Chris Matthews: ‘That Priest, Father Feeney…’

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:

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:

And now the video:

  • handydan

    I have been following religion and politics for several years now, and have come to the conclusion that it is a waste of time to try to convince people like Matthews that the Trad Church is the Only Church. We all have a brain and we all, theoretically, know how to use it. The direction of our journey relies on our attitude towards God.

  • Luke Peto

    He can hardly be blamed when something logically contrary to the Athanasian creed is taught by almost every priest and RCIA class, citing the CCC to support this heresy even though Lumen Gentium does NOT say that those who DIE without the faith can be saved.

  • Jim Merkel

    Chris Matthews is “pro-choice” = (slaughter the little ones) … Thus by definition .. NOT Catholic