Chris Matthews has just published a book on Robert Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit (Simon & Schuster), which he is promoting vigorously. Among the numerous interviews he has given (many to his colleagues at MSNBC), the one with Al Sharpton, embedded below, has come to our attention for its mention of Father Leonard Feeney.
Around the 6:14 mark, Matthews makes a fleeting mention of Father Feeney as an example of someone that had, early on, roused “raging spirit” of Bobby Kennedy.
The mention of Father Feeney is limited to these words, which I have transcribed as faithfully as possible:
When that priest, Father Feeney, in the 40’s… late 40’s… was saying “no salvation outside the Catholic Church, everybody else is going to hell,” Bobby wrote a letter to the paper, fought the … fought the Cardinal over it. His mother thought he was going to get excommunicated over it, and then the priest got excommunicated.
It is as if Father Feeney, disdainful Catholic dogma as well as of pluralist Americanist pieties, made up the doctrine himself in a moment of bigotry and hatred for people of other religions. Never mind the perennial teaching of the Church. Never mind three infallible definitions. Never mind standards other than what might be well received by our contemporaries in the modern American democracy.
This led our friends at Rorate Caeli to quip:
— Rorate Caeli (@RorateCaeli) November 8, 2017
Now, Matthews did not use the word “invent,” but that was certainly implicit in what he said. That Father “was saying” this doctrine is given no context at all. Taking into account Matthews’ tone and lionizing of Father Feeney’s adversary, this amounts to an accusation of wrongdoing, not a mere narration of events. Given the miserable status of catechesis on this and other matters, it would be easy for Catholics, who are not being taught sound doctrine, to assume that “that priest, Father Feeney” just made it up himself.
That “the Cardinal” (Richard Cushing) would have to be “fought” over the matter does indeed seem suspect. For what it’s worth (perhaps not much, considering the source), Matthews’ account does not match that given by Bobby’s younger brother, Teddy.
Matthews is a Catholic, according to Wikipedia, and is a 1967 graduate of Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is, therefore, the product of a modern (and modernist) Jesuit education, like so many of our misguided Catholic-in-name-only political class.
Two postings on Catholicism.org and one valuable contribution off-site make mention of the Kennedy political clan relative to Father Feeney and the demise of Boston and American Catholicity:
- Bobby Kennedy and Father Feeney: Religion as American Politics
- From Indifferentism to Apostasy
- Dare We Hope That Ted Kennedy Be Saved? (book review at Culture Wars)
And now the video: