Bobby Kennedy and Father Feeney: Religion as American Politics

This is a bit antiquated, but it’s just come to my attention. Teddy wanted to make sure Bobby got credit for his contribution to twentieth-century Catholic doctrinal development. (Cardinal Newman and Robert Kennedy: the two names should stand side-by-side.) This excerpt from Teddy’s book comes from National Review Online, with a hat tip to Eucharist and Mission:

[Bobby] discussed it with our father one weekend at the Cape house. I well remember the conversation.

Dad could not believe that Bobby had heard Father Feeney correctly. “But,” he said, “if you feel strongly that you did, I’m going to go into the other room and call Richard. Maybe he’ll want you to go up to Boston and see him.”

“Richard” was Richard Cardinal Cushing. Dad and the cardinal enjoyed a long and profound friendship. . . .

Bobby said he felt strongly indeed. Bang! Dad called up “Richard” and arranged for Bobby to visit him. The cardinal, as nonplussed as Dad, sent some of his people over to hear Father Feeney’s Thursday evening lecture. When he found that my brother was right, Cushing banned Feeney from speaking there; Feeney refused to obey the order, and in September 1949 the archdiocese formally condemned the priest’s teaching. . . . In February 1952, Father Feeney was excommunicated.

Bobby’s involvement in Saint Benedict Center is mentioned on this site:

Members of the famous Kennedy family were known to visit. Jack was running for Congress when he first came to the Center, and surprised Father by being able to recite from memory passages of one of his essays. Jack Kennedy came to several lectures and was always gracious and respectful towards Father, who once told him, “Maybe someday you will be the first Catholic president!”

Bobby Kennedy came once as well. However, he was arrogant and confrontational. Father suffered him patiently, until he flippantly sniped, “I know more Protestants who are going to heaven than Catholics!” “That’s not the way to talk to a priest,” Father retorted, and directed the young Kennedy to the door.