired. The historical examination of the social thought of McGlynn, McGrady, and Yorke concludes that American social Catholicism was more diverse and politically and economically sophisticated than previous historical categorizations, e.g., americanist and antiamericanist, or liberal and conservative, realized. The historical analysis also indicates that McGlynn, McGrady, and Yorke were major prophets in American social Catholicism. Most significant of all, the theological analysis of their social thought discloses an organic and sacramental strain that is particularly characteristic of the Catholic social vision. Furthermore, both historical and theological investigations determine that an organic Catholic social vision serves as an alternative to Robert Bellah's concept of a biblical covenantal and republican Enlightenment definition of the American experiment. Consequently, such interpretation corrects the moral judgment of social philosophers like Robert Bellah that American Catholicism has not contributed a significant scientific remedy for the nation's political economic dilemma.

Recommended Citation

Dominic Pasquale Scibilia, "Edward McGlynn, Thomas McGrady, and Peter C. Yorke: Prophets of American social Catholicism" (January 1, 1990). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI9117359.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9117359

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