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If you re-read the posting, I mentioned that some of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart were a pseudo-religious order. While the group in Wooster was recieved back into communion, and are premitted to teach their position, it was also agreed that it was just that a position or belief that was not Dogmatic. As the Church has not officially pronounced on the subject they must admit that it is only an opinion and not Dogmatic. The other groups that have not been reconciled, some who live here in Los Angeles, hold the hard line position of Extra Ecclesia to be Dogmatic, and despite the Holy Office’s guidance on the subject hold their postion to be the only one.
As to Fr. Feeney’s excommunication, while the Slaves hold he was not excommunicated for his positon on the subject, but for his disobedience, as a manner of arguing that the Church did not find his position in error, that is a canard. His disobedience was in fact not ending the public teaching of Extra Ecclesia in the narrow sense he and “Sr.” Catherine Goddard Clarke, who first promoted the positon, and later dressed as a nun even though she never went though any religious formation, and remained married. Fr. Feeney and the Slaves who were never canonically erected, lived in disobedience until Fr. Feeney was recieved back into the full communion with the Church. Cardinal Mederos made it clear it was out of the love for souls, and desire that the Church show compassion not Fr. Feeney’s repentance that prompted the resumption of communion of the adged and ill Fr. Feeney.
Here however is a chronology of Fr. Feeney’s actions and those of the Church.
On April 18, 1949, Fr. Feeney was suspended from his priestly duties and Catholics were forbidden to take part in the activities of St. Benedict Center. Fr. Feeney responded the next day by saying that his removal from St. Benedict Center was invalid, One of his superiors, Fr. Louis Gallagher, called Fr. Feeney to tell him that the sanctions would be lifted if he left St. Benedict Center and went to Holy Cross College. But Fr. Feeney refused to leave. He invoked his conscience as a justification for remaining at St. Benedict Center. He said in a statement prepared for the press:” ‘IT WAS AND IS A MATTER OF CONSCIENCE to me in the sanctity of my priesthood, as I openly declared to every superior I could contact.’ “[Ibid., p. 125.] A few days later, on April 21, 1949, Fr. Feeney received another command from his Provincial Superior to go to Holy Cross College. This command was given to him in virtue of Fr. Feeney’s vow of obedience. It was therefore binding under pain of mortal sin. Fr. Feeney again refused to go.
Three and a half months later, on August 8, 1949, the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office wrote to Archbishop Cushing on the subject of the necessity of the Church for salvation. [NB: The full text of the letter was published in October of 1952 in The American Ecclesiastical Review CXXVII, 4 (Oct., 1952), pp. 307-315.] This decree of the Holy Office was voted on in plenary session on Wednesday, July 27, 1949. The Prefect of the Holy Office, Pope Pius XII, approved the decree on Thursday, July 28, 1949. This decree was a response to the controversy that arose in the wake of Fr. Feeney’s interpretation of the doctrine “outside the Church there is no salvation.” Even though this decree was approved by Pope Pius XII who, as we mentioned, was the Prefect of the Holy Office, Fr. Feeney would later refer to it as” ‘This heretical letter…’ “[Thid.]
Considering that the acts of disobedience on the part of Fr. Feeney were both grave and numerous and that he intended to persevere in the dispositions that produced these acts and thus had no intention of amending his ways, Fr. Feeney was expelled from the Jesuit Order on October 10, 1949. On September 4, 1952, Archbishop Cushing summoned Fr. Feeney to appear before him no later than October 4, 1952. He called upon Fr. Feeney to make his submission to the local ordinary and to the Holy See. Fr. Feeney was informed that the Congregation of the Holy Office, with the approval of Pope Pius XII, had put him, Fr. Feeney. and St. Benedict Center under interdict.
On September 24, 1952, a letter was sent from St. Benedict Center to Pope Pius XII in which the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office was charged with heresy. The heresy, the letter said, was contained in the August 8, 1949, letter entitled “Letter of the Holy Office to tile Archbishop of Boston.”
On October 25, 1952, Cardinal Pizzardo, who was then the Secretary of the Holy Office, wrote to Fr. Feeney from Rome, and in the name of the Holy Office. He said:
“The Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office has been obliged repeatedly to make your teaching and conduct in the Church the object of its special care and attention, and recently, after having again carefully examined and calmly weighed all the evidence collected in your cause, it has found it necessary to bring this question to a conclusion.
“However, His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, in His tender regard and paternal solicitude for the eternal welfare of souls committed to His supreme charge, has decreed that, before any other measure be carried into effect, you be summoned to Rome for a hearing. Therefore, in accordance with the express bidding and by the special authority of the Supreme Pontiff, you are hereby ordered to proceed to Rome forthwith and there to appear before the Authorities of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office as soon as possible” [Ibid., p.150.]
Fr. Feeney did not obey this summons. He responded instead with a letter dated October 30, 1952. The following month, in November of 1952, Fr. Feeney received a second letter summoning him to Rome. He was ordered to present himself before the Holy Office no later than December 31, 1952. He was told that if he failed to obey, his disobedience would be made public along with the canonical penalties. Fr. Feeney was also informed that his expenses for the trip to Rome would be paid by the Apostolic Delegate.
But Fr. Feeney refused to comply with this second command to appear before the Holy Office. Instead he responded with a long letter dated December 2, 1952. In early January 1953, Fr. Feeney received yet a third letter from Rome. By this letter he was ordered to appear before the Holy Office no later than January 31, 1953, under pain of excommunication for failure to appear.
Fr. Feeney refused to go. Once again he disobeyed the command of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, and this for the third time. He responded with another letter, dated January 13, 1953, in which he accused the Holy Office of outrageous, barbarous behavior and with heresy. On February 4, 1953, the Holy Office met in Plenary Session and declared Fr. Leonard Feeney to be excommunicated. The decree of excommunication was dated February 13, 1953. The text is as follows:
“Since the priest Leonard Feeney, a resident of Boston (Saint Benedict Center), who for a long time has been suspended from his priestly duties on account of grave disobedience of Church Authority, being unmoved by repeated warnings and threats of incurring excommunication ipso facto, has not submitted, the Most Eminent and Reverend Fathers, charged with safeguarding matters of faith and morals, in a Plenary Session held on Wednesday, 4 February 1953, declared him excommunicated with all the effects of the law.
“On Thursday, 12 February 1953, Our Most Holy Lord Pius XII, by Divine Providence Pope, approved and confirmed the decree of the Most Eminent Fathers, and ordered that it be made a matter of public law.
“Given at Rome, at the Headquarters of the Holy Office, 13 February 1953.” [Ibid., p. 158.]
What is so strange about the whole thing is that when Fr. Feeney was given the opportunity to appear before the Holy Office, where he could defend his charge of heresy and his interpretation of the doctrine “outside the Church there is no salvation,” he refused to take it. Is that the behavior of a great defender of Catholic orthodoxy? Would not a great defender of Catholic truth welcome such an opportunity to defend the truth? But Fr. Feeney did not defend the truth as he saw it. He did not rise to the occasion. Instead he stayed home. He stayed home and was excommunicated for it.