As thinking Catholics the world over realize, the Church today is in a state of crisis — one that Pope Paul VI described as its “auto-demolition,” its self-destruction.
The great majority of those who acknowledge this agonizing reality are inclined to blame the Second Vatican Council. We at St. Benedict Center, however, believe the cause is more deeply rooted — in what has now become the all-but-universal denial of the most fundamental dogma of the Catholic Faith, extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the Church there is no salvation), referred to as the Dogma of Faith. Abuses, which have become rampant since the Council, are merely the result of that more pervasive doctrinal defection.
Indeed, forty years ago, a devout priest, acknowledged as America’s “foremost theologian,” had already predicted ruinous consequences for the Church, unless those with the duty and authority to guard the Sacred Deposit of Faith headed off a reckless stampede into error, by proclaiming this dogma anew in clear, uncompromising language. He was our founder. Father Leonard Feeney.
Standing firm against withering abuse, Father Feeney was as a lone voice crying in the wilderness in his doctrinal defense. Since the notoriety given his cause was global, the Catholic and non-Catholic worlds alike were left at the time with the impression that this priest was the only man in the history of Christendom so “eccentric” as to conclude that no salvation outside the Catholic Church actually meant no salvation outside the Church!
Denial of the Dogma of Faith, to be sure, is not unique to the age of Modernism (condemned by Pope Saint Pius X as the synthesis of all error). And it is absurd to suggest that Father Feeney was the first to champion its unequivocal definition.
Since the Protestant revolt, and especially since the onset of Freemasonry, the cockle of skepticism has been so subtly sown and so long nurtured amongst the wheat of Catholic truth that, by Father Feeney’s day, the Dogma of Faith, in pulpits, seminaries and Catholic schools worldwide, was being taught to mean the exact opposite of what it says!
It is our opinion that Father Feeney was given a special grace to identify the Dogma of Faith as the corrective Credo by which to dispel the insidious poison of Modernism, and its widespread rejection as the central source of the Church’s current dissolution. In any event, he is today uniquely identified with this dogma and with the battle to defend its authentic meaning.
Yet the same dramatic battle, over the same dogma, against the same forces, with much the same outcome, was waged in the same national setting a century ago. The level of notoriety then was not worldwide, but its intensity was comparable. Even so, quite unlike Father Feeney’s case, there is hardly a man living today who has any awareness whatsoever of that earlier controversy and the pious theologian at the center of its storm. It seems fitting, therefore, that we present this courageous priest as our first selection in a new series called “Catholic Heroes.”
Michael Mueller was born December 18, 1825, in Brueck, within the German diocese of Treves. It was at the Gymnasium of Treves that he first heard of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and the apostolic zeal of its members. Convinced of his own apostolic vocation, he entered the Redemptorist Novitiate in Belgium. Taking his first vows, he continued his studies in Holland. Under the personal spiritual direction of Venerable Joseph Passerat, Saint Clement Maria Hofbauer’s disciple and successor as Vicar General, Mueller was imbued with the spirituality of the Redemptorist Founder, Saint Alphonsus.
In 1851, Frater Mueller was one of eleven clerics and priests chosen by the American Redemptorist Provincial to be sent to the United States. Completing his theological studies in Cumberland, Maryland, he was ordained on March 26, 1853, by the great Redemptorist Bishop of Philadelphia, Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, original author of what became the Baltimore Catechism and staunch foe of heresy.
After ordination Father Mueller was entrusted with the spiritual care of professed students at Cumberland. The appointment to such a position demonstrates the great confidence his superiors placed in his “solid piety and prudence.” Three years later, he was appointed Superior and Novice Master at the Congregation’s foundation in Annapolis, Maryland. (It was Mueller who rebuilt the monastery and convent that form one of the principal attractions in Maryland’s capital today.) Over subsequent years, he served the Redemptorist communities of America in a variety of capacities, including Consultor to the Provincial. “In all these places,” notes one biographer, “Father Mueller displayed an untiring zeal for the welfare of the souls committed to his care and for the maintenance of regular discipline.”
As mentioned, he had entered the Congregation with the fiery fervor of an apostle and a great zeal for the salvation of souls. Not gifted with preaching eloquence so necessary to a missionary, however, he exercised that fervor with the pen. In the mid-1860’s, he began his writing career with various ascetical works, including The Blessed Eucharist, Our Greatest Treasure. His writings made the Redemptorists better known in this country. In fact, owing to his masterful catechisms and especially his nine-volume series entitled, God, The Teacher of Mankind, the name Michael Mueller became a household word in parish rectories. The more than thirty-five works he produced made him one of the most prominent and widely read theologians in America.
In 1875, Michael Mueller published a book in catechism style entitled Familiar Explanation of Christian Doctrine, which carried the imprimatur of Archbishop Roosevelt Bayley of Baltimore, and which had been examined by several prominent theologians. Praised highly by many priests, bishops, and laymen, the book sold extremely well.
In it he set down the foundational doctrine of the Faith, extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, as strongly as the now deceased Bishop of Philadelphia, Saint John Neumann, had in his earlier catechism:
Q. Who will then be saved?
A. Christ has solemnly declared that only those will be saved who have done God’s will on earth as explained, not by private interpretation, but by the infallible teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
Q. But is it not a very uncharitable doctrine to say that no one can be saved out of the Church?
A. On the contrary, it is a very great act of charity to assert most emphatically, that out of the Catholic Church there is no salvation possible; for Jesus Christ and His Apostles have taught this doctrine in very plain language…
Over eighty pages of the Familiar Explanation is devoted to explaining clearly why it is impossible to be saved out of the Church. Showing, for example, that the Catholic Faith is founded on divine authority, while the Protestant faith is based only on human authority, Father Mueller concludes:
Q. Have Protestants any faith in Christ?
A. They never had.
Q. Why not?
A. Because there never lived such a Christ as they imagine and believe in.
Q. In what kind of Christ do they believe?
A. In such a one whom they can make a liar with impunity, whose doctrines they can interpret as they please, and who does not care what a man believes, provided he be an honest man before the public.
Q. Will such a faith in such a Christ save Protestants?
A. No sensible man will assert such an absurdity.
Q. What follows from this?
A. That they die in their sins and are damned.
Elsewhere, the author explains that we are not to judge who have or have not died in their sins, for no one knows what passes between God and the souls of men at the moment of death. Mueller also insists that if a man is sincerely seeking the truth, God, in His infinite mercy, will provide the means necessary for that person to save his soul, “sending an angel if necessary.” Father Mueller was simply reiterating the Church’s teaching on the matter as solemnly defined by the popes, which faithful Catholics never questioned — until the Nineteenth Century.
Enter the Paulists
The “Mueller controversy” was precipitated when an anti-Catholic Protestant bishop, Arthur C. Coxe, of western New York, attacked the Familiar Explanation as evidence of the Church’s “false” teaching. Prompted by Coxe’s attack, an article appeared on January 26, 1888, in the Paulist Buffalo Catholic Union and Times. It was a direct assault on Father Mueller, and used by the Paulists as an apology to Protestants for Mueller’s insistence on the doctrine extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. Its author accused Mueller of misrepresenting the Church’s teaching and stated that Protestants “believe precisely what the Catholic Church teaches” about Christ. Even more insidious, the editor of this newspaper, Father P. Cronin, C.S.P., in endorsing the article, boasts the author as “the most prominent priest in the United States.” Who was to know, since this “most prominent priest” hid in anonymity, simply signing himself as “W”?
That a Protestant clergyman would attack this doctrine of the Church might be expected. But that a presumed Catholic priest would do so, and that a Catholic newspaper operated by a religious congregation would not only publish, but endorse, such defiant contradiction of the Supreme Magisterium, until now would be an unthinkable scandal. In this particular instance, however, it was not entirely surprising.
The Congregation of St. Paul, better known as the Paulists, was founded in 1858 by Isaac Hecker, an American convert. In his book, The Emergence of Liberal Catholicism in America, Robert D. Cross describes the congregation’s spirit thus: “Even more liberal, and perhaps more American [than the Sulpicians], were the Paulists.” Hecker himself, says Cross, “had been the early herald of the liberal spirit,” and “was expelled from the Redemptorist order because he was too wedded to American principles” of religious indifference. It is particularly ironic that Hecker, after completing his studies in Holland in 1851, returned to America along with a group of Redemptorists that included our hero Michael Mueller.
On March 22, 1888, the Buffalo Catholic Union and Times carried another attack on Mueller and the Dogma of Faith. Entitled “Have Protestants Divine Faith?” by the Paulist author, Father Alfred Young, the article claimed that the “actual faith of Protestants, who are in good faith, is identical with ours in its essential quality.” “I was once a Protestant,” he stated, “and my faith was just as truly and theologically divine as it is today and in becoming a Catholic it underwent no change, and plainly could not undergo any.” This from a convert priest who also noted he had believed as a Protestant “that the Roman Catholic Church was the church of anti-Christ, that she was the scarlet woman of Babylon and the Pope the man of sin; that she taught false doctrines; that she was the great enemy of all Christian truth, morality, and love of God.”
If only a man is sincere in his religious beliefs, Young insisted, “that man is a Catholic in the sight of God, and he is a Catholic in the sight of the Church, no matter what he calls himself, and though one dies piously as an Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, or what not, St. Peter will let him into heaven as a Catholic.” In other words, it makes “no matter” to God, says Young, that a man professes heresy that is inimical to His revealed Truth, and to the infallible authority He established on earth. Young’s implication is that “sincerity” is more powerful than even God, since it supposedly can make error “identical” to the Catholic Faith!
Indeed, Young was no maverick to the Paulist spirit inherited from Isaac Hecker. Again we quote Cross, a liberal Protestant who admires that spirit: “Those Paulists who were converts and felt the continuity of their religious aspirations resented any implication that in their Protestant days they had been beyond the pale of salvation. When Hecker became a Catholic, he said to himself, ‘Look here, Hecker, if anyone says he is an older Catholic than you, just knock him down. Why, I had been a Catholic in my heart all my life, and didn’t know it.'” Such a “Catholic” might only entertain this absurdity seriously if he did not believe there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. But then, since the Church does indeed profess that there is no salvation possible outside of her, why would such a one, disbelieving her, want to insist on calling himself a Catholic?
The Dogma of Faith
Saint Paul teaches that, “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Just any faith? No, says the Apostle: “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” The true Faith, therefore, is a divine Faith, embodying all truths revealed by God. That divine Faith can exist only in the one Church He founded, whose infallible teaching authority He established and guaranteed, saying: “he who hears you hears Me.” For in matters of faith and morals the Church can only teach what God has revealed. Deus revelans et Ecclesia proponens.
“Hear the Church,” Our Lord commands. Yet Protestants defy the Church. Can anyone say they do so “sincerely,” especially when the grace of the Sacrament of Baptism, which they received, ever urges them to the truths of the Catholic Faith? If Protestants happen to believe certain mysteries of our Holy Catholic Faith, they do so not because of their belief in the infallible authority of the Church, but only on their own human authority. This is not faith at all; nor can it in any way be called sincere.
Responding to the heretical theology espoused by the Paulists, therefore, Father Mueller began preparing a pamphlet to refute their grave errors.
What resulted, however, was a sizable book called The Catholic Dogma: Outside the Church There is Positively no Salvation. Published by Benzinger Brothers in July 1888, its purpose was explained in Mueller’s Introduction:
Now is it not something very shocking to see such condemned errors and perverse opinions proclaimed as Catholic doctrine in a Catholic newspaper, and in books written and recently published by Catholics?
We have, therefore, deemed it our duty to make a strong, vigorous, and uncompromising presentation of the great and fundamental truth, the very fence and barrier of the true religion, “OUTSIDE OF THE CHURCH THERE IS POSITIVELY NO SALVATION,” against those soft, weak, timid, liberalizing Catholics, who labor to explain away all the points of Catholic Faith offensive to non-Catholics, and to make it appear that there is no question of life and death, of heaven and hell, involved in the differences between us and Protestants.
“Now, to show plainly and understand well his grave errors,” writes Mueller, referring to that anonymous ‘‘most prominent priest” in the U.S., “we must state clearly the point in question. This point is — ‘Out of the Roman Catholic Church there is no salvation.’ Heretics are out of the Roman Catholic Church; therefore, if they die as heretics, they are lost forever.
The Catholic Dogma is an exhaustive study of the writings of the Church Fathers and Doctors on the question of salvation and proves irrefutably that there is no salvation outside the unity of the Church. In the Preface, Father Mueller quotes the great scriptural commentator, Cornelius a Lapide, on how learned theologians have taught this and all Church doctrines:
They will propose each dogma, especially the all-important dogma, “Out of the Church there is No salvation,” in the words of the Church and explain it as she understands it; they are most careful not to weaken in the least the meaning of this great dogma, by way of proposing or explaining it.”
In the August issue of the Catholic World, another Paulist publication, Father Walter Elliot assailed The Catholic Dogma. Mueller, in response, addressed the scandal in the same public forum by presenting a formal challenge to the liberal disciples of Hecker. From September 15 to December 1, 1888, a debate on the dogma Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus raged in the pages of the New York Freeman’s Journal, with Father Michael Mueller on the one side and Fathers Young and Elliot on the other.
Lacking space to sample the exchanges between the two opposing camps, we let it suffice to say each was predictably consistent with the same respective positions and strategy already seen. The Paulist camp served up tedious sentimentalist sophistries as theology; while Father Mueller invoked un-impugnable Church teachings.
In the September 29 issue, Mueller cut through the subterfuge of Paulist qualification that rendered the doctrine “to mean anything else but what the words literally imply,” when he focused on the real issue at hand: “. . .‘Out of the Catholic Church there is positively no salvation.’ This is a truth revealed by God to His Church like any other Catholic dogma, and most assuredly He knows whom He does and whom He does not admit into heaven. In our work [The Catholic Dogma], we have furnished every Catholic with the best weapons to defend the great truth in question, which was never called in question in any century except ours, in which liberal-minded Catholics and such converts as were received into the Church without having the gift of faith, have tried to explain away the great dogma, or make believe that certain men belong to the Church who never belonged to it, and are saved by invincible ignorance.”
The late Redemptorist Provincial historian, Father Michael J. Curley, chronicled this controversy well after the Father Feeney case erupted in Boston. Obviously influenced by the notoriety of the Father Feeney controversy, Curley showed no sympathy for Father Mueller’s defense of the Dogma of Faith. Yet, he attests to the favorable interest aroused by the Redemptorist theologian’s contribution in the Freeman’s Journal: “Many priests and others applauded Mueller’s articles believing that it was high time that someone spoke out against what they considered the rising tide of liberalism within the Church.”
Curley added that the editor of the Freeman’s Journal “was reported as saying that Mueller’s articles had done much good and that he received [many] messages concerning them.”
Father Mueller Muzzled
“As the controversy continued in a heated manner,” wrote Father Curley, “Schauer [the Redemptorist Provincial] called a halt to the further polemics of his subject, Father Mueller, and planned, or thought of, sending the matter to the superior general. But even before submitting the controversial matter . . . the Redemptorists had been reading the Freeman’s Journal and they did not agree with Mueller’s theology.”
Father Nicholas Mauron, the Superior General, wrote to Schauer saying Mueller’s “personal polemics” could not be allowed. Curley wrote that Father Mauron “deplored some strong language” in the published debate and “commanded that he [Mueller] be forbidden to engage in this form of polemics.”
True, Father Mueller had used some strong language. Exasperated by the unyielding indifference of Young and Elliot to sacred teachings, the priest called them what they demonstrably were: dishonest, un-Catholic, liars and heretics. But the Eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ, also used strong language — “whited sepulchers,” “hypocrites,” “brood of vipers,” etc. — in condemning the Pharisees for their scandals. To accuse Father Mueller of “personal polemics” is shallow and absurd. He was defending the Church’s solemn teaching on the matter of salvation against its public denial by heretics wearing Roman collars.
As Mueller wrote in his article of October 6, entitled “Salvation Impossible Out of the Church”:
It is this article of faith, not the reasons we gave for its truth, that is the main controversy which [the Paulist writers] have provoked . . . It is a truth revealed by God and proposed by the Church for our belief. . . and therefore as the Church teaches, Out of Her Pale there is positively no salvation for anybody . . . Any persons who shall presume to think in their hearts otherwise than the Church has defined, must know that they are condemned by their own judgement, that they have suffered shipwreck in the faith, and that they have fallen away from the unity of the Church.
Nevertheless, Schauer carried out Mauron’s orders to silence Michael Mueller and paid a visit to the Paulist Superior, Father Deshon. Deshon agreed to discontinue the debate, but only after one more article by Young was published. Mueller, meanwhile, was prevented from publishing any more articles. By Schauer’s apparent concession, therefore, the Paulists were allowed the last word, which was Young’s final article, on December 1. To add insult to the great injury, the Paulists violated even this unfortunate agreement, since Elliot followed up with a scathing review of Mueller’s The Catholic Dogma. Father Mueller was not permitted to reply.
As Cornelius à Lapide affirmed above, any article of the Faith must be interpreted in the same strict sense in which the Church has proposed it. Confined by this dogmatic stricture, no one reading the three papal definitions appearing on the inside-back cover of this magazine could dispute the Redemptorist theologian’s interpretation of the Dogma of Faith. Certainly no Doctor of the Church, no ecumenical council, no saint, and no pope has ever interpreted this doctrine except as strictly, as literally, as did Father Mueller.
How, then, can one justify what Michael Curley chronicled about this case: What Mauron really “deplored” about Father Mueller’s exposition — all discussion of “strong language” aside — was the fact that “Mueller had disagreed with the Jesuit theologian, Hurter,” failing to distinguish those heretics who were supposedly in “good faith”? This is simply not true. He also insisted, as does the Church, that ignorance can never be a means of salvation. In any event, the measure of Father Mueller’s orthodoxy should have been the infallible pronouncements of the Church, or at the very least the writings of the Fathers and Doctors and saints of the Church, not the opinion of some modern-day theologian.
Nevertheless, Mauron asked that “recognized theologians” examine the question and report on the merits of the case, “lest any further statements bring censure to Mueller, and indirectly blame on the Redemptorists.” Doesn’t such thinking betray prejudice against the priest before the examination and, implicitly, a lack of faith in the doctrine as it has been defined?
Curley wrote that “Schauer submitted the Mueller doctrine to two Redemptorist theologians then teaching at Ilchester . . .” (Emphasis added.) Here again we have another parallel between the Mueller and Feeney cases: In the 1950’s, opponents of the Dogma of Faith called it the “Feeney doctrine,” implying that it was one person’s private belief.
The theologians selected to make the examination were Fathers John Saftig and Joseph Henning. Saftig used more than a hundred pages of slashing, discursive German to condemn “Mueller’s theology.” Henning, writing eight pages in English, was more restrained.
“Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus,” Henning begins, “This is a dogma defined in the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) in the Professio Fidei, prescribed by Innocent III to the Waldenses, and in the Bull of Eugene IV Cantate Domino. When the Council and the Popes define that out of the Church there is no salvation, they can only mean one thing, and that is . . . that there is no salvation out of the visible organic society called the Holy Roman Catholic Church. The argument in its simplest form stands thus:
“There is no salvation out of the Church of Christ.
“The Roman Catholic Church is the Church of Christ.
“Therefore out of the Roman Catholic Church there is no salvation.”
Could there be any disputing this perfect Thomistic logic and strict conformity to the infallible teaching of the Church? And wasn’t this exactly what Father Mueller had said again and again? Believing that the teachings of the Church were those of Jesus Christ Himself, and that all must conform their faith to all such teachings, could a Catholic therefore propose that one can be saved out of the “visible organic” Church? Obviously, not without repudiating the Faith.
Yet, that is exactly what this theologian proceeded to do in the remaining seven pages of his report, propounding the same position set forth by the liberal Paulists, Young and Elliot — namely, that if Protestants are in “good faith,” God will accept them as Catholics. Incredibly, Henning presents this theorizing as Catholic doctrine. Even though there is absolutely no solemn authority, or even a relative authority (such as a Father or Doctor), in the Church to give it precedent support. Even though all such authority, including that of the Fathers and Doctors, clearly contradicts it. And even though Henning exposes his own doubts about it, saying: “Whether such cases exist in reality or not no man can know, as God alone knows whether there exists the bona-fides (those in good faith). One thing remains certain, and that is that out of the Catholic Church there is no salvation.” (!!)
Did it matter to the Redemptorist superiors that the very “responsible theologians” summoned to judge “Mueller’s theology” thus drew doubt upon the orthodoxy of their own interpretive theology? It would seem that the censuring of Father Mueller was a predetermined conclusion despite the outcome of the ‘‘examination.”
The very same kind of chicanery was used some sixty years later in the Feeney case. Father Feeney was already being branded a “heretic,” and Archbishop Richard J. Cushing had already suspended his priestly faculties, when Cardinal Marchetti-Salvagianni of the Holy Office sent a letter to Cushing condemning the strict interpretation of the salvation doctrine as espoused by Father Feeney and St. Benedict Center. Like the Henning report, it was a masterpiece of equivocation. It too began by proclaiming the Dogma of Faith in the first paragraph and ended by condemning Leonard Feeney for holding it. Far worse, however, the Marchetti-Salvagianni letter was inserted by the arch-Modernist Jesuit, Karl Rahner, into Denzinger, an official compilation of Catholic doctrine. This created the scandalous impression that the letter was the official teaching of the Church, and that anyone, such as Father Feeney, who holds there is no salvation outside the Church is in heresy.
The order given to Father Mueller was that he cease writing articles; and he obeyed it. Yet he continued publishing his book The Catholic Dogma, thus disquieting some in higher places. According to Curley, the Holy Office began making inquiries into the matter. The result was that, in 1897, the new Redemptorist Superior General, Father Matthias Raus, wrote to Father Mueller. Below is our translation of most of the letter, which was written in Latin:
I have heard from Most Reverend Father Visitor that you can be influenced neither by him nor by Father Provincial to refrain from publishing your writings, in which you still defend the thesis which you have been ordered again and again no longer to defend. Truly I must confess that I did not think you were so stubborn of mind and spirit as to esteem so lightly the commands of your Superiors, so many times repeated. And that especially after (as has been indicated to you) the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office itself has given you the same prohibition.
As noted, Father Curley did mention the Holy Office involving itself in this affair. But nowhere in his meticulously documented book is there reference to any specific document from the Sacred Congregation regarding this controversy.
The letter continues:
And so I command you, in virtue of holy obedience, which you have promised to show forth, having openly professed your vows among us, not to spread abroad any writings among the people or to do anything whatsoever in public; and know that, if you do otherwise (which God forbid) you will sin most gravely, and will deserve to be expelled from the Congregation.
In 1949, four days after being interdicted by Archbishop Cushing for preaching the same dogma, Father Feeney received the following from his Jesuit Provincial:
In view of your protracted, scandalous, and contumacious disobedience, no effect can be hoped to follow from canonical admonitions and rebukes, and therefore we must proceed to a penal precept.
In virtue of Holy Obedience, and under the penalties threatening . . . I order and command you to go to the College of Holy Cross at Worcester within twenty-four hours from the reception of this letter, to present yourself ‘to the Rector of that College, thereafter to comply with his commands, and not to go outside the limits of that College without my express permission.
The strategy in the Mueller case continued for the Feeney case: Invoke obedience, and threaten expulsion from the religious community, to silence “obstinate” defense of an article of the Faith.
The fundamental principle is that obedience is due only insofar as the command is lawful. Clearly, it is unlawful to command silence of one defending the Faith, especially when it is being attacked. Likewise, to obey such a command could be as grievously offensive to God as the command itself.
The Root of the Evil
Is it possible that so many theologians, religious superiors, prelates, and others all could be wrong in such a matter, while the two respectively accused priests alone be right? In the Fourth Century, Saint Athanasius, Doctor of the Church, stood virtually alone — Athanasius contra mundum — in opposing the Arian heresy, which the overwhelming majority of the Church hierarchy embraced, and he was persecuted unmercifully, even excommunicated. For that matter, when the learned scribes and pharisees were condemning Our Lord, how many among them defended the Savior?
But still the mystery remains: How could it happen that defection from this doctrine became pandemic during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries? At least part of the answer was given by the Queen of Heaven at LaSallette, more than forty years before the Mueller controversy. In Our Lady’s message to the world, she revealed:
. . .a great number of priests and members of religious orders will break away from the true religion; among these people there will even be bishops . . .
In the year 1864, Lucifer together with a large number of demons will be unloosed from hell; they will put an end to faith little by little, even in those dedicated to God. They will blind them in such a way that, unless they are blessed with a special grace, these people will take on the spirit of these angels of hell; several religious institutions will lose all faith and will lose many souls . . .
The true faith in the Lord having been forgotten, each individual will want to be on his own . . .
Rome will lose the faith and become the seat of the Antichrist.
The Holy Virgin also said, “Everywhere there will be extraordinary wonders, as true faith has faded and false light brightens the people. Woe to the Princes of the Church . . .” Melanie, the young seer to whom this message was entrusted, remarked in 1899 on some of the evil “wonders” described by Our Lady, saying their explanation “will one day be brought to light through a thorough examination of the Luciferian archives of Freemasonry.” (Emphasis added.)
Conspiratorial Freemasonry, in its goal to destroy the Catholic Faith and replace it with Masonic precepts of “Enlightenment,” made eradication of the doctrine Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus a high priority. It is known that Cardinal Rampolla, Vatican Secretary of State at the time when the Holy Office became involved with the Mueller case, was a Freemason. In the Conclave of 1903, Rampolla, whom Pope Saint Pius X later described to as a “miserable man” upon learning of his Masonic ties, came within a few votes of being elected pope.
It is also known that, during the Father Feeney era, certain high-ranking cardinals were identified as Freemasons, and a number of others were suspected of being such.
For a final comparison between the Mueller and Feeney controversies,we note that, in 1899, Pope Leo XIII issued his encyclical, Testem Benevolentiae, condemning the heresy of Americanism. The Pope was inspired to issue it after reading a glowing biography of Paulist founder, Isaac Hecker, written by none other than Father Walter Elliot, one of Mueller’s chief antagonists. The encyclical condemned those who “contend that it is opportune to win over those who are in disagreement, if certain topics of doctrine are passed over as of lesser importance, or are so softened that they do not retain the same sense as the Church always held.” Obviously, it was a defense of the Dogma of Faith as presented by Father Mueller. But the Pope’s failure to act against those guilty of this heresy, and his general terminology, left enough ambiguity for the spiritual “loopholers” to scoff at the condemnation with impunity.
Similarly, Cardinal Segura of Spain urged Pope Pius XII to come to the defense of Father Feeney and his community at St. Benedict Center for their doctrinal stance. But, the Pope told him he intended to address this issue in his next encyclical. Issued in 1950, that encyclical, Humani Generis, condemned those “who reduce to an empty formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church to attain eternal salvation.” But again, corrective action was not taken to follow through on the condemnation. Consequently, Father Feeney, like Father Mueller before him, was left to bear the stigma of the outrages committed against his name; and the Catholic world paid virtually no heed to the Pope’s condemnation.
Mueller’s Last Days
When Father Mueller received Raus’s interdict, his health was already failing rapidly. In his fiftieth year as a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, he returned to Annapolis. There he was received with a royal welcome which so touched the Jubilarian that, when he tried to express his thanks, he could only shed tears.
After enduring a debilitating illness for several months, the faithful, heroic champion of the Faith ended his mortal days on August 28, 1899. Fittingly, it was the feast of the great Doctor of the Church, Saint Augustine, who wrote:
Salvation no one can have but in the Catholic Church. Out of the Catholic Church he may have anything but salvation. He may have honor, he may have baptism, he may have the Gospel, he may both believe and preach in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost; but he can find salvation nowhere but in the Catholic Church.