have been bombarded with e-mails asking my opinion of Father
Feeney. I would first like to say, that we should all pray for another
priest who was so loyal to the teachings of the Catholic Church and
Jesus Christ. How many priests today compromise the true teaching of
the Church, just to be popular ! It may surprise many to know that
Father was never excommunicated. That's right never. Lets look at the
was a defender of the unchangeable traditional teaching/doctrine of the
Catholic Church. He fought against the false doctrines of Americanism,
Liberalism and Modernism, all rampant well before Vatican II Council
(1962-1965). Early in his priestly career he was referred to as "the
greatest theologian in America" by his Jesuit peers.
Feeney was a priest of the Society of Jesus until, in 1949, he
co-founded the religious order, Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
(Mancipia Immaculati Cordis Mariae), whose acronym is MICM.
Feeney recognized that the root of the church's inner problems and
failure to convert America (and elsewhere throughout the world) was the
result of a suppression of the thrice-defined dogma that outside the
Catholic church there is no salvation. He was soon after persecuted and
vilified by his own fellow Jesuits, by fellow churchmen, and by his
superiors. He was threatened and expelled from the Jesuit order,
censored, threatened with excommunication and left out to hang with
what is called a "dry martyrdom". Yet, he did not give in to the
enormous pressures to "soften up" on what the Church has infallibly
defined as necessary for salvation.
Now for the facts:
I. Letter of the Holy Office
August 8, 1949 a Protocol letter came from the Supreme Sacred
Congregation of the Holy Office. It censored Fr. Feeney and the St.
Benedict Center for teaching the dogma of no salvation outside the
Church in the literal sense (this is, of course, how all defined dogmas
must be understood). This letter was signed by Cardinal
Marchetti-Selvaggiani and was identified as Protocol No. 122/49. It was
formally defective in that it was never published in the Acta
Apostolicae Sedis (Acts of the Apostolic See). It is this register
alone which confers an official and binding character on a document.
And even then, only so long as it meets the proper forms. Consequently,
this letter is without any binding effect as an act of the Holy See or
any type of official Church document. Its status, then, can only be
that of the opinion of one bishop, expressed in a letter to another
Fr. Feeney was charged with disobedience.
October 25, 1952 Fr. Feeney was summoned to Rome for a hearing by
Cardinal Pizzardo of the Holy Office, without being told why.
October 30, 1952 Fr. Feeney responded by requesting a statement of the
charges being made against him -- as required by Canon Law 1715. The
summons by Card. Pizzardo, in violation of this canon, failed to either
state the reason for the summons nor give a formal statement of charges
against the defendant.
to Canon 1723, any proceeding based on citations as defective as the
Cardinal's letter, are subject to a complaint of nullity; and also
renders a non-canonical summons null. The complaint of nullity is
allowed under Canon 1680. A compliant of nullity was formally filed by
Fr. Feeney. Yet, it was never responded to nor even acknowledged.
on November 22, 1952 Fr. Feeney was threatened by Card. Pizzardo with
an imposition of a canonical penalty, without stating the crime for
which it is imposed. This is in violation of Canon 2225. Canon 1959
forbids penalties without a trial.
December 2, 1952 Fr. Feeney responded by asking with what he was being
charged. Again, according to Canon 1715, this was not only Fr. Feeney's
right, but it was required for those who do the summoning. Also, Canons
1842 and 1843 required that the defendant be informed both of the
charges against him and the nature of the proceedings to which he had
January 9, 1953 Fr. Feeney was then threatened with automatic
excommunication, ipso facto, if he failed to report to Rome by a
certain date. this letter ignored Fr. Feeney's points concerning Canon
Laws requirements, for the offense alleged against Fr. Feeney -- not
obeying the summons to Rome -- is a matter for a court or judge to
weigh. He could not be excommunicated ipso facto because his action did
not fall under the category of crimes meriting such a sentence.
should be noted that in the demands and threats from this member of the
Roman Curia there were six (6) direct violations of Canon Law. Both the
appeals and canonical rights of Fr. Feeney were ignored and
disregarded. Thus, this whole ordeal is not only suspect, but
fallacious and immoral.
II. Decree of Excommunication
February 13, 1953 a letter of excommunication was released, having no
statement at all in it on doctrine, but had as its reason "grave
disobedience of Church authority." Though this letter was registered
into the Acta, it is formally defective and thus invalid for the
letter lacked the seal of the Holy Office and/or of the tribunal and
was only signed by a notary. In fact, it bore no seal at all. The
purpose of a seal is precisely to show the genuineness of a document
and its contents, and is required for validity.
letter lacked the signature of the judge of the tribunal which issued
it; where, for validity, the judgment of a court of record must have.
decree was never properly communicated to the accused, which by laws
(and fairness) it must. It was first published in America in the
Feeney's summons to Rome was uncanonical. Therefore, the summons was
null and the penalties resulting from it are void. (1) Canon 1723:
"Renders an uncanonical summons null." (2) Canon 1959: "Forbids
penalties without a trial."
was never any canonical trial by a court concerning this case as
proscribed by the disciplinary canons and decrees of the Council of
Trent. Therefore, according to Canon Law, no valid penalties could
allowed by Canon Law, Fr. Feeney sent a letter dated July 16, 1953,
entering a "Complaint of Nullity" against the decree of
excommunication, to the Holy Father. It was never answered. Not only
was Fr. Feeney not given a fair hearing, he was given no hearing at
all, though required by Canon Law.
III. The Reconciliation
1972 Fr. Feeney was supposedly "reconciled" to the Church. It obviously
became an embarrassment to Rome. If Fr. Feeney truly needed to be
reconciled, he would have had to recant his position. Yet, he was never
asked to do that. Anyone who is truly excommunicated for heresy must
withdraw what they once held and proclaim belief in orthodoxy. But Fr.
Feeney was never asked to take back or repent from his teaching on
"Outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation."
Fr. Feeney was asked to profess one of the three Creeds of the Church
at a meeting at the Center without knowing the reason why he was asked
to say it. So he said the Athanasian Creed. This venerable creed begins
and ends with these solemn words:
wishes to be saved needs above all else to hold the Catholic Faith;
unless each one preserves this whole and entire, he will without a
doubt perish in eternity. … This is the Catholic Faith; unless everyone
believes this faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.
Fr. Leonard Feeney was not excommunicated for teaching that outside the
Catholic Church and without submission to the Roman Pontiff no one can
be saved. He couldn't be, because the Church herself has dogmatically
Fr. Leonard Feeney was unjustly treated and persecuted by fellow
churchmen in positions of authority who abused the authority of the
offices they held and brought up uncanonical charges of disobedience to
this priest of Christ's Church. So we see Father was a modern day Saint
Athanasius as he too fought and suffered for Catholic Orthodoxy. We see
Fathers passion on this issue was not in vain, as we can see the
results of denial of this dogma. Indifferentism abound and today many
believe this dogma somehow is no longer, or worse yet that it somehow
changed. It has not and never can as this dogma defined three times
comes to us from God Himself.
for Father Feeney, I have never had the pleasure of meeting him before
God called him home. It is my honest hope that in years to come people
recognize Father for his strength and his loyal Catholic faith. I also
pray that God send us another Father Feeney , these times demand it.
God Bless you Father Feeney and thank you for being a Catholic Priest
and not compromising the truth.