It was in July that the first of the “Reports to the Catholics of Boston” were sent out from Saint Benedict Center. On July 11th, the initial batch of two thousand letters was mailed. Five hundred letters, written in the Italian language, were sent the next day to the Italians of Boston. So many people had written us that they had been unable to understand from the way the newspaper reports were handled what Saint Benedict Center was trying to do, and on what it was basing its contentions, that Philip Gammans devised the “Reports to the Catholics of Boston” as the best means of getting out the information.
Philip Gammans managed, much to our delight, to issue not merely good reports, but pieces of clear and doctrinal writing. Lawrence Supple assisted him in the distribution, and the number of letters mailed finally became very large. We had no intention of flooding Boston with pamphlets. Our point was to get some report, with God’s help and Our Lady’s protection, into the right hands so that the Faith of the Catholics of Boston, wherever it was burning purely, would not be beclouded any further by evasive theological teaching.
We eventually came to have requests from all over the country for the “Reports”. Every so often, of course, someone chose to understand us as saying that we were another St. Athanasius or St. Thomas More, whereas they knew us all along to be Luther or Calvin, but for the most part the reports were understood in the spirit in which they were written, and accomplished the purpose we had desired. There were six reports, all similar in form to the first, which read as follows:
REPORT TO THE CATHOLICS OF BOSTON
“As long as a member of the Catholic hierarchy upholds the Faith and reflects the authority of the Pope, obedience to him is binding upon the conscience of every Catholic. But when a bishop denies one article of the Faith or undermines loyalty to the Pope by persecuting those who profess this loyalty, obedience to such a bishop becomes disobedience to God.
“It is common knowledge that most of the great heresies were started by men who held high ecclesiastical position. For instance, Arius was a priest, Nestorius a patriarch, Eutyches an abbot, Luther a monk, and Jansenius a bishop. Those who placed obedience above doctrine and followed the commands of these men into heresy disobeyed God, cut themselves off from the Church, and forfeited their right to the kingdom of heaven.
“What is now called the Greek Orthodox Church was once a part of the Holy Roman Church, but the people of the East continued to be obedient to their bishops even when those bishops had shown themselves to be heretical. Stubbornly and stupidly obedient, they followed their bishops into schism.
“The ordinary Catholic cannot be left without guidance in a matter necessary for the salvation of his soul. And since at times an authentic pronouncement from the living Pope may be delayed for a long time by distance or war or other circumstances, Catholics can be guided in determining the substance of their Faith by the infallible pronouncements made by Popes in the past. Among these pronouncements none is clearer or more frequently reaffirmed than the dogma ‘There is no salvation outside the Church.’
“Saint Athanasius, the first Doctor of the Church, was exiled five times and excommunicated by every bishop in the East, but he never for a moment doubted that he was proclaiming the true faith and that the bishops who condemned him were in heresy and not to be obeyed. The Creed which bears his name, and which every priest reads in his Daily Office, states: ‘Whosoever wishes to be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith, which unless one preserves whole and inviolate, without doubt he will perish eternally.’
“Those who deny this sacred doctrine often try to hide behind the vague wording of the Baltimore Catechism. But these people are immediately exposed by the unequivocal wording of the Irish Catechism, for instance, published in Dublin. Here is its treatment of the subject of salvation:
Q. Is there any other true Church besides the Holy Catholic Church?
A. No; as there is but one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, there is but one true Church.
Q. Are all obliged to be of the true Church?
A. Yes; no one can be saved out of it.
This is the Catholic Faith. This is the Faith for which our fathers suffered. This is the Faith we must hold in order to be saved.”
July passed and August came, and with it a continuance of the intensely humid hot weather which had made July in Cambridge so trying. The Center school was in full session. Each day we were looking for some answer to the many appeals which we had sent to Rome. We were hoping for the promise of a doctrinal hearing. On the morning of August 9th, an official letter at last arrived, for Father. As he read it, Father’s expression became very grave. He decided to share the communication with us. There were actually two letters, both written in Latin. The first came from the General of the Jesuits in Rome, and was forwarded to Father Feeney through Loyola House, where another letter was included. I give below literal translations of both letters:
PROCESS of the Dismissal of Fr. Leonard Feeney,
solemnly Professed of the Society of Jesus.
“Since Rev. Father John J. McEleney is hindered by many occupations from acting as Judge Instructor in the process above mentioned, we have decreed to substitute in his place, by the present letter, Rev. Father Raymond Bidagor, a member of our Society, a Doctor in Canon Law.
“Wherefore, by virtue of the present, we institute R.F. Raymond Bidagor S.J. as Judge Instructor in the aforesaid process, with all the power and the faculties which befit a Judge Instructor by right, according to the Canons, and we declare him so instituted. He will take for his assistant a Promoter of Justice and an Actuary, who will both take an oath before him, and he as Judge Instructor before an Actuary.
Given at Anagni, the 2nd day of August, 1949.
(signed) John B. Janssens, S.J.
General of the Society of Jesus.
Place of Seal.
(signed) Anthony M. deAldama, S.J.
PROCESS OF THE DISMISSAL of F. Leonard Feeney,
solemnly Professed of the Society of Jesus.
SUMMONS TO ONE DULY ACCUSED
Since in the Curia of the General of the Society of Jesus has been instigated the process of the dismissal from the Society of R. F. Leonard Feeney, solemnly professed, on account of the accusation made against him by the Promoter of Justice of the same Curia before a legitimate Tribunal, concerning the fault of permanent disobedience committed by that Father and which, from repeated admonitions, is said to have been virtually triple; and since We have been named by the Very Rev. F. John B. Janssens, General of the Society of Jesus and President of the Tribunal, by Decree of the 2nd day of August 1949 as Judge Instructor in the aforesaid process, We summon You, Father Leonard Feeney, by the present letter, in order that You may appear before Our Tribunal held in Our Room of this house (Loyola House, 297 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston), on the 13th day of August 1949, on the ninth hour before noon, to answer the questions which We have decided to put to You, and to confirm our doubt or to contest your fault.
Given in Boston, the 8th day of August, 1949.
(signed) Raymond Bidagor, S.J.
(Seal of the Soc. of Jesus of N.E.)
(signed) John J. Crowley, S.J.
It was clear to us now in St. Benedict Center that all the interested powers-that-be were conspiring to make a legal case against Father Feeney so that he could be officially suppressed without allowing him to step out of censure or to raise his voice. It became increasingly clear to us that the General of the Jesuits in Rome, for reasons of his own, had to protect Father McEleney even in this, the greatest blunder that had been made in the history of the New England Province. Everyone has admitted this to be so. But the organization must go on, and they must, as the slang expression so vividly expresses it, “play ball” with one another if the kind of ecclesiasticism which is now rampant in America is to prevail.
Everyone wanted to pass the decision to execute Father Feeney on to someone else because, frankly, all were afraid of him. His very artlessness, and the fact that he had never once been connected in any way with ecclesiastical politics and had no friends at court to intercede for him, terrified his suppressors precisely because they never before had experienced such a situation. They were always wondering what Father Feeney might have up his sleeve. Every one of us at St. Benedict Center who knew and loved him, knew there was nothing up Father’s sleeve except a childlike confidence that the Blessed Mother of God would support a priest who had courage enough to support her. Had the ecclesiastical committees known this, Father Feeney would have been suppressed long before. His conscience challenges could be ignored, but they were always afraid that there might be some legal angle to his case which might be an obstruction. And so a lawyer was called in against Father.
The lawyer they secured was a Father Bidagor, a noted Jesuit canonist from the Gregorian University in Rome. On the score of his being able to speak no English — and if he wished to talk with Father he could do so only in Latin — Father Bidagor could be presumed to be just the person for keeping the case in legal territory. And he knew only what canonists instructed by Bishop Wright and Father McEleney were giving him to make a brief of. He was lodged at Loyola House, on Commonwealth Avenue.
Father Feeney had, in the quiet of that hot August afternoon, a burst of inspiration. He went to the telephone and put in a call. It took some time for it to come through, but it finally was achieved. Father asked a question. “What is the nationality of Father Bidagor?” The reply came, “He is a Spaniard.” Father Feeney asked, “Does he speak any English?” And the answer came back, “No. No English.” In fifteen minutes, Father Feeney had a Spaniard on the way to interview Father Bidagor.
Juan Ribera-Faig had never visited Loyola House before, but the name “Loyola” was familiar to him from the floods of Spanish tradition in his high culture. He presented himself to the porter at Loyola House as a Spanish boy, speaking very rapid and scarcely intelligible English, who wanted to talk to Father Bidagor. The porter went off to take the message, leaving Juan time to reflect. Father Feeney’s devotion to St. Ignatius was well-known in the Jesuit Order, as was the fact that he had a warm spot in his heart for Spain. The idea of having a Spanish Jesuit try him made it look very Ignatian, and might touch poetic loyalties in Father Feeney’s filial heart.
An Italian priest was sent down, after some moments, to meet Mr. Ribera. Who this Italian priest was, we have never been able to discover. He spoke such poor English that he was obliged, finally, to break into what seemed to Juan to be a combination of Spanish and Italian. Whether from some spark of courage the priest saw in Juan’s eyes, or from what seemed stupidity in his manner (caused by Juan’s frantic efforts to follow the conversation in three languages), Juan Ribera at length placated the timorous Italian priest, who apparently must have made up his mind that Juan was just a poor Spanish student in Boston longing to talk to a priest from his native country. And so, after another wait, Father Bidagor was permitted to come to the parlour to speak with Mr. Ribera.
The conversation lasted for an hour and a half. Juan told Father Bidagor his own story, discussed Boston for a minute or two, and then openly informed him that the object of his visit was to discuss with him the case of Father Feeney, “about which you have doubtless heard something already”. Juan then described Father, the Center, Father’s work, his transfer, the conditions leading up to it and subsequent upon it. He reviewed the “Boston heresy case”, Father’s silencing, the interdicting of the Center. Juan did it very thoroughly. Every so often, Father Bidagor would make a remark, or ask a question.
“What I want to tell you, Father,” Juan said at last, “is that since the time of the silencing of Father Feeney everybody in authority in Boston has been trying to distort the whole issue by making it appear that Father Feeney’s case is a disciplinary one, and not a dogmatic or doctrinal one, which in reality it is. They have put all emphasis on the question of obedience without wishing to consider whether in this case obedience was legitimate.”
“But,” said Father Bidagor, “obedience is supreme.”
“No, it isn’t!” Juan said, “but rather must it be subordinated to the law of God and to the preservation of the Truth.” Here Father Bidagor gave the appearance of being shocked. He laughed and asked how Juan could say such a thing. He remarked that obedience and the law of God were the same thing, and could not be opposed to each other. Juan answered that this was not so; as a matter of fact they could very easily be opposed to each other.
“For instance, Father,” he said, “let us assume that a superior commands something which is against one of the dogmas of the Faith; say, ‘Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus’? In such a case, it is perfectly clear that such a superior should not be obeyed.”
Father Bidagor leaned forward in his seat. His assumed polite interest was gone. He talked quickly, intensely for several moments. Finally, he said that the expression Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (outside the Church there is no salvation) was not a dogma, but only a formula, and the way Mr. Ribera presented it was not correct.
“I’m sorry, Father,” Juan answered, “but that doctrine is a dogma of the Faith which has been defined several times. It is referred to in many ex cathedra statements, as well as in the writings of the Doctors, as is clearly indicated in the Housetops, which I just gave you —” Father Bidagor then agreed, by saying, “All right! All right!” but he added, “A dogma is a very complicated thing, and when it is defined it is defined in ‘its proper terms’. We have to be very careful in applying it.”
“What is the point, Father,” Juan asked, exasperated, “of defining a dogma, if defining only makes it more obscure?”
Father Bidagor did not reply. He was absorbed in giving to Juan the classical liberal example brought out on every such occasion. We had once thought this example peculiar to Americans, but we have come to find that it is the stock in trade of liberals in every land. The example is: “What about the man who lives in the middle of the desert (or on a desert island) and has never heard about the Church? He believes in God and believes that God can reward him. He lives a perfect life, never commits a mortal sin, and makes perfect acts of love of God.”
That one such man could occur would be truly extraordinary. To remain in the state of grace is an achievement for Catholics, who all their lives have had the inestimable aid of the sacraments. Even after a lifetime of faithful reception of the sacraments, very few Catholics would feel confident that they could make one perfect act of love of God. They hope they could, they strive every day to love God. But an act of perfect love of God is something which only the Christian saints could be said, with certainty, to have made. This whole question was fought out once before by the Church, during the Pelagian heresy.
Juan answered Father Bidagor, “If this man were to be as good as you say, God would certainly find a means of getting him acquainted with the Church.”
“No,” Father Bidagor replied, “we cannot pretend to tell God what to do in the matter of salvation.”
“But, Father,” Juan told him, “God did tell us very clearly what to do in order to be saved!”
Father Bidagor disregarded this remark and went on to explain that the man in the desert, inasmuch as he had made a perfect act of love of God, could also be said to have “baptism of desire”. Juan remonstrated that neither St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J., nor St. Peter Canisius, also a Jesuit, nor any other of the Doctors of the Church, explains “baptism of desire” in this liberal sense. He referred Father Bidagor again to the Housetops for the writings of the Doctors on “baptism of desire”, and he reminded him that the dogma Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus was clearly contained in the Deposit of Faith.
“Father,” he said to him, finally, “the American Liberals don’t stop even with the ‘man in the desert’. They go so far as to pretend that the ‘invincibly ignorant’ person is the fellow living next door.”
At this point the question had become a real argument, so that Juan had difficulty remembering the exact order of questions and answers. Father Bidagor was leaning forward, almost out of his seat, talking excitedly, and looking at Juan very intensely through his glasses. He at last cut the discussion short by saying that he certainly knew his theology, which he had studied very well, and Juan was not the one to explain it to him. Juan replied that this he was willing to believe, but he was certain that the theology Father Bidagor had had was the kind of theology which the Liberals had been teaching for the last one hundred and fifty years. However, he added, it was our duty to realize the error and correct it.
Father Bidagor, with a depreciative gesture, sat back in his chair. “This question of Liberalism is quite a dead story,” he said, apparently mistaking the sense in which the word was being used, “and this question of salvation has nothing to do with it.” He went on to say that his ideas were what the Church teaches on salvation, whereupon Juan repeated his reference to the Popes, Councils and Doctors, who certainly did not teach Father Bidagor’s doctrine.
“All right, Father”, Juan said. “What I want to ask you is not to forget that the whole issue in Father Feeney’s case is of a doctrinal nature, and not a disciplinary one, as the authorities in Boston want to pretend. I want to warn you so that you may not be unduly influenced by them.”
“I don’t see why they should try to influence me”, Father Bidagor answered.
“Of course they will try to influence you if you have to judge Father Feeney.”
“I, judge Father Feeney? What do you mean?” Father Bidagor asked, with affected astonishment. “I don’t have anything to do with the case.”
“But, Father, let us assume that you had something to do with it.”
“Why should I get mixed up with that? What do you mean? I must repeat that I don’t have anything to do with it.”
“All right. Father; I want only to warn you of the purely doctrinal character of this issue so that should they take advantage of your stay in Boston and consult you, you would know the truth on the matter.”
“But, no, I don’t see why they should consult me, seeing that I am in Boston only for a visit.”
“Father, they might very easily involve you in this issue seeing that you are a famous canonist of the Gregorian University, in Rome.”
“Oh! that’s nonsense! How did you know that, anyway?”
“Father, we know very well that you came right from Rome just to judge Father Feeney.”
“How can you know a thing like that? Did you also know that I was a Spaniard? How do you know that?”
“Oh, Our Lady takes good care of us.”
“I don’t understand you. What do you mean?”
“Father,” Juan said, emphasizing every word, “we know that you have summoned Father Feeney for a disciplinary trial to be held next Saturday at nine o’clock.”
“But how could you know that? I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Father, I myself have seen the letter signed by you which you sent to Father Feeney, summoning him.”
“Have you really? Do you mean that you have read the letter?”
“Yes. Father, I have.”
“Did Father Feeney show it to you?”
“Yes. All the people at the Center are very close, and Father Feeney is not afraid of telling us everything. We have to protect Father.”
“Well! That changes the whole thing!” Father Bidagor straightened again in his chair, from which he had started at the beginning of the new development. “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” he said. “I could not understand you. I did not know what you were talking about. Please excuse me. I am very sorry. I did not understand you. I must apologize. I think you can easily understand my position. Please excuse me, will you?”.
“Yes, Father. Of course, I understand your position.”
“Do you know if Father Feeney is going to come?”
“No, I don’t know. He’s considering it, with much concern; because it is clear that he is to be judged on a disciplinary basis and not on a doctrinal one, as it should be.”
“Well, well,” said Father Bidagor, interrupting, “so you were telling me that you have been here for two years?”
“Yes, Father. But please remember that Father Feeney’s case is a dogmatic one, and not a case of discipline.”
“If you will forgive me,” Father Bidagor answered, “I have something to do.” He made a gesture for Juan to rise.
“Very well, Father”, Juan replied. “I only wanted to protect you against possible misinformation.”
Father Bidagor arose and handed Juan the copy of the Housetops. Juan assured him that the copy of the magazine was for him to keep. He then enclosed in the Housetops copies of three of the Center reports to the Catholics of Boston, and handed the magazine back to Father Bidagor. They walked toward the door. Father Bidagor thanked Juan for coming, and Juan invited Father Bidagor to the Center, to see the boys studying or to hear the lectures. Father Bidagor replied that it would not be possible for him to come at present, since he was very busy. They said good-bye at the door. It was after five o’clock. Juan had arrived at Loyola House shortly after three o’clock. Two of the Center men had been waiting, and they drove Juan back to the Center.
“My dear Juan,” said Father Feeney, “I can never thank you enough! You have told me all I want to know. Father Bidagor is a priest to whom doctrine has no importance, and to whom legal process is the absolute rule of a priest’s conscience.”
Father went to his office, and dictated in French the following cable to the General of the Jesuit Order:
August 9, 1949.
Most Reverend John Baptist Jansens, S.J.,
Having discovered, after a discussion of an hour and a half between Father Raymond Bidagor, S.J., and my representative, that Father Bidagor considers it possible to be saved outside the Catholic Church, I refuse to accept him as arbiter of my doctrinal dispute with Father Provincial of the Society of Jesus in New England. I appeal in conscience to Your Paternity, and I am prepared to follow up my appeal to the Holy See. Letter follows.
Father Leonard Feeney, S.J.,
23 Arrow Street,
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Father then dictated the following letter to Father Bidagor:
(Translation from the Latin)
August 9, 1949.
Rev. Raymond Bidagor, S.J.,
297 Commonwealth Ave.,
Reverend Father in Christ, P.C.,
I have received today your letter summoning me to appear before your canonical tribunal on Saturday. Having prayed, I immediately sent to you my delegate, Juan Ribera-Faig so that, from the fact that he speaks Spanish, he might investigate with greatest certainty the nature of the thing of which I am accused and of the process on account of which I am summoned.
Mr. Ribera-Faig affirms, after a conversation with you of an hour and a half, that you first denied that “outside the Church there is no salvation” is a defined dogma, and that after he indicated to you the Council which defined it dogmatically, you admitted that it was; but denied that its application should be made to all those outside the Church. Likewise concerning the necessity of submission to the Roman Pontiff in order to attain salvation. Having understood these things, and because I have already suffered persecution for one year now on account of a dogmatic cause and not a canonical one (I deny that I am disobedient), in conscience I am obliged to refuse to appear before your tribunal or to confide my case to the judgment of one of your heretical persuasion.
I have already sent a telegram to Rev. Father General concerning this matter.
I am Your Reverence’s servant in Christ,
(signed) Leonard Feeney, S.J.
The next morning, Father wrote a long letter, in French, to the General of the Society of Jesus. The following is a translation of the letter from the French:
August 10, 1949.
Very Rev. John-Baptist Janssens, S.J.,
General of the Society of Jesus,
Borgo Santo Spirito 5,
Reverend Father in Jesus Christ, Pax Christi:
I am writing this letter to you in a moment of great distress, appealing to Your Paternity against the injustice with which I have been treated since last September. Having presented several appeals accusing Father John J. McEleney, S.J., of heresy, and never having received an answer or the slightest consideration from Your Paternity, I find it impossible to understand your insistence on ignoring my very serious accusations and on neglecting my appeals. The more I express my distress and suffering to see the Catholic Faith disappear from among the Catholics of the United States, because of the heretical teachings of my brothers of the Society of Jesus, the more do my enemies, who are betraying their Faith and their sacred vows of fidelity to the Catholic doctrine and to His Holiness, the Pope, find themselves supported in their tyrannical measures by the decrees and the disciplinary measures directed against me and proceeding from Your Paternity. I am appealing for the last time to Your paternal and priestly office, and if you refuse once more to listen to my just and legitimate appeal, I will be forced to appeal to His Holiness, the Pope, and to His Holy Office. I am in possession of all the documents necessary to establish the justness of my accusations.
The grievances which force me to write this letter to you are the following:
1. Neither I nor any of my disciples and spiritual children have ever yet received from Your Paternity one single answer to our several just and honest appeals.
2. The more I appeal to your primordial duty as a Christian and most especially as General of the Society of Jesus, namely to your sacred duty to protect with the greatest care the Catholic Faith in its integrity and to fight ceaselessly against every heresy and every fatal doctrinal innovation (for this is the principal aim of our Society), the more I find myself assailed with new disciplinary measures accusing me of disobedience, entirely ignoring my accusations and my appeals, always with a marked prejudice on the part of Your Paternity favoring the local superiors who are persecuting me, and with a silence even more marked in regard to their liberal and heretical doctrines. I am scandalized to see the lack of consideration shown by your office towards the dogmas of the Church.
3. None of your delegates has ever investigated the matter from my side. Fr. Vincent McCormick, S.J., in the course of his long visit of investigation in the United States, has written me only three very brief letters and has given me only a short interview of one hour at Boston College, and even during these very rare contacts with me, he has always categorically refused to discuss my grievances of a doctrinal nature; and yet I cannot stop repeating that it is totally impossible to understand and judge the dispute between my Provincial and myself if the prime factor, the doctrine of the necessity of the Church and of submission to the Roman Pontiff for salvation, is constantly neglected and voluntarily ignored. Now that Fr. McCormick is on his way back to Europe, your second delegate, Fr. Raymond Bidagor, S.J., is adopting exactly the same attitude. Not only does he refuse to consider my legitimate doctrinal accusations, but he has clearly shown his liberalism in an interview of an hour and a half with my delegate. He too shares the heresy of Fathers McEleney, Keleher and Donnelly, S.J.
4. The tribunal which you have sent to judge me is entirely prejudiced for the following reasons:
A. Fr. Bidagor, S.J., who has been commissioned by you to judge my case has been named “Judex Instructor” in place of Fr. McEleney, S.J., since the latter cannot take charge of it, being “hindered by many occupations.” This means that Your Paternity persists in wanting to consider my Provincial as a competent judge in a case in which he finds himself accused of heresy on the one hand and of unjust and tyrannical government on the other. A delegate who is coming to judge me in place of my Provincial cannot be impartial in the present circumstances.
B. Fr. Bidagor, S.J., is coming with the deliberate purpose of considering nothing but the question of disobedience, without being even willing to discuss the doctrinal controversy, which is the basis of the whole dispute between my superiors and myself. Furthermore, even if Fr. Bidagor were desirous of judging the doctrinal dispute or if he had been delegated to this end, he would not necessarily be competent therein, since he is not a theologian but a Doctor in Canon Law, and especially because he professes the same heretical doctrine as Fr. McEleney, S.J.
C. Even concerning the purely disciplinary accusations which Fr. Bidagor intends to take up as the only subject for consideration in his tribunal, I am grieved to discover, from the letter that I received from him and which is dated August 8, that he is not coming as an impartial judge in order to try and determine who is guilty, Fr. McEleney of tyrannical and unjust government, or myself, of illegitimate disobedience. On the contrary, it is very clear that Fr. Bidagor is coming with the express aim of officially pronouncing me guilty of “permanent disobedience,” as can be clearly seen in the above mentioned letter.
5. As a professed Father in the Society of Jesus, I have the right to refuse to appear before a prejudiced court which has already made up its mind in favor of my enemies in the controversy; to appear before a court whose only aim is to legalize and to render canonical my dismissal from the Society of Jesus, having clearly judged in advance that this dismissal is honest and just, and having never given me the opportunity to defend myself and to prove freely my accusations.
6. I have also the right, as a professed Father in the Society of Jesus, to refuse to appear before a court in which the judge is sitting in place of my adversary in the controversy and is clearly embracing his cause, before a court in which the judge will be assisted by some other adversaries of mine in the doctrinal controversy, and in which I will be the only accused party to appear in order to testify against my own innocence, while a truly impartial court would summon both adversaries to appear and defend their case, namely Fr. McEleney to defend himself against the accusations of heresy made by me, both against him and against the Society of Jesus under his authority here in New England, and myself in turn to defend myself against the accusations of disobedience presented by Fr. McEleney.
7. I am perfectly willing to appear before an impartial court in order to defend myself against the false accusations of my adversaries, if my judges do not persistently try to ignore the doctrinal controversy, for it is the basis of my so-called “disobedience” and the cause of everything that has taken place since last September, as the whole world knows by now, and secondly, if Your Paternity decides to listen to me and to institute another tribunal to judge my adversaries in the Society of Jesus, according to my accusations of heresy.
8. Your Paternity very well knows that the reason for which I refused, last September, to conform myself to the orders of my Provincial is that the latter, in connivance with the archdiocesan authorities of Boston, disapproved of my orthodox doctrines and wished to destroy them at all cost. I could not in conscience help, by my absolute submission, such a project against the Faith. I have communicated to my Provincial that it was impossible for me, in conscience, to conform myself to his decrees, but he has invariably refused to listen to me, or to be willing to learn what could constitute such an obstacle in my conscience, or even to admit that it could be possible for a subject ever to have any reason not to be able, in conscience, to conform himself to the decrees of a superior. I have received the same treatment from Fr. McCormick.
I have also received the same treatment from Your Paternity. I have already communicated to you my conscience difficulties as a priest and as a Jesuit whose first duty is to preserve intact the Catholic Faith against every innovation and every heresy. I have never received an answer to my letters, and, what is more, all your delegates have come to treat with me as judges who have already judged my case in advance, and not as paternal superiors who are trying to understand what could thus keep me from obeying an order, or what conscience difficulty was legitimately keeping me at St. Benedict Center. Since the beginning of this case, I have been constantly treated by all my superiors in such a way as would make it seem as if a Jesuit could never have a legitimate reason, in conscience, not to obey an unjust and arbitrary order of a superior, or as if the vow of obedience meant a total renunciation of one’s conscience and free will in such a way that a Jesuit would be bound to obey his superior even in case such obedience would constitute a sin for him.
In the hope that this appeal, as well as all the points enumerated, will receive a just and paternal consideration from Your Paternity, and in the hope of receiving from Your Paternity an encouraging communication in my fight and my crusade to preserve and defend the Catholic Faith, I remain
Very Reverend Father in Jesus Christ,
Your loving and devoted son in the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
(signed) Leonard Feeney, S.J.
Father Feeney had a series of letters from Father Bidagor, vainly trying to keep up communication with him, but inasmuch as Father had stated his full case in the letter to the General of the Jesuits, he was willing to let the matter rest on that point, except for polite acknowledgments of Father Bidagor’s correspondence.
His Paternity, the General of the Jesuits, did not answer Father’s letter.