Part 1 of this series discussed scholastic dishonesty in a general manner to show how quotes from the authoritative sources can be made to sound as if they have stated unreasonable propositions which they themselves obviously wouldn't. Parts 2 through 4 of this series introduced Peter Dimond's treatise, "Outside the Catholic Church There is Absolutely No Salvation," (hereinafter referred to as "the Treatise"), an attempt which gathers a great deal of material about the question of Baptism of Blood (hereinafter referred to as "BOB") and Baptism of Desire (hereinafter referred to as "BOD"), and there, the standard dogmatic and doctrinal texts, Sacred Scripture, and the Church Fathers were explored to see if their declarations and statements really showed any reason to doubt the Catholic doctrines of BOB and BOD, and to expose some significant instances of scholastic dishonesty employed to make it seem as if they did. Parts 5 through 8 began a consideration of the objections raised and acknowledged as such within the scope of the Treatise, showing that these objections do comprise significant reasons to believe in BOB and BOD despite the wretched attempts in the Treatise to minimize their impact. Parts 9 and 10 began another phase of the consideration of the objections, namely those raised and acknowledged in the Treatise, but in other places outside the two "objections" Sections.
Several sections of the Treatise (26. The Case of Father Feeney, 27. Protocol 122/49 (Suprema haec sacra), and 30. Pope Pius XII, Father Feeney and the dogma) are devoted to reviewing and commenting on the trials and tribulations of Fr. Feeney himself. Of this, much is to be said of the manner in which his relationship with the Church (in the person of our Holy Father Pope Pius XII, to say nothing of those many lesser hierarchical Church officials appointed and/or approved by him, including most notably, (then) Archbishop Cushing, (then) Monsignor Wright, and the various officials of the Vatican Holy Office) disintegrated as a result of Fr.'s extraordinary doctrinal innovations, and the man's own stubbornness and pertinacity in error. It is worth placing what the Treatise has to say of the man and his story in the overall historical context of how he came to create and embrace his unique teachings. However, it is for future installments to address the primary defenders of his claims, not only Fr. Feeney himself in his own writings, but also those of his associates and successors. For now we are concerned with the history of his error/heresy and the direct reaction of the Church in response to him, his disobedience, and his doctrine, most notably the Letter from the Holy Office (Suprema haec sacra).
In Fr. Feeney's early career as a Jesuit priest, nothing whatsoever was seen of any willingness to deny or limit the reaches of God's mercy as applied with BOB or BOD. In one of Fr.'s most popular books, Fish on Friday, he even makes specific mention of these doctrines in a manner consistent with how they had come to be understood by the time of his seminary training:
I have never been privileged to meet young women more refined and gentle in their deportment or more shining in their natural goodness. They were dressed with taste and simplicity. They wore plain felt hats that seemed to have come from the same bargain counter, and their flowered dresses, almost identical in design, were modest, thrifty and charming. Their complexions were innocent of all artifice. They were bedecked with the jewelry of the poor. Their voices were low and ladylike. One of them spoke with the bewitching drawl of Georgia, the other with the sprightly accent of Illinois. They seemed wonderfully healthy in an unathletic way. It was not the health of a gymnasium (that forced, inferior sort of health that destroys one's nicer sensibilities and turns one's brain into a biceps); it was the health of wind and sunshine, of boating and bathing and roaming in the fields, the health of a good appetite, a good conscience, and a good night's sleep.
Their books and their baggage all bespoke the temper of their character. Their books especially interested me. They were good books, clean books - travel, biography, ethnology, educational essays, interesting and wholesome reading for interesting and wholesome minds. Their talk about the countryside, the people, the customs, culture, art, cathedrals of Europe, was all intelligent and sympathetic, and full of nice observation and generous impulse. They spoke of their work in Japan with a likeable restraint. They were loath to be called "missionaries" because the word seemed to smack of the heroic. They preferred to call their enterprise "welfare work," or "Y work," undertaken, they said, partly in a spirit of zeal and partly in a spirit of adventure. There were times when I suspected them of possessing, at least in a few brief flashes, the sublime virtue of humility.
They were most delicate and resourceful in avoiding any issue with me on the subject of religion. Not that I tried even remotely to force any, but it requires a great deal of tact to talk in loose, watered terms about "Christianity" and "the Christianizing of the Pagan," etc., with a man who displays his religion in his clothes. But they managed it skillfully, and I evinced a real sympathy for them when they complained of the bad influences effected by American movies, American magazines, and even American tourists, in destroying the minds of the native Japanese the ideals of Christian modesty and Christian social behavior which the Y workers were trying to instill. I assured them also that I was very proud of the fact that Christian ladies of their type were giving the better features of our civilization at least some representation in the Orient. This small show of tolerance on my part thawed our small talk and melted it nearly to the point of authentic friendship. They seemed suddenly to breathe more freely and to cherish the fact that I had not been despising them in secret. And anxious to be generous to me in return, one of them unbent so far as to remark, almost with warmth, almost with pride, almost without any trace of condescension: "You know I have a friend who is a Catholic nun. She is Madame of the Sacred Heart."
I expect always to remember the little cold chill that ran down my spine at the mention of this name on her lips. In all my life I had never before heard a Protestant speak of "The Sacred Heart." In the present instance it was an incidental and official use of the term, to be sure, but it was none the less unusual and astounding. It was as though I had seen Mr. Hoover bless himself; as though I had heard Lindbergh recite the Hail Mary; as though I had listened to the Salvation Army singing the Tantum Ergo.
With this shock for a start, I had only to close my eyes and allow all sorts of strange things to happen in my imagination. I began to picture how goodness could be transmuted into saintliness in the lives of these two young ladies who sat across the aisle, if only they could discern in their Messiah any traces of the real Sacred Heart.
If only their pleasant philosopher, their excellent citizen, their skillful mouther of sweet slogans, their other Abraham Lincoln, would flare for one moment into the Incarnate Word of God, alone and incomparable, who came to earth not to plague His people with platitudes but to stiffen them with a challenge and amaze them with a revelation, there might be some feeling in their souls for a Kingdom not of this world, there might be some message to bring from Jesus to the Japanese.
If only Christ should seem to talk to them with dogmas and not with drivel, if He should stop saying, "I am your Big Brother, your Big Pal, your Big Friend, your Goody-goody What-you-may-call-me" and lapse into some great and Godlike announcement like "Unless a man eat My Body and drink My Blood he cannot have life in him," if He would speak more like Jehovah and less like Santa Clause, they, who had nearly reached the limit of spiritual excellence allowed them in their faded pattern of Christianity, might, on a supernatural basis, slip into that lovely company of virgins for which by character, temperament and generosity they were so eminently fitted. They might be seized with the Divine madness of trying to be perfect as their Heavenly Father is perfect.
Those flowered dresses would lengthen and darken. Girdles would bloom at their sides. Two white wimples would creep up and encircle their faces. And long black veils would journey across their hair and drop in folds over their shoulders. They would walk soft-footed and to the tinkle of rosary beads. And on each breast a little silver crucifix would swing. Their awkwardness would be supplanted by the lovely manners of the cloister, and their nervous self-assurances would yield to a mighty certitude and an inward peace.
I dared not open my eyes. The picture was too lovely to spoil. And so, when we came to their station and they were up and ready to depart, I pretended to be sleeping. It was a censurable insincerity, I know, even though I was not due to leave the train until another station. But anyhow, I am so very sure that my Good Christians will go safely to Heaven when they die (for God loves us for our efforts and forgives us our ignorances) that, if I shall have managed to get there myself, there will not have been any need for having said good-bye.
But this was as between me as a child and my priests, or me as a priest and my children. How could I undertake to worry about Evans Ingram Towne, when the reasons for my worry were not, as they needed to be, taken for granted? Nevertheless, I determined to try.
"What is the best day in the year?" I asked him by way of sparring for an opening.
"Christmas Day?" It was half question and half answer.
"That's right!" I replied. "And why is Christmas Day the best day in the year?"
"Because that's the day Christ was born." (I forgot to mention that Evans Ingram Towne goes to the Unitarian Church on Sundays, and his pastor's name is something like Rev. Mr. Judson Bumbleberry.)
I was amazed at such a dogmatic utterance from such a source. "And who was Christ?" I continued.
"He was God," he answered promptly and with perfect assurance.
"You are right, dear," I said, not a little surprised; "that's just who He was. And God became man. He came down to earth and became a little boy like you. Wasn't that a lovely thing for God to do? And Our Lady is Our Lord's Blessed Mother. Did you ever hear of God's Blessed Mother?"
"Well, I've heard them speak of that once or twice at home, but I don't think they have that much in our town. I think that's confined mostly to the larger cities, isn't it?"
I decided not to waste any time trying to decide statistically just what cities "that" was confined to, but determined to go as far as I felt Rev. Mr. Jumbleberry would allow me, in telling this priceless little wayfarer something of that traditional theology which gives Christian children of my acquaintance such comfort and delight. And if I could induce him to make in his own way some simple act of perfect love, the Holy Spirit might be willing to transmute it at once into Baptism of Desire. But I had to work quickly, because I was leaving the train at Worcester, and the porter was already dust-ragging my bag.
"You see, it's this way," and I decided on a number of swift short sentences, "God made you. ... He loves you. ... You're his little boy. ... Nobody owns you as much as He does. ... Even when your first mother died, you went on living ... because you really don't belong to anybody but God. ... He worries about you all the time. ... He never lets you out of his thoughts. ... He counts the number of steps you take when you walk and the number of breaths you breath in your sleep. ... Everyone who is good and kind to you He blesses and rewards. ... Everyone who is mean and unkind to you He punishes. ... When you do wrong and are sorry He forgives you and forgets it. ... You weren't really made for this world. ... I wasn't. ... Nobody ever is. ... That's why we're all a little bit restless all the time and a little bit lonely. ... We're all waiting for our real life which begins in Heaven after we die. ... Heaven is where we will see God and know how beautiful and lovely He is. ... And then we will be happy. ... We will be happy forever and forever. ... We can't see God now ... but we will see Him some day. ... He sees us, though ... and He loves us. ... He wouldn't have made us if He didn't love us ... and He wants us to love Him ... and He will help us to love Him if we try. ... You love Him ... don't you?"
"Yes." This was fine, but I wanted to make sure of it. And the trainman was shouting "Wooooooster!" and I had but a few seconds more to remain.
"Well, do you love God more than you love anybody else?"
"Yes I do."
"Well, say you do."
"With all your heart?"
"Just for His own sake, because He's so good? And you're sorry if you ever offended Him?"
"Yes I am."
"Well, say, 'Almighty God, I love you with all my heart.'"
"Almighty God, I love you with all my heart."
"Better than I do anybody."
"Better than I do anybody."
I shook his small hand.
"And always remember," I added hurriedly as I prepared to rush for the door, "that God loves you so much He came down to earth to be a little boy like you. And that's why Christmas Day is the best day in the year, because it's the day God was born into the world for love of little boys. Will you remember now why it's the best day in the year?" I was ready to make my sprint and dive for the Worcester platform.
One can see from this that his education as a priest regarding these two details of the Faith reflected some limited degree to which these two teachings were already being perhaps slightly abused in contemporary seminary textbooks, or at least, the informal aspects of their teaching. It is doubtful that his training had included any references to the actual sources in Sacred Scripture, the Fathers, Doctors, Popes, Councils, Theologians, and Saints, what these particular doctrines actually meant and where they came from. Whatever ignorance might have spared the savage out in some jungle of Unga Bunga, what could it have spared these two fine ladies, except through his own silence as a priest who sat in their presence, smiling and nodding at their conversation and yet telling them nothing? He was so caught up in admiring their natural virtue that he neglected to even so much as hint at what potential he had envisioned for them. One may only hope and pray that the bare fact of his being what he plainly was, dressed as he was, and thereby also calling to their minds their friend who was a nun, might have nevertheless accomplished as much of a nudge in the right direction as anything he could have said. And in attempting to offer to the boy a "Baptism of Desire" at least he never offered it as such to him: "Here boy, how would you like to have a Baptism of Desire, so that maybe you might be saved by it?" What is interesting to see is that even as he hungered back then for a Christ Who says "Unless a man eat My Body and drink My Blood he cannot have life in him," it is patently obvious that it could never have occurred to him back then to add (as the Church never has, either), "and everyone who has not received communion at least once before dying, even where of through no fault of their own, cannot be saved." And what the Church has never said of Holy Communion She likewise has never said about Baptism.
Though he would later comment that he had written these lines as an ignorant young priest, the fact is that whatever deficiencies there might have been to this area of his priestly training, they were here no worse than any of the many other areas of instruction he received. It is of and within this time that some who knew him came to think of him as a "great theologian," though of course not to usurp that Church's own ability to choose as to who is great or not among Her theologians, or even who is qualified to be among them in the first place. For of course it is one thing for one's friends (of which he had many in those early days) to speak of one as a great theologian, but quite another for the Church to endorse one's theological expertise by, for example, appointing him Dean or President of some Pontifical College in Rome, or commissioning him to write theological textbooks for same. What he was at that time was a great orator, and also writer, whose speeches and writings had gone far to help people understand the Faith, something sort of like a prototypical Fulton Sheen, so to speak. He had a great capacity for explaining advanced theological concepts to ordinary persons in a manner that they could understand them.
In later years of his life he became concerned over what he saw as a dulling of the sword of the Spirit, of the teachings of the Church. He had by this point accepted a position as spiritual director over a layman's association known then as the St. Benedict Center, and had soon gathered quite a crowd of young college students around him, from Harvard, Boston College, and even Radcliffe College, and as described in the book The Loyolas and the Cabots he and his lay students "went into a more intensive study of the Scriptures. We studied the Church Fathers, and the Doctors of the Church. We studied the Scriptures in Greek and Latin because we wanted to know exactly what Jesus had said and how He had said it, for our own knowledge and sanctification and so that we might be better able to tell His truth to His people." (page 49 - Note: Citations from The Loyolas and the Cabots are taken, along with their page numbers, from the original 1950 hardback edition.)
In the Treatise, we are introduced to Fr. Feeney in Section 26, and treated to a defense of him and his actions. As written, Fr. could do no wrong while his opponents could do no right (though one has to grant that his opponents managed to fight a rather poorly organized fight against him). And of course it is written as if Fr. Feeney was right and everyone else wrong, which at the very least does tend to stretch the imagination a bit. Nevertheless, the "Grand Mythos" of Fr. Feeney, as presented by his supporters, possesses some holes in its account, which show a different side of him. But in a number of details, neither Fr. Feeney himself nor his defenders ever since have been straight with us. Let us start with the story of Father's search for the "missing" or "lost" or "displaced" doctrine.
The way it is usually presented, for some years he had pondered on the question of what it was that seemed to be going wrong. Gary Potter, in his book After the Boston Heresy Case on page 84, paints a vivid picture of Fr. Feeney seated in a dark study for quite some time during the hot summer months of 1947, meditating on this mysterious and supposedly as yet unidentified "doctrine."
How, may I ask, is it that in supposed advance of knowing precisely what "the problem" was, did he (or they of the Center) know that it was some single doctrine that was supposedly "missing" or "displaced"? Even noted Feeney supported Gary Potter writes in his book, After the Boston Heresy Case on page 82: "In retrospect, and if you read their own many lucid defenses of the missing doctrine written after they identified it, you wonder why their search took two years." Why indeed? One just has to picture Fr. Feeney sitting there, musing to himself, "Well, could it be the Holy Trinity? No. How about the Indefectibility of the Church? No, not that either. How about the Merits of the Saints? The Seven Sacraments of the Church? The Papacy? The Ten Commandments? No, not any of those. Hmm. Which doctrine could it possibly be?" He might as well have been going "Eeney meeney miney moe."
His Holiness Pope Saint Pius X, in his Encyclical Pascendi (On Modernism) had already explained the problem, namely that Modernism (which is exactly what the "liberalism" was) did not merely attack some one single doctrine but was indifference, a kind of erosion that damaged all doctrines more or less equally. And if there was any problem with the Catholicism of Boston in the Post-war period, it was this universal erosion of all doctrines. Out of all that why pick one, unless by doing so it enables one to coin some pithy and short slogan, and perhaps also to provide a focal point at which to attack. This would be taking on not all of Modernism, but only the erosion it has caused on some one single doctrinal point, while leaving all other doctrinal points eroded. Far more likely he already knew which doctrine he was going to make a deal of, and the only question was how long to keep it under wraps until the most propitious time to bring it forth.
The bringing out of his position really began not with anything Fr. Feeney wrote, but one of his star pupils, one Fakhri Maluf (who later took on the name of "Brother Francis") who had written a piece titled "Sentimental Theology," that got the ball rolling. Looking at "Sentimental Theology" today, the piece seems rather tame and much of what it contains is even of salutary value. It even made specific reference to Baptism of Desire, admitting its existence, while discussing the case of one Franz Werfel, a Jew whose writings became the basis for the movie "The Song of Bernadette" who had shown great sympathy and support for the Catholic Church, but who hadn't joined it (though there is a subsequent report that he did get baptized into the Church shortly before he died in 1944).
Franz Werfel had written to the Archbishop of New Orleans that "I am a Jew by religion and have never been baptized. On the other hand, I wish to profess here, before you and the world, that, as is evident from the major part of my work, I have been decisively influenced and molded by the spiritual forces of Christianity and the Catholic Church. I see in the holy Catholic Church the purest power and emanation sent by God to this earth to fight the evils of materialism and atheism, and bring revelation to the poor souls of mankind. That is why, although standing extra muros ["outside the walls"], I have made it my purpose to support with my modest and humble abilities the struggle which the Catholic Church fights against those evils and for the divine truth." Commenting on this, Maluf wrote:
When Werfel wrote this paragraph, he was clearly on the way to hell and not on the way to heaven. These are the words of a proud messiah to whom evil is something in the world outside. They are not the words of a contrite sinner seeking salvation. There is not even any evidence of "baptism of desire." Baptism of desire is a desire for the baptism of water and not a wish for the baptism of desire. Only a man who does not know about baptism, and who has not rejected it explicitly, can be supposed in any sense to have an equivalent or virtual desire for it. If Franz Werfel is not in hell, it must be because he has since reversed his direction. If he is now in heaven, it could only be because he has since regretted the pride he paraded through life, and heartily desired the baptism of water which he evaded when it was available, and belonged to the spirit of the Church by doing all that was possible to him to be incorporated in its body.
Was Werfel "on the way to hell and not on the way to heaven" when he had written what he had written quoted above? Was he actually in sin and in need of repentance, or might he have been "on his way," and thankfully (as it is reported), he managed to live long enough to arrive at a place which, as he wrote those words, had not at yet foreseen (but perhaps his angel had?). Most reasonably and likely, his kindness towards the Church may have merited the Grace of conversion, which happily was provided. But at what point was that Grace extended? At what point did he pass from death to life? At what point, had he died before his baptism, might he nevertheless have had a chance in God's mercy? That is for God to know and precisely the sort of thing that Pope Pius IX was talking about in Singulari Quadem when he said "to seek to penetrate further is not permitted." Yet Fakhri Maluf did not hesitate to "penetrate further" into that which is "not permitted" by even speculating on the outcome of Franz Werfel's soul. But despite this, at least BOD itself, albeit constrained to its narrowest possible interpretation, was still admitted. There was simply way too much evidence not to.
Yet, even with such frank admission of BOD and many other valid and salutary points made, one nevertheless can see in "Sentimental Theology" the seeds of what was to come, especially in the paragraph:
While talking to a Catholic group recently, I was shocked to a realization of what is happening to the Faith under the rising wave of liberalism. I happened to mention casually the Catholic dogma, "There is no salvation outside the Church." Some acted as if I were uttering an innovation they had never heard of before, and others had the doctrine so completely covered with reservations and vicious distinctions as to ruin its meaning and destroy the effect of its challenge. In a few minutes, the room was swarming with the slogans of liberalism and sentimentalism, utterances which are beginning to have the force of defined dogma. Taken in their totality and in the manner in which they were used and understood by their utterers, these slogans constituted an outlook incompatible with the Catholic Faith and with the traditions of the Church. "Salvation by sincerity." "Membership in the soul of the Church." "Don't judge." "Don't disturb the good faith of unbelievers." "It is not charitable to talk about hell or to suggest that anybody may go there." "Isn't faith a gift?" And "How about the baptism of desire?" And so on and so forth. I am not concerned with these phrases as they might occur in a theological treatise with sufficient explanations and with only proportionate emphasis. I am rather concerned with a practical attitude of mind which seeks and selects precisely these phrases and builds them into a closed system of thought, ready to justify every act of cowardice, disloyalty to the Church, or encouragement to infidels and heretics who have set themselves up as teachers of religion.
Here one sees the valid Catholic doctrine of BOD being casually lumped in with such patently false concepts as "Salvation by sincerity," "Membership in the soul of the Church," "Don't judge," "Don't disturb the good faith of unbelievers," "It is not charitable to talk about hell or to suggest that anybody may go there," and "Isn't faith a gift?" The only one of those that even approximates having any place in the theological works of the Church is "Membership in the soul of the Church." And even that is still false in that one is never a "member" of the soul of the Church, as if that were some special organization one could join, distinct from joining the Church Herself. But at least there had been some discussion on the soul of the Church, thanks to St. Robert Bellarmine. The truth however is only that one may be "united to" the soul of the Church in an implicit Baptism of Desire, that is, the person would promptly and directly seek baptism into the Church if only they were to be informed of their duty before God to do this. But this still does not make them a member of the Church, nor even themselves, any part of that "soul of the Church," at all while still in this life.
When Dr. Maluf says "I am not concerned with these phrases as they might occur in a theological treatise with sufficient explanations and with only proportionate emphasis," he makes no clarification which items (in fact only one) of his list that would even validly pertain to, and in not doing that he displays an attitude that was primed and ready to renounce the Catholic doctrine of BOD (and, presumably, BOB as well). And again one sees this attitude in Maluf's statements in his same article regarding the Baltimore Catechism:
Let us consult An Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism of Christian Doctrine, by Rev. Thomas L. Kinkead, on the subject of salvation outside the Church:
"Q. Are all bound to belong to the Church?
"A. All Are bound to belong to the Church, and he who knows the Church to be the true Church and remains out of it, cannot be saved.
"Anyone who knows the Catholic religion to be the true religion and will not embrace it cannot enter into heaven. If one not a Catholic doubts whether the church to which he belongs is the true Church, he must settle his doubt, seek the true Church, and enter it; for if he continues to live in doubt, he becomes like the one who knows the true Church and is deterred by worldly considerations from entering it.
"In like manner one who, doubting, fears to examine the religion he professes lest he should discover its falsity and be convinced of the truth of the Catholic Faith, cannot be saved.
"Suppose, however, that there is a non-Catholic who firmly believes that the church to which he belongs is the true Church, and who has never - even in the past - had the slightest doubt of that fact, - what will become of him?
"If he was validly baptized and never committed a mortal sin, he will be saved; because, believing himself a member of the true Church, he was doing all he could to serve God according to his knowledge and the dictates of his conscience … that person would be saved; because, being baptized, he is a member of the Church, and being free from mortal sin he is a friend of God and could not in justice be condemned to hell. Such a person belongs to what we call the soul of the Church. He would belong to the body of the Church - that is, he would attend Mass and receive the sacraments - if he knew the Catholic Church to be the only true Church.
"I am giving you an example, however, that is rarely found, except in the case of infants or very small children baptized in Protestant sects."
Suppose you went to a doctor and inquired whether a man with double pneumonia should be placed on the danger list, and suppose the doctor's reply was: "Well, a man with double pneumonia is not necessarily in danger of death, for if this man had a thorough immunity against all diseases, and if he had never been in serious illness before, and if all his organs are in absolutely perfect condition, and if no further complications arise, and perfect medical attention is given to him, this man might pull through." Wouldn't the doctor be of greater practical service to you if he had said, "Yes, a man with double pneumonia is in grave danger"? The same is true of men in any way severed from the unity of the Church and without the divinely established and infallible guidance of the Holy Father; they are in a grave and permanent state of danger as far as their eternal salvation is concerned. If some of them are saved, it would not be because of their heresy, but rather in spite of it, and on account of the sufferings of Christ, Who continues to suffer for the salvation of the world in His Mystical Body, the Catholic Church.
I can speak at least for myself with absolute certainty. The qualifications given by Father Kinkead for belonging to the soul of the Church never applied to me as a heretic after I had reached the age of reason. Not only one of these qualification failed, which would have been enough, but every single one of them. And yet I met in my life hundreds of Catholics who kept me in the hell of unbelief precisely because they pretended to think that I was sincere and therefore secure. These Catholics did not act with respect to me with supernatural Catholic charity, but with sentimental sociable charitableness. Regarding all my non-Catholic acquaintances, there is not a single person to whom Father Kinkead's qualifications apply with any show of probability. On the contrary, the evidence is very much on the opposite side.
Fr. Feeney exhibited a similar attitude by most enthusiastically insisting that this article be published in the next edition of the St. Benedict Center's periodical, From the Housetops, thus hinting that, despite their wide presence throughout all the works of the Church (as I have shown in the previous installments), BOB and BOD were to be placed on the chopping block as Catholic doctrines to be sacrificed for the expediency of simplifying "No Salvation Outside the Church" to a formula anyone can understand.
In a similar vein, another of St. Benedict's Center lay and untrained armchair "theologians," Raymond Karam, wrote a follow-up to "Sentimental Theology" titled "Liberal Theology and Salvation." I confess as I write this that as of yet I have not come across a complete text of this follow-up article. I have available an introductory paragraph from it that reads: "Our age is witnessing a terrible defection of Christ's word in the minds of innumerable Catholics. Infected with liberalism, surrendering their minds to teachers of error and heresy, they minimize the importance of dogma and of Catholic unity, and they distort the meaning of Charity, changing that sublime supernatural virtue into a sentimental shadow which, at best, can be termed mere charitableness.... The eternal salvation of man is achieved by adhering to the word of Christ, by abiding in the vine. Those alone bear good fruit who have been faithful to the word of Christ.... It is part, therefore, of the doctrine of Jesus Christ that no man can be saved outside the Catholic Church." And there is a statement in The Loyolas and the Cabots on page 145 that "We found it extremely difficult to believe that Father Donnelly considered his paper in any way an answer to the documents of the Popes, Fathers, Doctors and Councils, of which was comprised the article 'Liberal Theology and Salvation'."
This article was quickly responded to by one of the Professors of the Jesuit seminary at Weston, the above-mentioned Father Donnelly, who wrote "Some Observations on the Question of Salvation Outside the Church." This in turn was almost as quickly responded to by Raymond Karam with his piece, "Reply to a Liberal." Unlike "Liberal Theology and Salvation" this piece is widely and readily available, and most likely covers some fair amount of the same ground as was covered in the "Liberal Theology and Salvation" piece.
Therefore, though not having seen it, I feel quite safe in assuming that "Liberal Theology and Salvation" contains much of the same sorts of "quotes," or even many of the same ones, as are given in "Reply to a Liberal," which are no different from the sorts of "quotes" as I have been addressing throughout this series, with the reasonable assumption that some quotes might be missing and some other few, not as yet addressed, might have been contained therein. But even from this second follow-up, "Reply to a Liberal," one gets quite a snapshot of the errors of the St. Benedict's Center even as they existed back then. In Peter Dimond's Treatise, the following is said:
One of his main enemies was the Archbishop of Boston, Richard Cushing, a B'nai Brith (Jewish Freemasons) man of the year, and someone who called the dogma Outside the Catholic Church There is No Salvation "nonsense." In April of 1949, Cushing silenced Fr. Feeney and interdicted St. Benedict Center (the apostolate affiliated with Fr. Feeney). The reason given by Cushing was "disobedience," but the real reason was Father Feeney's public stand for the dogma Outside the Catholic Church There is No Salvation. It was not due to Father Feeney's stand against the theory of baptism of desire either, since this wasn't first published until 1952. Cushing's dissatisfaction with Fr. Feeney was strictly based on Father Feeney's stand for the defined dogma that only Catholics - and those who become Catholics - can be saved.
One sees here the claim that Fr. Feeney's unique claims did not exist until later on, perhaps with the publication of his book, Bread of Life. It is not Peter Dimond alone who makes this claim. Virtually all supporters or followers of Fr. Feeney and his cause make the same or a similar claim. The idea is to make it sound as if Archbishop Cushing and Monsignor Wright were condemning the basic "No Salvation Outside the Church" doctrine itself, when in fact it has always been Fr. Feeney's unique take on it that they have objected to from the beginning. However, while "Reply to a Liberal" (and "Sentimental Theology," and, presumably, "Liberal Theology and Salvation" as well) make occasional passing reference to Baptism of Desire and of Blood in a manner that shows at least a technical acknowledgment of their existence as doctrines, there is much to show that their erroneous position had already hardened into a much more final position than they would have us believe:
Reply to a Liberal, Part III, (c) Baptism of Blood: But how about an unbaptized person? Could these two kinds of baptism be received by persons who have not been actually baptized with water? And if these sacraments could be received by them (baptism of blood and baptism of the Spirit, that is), would they supply the place of baptism of water, so that the persons who received them could attain salvation without being baptized with water? Let us see what the Fathers and the Doctors of the Church have to say about this. …
Martyrdom for the Name of Christ can therefore supply the place of baptism of water, and this both for adults and children, - witness the Holy Innocents who were killed for the sake of Christ.
When can martyrdom supply the place of baptism? Can a man who knows that he is going to be killed for confessing Christ and who on this account refuses or neglects the baptism of water because martyrdom is a perfect substitute, can such a man be saved? Or can a man who dies for confessing Christ while remaining in a heretical or schismatical sect be saved? Or again, is there any way in which a man can be saved by the baptism of blood if he is ignorant of Christ and His Church?
Martyrdom is a substitute for the baptism of water only in case of a catechumen who has the Catholic Faith and confesses Christ and His Church, and who, because of his apprehension by pagans or heretics, is unable to receive the baptism of water.
It then goes on to provide quotes, stating to the effect that "Thus, it is clear that even a catechumen who dies confessing Christ cannot be saved if he refuses the baptism of water, or if he does not try to receive it, knowing that he is going to be martyred," and "Moreover, it is not enough to confess Christ in order to have the baptism of Blood. One needs also to confess His Church and to be dying as a Catholic, although prevented by martyrdom from receiving the baptism of water."
While these last two points are admittedly true, the goal in presenting them at that point was not to explain the doctrine but to find as many limitations and restrictions to it as possible, in order to minimize BOB as much as they could (at that time). There really was no way to dismiss the canonized unbaptized martyr-saints, and they knew it. It even gets worse with Baptism of Desire, thus:
Reply to a Liberal, Part III, (d) Baptism of the Holy Spirit: The explicit intention to receive the sacrament, faith in Christ and His Church, are therefore necessary on the part of an adult for the reception of sanctifying grace. But they are not enough. Actual reception of the sacrament is also needed. …
To repeat, then, sanctifying grace can be received ahead of the Sacrament of Baptism, and in that case it is sufficient for justification, but this does not mean that it is sufficient for salvation if the actual Sacrament of Baptism is not received.
The distinction between justification and salvation is something that Fr. Feeney would later make a great deal about. Unlike Peter Dimond who tries to twist the Latin text of Trent into meaning that one must have both the actual water baptism and the desire for it, apparently for a valid baptism and to be justified (and saved) at all, Fr. Feeney knew that such a translation of Trent was not possible, so instead he would soon go on to take advantage of the fact that in Trent the word "justification" was used instead of "salvation," so as to explain it away by emphasizing and exaggerating the distinction between justification and salvation. Looking closely at the last part of the above quote, notice especially how the wording left it plainly open for the claim that sanctifying grace received before water baptism would not be sufficient for salvation, in that it stated, "this does not mean that it is sufficient for salvation if the actual Sacrament of Baptism is not received," and even more incriminating, the first above paragraph concludes with "Actual reception of the sacrament is also needed." Yet elsewhere it continues to acknowledge Baptism of Desire, albeit most grudgingly:
First, that person must have the Catholic Faith. …
Second, he must have an explicit will or desire to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. …
Third, he must have perfect charity. …
Fourth, he must have an explicit will to join the Catholic Church. …
Fifth, he must be dying and, although yearning for the Baptism of Water, is unable to receive it because of an absolute impossibility, not because of a contempt for it.
And again, while the above five points are valid (though one can easily see how, for example, the demand for "perfect charity" could be exaggerated into some extreme and humanly impossible attainment, just so as to all but define it totally out of existence - and that is most certainly not what degree of "perfect charity" is actually required), the goal in presenting them at that point was not to explain the doctrine but to find as many limitations and restrictions to it as possible, in order to minimize BOD as much as they could (at that time). Note also however that Implicit BOD was quite explicitly ruled out by the St. Benedict's Center writers. And unlike BOB which at that time they seemed ready to spare, for those rare few martyr-saints anyway, they were already looking for ways to get rid of explicit BOD altogether, such as:
At this point, we have to depart from infallibly defined dogma and must rely on the teachings of the Fathers and Doctors, because it has never so far been defined that any human being can be saved who was not actually baptized, except for those who lived before the coming of Our Lord, and except for the martyrs.
What is the teaching of the Fathers and the Doctors? Some Fathers deny that there is any case in which a man could be saved without the actual reception of the water of baptism (with the exception of the martyrs alone). But most of them agree in saying that there is one case, and only one case, when a man could be saved without having been actually baptized with water. It is the case of a catechumen who confesses the Catholic Faith, who is sorry for his past sins, who is burning with desire to be baptized and to join the Catholic Church, under the authority of the Roman Pontiff, but who, having been kept without baptism by the Church until he has been fully instructed, is overtaken by death suddenly and is incapable of receiving baptism. Such a catechumen, it is believed, can be saved, if he makes an act of perfect charity.
One sees here the beginnings of their subsequent stress on separating "infallibly defined dogma" from all else by suggesting that they were "depart[ing]" from it in order to explore "the teachings of the Fathers and Doctors." And again, though at least here they had no canonized Baptism of Desire saints to contend with, it was still clear that when it came to the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, "most of them agree" that BOD was possible. Quite a far cry from the horrible misuse of the Fr. Jurgens quote commonly used in the Treatise (and in Robert Mary's book as well) to falsely claim that the Fathers were practically unanimous in denying BOB and BOD! But as one can see, the germs of Fr. Feeney's position as finally appearing in Bread of Life were already indisputably present, and it would not have been difficult for the Holy Office, in reviewing these documents, to see the direction that Fr. Feeney and his group were already taking. And we should bear in mind that Bread of Life (which quite explicitly denies BOB and BOD) was taken from, as stated in the Forward to the First Edition, "some of the talks I have been giving on Thursday evenings at Saint Benedict Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts, during the past ten years." So by his own admission, his denials of BOB and BOD could possibly date as far back as 1942, though somewhere in the 1945-1949 time period seems by far most likely, all things considered.
Though the evidences are somewhat circumstantial (I admit), they do point, with a surprizingly coherent alignment, to a reasonable conclusion that Fr. Feeney and at least several of his inner circle had a double teaching. Publicly, they were as yet then still continuing to give lip service to BOB and BOD (though even here admitting their flagrant denial of implicit BOD, to say nothing of their self-contradictory statements regarding explicit BOD), albeit doing all their best to minimize them to virtually non-existant events. But privately, I believe they had already categorically rejected BOB and BOD altogether, and that this was their secret teaching, to be made known only to those initiates whom they could trust to keep the secret. In case you might not know, the Church can never function in this manner (though the Gnostics and other cults did and do), namely to teach to the multitudes one thing, but to the initiates a contrary thing. Imagine what it would be like, for example, if the Church, while publicly teaching that adultery is always mortally sinful, secretly taught (but only to certain inner-circle initiates) that there is a secret "eighth sacrament" that imparts the ability and authority to commit adultery with absolute impunity, and without sinning at all!
By far, the biggest and most obvious objection to Fr. Feeney's conduct (even ahead of his refusal to transfer to Holy Cross in importance) was his refusal to go to Rome and face the Holy Office. Back in 1949 when Protocol 122/49 (Suprema haec sacra) was freshly issued by the Holy Office and slapping him and his group down fast and hard, he had made this big song and dance about how wrong they were and how they must have been bought men and given over to heresy and just a private letter from one person to another and so forth. One gets the idea he would have gladly marched himself all the way to Rome, gate-crashed the next Holy Office meeting, and with all righteous indignation, demanded of them all an apology, or at least that "fair hearing" he and his group were ever and anon demanding of anyone and everyone. And yet, when the opportunity to go there actually presented itself in late 1952 and early 1953, even with all expenses paid, he chickened out. He did not go.
Why did he not go? To this day, no reason has ever been given, apart from an excuse, presumably based on Canon Law, that (as he saw it) excused him from being obliged to go. To defend this excuse, he provided two Canons. The first was Canon 1715 (as taken from the 1917 Code of Canon Law), which reads ([brackets] in translated edition);"
"§ 1. The citation must be communicated through a summons that expresses the precept of the [tribunal] to the convened party that is issued for his appearance, that is, before which judge, and using words that at least generally indicate the cause and by what petitioner [it is introduced], and [indicating] the respondent by name and surname as [being] rightly designated and convened; along with the place and the time, that is, with the year, the month, the day, and the hour, established for appearance clearly indicated.
§ 2. Citation with seal of the tribunal attached shall be signed by the judge or by its auditor and a notary."
Canon 1723 reads, "If the summons of citation does not include those things prescribed by Canon 1715 or was not legitimately communicated, the citation and acts of the process are of no account."
It so happened that the citation or summons that he had received from the Holy Office had not mentioned precisely what the summons was about. It is an admitted principle of any valid and reasonable jurisprudence that someone accused of anything should have the right to know what they have been accused of, so as to be able to prepare a defense. (One possibility may have been that they did not want to so much accuse him of anything as to simply hear him out, and then be able to point out where he was wrong, or, had he proven correct, to even allow his opinion to carry the day.) His response also included some discussion regarding Canon 1555 which states (in part, [bracketed portions] mine),
"§ 1. The tribunal of the Congregation of the Holy Office proceeds by its own proper customs; lower tribunals also, in cases that concern the tribunal of the Holy Office, should follow the norms given out by it. § 2. Other tribunals must observe the prescriptions of the canons [1556-1998, which therefore includes 1715 and 1723] that follow." Apparently he felt that whatever differences there might be to the Holy Office's "own proper customs," they should be still at least somewhat similar.
Not knowing what (if anything) he was being accused of, he therefore attempted to use Canons 1715 and 1723 (and a few lesser canons used in a more tangential capacity) as a basis to excuse himself from going at all. So, armed with these excuses he basically just said, "No, you can't make me go!" That, in a tiny nutshell, summarized his entire excuse. But obviously that response in no way addresses the question, why did he not go? In other words, why seek some canonical excuse not to go instead of going eagerly, finally having his long-sought-after chance for that "fair hearing" by competent authority? Only he and perhaps a few of his closest associates ever knew why, and all of them have consistently been totally tight-lipped about it.
His whole complaint (apart from the Canons that provided his excuse) was that "they did not tell me what they wanted to talk to me about." Did he really not know? Let's take a nice, long look at that, and I ask you to bear in mind that I use only those sources that are friendly to Fr. Feeney and his St. Benedict Center, so I cannot be accused of spreading gossip, detraction, calumny, or unpublished and unsupported accusations:
At the time of his summons to Rome, Fr. Feeney objected on the grounds that he was not told what the proceedings were to be about, and had attempted to maintain a canonical claim that without prior announcement as to what the topic was to be he was not obliged to accept the invitation. Not even taking into account the fact that the Holy Office would indeed have its own criteria and canonical standards such that Canons 1715 and 1723 would not even apply, was Fr. really so much in the dark as to what the trouble was?
The following quotes, all taken from The Loyolas and the Cabots written by his close associate Catherine Goddard Clarke, show that Fr. Feeney and his closest associates at the St. Benedict Center had every reason and opportunity to know precisely what the problem was:
Page 88: Dr. Maluf told Father Ryan that he would like to give a course in Apologetics.
"No, you had better stick to something like Logic or Cosmology", Father Ryan answered.
"May I know why, Father?" Dr, Maluf asked.
"I do not agree with Father Feeney's doctrine on salvation outside the Church", Father Ryan replied.
page 89: As one of the conditions imposed by Fr. Mulcahy, Mr. Walsh was asked not to teach at Boston College what the Dean termed "Father Feeney's doctrine that there is no salvation outside the Church".
Pages 101-102: Father: "What is being objected to in what I am doing?"
Provincial: [Fr. McEleney] "Your doctrine."
Father: "My doctrine on what?" ... They will be confused if you tell them my doctrine is wrong, without a hearing on that doctrine."
Page 127: "Our friends and supporters were constantly written to, or contacted in some way, in an effort by the authorities to separate us, either from Father, from the Center, or from the doctrine."
Page 133: Father Keleher: "Father Feeney came to me at the beginning of this situation, and I would have liked to do something except that I could not agree with his doctrine on salvation. When he was here talking with me I tried to get his answer to this question, but he went on talking without giving me a satisfactory answer. He kept repeating such phrases as 'There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.'"
Page 149: Father O'Donnell: "I am going to be frank with you, Fakhri. You are teaching a doctrine which is not in agreement with the doctrine of the majority of theologians at the present time in this area. I have the highest respect for your zeal and integrity, but I advise you that if you persist you will not have a chance of teaching anywhere in this whole area. I have not gone into the theology of it, but I know that the theologians of St. John's Seminary and Weston College disagree with you."
Dr. Maluf: "I am teaching the doctrine of St. Thomas and St. Augustine. [I would assume that readers of this series would readily see the proper response to this statement!] I know that I am teaching what our Holy Mother the Church teaches."
Father O'Donnell: "Well, that's your opinion."
One sees in the above that Feeney, Maluf, and Walsh had each been told on multiple occasions that "their doctrine" has been the cause of all their hassles, that "their doctrine" is plainly not the doctrine of the Church, however much they vacuously protested otherwise, and even that they have feigned ignorance. For, as seen above, Fr. Feeney at one point asks "My doctrine on what?", but later (and there is no bringing up of or naming of the doctrine in between) refers to "that doctrine," hinting that he fully knows exactly which doctrine is the problem.
In an even more dramatic admission of this feigned ignorance, on Page 148 Dr. Maluf is reported as having told Father O'Donnell "I still don't know that any of my doctrines is in question, or if so, which one is in question," and yet later the same page, Mrs. Clarke writes "The doctrine of Grace is intimately connected with the doctrine of No Salvation Outside the Church, and while neither Father Duncan nor Father O'Donnell had discussed this relation to the St. Benedict Center controversy, Dr. Maluf knew it was at the bottom of the whole matter."
So, when the Holy Office summoned Fr. Feeney to Rome to discuss his doctrine, he knew fully darn well precisely which doctrine it was that they were to be concerned with, and his excuse that "they didn't tell me what they wanted to see me about" utterly breaks down. And this brings us right back to the question, namely why did he not go to Rome. Even if there had been some legitimate canonical excuse not to go, as a fiery evangelist, eager to bring the Truth to all souls, his basic missionary duty would have required his attendance, so as to set straight all of those "heretics" in the Holy Office and in the Papal chair.
But of course, by now we should know the real reason he didn't go, the reason even most of his other critics have been too polite to say, but which I can now say here without fear of contradiction: He knew that his own unique claims about what "No Salvation Outside the Church" means would not stand up to any serious scholastic examination, since he himself had known and looked up all the relevant quotes, and furthermore, could read them all in their original language. He knew that the Holy Office would bring all this detail out to his face, exposing him to all present for what he was, and then put it to him bluntly, "Now, Father, do you back down, recant your interpretation of "no salvation outside the Church," dissolve the St. Benedict's Center, accept your teaching assignment at Holy Cross, and utterly cease your tirade and rants, or does the Holy Father have to excommunicate you personally and vitandus for the most grave crime of teaching heresy?"
Am I claiming a lack of integrity on his part and those of the Center? Yes I am, at least the main leaders, anyway. While I can and do appreciate their candor in admitting their faults, sparing me from having to turn to any "hostile" sources, I have to wonder if they ever really reflected on the full significance of their admissions. If some one admits to being a liar, is that supposed to gain my trust? Throughout this whole series of events, one sees a clear and consistent pattern of behaving not as one with integrity behaves. While I realize that one has to allow for some individuality of a person's response to any situation, that not all people do the same things in response to the same circumstances, e. g. some resigned from the schools while others waited until they were fired or expelled, there seems to me much here that goes plainly outside the realm of mere individual variation.
I suppose there might be those who would claim that I merely fault him and them for not doing what I would do if it were me in such a situation. It is not only I however, but probably nearly everyone who has ever heard his name and of these events. And it is not as if the things I would have done different, had it been me, and had the claimed theological finding been a valid one (for had it been me, I would not have bothered trying to foist a scholastic claim I knew to be invalid), were not in fact already suggested to him at the time. We not only have his refusal to go to Rome so as to argue his case, but also his stubborn refusal to accept a simple geographical transfer to another nearby College. The right path, that which a person of integrity would take, was always and ever laid before him, and yet he never took it. All he really had to do was obey his superiors and transfer to Holy Cross, as directed. And as one of them (Fr. McCormick) pointed out to him, from there he could have "then put in [his] appeal in devolutivo." (page 177)
Why was Fr. Feeney so attached to the St. Benedict's Center? It looks like no matter what else happened he was absolutely bound to stay there until death itself called him. One gets the distinct impression he would have continued there even after death if only he could. Why not accept his assignment at Holy Cross and start again? And for that matter I have no doubt that even many of his lay supporters would have gladly moved also to Holy Cross to set up there and start the whole thing all over again. One simply cannot read The Loyolas and the Cabots without getting a clear sense that the St. Benedict's Center was growing cultish, cliquish, and ingrown. Their members were inordinately attached to Fr. Feeney the man, as in a personality cult. There was even a time that they closed their doors to all but card-carrying members, turning all other interested parties away.
On pages 101-105 of The Loyolas and the Cabots we read about how Fr. Feeney was to be abruptly transferred to Holy Cross College despite having been "statused" to be in Boston at the St. Benedict's Center for the academic year. One sees again this song and dance about how "his" students had sacrificed much, sold homes, left jobs, etc., just to be there where had signed on for the year, counting on his being an instructor there, and how disappointed they would be, and how irregular it was to reassign a priest from one assignment already "statused" to some other assignment. Why did he not (as a counter-proposal) offer to transfer to Holy Cross for the next academic year, for which they may so "status" him and then he would simply transfer then, as all things should be done in good order? Because that would have implied a promise and an agreement to move away from St. Benedict's Center, a promise he knew he would necessarily break anyway.
Another thing Fr. Feeney would do sometimes is simply not answer the questions put to him. We already saw above where Fr. Keleher had told Dr. Maluf that "When he was here talking with me I tried to get his answer to this question [about his doctrine], but he went on talking without giving me a satisfactory answer." But on page 181, Fr. Feeney was asked by Fr. McCormick (after bringing forth all manner of accusations against other faculty of Boston College for some admittedly serious matters, such as their approval of the teachings of such blatant and wicked atheists as Professor Earnest A. Hooton), "Couldn't you have told all this to the General by letter from Holy Cross?" Fr. Feeney answers thus:
"No, I could not, and for many reasons. First of all, I had taken it for granted, due to Father Provincial's appointment at status time, that I was to be at St. Benedict Center for the year. [What reason is that not to have written the General?] I had made commitments to these students. [What reason is that not to have written the General?] In strict natural justice, Father McEleney owed it to me to give me and my students a hearing in view of the fact of my year's commitment. [What reason is that not to have written the General?] Every time one of my students or a committee of them tried to see him, he avoided them. [What reason is that not to have written the General?] He would not even answer a letter. [What reason is that not to have written the General?] He had already let it be known, through Father FitzGerald, that they were a bunch of radicals, whom Father FitzGerald was going to take in hand and control. [What reason is that not to have written the General?] But even this point, strong as it is, is a minor one compared with the fact that I was being put out of St. Benedict Center because I held a dogma of the Faith. [What reason is that not to have written the General?] Subsequent events in every sector prove this, as well as Father McEleney's absolute refusal to give me a hearing so as to make a doctrinal defense. [What reason is that not to have written the General?]" To have waited until one was accused before bringing up accusations of others, makes one's accusations quite weak, and difficult to take seriously, even if they should have been taken seriously.
Another example of an admitted lack of integrity, this time not of Fr. Feeney himself, but of one of the key St. Benedict's Center members, James R. Walsh, is also frankly admitted within scattered parts of The Loyolas and the Cabots. Again I provide quotes:
Page 138: Father Keleher:"What is the status of St. Benedict Center?"
Mr. Walsh: "It is a lay organization."
Father Keleher: "Under whose jurisdiction was it established?"
Mr. Walsh: "Our Holy Father, the Pope's."
Father Keleher: "What? I have never heard of an institution of that kind in this country. I know that it has sometimes happened in Europe."
Mr. Walsh: "We had a document to that effect."
Father Keleher: "Will you bring me a copy of it?"
Mr. Walsh said he thought he could bring Father Keleher a copy of the statement of our status by the Holy Father, and the interview ended.
Page 150: In the middle of January, the President of Boston College, Father Keleher, sent again for Mr. Walsh. At this second meeting, Father Keleher reminded Mr. Walsh that he had not brought to him a copy of the document containing the status of St. Benedict Center. He said that the Archbishop was very interested to see it.
"I think it would be more appropriate if you wrote for it, Father", Mr. Walsh answered. "Write to Mrs. Clarke, at the Center."
A few days later, Father Keleher stopped Mr. Walsh as he was coming out from Mass at Boston College.
"When am I going to get that copy of the status of the Center?" Father Keleher asked him. He then went on to say that he was sure that no document could be produced establishing the Center outside of ordinary ecclesiastical authority.
"That is not what I said of the document", Mr. Walsh answered.
Pages 151-153, Letter from Fr. Keleher to Mrs. Clarke: Dear Mrs. Clarke: [sic] independent of any ecclesiastic supervision. At the time, I asked Mr. Walsh if I might see a copy of it and he promised to obtain it for me.
Some time ago Mr. James Walsh of our faculty informed me that you were in possession of a document communicating the wish of the Holy Father, whereby, he established St. Benedict's Circle
After waiting what I considered a sufficient length of time, I called Mr. Walsh again, and, today, he informed me that I may have a copy of this by applying to you. May I ask, then, that a copy be forwarded to me at your earliest convenience. You will understand that such a setup is so unique that it is arousing a good deal of comment. If I were in a position to establish the fact to those who direct the question to me, I would feel much easier about the whole matter.
Letter from Mrs. Clarke to Fr. Keleher: Dear Father Keleher:-
In answer to your letter of January 20th, may I inform you that St. Benedict Center is a Catholic lay organization, dedicated to Catholic life and Catholic doctrine among young people.
Letter from Fr. Keleher to Mrs. Clarke: Dear Mrs. Clarke:
I wish to acknowledge your prompt reply of the 21st; however, the point of my letter seems to have been missed. May I repeat, then, my request that you allow me to have, for presentation to Diocesan Officials, a copy of the document (Mr. Walsh informs me you have in your possession) in virtue of which, St. Benedict's Center was erected by the Holy Father independent of ecclesiastical supervision.
Letter from Mrs. Clarke to Fr. Keleher: Dear Father Keleher,
Your first letter puzzled me. Your second letter is even more puzzling. I am completely at a loss to understand why reports to "Diocesan Officials" regarding an organization such as ours should be made through the President of Boston College.
Page 156: Father Keleher: "I think Mr. Walsh must have misunderstood me. I also think that the reason Mr. Walsh would not bring me that document is that there is no such document."
Dr. Maluf: "Honestly, Father, I do not see why St. Benedict Center should be reporting to you on its status.
Quite a runaround, wouldn't you agree? If they really had such a document, then why not simply produce it? It doesn't matter whether they report to the Diocesan Officials or not or to anyone else. If such a document existed it should have been available to anyone wishing to see it, regardless. Let us see now what the document itself actually was:
Back to page 153, The Loyolas and the Cabots explains, "The document to which Mr. Walsh had referred in his conversation with Father Keleher was, of course, the blessing of the Holy Father (which appears in the first chapter of this book), in which the status of St. Benedict Center, namely, that of a lay organization, was stated."
The document, as presented on page 3 of The Loyolas and the Cabots, is merely a papal blessing for the organization, the sort of document anyone can have by merely applying for it (for example, Fr. Nicholas Gruner has one of these, but his possession of it has not helped him in his struggles for recognition, and he knows better than to flash it for that purpose anyway), and as such has no more juridical or canonical force than if a Pope, in passing someone on the street, were to merely say to them, "The Lord's blessing be upon you," before continuing on his way.
On pages 3-4 we find, "There hangs in the long main room of Saint Benedict Center a life-size picture of His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. Under the picture there is an inscription, which reads: 'Most Holy Father Prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness, the members of St. Benedict Center, a Catholic lay organization founded on the Feast of St. Joseph, 1940, in the Parish of St. Paul in the Archdiocese of Boston for the purpose of encouraging the Life of the Church among the people of Cambridge and among the students of Harvard University and Radcliffe College, conscious of their own inadequacy to their task, dedicate themselves to Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ and to the patronage of His Blessed Mother, and humbly implore of You, Most Holy Father, on the occasion of this, the Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle, in the Year of Our Lord 1944, the Apostolic Blessing.' There follows the blessing of the Pope, signed with his name and stamped with his personal seal."
Finally, there is one other reference running throughout all this whole episode which defies explanation. Many of the various representatives of the Diocese, the Boston College, and the Jesuit order had clearly stated that Fr. Feeney's doctrine could not be accepted because it was not how certain local theology professors nearby, most notably those posted at St. John's Seminary and at Weston College, all understood the dogma. Apart from a single one-shot attempt at refuting a short response provided by Fr. Donnelly at Weston by Raymond Karam, there had been no direct contact between any members of the St. Benedict's Center and these theological professors. Why did none of them ever visit any of these professors of theology and learn from them, discussing the scholastic evidences in detail? That would have been the only kind of "hearing" they could possibly have obtained that would have been even capable of evaluating their claims, and that was the one forum they avoided because they knew their claims would not stand up in the presence of those who really knew what the Fathers, the Doctors, the Popes, and the Councils had really taught.
If only their case had been a valid one, given the actual content of the scholastic sources. Imagine what would have happened if only Fr. Feeney could have walked into the Chancery office alongside Fr. Donnelly and several other such professors and have them all say "We have examined Fr. Feeney's doctrine and we find nothing erroneous in it." That would have shut down the whole action against them! The one thing they lacked (and not for lack of opportunity) was reliance upon the expertise of those trained in the field. But that is exactly the one thing they could never have got without refining their doctrine in ways they were already committed to refusing to do.
Ever and anon one hears of them demanding some form of "hearing" in which they would be allowed to present their claims and then have them "heard" by all the higher-ups, and presumably answered. One sees it again and again: "We are very anxious to fight the doctrinal issue with those who disagree with what we consider to be the defined doctrine of the Church. We have challenged them to fight the doctrinal issue with us, but they refuse to meet us on the matter of doctrine, and instead they maneuver to destroy our work by reducing the issue to one of discipline." There are several reasons that the various Boston authorities refused to deal with the doctrinal question that I can think of:
1) It is a fact that the heretic has always had the one significant advantage of being able to pick his own battles. The heretic picks his topic upon which he has chosen to disagree with the Church on, and has any amount of time to prepare his "case," having therefore studied it from a great many angles and being altogether familiar with the turf upon which the problem immediately rests. The Church, in response, is necessarily at a grave disadvantage, in that the heretic cannot be intelligently responded to without someone having to become an expert in some narrow field of expertise which pertains to the area in which the heretic functions. Someone would have to be diverted from some more present and obvious duty just for the mere purpose of refuting some obscure heretic from some obscure (and usually ridiculous) absurdity, and it would be rare that the heretic himself would be converted in any case since typically he lacks the learning it would take to discern what precisely is wrong with his own "case" and the humility to recognize that he has been wrong. The one so assigned, being diverted from other activities he (and most persons) would regard as more important and pressing and obviously more fruitful, can only resent the time it would require of him to become the necessary expert, and so, unlike the heretic who passionately cares about his "case," the Church's representative is just doing a job, one which the sooner he can wrap it up and return to other things, the better.
2) In view of this resource problem of finding someone who can be made competent to address the heresy in detail, the Church also frankly hesitates to appoint anyone to such a task for the simple reason that if his researches are not equal to those of the heretic (a very real likelihood), he may find himself out of his depth to refute it and instead be converted by the heretic. This is why no one but the theology professors at St. John's Seminary and Weston College would have been the only persons willing to hear their case, and were the first to address it at all.
3) I suspect that, apart from perhaps some of the theology professors (and possibly not even them), not one of those involved, from the Archbishop on down, had the least suspicion that the "quotes" used by the St. Benedict's Center had been taken out of context and selectively mutilated into misleading forms. On reading their materials, many of these officials might have been persuaded that the historic and authoritative sources of the Church might have really been far more "strict" than was being routinely taught throughout the Church in all the time that they knew of, and therefore afraid that the "case" made by the St. Benedict's Center might have been too strong for them to address in detail. One has to admit, without knowing what is really going on with each quote, many of them can seem quite intimidating. They might have been genuinely afraid they might lose.
In addition to these three quite legitimate reasons not to have met Fr. Feeney or any St. Benedict's Center representatives directly on the doctrinal issues, I do admit there could have been a couple other reasons far less legitimate but (to them) far more persuasive:
4) The liberals already didn't like Fr. Feeney, especially in his newfound attack on error. The fact is, "no salvation outside the Church" IS a doctrine, albeit not as Fr. Feeney and his followers (then and now) have taught it, and frankly they don't like the doctrine even in its correct interpretation. As the errors began to develop in Fr.'s mind, the liberals quite scientifically kept silent about where they knew he had gone astray. They thus allowed him to twist in the wind, and twist he did, until his own doctrine came to be quite twisted itself. If they had shown Father where he was wrong, especially at the time that his opinions had not quite solidified as yet, he might have cleaned up his act, from then on teaching the doctrine only and exactly as the Church teaches it. And if that happened, Rome would have had no choice but to back him utterly, and that was something they did not want to have happen. No, the easier thing to do was to let him wander off into error and thereby allow himself to thereby discredit his entire cause.
5) It is even possible that there were some few experts, either of Boston College itself, or else feeling protective of the reputation of Boston College, who did know the sources well enough to realize how they were being misquoted, but those who knew this sat on what they knew. Any academic institution has to be of unassailable integrity with regards to their scientific methods, in this case, their scholarship. To have permitted on their staff those who would stoop to such slimy dishonesty in their scholarship just to "prove" some point that fits their private agenda or whatever, could have endangered Boston College's very academic standing, and even their accreditation itself. And even if they could (in all likelihood, and justly so I might add) have been able to clear their academic name, say, in some formal trial in which they sue to retain their academic accreditation, their reputation would have been permanently tarnished. We all know how it is that even if a man accused of committing a murder were to be acquitted, there would always be those who wonder (behind his back), "Might he have done it, even so?" No, rather than admit to having allowed teachers of such a lack of academic integrity on their staff for any amount of time, it was all they could do to try to sweep the whole thing under the rug and refuse to face them on the scholastic details.
So, given these details, the various representatives of the Archdiocese, the Church, the College, the Jesuit Order, and anyone else lawfully concerned, had no real option but to take that of the disciplinary path. And that was not difficult for them to decide. A simple transfer to a school in a neighboring diocese would be perfectly legitimate, and yet they knew that would be the one thing Father could never do. Deep down, Father Feeney knew that what he and his followers had was not what the Church was teaching but some other thing that was precious to them, but so delicate that they knew it could be irrevocably lost if they were scattered, if Father were taken away from the Center and some other priest assigned to it, for example. A heretic fears to die, not only for fear of Hell, but because deep down he knows his heretical claim will die with him, and the Church, which has no need of his heresy, will go on without it. The separation of Fr. Feeney from the Center would have been as much a "death" of the heretical synergy he and they had built up as any separation of soul and body would have been a real death. At Holy Cross, a fresh set of students, already forewarned about Fr. Feeney's teaching, would ignore him on that point. And the new priest appointed to St. Benedict's Center would have also gently but firmly led the young lay students of that Center back into the fold as well. This was the real reason Fr. could never leave, even if he wanted to, and the authorities knew it.
Perhaps there are some who see Fr. Feeney and his struggles within the Boston Archdiocese as being in some way parallel to St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort's struggles with Jansenistic bishops who continually expelled him from diocese to diocese, until he finally found one willing to take him. But when Fr. Feeney was expelled from one diocese (and invited to another) he did not go, for unlike St. Louis de Montfort, he knew his belief would promptly disappear if ever he transferred to the other place, where St. Louis de Montfort had no such fear. If some place did not want him, no problem. Just shake the dust from one's feet and move on. The Truth is not dependant upon his remaining in one spot. St. Louis de Montfort was humble, and obeyed authority, even where it was wrong and unjust (so long as what was commanded was not actually sinful, of course), and for that reason his works stand to this day. So to me, I see little in the way of similarity, and much in the way of contrast, between St. Louis de Montfort and Fr. Feeney.
In part two of this installment I will review in loving detail the all-important letter from the Holy Office dated August 8, 1949, titled Suprema haec sacra, and written against the St. Benedict's Center, Father Feeney, "From the Housetops," and most of all their unique interpretation of "No Salvation Outside the Church."
Griff L. Ruby
For the first installment of this series, see Part 1
For the second installment of this series, see Part 2
For the third installment of this series, see Part 3
For the fourth installment of this series, see Part 4
For the fifth installment of this series, see Part 5
For the sixth installment of this series, see Part 6
For the seventh installment of this series, see Part 7
For the eighth installment of this series, see Part 8
For the ninth installment of this series, see Part 9
For the first part of the tenth installment, see Part 10a
For the second part of the tenth installment, see Part 10b
Griff's book is available from iUniverse.com Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at www.the-pope.com We at The Daily Catholic strongly urge you to share it with all you can for that could be the gentle shove that moves your friends back to where the True Faith resides forever, rooted in the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church as Christ intended and promised.