The letter of the Holy Office condemning Fr. Feeney’s teaching:
That one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing. However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but when a person is involved in invincible ignorance, God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wants his will to be conformed to the Will of God. These things are clearly taught in the dogmatic letter which was issued by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, on June 29, 1943 (Mystici Corporis)... he mentions those who are related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer "by a certain unconscious yearning and desire," and these he by no means excludes from eternal salvation; but on the other hand, he states that they are in a condition "in which they cannot be sure of their salvation" since "they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church!" With these wise words he reproves both those who exclude from salvation all united to the Church only by implicit desire, and those who falsely assert that men can be saved equally as well in every religion. (Letter to the Archbishop of Boston, August 8, 1949).
Father Feeney’s attempts to defend himself and the Center were not successful. In his appeal to the General of the Society of Jesus, John Baptist Janssens, S.J., in May 1949, he reminded his superior of the scandal caused; what harm was being done by not protecting one of his priests who is defending the faith. He asked for an investigation of the orthodoxy of the Jesuits directing the New England Province.
A response came four months later, a summons for Father Feeney to appear before a tribunal, for his dismissal from the Society. The judge was to be a noted Jesuit canonist from the Gregorian University in Rome. Father Feeney protested this because he was clearly being judged for disobedience. The doctrinal issue was again being scuttled.
He wrote another letter to the General of the Society – a long detailed account of the dispute.
He again revealed what the Superior surely already knew because it was part of his policy of expediency:
“I cannot stop repeating that it is totally impossible to understand and judge the dispute between my Provincial and myself if the prime factor, the doctrine of the necessity of the Church and of submission to the Roman Pontiff for salvation, is constantly neglected and voluntarily ignored,” wrote Father Feeney.
As a professed Father in the Society, Father Feeney asserted his right to refuse to be judged by a tribunal that had already reached its verdict. Even concerning the purely disciplinary issue of obedience, due process demanded that Father Feeney’s accusation that his superior was guilty of tyrannical and unjust government be likewise heard.
Father concluded his letter,
“I am perfectly willing to appear before an impartial court in order to defend myself against the false accusations of my adversaries, if my judges do not persistently try to ignore the doctrinal controversy, for it is the basis of my so-called “disobedience” and the cause of everything that has taken place since last September...”
He reminded the General that the controversy had taken place because his Provincial and the archdiocesan authorities oppose his orthodox doctrines and wish to destroy them. He also reasserted his position that this is a matter of conscience as a priest and a Jesuit whose first duty is to preserve intact the Catholic Faith against every innovation and every heresy.
Due process, it was evident, was not going to be followed. Father was dismissed from the Jesuits in October 1949 for “serious and permanent disobedience.”
Nearly a year later, in August 1950, there appeared Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis in which, without naming the culprits, he addressed the many false opinions entering the Church and undermining Catholic doctrine. Catholic theologians had been hard at work “demythologizing” the very foundations of the Catholic faith. In the process, the doctrine of original sin, and all related
dogmatic teaching about man, sin and redemption were consequently being “reinterpreted.”
Of great importance are these statements in the encyclical: “Some think that they are not bound by the doctrine... (in Mystici Corporis) which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Church are one and the same... Some reduce to a empty (meaningless) formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to attain eternal salvation.”
This is the exact wording Father Feeney had used in a statement to the press when he was silenced –
“theologians today are making the doctrines of the Church absolutely meaningless.” Reporters from UPI and the New York Times picked it up right away. The Pope was saying the same thing as Father Feeney. The Holy Father had confirmed the Church’s solemn doctrine, to the great joy and relief of Father Feeney and Saint Benedict Center. Their elation came to a sudden end, however, when American theologians began to analyze the Pope’s statements. These self appointed interpreters of the Pope’s encyclical were soon informing the readers of the American Ecclesiastical Review that the ones who “reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church” are Father Feeney and Saint Benedict Center! Sister Catherine in Gate of Heaven answers this absurdity with, “And what is Father Feeney and Saint Benedict Center saying about the doctrine which makes it meaningless? They are saying it means exactly what it says.” p. 24
While the encyclical was soon forgotten, the 1949 letter to the Archbishop of Boston was not. Cushing demanded the impossible - compliance with the letter from Rome even though it had never been communicated in its entirety to Father Feeney or anyone at Saint Benedict Center.
Shortly after the death of Cardinal Marchetti-Salvagianni and the publication of his entire letter, Father Feeney received an official communication from Rome in October 1952. Cardinal Joseph Pizzardo of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office summoned him to a hearing.
Church law, of course, provides reasonable measures of due process to assure a just resolution of any judicial case.
Father Feeney responded:
“A hearing or trial presupposes some formal complaint or accusation which serves as a legal basis for the proceedings and which also informs the accused of the charge against him so that he can prepare to defend himself. Before I can participate in a trial I would like to know with more adequate particularity what I am to be tried for.”
Cardinal Pizzardo, ignoring this legitimate request, answered by accusing Father of “evading the issue” and by demanding his immediate presence in Rome and threatening canonical penalties for failing to do so.
Father Feeney answered with canon law:
#1715 - requires a formal statement of charges against a defendant.
#1723 - states that a non-canonical summons is void.
#1959 - forbids penalties without a trial.
#1842/1843 - require the defendant be informed both of the charges against him and the nature of the proceedings...
Not only did the Holy Office totally disregard Father Feeney’s rights in this matter, but Cardinal
Pizzardo responded with the threat of automatic excommunication for failing to comply.
At this same time some unknown source either at the Holy Office or in the Archdiocese was informing the press in the United States about the proceedings – matters strictly confidential in nature. By way of ironic twist, Father Feeney pointed out in one of his letters to Cardinal Pizzardo that he or whoever was responsible for the breach of confidentiality could be ipso facto excommunicated... according to canon law.
Under these circumstances Father Feeney chose not to go to Rome and participate in this obvious charade. In February 1953, he was declared, “excommunicated” for “grave disobedience” to the Church.
An appeal, an official “complaint of nullity” was sent to Rome in the summer of 1953 to the Secretariat for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs headed by Msgr. Giovanni Battista Montini, who later became Pope Paul VI. The “excommunication” – the complaint argued – was uncanonical and consequently null and void. The “decree” was defective for these important reasons:
- A sentence that is unsupported by a legal proceeding, in which the accused has been notified of the charges against him, so that he would have an opportunity to defend himself, is void on its face.
- For validity, the judgment of a court must be over the signature of one of its judges, one of the cardinals on the tribunal, whereas a notary alone signed it.
- The decree lacked the seal of the Holy Office.
- Neither the sentence itself nor a copy was ever transmitted to the accused. Father Feeney heard about it through representatives of the secular press.
Again, Rome never responded to these objections.
Both his doctrinal position and the authority of canon law undoubtedly protected Father Feeney. No injustice by those who abuse the authority of the Church could change this. Many of the saints, it should be noted, were vilified, interdicted, excommunicated, even martyred by those of their own faith.
The press, both Catholic and secular, took up the story and spread the deliberate misrepresentation, the big lie that has been repeated ever since: “Father Feeney was excommunicated for teaching ‘extra ecclesiam nulla salus’- and let that be a lesson to anyone else who tries.”
To this day the myth continues. Father Peter Stravinskas, as editor of Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, allowed this to be published: “From these authoritative teachings, it would seem clear that there is only one conclusion: anyone who dies without Baptism in the Roman Catholic Church is condemned to hell. For maintaining exactly this conclusion, however, an American Jesuit, Father Leonard Feeney, S.J., was first expelled from the Society of Jesus and then excommunicated in the 1940s.”
The story may well have ended with the Center closed and its director apparently excommunicated. But with rare foresight and courage, Father Feeney, Catherine Clark and their associates, in the midst of the controversy, formed the religious congregation, The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Sister Catherine in the Epilogue of her book, Gate of Heaven (1951) states that the congregation was founded in “...January, 1949, three months before we were disciplined by our Archbishop for continuing to profess the defined doctrines of the Church on salvation... We were beginning to realize the character of the battle before us, not only for the preservation of the sacred dogmas of the Church, but actually for their restoration. It was to prepare ourselves by prayer and discipline, and to secure graces enough to enable us to face such a battle, that we became a religious order."
Father Feeney and the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary continued to fearlessly teach the faith “in season and out of season”. For seven years they preached to crowds on Boston Common every Sunday. Through their publishing apostolate they distributed hundreds of thousands of doctrinal and devotional books nation-wide.
In 1958 the community moved from Cambridge to Still River. Ten years later, in 1968, Sister Catherine Clarke died.
In 1972 all the apparent censures were lifted from Father Feeney, without his having to retract any of his teachings. Had he been, as some say, “condemned for his doctrine” he would have been required to repudiate his error. The reason for this is clearly stated by Pope Innocent I who taught that “Communion once broken off cannot be renewed until the persons concerned give proof that the reasons for which communion was broken off are no longer operative.” (Emphasis added)
On January 30, 1978, Father Feeney died, a Catholic and a priest in good standing, united to the Church from which, he rightfully claimed, he never had been separated.
I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia; and all to whom that
water came were saved, and they shall say: alleluia, alleluia.
One of the joyful features of Paschaltide is the substitution of singing the Asperges antiphon during the rite of sprinkling holy water (just before the Sunday High Mass) with the Paschal antiphon of Vidi aquam: "I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia ; and all to whom that water came were saved, and they shall say : alleluia, allleluia.
Dom Prosper Gueranger explains in The Liturgical Year the sentiments we should have during this significant "rite of purification" that replaces the act of taking holy water from the fonts in the narthex (a custom derived from the Aspergesrite):
These holy aspirations have an even greater application during Eastertide as seen by the words of the Vidi aquam antiphon, which have a double allusion: the first to Ezekiel's vision (see verse 47 in the book of the same name) and the second to the water and blood that flowed from Christ's body when His side was pierced by a lance.During the Asperges [Vidi aquam], let us recall to our minds the Baptism received on Easter Eve by the Neophytes. Let us also think of our own, whereby we were made members of Christ. The water that thus regenerated us was made fruitful by the Blood of the Lamb and by the power of the Holy Ghost." (Emphasis added)
This symbolism is even furthered by the first ceremonial action of the celebrant when he sprinkles the foot of the altar, which mystically represents the body of Christ and from whose Passion, Death and Resurrection our salvation has been obtained—which the sacrificial stone continues through the supernatural life it gives to souls.
Below we offer the text of the Vidi aquam as well as two musical versions of this beautiful antiphon, the first the usual plainchant sung before Sunday High Mass, and the other a polyphonic adaptation.
|Vidi aquam egredientem de templo, a latere dextro, alleluia: et omnes, ad quos pervenit aqua ista, salvi facti sunt, et dicent, alleluia, alleluia.|
(Ps. 117) Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus: Quoniam in saeculum misericordia eius.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto: Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula sæculorum. Amen.
The antiphon Vidi aquam is repeated.
|I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia; and all they to whom that water came were saved, and they shall say, alleluia, alleluia.|
(Psalm 117) Praise the Lord, for He is good; For His mercy endureth forever.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Witness the downfall of the Jesuit Order over the following
years culminating in our Jesuit Pope Francis
- Jesuit superior at Buddhist temple (July 25, 2017) > > Schismatic Synod on the Amazon (Sept. 2nd, 2019)
- The General of the Society of Jesus, visiting in Spain ask to embody the ecclesiology of Vatican II, so that the church becomes the people of God.
- Jesuit University in Rome hosts anti-catholic exhibit featuring homosexual couple/witch
- Jesuits push for inculturation
- Things are changing in the Church regarding homosexuality
- Francis has handed the helm of the Church to the Gay Lobby
Fr. Malachi Martin re-visited: Prophetic to a the last tittle
- It was increasingly difficult for me to see Christ in one of my immediate superiors. There was no liberal cause that Cardinal Bea did not persecute. Even then he perceived the chief of the Jesuits of that time, Father Jean Baptiste Janssens, as an enemy of the faith.
Comment: It is wrong for any catholic to hold any theologian up as infallible, whether one worships +Bellarmine (on the papal question) or +Alphonsus (all moral questions) or St. Thomas (on theological questions). The problem is due to both the chaos in the church and a lack of humility. We’re all tempted to err in this area; post-V2 is like a post-apocalyptic movie where catholic society no longer exists.