Father Feeney was a priest of the Society of Jesus until, in 1949, he co-founded the religious order, Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Mancipia Immaculati Cordis Mariae), whose acronym is MICM.
This priest was a defender of the unchangeable traditional teaching/doctrine of the Catholic Church. He fought against the false doctrines of Americanism, Liberalism and Modernism, all rampant well before Vatican II Council (1962-1965). Early in his priestly career he was referred to as “the greatest theologian in America” by his Jesuit peers.
Father Feeney recognized that the root of the church’s inner problems and failure to convert America to the true Faith (and elsewhere throughout the world) was the result of a suppression of the thrice-defined dogma that outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation. Father Feeney and the members of St. Benedict Center began to preach with great effectiveness this salutary dogma. Many conversions to the Church followed, including the sons and daughters of influential Protestants of the Boston-Harvard area. He was soon after persecuted and villified by his own fellow Jesuits, by fellow churchmen, and by his superiors. He was threatened and expelled from the Jesuit order, censored, threatened with excommunication and left out to hang with what is called a “dry martyrdom”. Yet, he did not give in to the enormous pressures to “soften up” on what the Church has infallibly defined as necessary for salvation.
Two books giving an account of this priest’s treatment are The Loyolas and the Cabots, by Catherine Goddeard Clark, and After the Boston Heresy Case, by Gary Potter, published and sold by Catholic Treasures. Another such book is Father Feeney and the Truth about Salvation, Brother Robert Mary, MICM, Tert., available from the same publisher.
The following is a concise and precise record and outline of the facts of the Father Feeney case.
Father Feeney: A Fact Sheet
I. Letter of the Holy Office
On August 8, 1949 a Protocol letter came from the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. It censored Father Feeney and the St. Benedict Center for teaching the dogma of no salvation outside the Church in the literal sense (this is, of course, how all defined dogmas must be understood). This letter was signed by Cardinal Marchetti-Selvaggiani and was identified as Protocol No. 122/49. It was formally defective in that it was never published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (Acts of the Apostolic See). It is this register alone which confers an official and binding character on a document. And even then, only so long as it meets the proper forms. Consequently, this letter is without any binding effect as an act of the Holy See or any type of official Church document. Its status, then, can only be that of the opinion of one bishop, expressed in a letter to another bishop.
Father Feeney was charged with disobedience.
A. On October 25, 1952 Father Feeney was summoned to Rome for a hearing by Cardinal Pizzardo of the Holy Office, without being told why.
B. On October 30, 1952 Father Feeney responded by requesting a statement of the charges being made against him — as required by Canon 1715. The summons by Card. Pizzardo, in violation of this canon, failed to either state the reason for the summons nor give a formal statement of charges against the defendant.
C. According to Canon 1723, any proceeding based on citations as defective as the Cardinal’s letter, are subject to a complaint of nullity; and also renders a non-canonical summons null. The complaint of nullity is allowed under Canon 1680. A compliant of nullity was formally filed by Father Feeney. Yet, it was never responded to nor even acknowledged.
D. Instead, on November 22, 1952 Father Feeney was threatened by Card. Pizzardo with an imposition of a canonical penalty, without stating the crime for which it is imposed. This is in violation of Canon 2225. Canon 1959 forbids penalties without a trial.
E. On December 2, 1952 Father Feeney responded by asking with what he was being charged. Again, according to Canon 1715, this was not only Father Feeney’s right, but it was required for those who do the summoning. Also, Canons 1842 and 1843 required that the defendant be informed both of the charges against him and the nature of the proceedings to which he had been summoned.
F. On January 9, 1953 Father Feeney was then threatened with automatic excommunication, ipso facto, if he failed to report to Rome by a certain date. This letter ignored Father Feeney’s points concerning Canon Laws requirements, for the offense alleged against Father Feeney — not obeying the summons to Rome — is a matter for a court or judge to weigh. He could not be excommunicated ipso facto because his action did not fall under the category of crimes meriting such a sentence.
It should be noted that in the demands and threats from this member of the Roman Curia there were six direct violations of Canon Law. Both the appeals and canonical rights of Father Feeney were ignored and disregarded. Thus, this whole ordeal is not only suspect, but fallacious and immoral.
II. Decree of Excommunication
On February 13, 1953 a letter of excommunication was released, having no statement at all in it on doctrine, but had as its reason “grave disobedience of Church authority.” Though this letter was registered into the Acta, it is formally defective and thus invalid for the following reasons:
1. The letter lacked the seal of the Holy Office and/or of the tribunal and was only signed by a notary. In fact, it bore no seal at all. The purpose of a seal is precisely to show the genuineness of a document and its contents, and is required for validity.
2. The letter lacked the signature of the judge of the tribunal which issued it; where, for validity, the judgment of a court of record must have.
3. The decree was never properly communicated to the accused, which by law (and fairness) it must. It was first published in America in the newspapers.
4. Father Feeney’s summons to Rome was uncanonical. Therefore, the summons was null and the penalties resulting from it are void.
- Canon 1723: “Renders an uncanonical summons null.”
- Canon 1959: “Forbids penalties without a trial.”
5. There was never any canonical trial by a court concerning this case as proscribed by the disciplinary canons and decrees of the Council of Trent. Therefore, according to Canon Law, no valid penalties could result.
6. As allowed by Canon Law, Father Feeney sent a letter dated July 16, 1953, entering a “Complaint of Nullity” against the decree of excommunication, to the Holy Father. It was never answered. Not only was Father Feeney not given a fair hearing, he was given no hearing at all, though required by Canon Law.
III. The Reconciliation
In 1972 Father Feeney was supposedly “reconciled” to the Church. If Father Feeney truly needed to be reconciled, he would have had to recant his position. Yet, he was never asked to do that. Anyone who is truly excommunicated for heresy must withdraw what they once held and proclaim belief in orthodoxy. But Father Feeney was never asked to take back or repent from his teaching on “Outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation.” Why not? Because those of the Archdiocesan establishment who arranged for the reconciliation knew the facts of the case and that Father Feeney was not excommunicated for heresy, but for disciplinary reasons.
In fact, as part of the reconciliation ceremomony, Father Feeney was asked to profess one of the three Creeds of the Church. So, without any objection, he devoutly recited the Athanasian Creed. This ancient and venerable creed begins and ends with these solemn words:
Whoever wishes to be saved needs above all else to hold the Catholic Faith; unless each one preserves this whole and entire, he will without a doubt perish in eternity. … This is the Catholic Faith; unless everyone believes this faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.
Therefore, Father Leonard Feeney was not excommunicated for teaching that outside the Catholic Church and without submission to the Roman Pontiff no one can be saved. He couldn’t be, because the Church herself has dogmatically defined this.
Rather, Father Leonard Feeney was unjustly treated and persecuted by fellow churchmen in positions of authority who abused the authority of the offices they held and brought up uncanonical charges of disobedience to this priest of Christ’s Church. We conclude, then, with the following summary of those binding and infallible definitions of the Church Magisterium concerning salvation that Father Feeney simply affirmed, taught, and defended as they were solemnly declared:
- Outside the Catholic Church there is positively no salvation (Lateran IV: Denz. 430; ; Pope Boniface VIII: Denz. 468-69; [870, 875]; Council of Florence: Denz. 714; ; Pius IX:1716-17; [2916-17])
- The Sacrament of Baptism makes one a member of the Church (Florence: Denz. 696; ; Council of Trent: Denz. 895; );
- Anyone not Baptized (sacramentally) is not a member of the Catholic Church (Trent: Denz. 895; ), that is, he is not “truly incorporated into the Church”(Pope Leo IV- Council of Valence III: Denz. 324);
- Baptism is in water ONLY, the two (water and Baptism) are inseparable, and neither is separable from its link with the other (Pope St. Leo I: Tome-Council of Chalcedon I), and must be confessed as such (Council of Vienne: Denz. 482; ; Trent: Denz. 858; );
- The Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation (Pope Benedict XIV: Denz. 1470) for adults and for children alike (Vienne: Ddnz. 482; ), and is optional for NO ONE (Trent: Denz. 861; ).
The facts presented in this short article need to be made known so that the good name of Father Leonard Feeney, M.I.C.M., can be restored among Catholics and the immutable dogma of no salvation outside the Catholic Church be once again proclaimed from the housetops.
(Taken from the Tower of David book, Dogmatic Deception)