The Present Position of Cardinal Newman
(08-17-2009, 11:04 PM)stvincentferrer Wrote: I didn't post it because I'm motivated by any animus towards Newman. I don't know much about him.

Then why post it?
(08-17-2009, 11:12 PM)jovan66102 Wrote:
(08-17-2009, 11:04 PM)stvincentferrer Wrote: I didn't post it because I'm motivated by any animus towards Newman. I don't know much about him.

Then why post it?

I don't know Jovan, my good buddy. Maybe it's because I'm an evil anti-Semite.

I like to read The Point, and have been posting articles from it on the forum in the last week. I really chose it randomly. And I didn't know Cardinal Newman is now Venerable.
Here's the last piece I've found from The Point ( from the October 1952 issue) on the Venerable Cardinal Newman, written by Fr. Feeney himself -- an excerpt from his book London is a Place:


John Henry Newman was constantly praised for the clarity of his English prose and the limpid lucidity of his style. That he possesses these qualities, no one can deny. But his is the cold clarity of clear water in a fish bowl, in which one looks in vain for the fish.

The more you read Newman, the less you remember what he says. He is an author whom it is impossible to quote. What you recall, after you have finished reading him, is never what the clarity of his style was revealing, but some small, unwarranted queerness that it was almost concealing. You remember that Newman said that a chandelier “depends” from a ceiling; and if you look up “depends” in the dictionary, you will find that “hangs from” is exactly what it means. You remember that Newman felt entitled to mispronounce deliberately one English word to show his proprietorship over the language. He pronounced “soldier” as sol—dee—err. You remember that Newman was perpetually fussing about Reverend E. B. Pusey, who seems, in some refined way, to have gotten under his skin.

You remember Newman was shocked that Catholics were giving Protestants the grounds for declaring that “the honor of Our Lady is dearer to Catholics than the conversion of England,” as though anything else could be the childlike truth. You remember that Newman particularly disliked the Marian writings of St. Alfonso Liguori, a Doctor of the Universal Church, and said of these writings, “They are suitable for Italy, but they are not suitable for England.” You remember that, with regard to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Newman insisted, in scholarly fashion, that “her case is essentially the same as St. John the Baptist, save for a difference of six months” — which is precisely the difference this dogma demands. You remember that, though Newman was in favor of Papal Infallibility, he was not in favor of its being infallibly defined by the Pope.

(from London is a Place, The Ravengate Press, Boston)

The book can be read in its entirety here:
Fr. Feeney was an excommunicate.
Father Feeney Wrote:The more you read Newman, the less you remember what he says. He is an author whom it is impossible to quote.

How absurd. A handful of Newman quotables:

John Cardinal Newman Wrote:“Let us act on what we have, since we have not what we wish.”

“It is as absurd to argue men, as to torture them, into believing.”

“It is almost the definition of a gentleman to say that he is one who never inflicts pain.”

“Nothing would be done at all if one waited until one could do it so well that no one could find fault with it.”

“Virtue is its own reward, and brings with it the truest and highest pleasure; but if we cultivate it only for pleasure's sake, we are selfish, not religious, and will never gain the pleasure, because we can never have the virtue.”

And in direct refutation of the accusation that Newman was a "nostalgic convert":

Newman Wrote:“From the age of fifteen, dogma has been the fundamental principle of my religion: I know no other religion; I cannot enter into the idea of any other sort of religion; religion, as a mere sentiment, is to me a dream and a mockery.

Feeney Wrote:You remember that Newman felt entitled to mispronounce deliberately one English word to show his proprietorship over the language. He pronounced “soldier” as sol—dee—err.

My pastor, a former Anglican priest and a devotee of Newman, does the same thing with the word "Christian", which he pronounces as "Chris-tee-an".

At any rate, I really have to wonder why Feeney is apparently so keen on putting down Cardinal Newman.
(08-18-2009, 12:26 AM)The_Harlequin_King Wrote: At any rate, I really have to wonder why Feeney is apparently so keen on putting down Cardinal Newman

Cardinal Newman on Salvation Outside the Church
parts 1, 2, 3

Just a hunch.
(08-17-2009, 10:06 PM)The_Harlequin_King Wrote: Cardinal Newman is the man.

True dat.
(08-17-2009, 11:27 PM)stvincentferrer Wrote: Maybe it's because I'm an evil anti-Semite.

So am I. according to the ACLI, ADL SPCL, and JDL.  I quote my friend Charles Coulombe,, 'I am the nicrest anti-Semite you'll ever meet. I just wanr all Jews to be Catholic', which of course Newman was. Any references ro his possible Jewish antecedwnts is a racist, blaspemous canard. You admit you know little about him and less about his ancestry and yet you post this,

As a POI, I think Nrwman was an heretic with his 'develp[ment doctribe', but that has absolutely nothing to do with his ethic/racial backgroubd.. Attacking him, as Fr Feemey does in this article, on racial grounds, is unCatholic, blasphemous and stupid! It only gives ammunition to those who equare Trads with nazis!
Just read the original post and don't know or care what followed - that original post was a crazy pile of crap. Some people need to get a life.
I found a thorough analysis on Feeney's problem with Newman. It's at this website:

I'll paste it, but it would be better to go to the website and read it, since the formatting is so sloppy:



Remarks by Patrick Killough
to the annual conference of
The Venerable John Henry Newman Association
University of Dallas
Dallas, Texas, August 7 - 9 2008
Friday August 8 10:50 - 11:40 a. m.



Once upon a time Father Leonard Edward Feeney misread the genealogy of Cardinal Newman. Then, being himself being a fine poet, hagiographer, reviewer and essayist, Feeney evaluated Newman’s personality and writing style. Father Feeney, alas, had an emotional dark side that surfaced as he moved toward and through age 50. Feeney, excommunicated for nearly 20 years then reconciled to the Catholic Church in 1972, voiced opinions of Newman which might not even be noticed today but for Cardinal Avery Dulles and other American bishops and cardinals. For they remained mindful of the poetic,bright, happy side of an old friend and thus kept Father Feeney's image alive among main-stream Catholics.

In December 1944 Feeney was assigned full-time by Jesuit superiors as chaplain and spiritual director of the Saint Benedict Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just outside Harvard University. That Center provided to Feeney meeting rooms, a place to welcome young educated Catholic lay disciples and later to send them across America as book sellers and income earners for the embattled Center. Even during two decades of harshly repressed "canonical irregularity" or even schism, the Center remade itself into a public megaphone against forces attacking Catholic orthodoxy as the Center defined it. Those reputed anti-Catholic forces included Jews, Masons, Protestants, liberal Catholics and, in some very small measure, John Henry Newman.

In 1940 or 1941 (accounts vary) three Catholic laymen had founded and funded Saint Benedict Center primarily for Catholic students at secular Harvard and Radcliffe. The best known today was the then recently converted first year Harvard law student and future  Cardinal, Avery Dulles. A second was his baptismal sponsor, the Center’s charming administrative genius, Mrs Catherine Goddard Clarke.

America’s atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 appalled and aroused to proto-revolutionary religious thought and action Clarke, Feeney and about 80 hard-core adult members of Saint Benedict Center. Collectively, they sought out the causes making possible an un-Christian wartime atrocity perversely albeit widely applauded by most Catholics and other Americans. The causes of moral rot  had begun with the accelerating secularization of American society and with inroads into Roman Catholicism by growing indifference to dogmatic truth.

Center members raised their voices against the pagan worldliness and theological liberalism then slouching into Massachusetts Catholic orthodoxy. Religious salvation of the whole world became their single-minded goal. They soon discovered "liberal" Catholic professors, including Jesuits, teaching evolution and heresy in the Archdiocese of Boston. Also gnawing at the sinews of Catholic piety and militancy were friendly ecumenical overtures by the Archbishop and other church leaders to Protestants and Jews. Non-Catholic teens and their parents’ cash donations were welcomed at Greater Boston Catholic colleges with the assurance that students would not be theologically indoctrinated. To the Center this was moral cowardice and betrayal of Christ.

Saint Benedict Center ferociously attacked the world, the flesh and the devils of Boston intellectually, confidently, narrowly and without giving quarter. Feeney, Clarke and their younger followers launched what would be dubbed “The Boston Heresy Case.” For their war banner they dusted off a venerable Church axiom about human salvation that they judged must infallibly bring America and the Jesuits back to their senses, back to God and to the Pope: “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” (acronym: "EENS") or “outside the church there is no salvation.”  The converse good news: inside the Catholic Church there is salvation.

In 1949 the Center was placed under interdict and Leonard Feeney was stripped of priestly faculties by Archbishop Richard Cushing. Father Feeney was also expelled by the Jesuits in 1949 and excommunicated by Pius XII in 1953 -- in both cases for disobedience, not for heresy. In 1972 Feeney, during the afterglow of the Second Vatican Council (1962 - 1965), and with virtually no personal effort, re-established normal relations with the Vatican and with his then bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts. A majority of  Center followers soon did the same, in the process softening and broadening their reading of EENS. Other followers of Feeney and Clarke, holding firmly to their anti-ecumenical interpretation, did not bother to reconcile, arguing they had never left the Church in the first place. Today more than one canon lawyer agrees with them. For there were too many Vatican failures to observe proper canonical procedure.

In its two decades long "canonically irregular" heyday the Center was renowned or notorious for books, pamphlets and newsletters issued and sold around the country by members -- by one estimate at least 500,000 pieces of literature sold as of 1992. For
7 1/2 years they sought converts and noisily promoted Center views every Sunday afternoon in Boston Common, protected from taunters by mounted policemen. Feeney could be thrown off balance by hecklers. They sometimes provoked him into crudely anti-semitic and anti-masonic outbursts.

During this time Father Feeney also expressed a mixed view -- generally more negative than not -- of Cardinal Newman both as Catholic and writer and as inspirer of Newman Clubs for Catholic students at non-Catholic colleges.

Feeney’s historical source for Newman’s genealogy, Canon William Barry, for no credible reason, asserted that John Henry Newman was of Dutch Jewish ancestry. Both men then drew fanciful inferences from Newman’s alleged Jewishness to explain his temperament and psychic bent. Independently of any Jewishness, Feeney also reflected on aspects of Newman’s conversion to Catholicism and on rhetorical deficiencies in the Cardinal’s communication style. Feeney's reflections on Newman might stimulate discussion today and later.

The paper ends with nine suggestions for future research into parallels and  contrasts in the ecclesiastical careers of Newman and Feeney.


At our 2007 conference in Pittsburgh I sketched connections between Cardinal Newman and Sir Walter Scott. This year Newman’s continuing impact on history is laid before you in a seldom noticed linkage between the Cardinals John Henry Newman and  Avery Dulles and the Massachusetts Jesuit poet and sometime excommunicated priest  Leonard Edward Feeney (1897 - 1978).


The meat of what I offer today is three sets of comments by Feeney on Newman:

(1) the Cardinal’s alleged Jewish genealogy

(2) inferences Feeney drew from that genetic Jewishness and

(3) some additional analysis of shortcomings in Newman’s doctrinal attitudes and literary communication style.

(1) Newman’s Alleged Jewish Descent

Arthur Wollaston Hutton (1848 - 1912) apparently suggested more than once that John Henry Newman might be Jewish. Hutton had been brought into the Catholic Church and Newman's Oratory in Birmingham by Newman but later left them both and became a severe critic of the Cardinal. He began his article in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica this way:

JOHN HENRY NEWMAN (1801-1890), English Cardinal, was born in London on the 21st of February 1801, the eldest son of John Newman, banker, of the firm of Ramsbottom, Newman and Co. The family was understood to be of Dutch extraction, and the name itself, spelt "Newmann" in an earlier generation, further suggests Hebrew origin.  (1)

Canon William Barry, English Catholic historian and apologist, had already gone beyond Arthur Hutton, asserting in 1904 of Newman:

A singular concurrence of events, not yet fully unraveled, fitted for the task this clerical fellow of Oriel, who was not by origin either Catholic or English.

(Newman's father John) was chief clerk and afterwards partner in a banking firm, was also a Freemason, with a high standing in the craft, ... these particulars ... will prepare us for the fact that in an earlier generation the family had spelt its signature 'Newmann'; that it was understood to be of Dutch origin; and that its real descent was Hebrew.  The talent for music, calculation, and business, the untiring energy, legal acumen, and dislike of speculative metaphysics, which were conspicuous in John Henry, bear out this interesting genealogy. A large part of his character and writings will become intelligible if we keep it in mind. That his features had a strong Jewish cast, is evident from his portraits, and was especially to be noted in old age. it may be conjectured that the migration of these Dutch Jews to England fell within a period not very distant from the death of Spinoza in 1675. But there is not the slightest trace in Newman of acquaintance with modern Hebrew literature or history; so far as we can tell he had never opened the ETHICS, and the only Mendelssohn he knew by name was probably the author of ELIJAH. (2)

Comment: Nothing in this passage suggests that Newman’s Jewishness was a scandal to his admirer, Canon Barry. Hebrew descent was simply something which, if factual, would help us all understand the great Cardinal.

In 1912, however, biographer Wilfrid Ward took issue with Canon Barry. Ward, admitting that very little was known of Newman’s paternal genealogy, undermined any basis for a claim of Jewishness by demanding of Canon Barry his evidence. Barry then cited Hutton’s 1911 Encyclopedia article -- dated seven years after his own Newman biography!  Wilfred Ward next  braced the offending Arthur Hutton who pointed out that

he had in his article never alleged Jewish descent as a fact, but only suggested its possibility. 'There is no evidence for it,' he added, 'except the nose and the name.'

For those, then, who agree with the present writer that the nose was Roman rather than Jewish, the evidence remains simply that the name 'Newman' betokens Hebrew origin -- a bold experiment in the higher criticism. I may add that in a more recent correspondence Dr. Barry agrees with me that no satisfactory evidence on the subject has been adduced. (3)

If there have been subsequent advances in genealogical research on this point, they are not known to me in August 2008. I raise, nonetheless a mild eyebrow that the author of a 1904 Newman biography referred Wilfrid Ward in 1912 to a 1911 encyclopedia article as his source and that Ward accepted this explanation without comment.  The evidence rather suggests Canon Barry as the original source of the claim that Newman was genetically Jewish.

(2) Feeney’s Use of Newman’s Alleged “Jewish Descent”

Feeney had uncritically taken his Jewish descent “facts” from the eminently respectable Roman Catholic Canon Barry. How did the American Jesuit poet then tease out Barry’s hypotheses? Here are excerpts from a long  passage by Feeney on this subject:


Q. What is it about John Henry Newman, English convert and Cardinal, that Catholics chiefly remember?

A. His mastery of English prose.

Q. What is it about John Henry Newman that Catholics of our day generally forget?

A. They forget, or never have been told of, his Jewish descent.

* * *

Q. Did not the blood which he inherited, from the Jewish moneylender who was his father, allow Newman to bring to the Faith some of those same racial qualities possessed by the very earliest Christians, by Our Lord's own Apostles and disciples?

A. The Jewish qualities which Newman brought to the Faith have been very tidily set in order by Canon William Barry, S. T. D., the eminent English authority on Newman. Canon Barry reports that to Newman's "Hebrew affinities" the following qualities are attributed: " ... his cast of features, his remarkable skill in music and mathematics, his dislike of metaphysical speculations, his grasp of the concrete, and his nervous temperament."

{NOTE: For whatever reason, Father Feeney's summary of Canon Barry's sketch of the effects of Newman's alleged Jewishness is silent about Newman's "talent for ... business, the untiring energy, legal acumen." }

* * *

Q. Is it in England that Cardinal Newman's spirit best survives today?

A. It is not. Modern Catholic Englishmen, without analyzing it, sense that Cardinal Newman was, religiously, the kind of interloper in their midst that Prime Minister Disraeli was politically.

Q. Where then have Newman's name and fame been most perpetuated?

A. In America, in the form of clubs. Newman Clubs, they are called.

Q. What is a Newman Club?

A. It is an organized excuse for the presence, the sinful presence, of Catholic students at secular universities founded and fostered by Masons and, lately, indoctrinated by Jews. (4)

And there you have it: Newman clubs are an

“organized excuse for ... the sinful presence, of Catholic students at secular universities.”

(3) Additional Feeney Analysis
of Shortcomings in Newman’s Doctrine and Literary Style

In four packed pages of LONDON IS A PLACE, his recollections of two post-ordination student and pastoral years in the United Kingdom, Father Feeney lays out what he likes and suspects about John Henry Newman. Feeney admires Newman’s “resolute” Catholicism but regrets his wistful nostalgia for Anglican ceremony. He admires Newman’s intellect but laments his "cold clarity" and Newman's disdaining of human-all-too human touches as a stylist. The first few sentences below might have been written by Cardinal Edward Manning, Newman’s occasional ecclesiastical foe.

Selected highlights:

John Henry Newman was in mind and in strength a Catholic. He was in heart and in soul an Anglican.  ...

John Henry Newman spent most of his life justifying the values of Faith as they occur in the cold intellectual territories of what he considered to be the cultured mind.  ...

John Henry Newman was constantly praised for the clarity of his English prose and the limpid lucidity of his style. That he possesses these qualities, no one can deny. But his is the cold clarity of clear water in a fish bowl, in which one looks in vain for the fish.

Newman achieved his clarity of style by a scorn for the following devices of expression: (a) the parable; (b) the proverb; © hyperbole; (d) litotes; (e) the syllogism; (f) the enthymeme; (g) the analogy; (h) the allegory;
(i) aposiopesis; and (j) the periodic sentence. Most other writers have thought that human utterance at its best is full of divisions, distinctions, approaches, overstatements and understatements, strong and gentle comparisons, and a not-too-rigid adherence to etymology — so as to enable our almost-clear thoughts, ever mixed with feeling and frailty, to be conveyed lovingly and in human fashion to our kind and expressed to our kindred. Not so John Henry Newman.  ...

You remember that though Newman was in favor of Papal Infallibility, he was not in favor of its being infallibly defined by the Pope.

And then, all of a sudden, you do not want to remember anything else you remember from Newman, not even the clarity of his style.  (5)

COMMENT: Newman's approach to religious truth was discursive, Socratean. Its brilliance launched among Catholic modes of theological argumentation a new, anti-Scholastic (some, including Leonard Feeney, might say un-Thomist} way to reach truth. The flavor of this new "probabilism" in Catholic thinking, so antithetical to Feeney, is brilliantly captured by Abbot Gabriel Gibbs, O.S.B, in his 2006 book HARVARD TO HARVARD: THE STORY OF SAINT BENEDICT CENTER'S BECOMING SAINT BENEDICT ABBEY, pp. 237 - 240. See also my endnote # 8.


During a tour of the United States funded by LIFE magazine and after a November 1948 lecture at Saint Benedict Center by Feeney, English Catholic convert novelist Evelyn Waugh wrote to Clare Booth Luce. She had recommended the meeting with Feeney as with " ... a saint and apostle on no account to be missed."  The English Catholic novelist wrote:

"He fell into a rambling denunciation of all secular learning which became more and more violent. He shouted that Newman had done irreparable damage to the Church ... I got rather angry and rebuked him in strong words."    (6)


There are two little noted unintended links between Newman and Feeney -- the Saint Benedict Center and Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J (1918 - ). It is not that Dulles caused Feeney to dislike Newman in the first place. It is that by co-founding in 1940 or 1941 Saint Benedict Center in Cambridge's Harvard Square, even donating his personal library, Avery Dulles unwittingly set up for Father Feeney a future  stronghold, a base of operations, a platform complete with a small army of passionate young followers with which in 1947 and later Feeney might ampify attacks on Newman and anyone or anything whose jugular Center disciples felt inspired to grasp for.

Converted to Roman Catholicism in 1940 after four years undergraduate work at Harvard, Dulles later became a Jesuit priest, major American theologian and is now, in old age, a Cardinal. He also wrote NEWMAN, one of the best little books about the theology of the great English cardinal.

In the fall of 1941 young Dulles and other lay Catholics founded Saint Benedict Center. It was set in Harvard Square at the corner of Bow and Arrow streets, about midway between Saint Paul's Catholic Church and an ornate gateway into Harvard University. Saint Benedict Center was then (and remains now after its 1958 removal 30 miles west into farmland and later morphed into other incarnations in New Hampshire and elsewhere)  an understudied Catholic utopian experiment. The Center began with lay men and lay women only. They sought to deepen personal holiness while probing together the intellectual riches of recently rediscovered, faintly archaizing "integral" Catholicism then being unwrapped by thinkers like Jacques Maritain, Etienne Gilson and Christopher Dawson. But in response to events Saint Benedict Center evolved beyond that impulse.

Dulles went off to war as a naval officer. While he was gone, the Jesuits assigned Father Leonard Edward Feeney (already famed at "Saint Ben's" for his Thursday evening lectures on theology) to be the Center's full-time chaplain and spiritual director. At war's end the Center's School received state accreditation to offer academic degrees, and the G.I. Bill gave returning armed forces men and women resources to attend it. This combination fueled an intense two year Catholic, increasingly traditionalist mini-Renaissance in Harvard Square, quickly followed by disobedience, irregularity and interdict.  There is an echo of Newman's Oriel College tutorial scheme in Saint Benedict Center School's statement of aims:

"Saint Benedict Center is interested in close cooperation between faculty and students ... and this contributes to that most difficult of all educational problems, personal guidance."  (7)

But Feeney and others at the Center were soon into career-shattering reactions to the U.S. atomic bombing of Japan in August 1945. While most Americans were delighted that President Truman had taken a step that shortened the war in the Pacific, Saint Benedict Center people were horrified. How could it be possibly be God's will to destroy many thousands of non-combatants, especially in Nagasaki, Japan's most Catholic city? What had gone wrong with America's moral compass? Was even the American Catholic Church somehow to blame?

Father Feeney, Center co-founder Catherine Goddard Clarke, three lay faculty members at Jesuit run Boston College, a fourth teacher at Boston College High School  and about 80 other adult Center members announced that they had rediscovered a nearly forgotten Catholic truth through which to reform the Faith and save America. Their war cry was an ancient, long unquestioned but more recently softened ecclesiastical dictum which American Catholics had been quietly shelving for over a hundred years: "Outside the Church There is No Salvation -- acronym:  EENS."  Feeney, whose Jesuit brother Tom would assemble a huge collection of sacred relics for the Center, must have felt like Saint Helena rediscovering the true cross. Here, in this ancient dogma, was a holy, restored relic with which to purify Boston, America and the whole paganizing, assimilating world.

America, the Saint Benedict Center people concluded, was in its moral mess and Communism was poised to sweep the globe, because Catholic Church leaders vowed to  “Never give offense!” Bishops barely whispered any longer even a few less demanding truths of Christ. By contrast the Center would thunder Christ’s full truth to the world again.

“It could not merely be told. It had to be shouted, bellowed, because the world was deaf, asleep, already half dead. Polite talking would not wake it . ... We would give the full Catholic message by every means God had given us in the center.” 8

Center leaders accused Jesuits on the faculty of Boston College of teaching heretical notions (e.g. that maybe, just maybe, well-meaning, moral Jews, Protestants and pagans could be saved through personal sincerity and then after death live forever with God in Heaven). They also complained in writing to the Vatican that Boston Archbishop (future Cardinal) Richard Cushing was condoning that "liberal" heresy. A Vatican cardinal ruled otherwise: the road to salvation was wider than Feeney, Clarke et al. accepted. In time the Second Vatican Council would seem to bury Feeneyism’s anti-ecumenical views on the salvation of non-Catholics. At best the Center's interpretation of EENS would be tolerantly acknowledged as merely that: an arguable interpretation which Catholics might defend in good conscience without, however, branding their opponents heretics.

The Center lost its battle. in 1949 Feeney was ejected from the Jesuits and in 1953 personally excommunicated by Pope Pius XII. Not for 19 years would he be formally reconciled to Rome -- in 1972 under Pope Paul VI. Catherine Clarke died in 1968, Leonard Feeney in 1978.

Meanwhile Chaplain Feeney and a band of a hundred or so lay followers moved west to a farm at Still River, Massachusetts where they created a unique ultra-Catholic experiment in semi-monastic living, complete with 12 married couples and 39 children. As "Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary," all adults took private vows of obedience to Feeney, and the unmarried men and women professed simple vows of poverty and  celibacy, as well. Their new, consecrated, lifetime mission: to defend and propagate “no salvation outside the Church.” Ultimately all the 24 married men and women convinced allegedly reluctant Feeney and Clarke that God wanted the couples as well to take vows of celibacy. Their children were then raised, after age three, apart from their parents and educated as if in a Catholic boarding school or orphanage on the reconstituted Center's farmlands.

People at the Center who  led or followed him into schism are remembered today not for Feeney’s disobedience to Jesuit Order commands or Archdiocesan and Vatican discipline but rather for reviving and narrowly construing a Catholic dogma as little heeded in the twentieth century as were earlier strictures against usury. That dogma says “extra ecclesiam nulla salus" --  acronym: “EENS,” i.e. “outside the church no salvation.”  The Feeneyites interpreted the ancient axiom narrowly to exclude from salvation unbaptized infants, Protestants, Jews and all non-Catholics. What moved Feeney and his Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (mancipia immaculati cordis mariae or M.I.C.M) to embrace such a position?

Feeney’s people had decided that “liberalism” (something analogous to Protestant private judgment) was the culprit. Liberalism's most obvious manifestation was tolerance by Catholics for other people’s varying religious and ethical views. Heretical Catholic tolerance grew from the subversive belief that there was no established truth. In some sense all religions were therefore equal. But Jesus was the Way and the Truth. And he had established one and only one church to proclaim, define and guard that truth. Anyone who denied Catholic truth, even Catholics, were by definition at least eclectic, cafeteria liberals, if not formal heretics. They therefore needed reining in, to be recalled to first principles, epecially to the axiom EENS. (9)


I had once planned to limit my remarks today to Leonard Feeney’s criticisms of John Henry Newman, providing little or no historical or biographical context. Yet dipping into Avery Dulles and Feeneyism while also reviewing Frank Turner's new edition of the  APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA, I found comparisons and contrasts between Newman and Feeney. I share them today in case either you, I or University of Dallas graduate students might some day make time for further research and probing.

For instance:

--{1} The idea of a university. Teachers and Students.

At Oxford's Oriel College, Newman had pushed the notion that tutors should be spiritual guides of their students in addition to mere imparters of secular or ecclesiastical knowledge. The results were  an ostensible setback to his university career.  While a student at Oxford, Feeney had resided in the old digs of Gerard Manley Hopkins. He had read Newman. Feeney's view that Catholic teachers must provide personal guidance to students and be available day and night echoes Newman as Oriel College tutor. Later Father Feeney would protest against Boston College's alleged ruling that theology might be mentioned only by professional theologians in theology classes. Feeney held that any Catholic teacher at any Catholic school had the right  in any course accurately to cite and defend Catholic dogma. Would Newman have disagreed?

--{2}  The Utopian imperative.

Both Newman and Feeney had their Utopian impulses. At Littlemore Anglican Newman experimented with a monastic community to keep himself and celibate young male followers from going over to Rome. In Cambridge and later at Still River, Vatican loyalist Feeney led young followers, most single, but including 24 married men and women and with a total of 39 children, into canonically unauthorized new forms of  Roman Catholic communal living and child rearing. Feeneyites received communion under both species. Father Feeney conferred confirmation at baptism and Saint Benedict Center adults made private religious vows of obedience to Feeney in support of lives crusading for “outside the church no salvation.” What might have happened to the Church of England if Newman’s Littlemore experiment had kept him and his followers away from Rome? Why could Catholic Church and Benedictine authorities not find a formula after 1973 to allow the reconciled followers of Feeney and Clarke to maintain just as it was their Saint Benedict Center as a monastery for both men and women?

{NOTE: in Petersham, Massachusetts there is a juridically incomplete Benedictine co-monastery aka "twin communities." See for the nine women and for the men. Counting this community as one allows Abbot Gabriel, FROM HARVARD TO HARVARD, to number only seven offshoots of Saint Benedict Center. If Petersham counts as two, then total offshoots are eight.}

  --{3} How to win and lose controversies.

Both Newman and Feeney were at times ferocious battlers for the Lord. While history's judgment to date has proven kinder to Newman, Feeney’s approach still has its followers and their numbers are growing. Whence their polemical appeal?

--{4} "The bubble reputation."  Semper idem.

As of September 8, 1948 all Feeney needed to do to maintain his spotless reputation as one of the two or three best known and loved priests in America was to accept his assignment away from the Center and out of the archdiocese of Boston to nearby Worcester to teach English at Holy Cross College. Had he either tempered his beliefs about EENS or kept them to himself for a time (as would later his contemporary John Courtney Murray, S.J. regarding church and state), Feeney might have gone on to strengthen Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani’s conservative voice at the Second Vatican Council. Feeney could certainly have made his own Ottaviani’s episcopal motto: Semper idem ("Always the same").

In other words, Feeney had in prospect the same brilliant ecclesiastical career that  Newman could have foreseen in the Anglican Church before he launched (or at least before he went too deeply into) the Oxford Movement. Both men rolled the dice for very high stakes. Why?

--{5} Does Feeney versus Newman echo Manning versus Newman?

Feeney’s attitude toward Newman reminds of Manning’s. Think of Newman’s hope to found a Catholic presence at Oxford (opposed by Manning) and Feeney’s efforts to draw Catholic students away from Harvard towards academic degrees at Saint Benedict Center (opposed by Cushing).

Henry Manning wrote to Msgr. George Talbot in Rome:

“I see much danger of an English Catholicism, of which Newman is the highest type. It is the old Anglican, patristic, literary, Oxford tone transplanted into the Church  ... In one word it is worldly Catholicism, and it will have the worldly on its side and deceive many  ...”  (10)

Why was conservative traditionalist Manning a hero of Pius IX and yet Feeney was  excommunicated by Pius XII whom he venerated?

--{6} Understanding Feeney through Newman.

The core of my remarks today showcases Feeney casting light on Newman, first through the Cardinal’s alleged Jewishness and then as a Catholic and stylist. Let us grant Feeney his fifteen minutes of fame as a Newman scholar.

But who grasps whom the best?

Does it help anyone understand Newman if he believes in Newman’s “Jewish descent?” I suspect not.

Had Feeney, however, lived and thundered in the early years of Pius IX, he might in effect have put his finger into the first wet spots of a crumbling Catholic traditional, conservative dike. But after 1947 a nascent overflow of Roman Catholic inter-faith love and brotherhood would wash over Feeney and his followers as if they were no more than irrelevant, unnuanced embarrassments.

“Timing, Father Feeney, patience, Father Feeney, moderation, Father Feeney!” -- John Henry Newman might have counseled.

Some of Newman’s reflections in APOLOGIA on Origen and the first steps toward heresy might help us grasp Feeney:

In reading ecclesiastical history, when I was an Anglican, it used to be forcibly brought home to me, how the initial error of what afterwards became heresy was the urging forward some truth against the prohibition of authority at an unseasonable time. There is a time for every thing, and many a man desires a reformation of an abuse, or the fuller development of a doctrine, or the adoption of a particular policy, but forgets to ask himself whether the right time for it is come; and, knowing that there is no one who will be doing any thing towards its accomplishment in his own lifetime unless he does it himself, he will not listen to the voice of authority, and he spoils a good work in his own century, in order that another man, as yet unborn, may not have the opportunity of bringing it happily to perfection in the next. (11)

--{7} Newman and Feeney as Pacifists -- of Sorts.

I know nothing about Newman's views on Christian pacifism. But I may be among the rare persons to have noticed and wondered about a possible pacifist impulse behind the search for the cause of America's moral rot that led Feeney to preach "Extra ecclesiam nulla salus."

It was the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 that shook Feeney and his followers into thought, action and schism. Was this dimension noted at the time, for example, by the well known Catholic absolute pacifist Dorothy Day -- who, incidentally, had lectured at Saint Benedict Center?

I invite Professor Bernadette Waterman Ward's graduate students at the University of Dallas to probe this more deeply. For both American Catholicism and American government, in my opinion, might be better for supporting more, not less, devotion to pacifist or at least less impulsive methods of solving disputes than reaching for or threatening nuclear arms. Perhaps Cardinal Newman might also agree.

{NOTE: I added research items 8 and (9) to my oral presentation in Dallas under the influence of the approach of John Courtney Murray, S. J. in the run-up to Vatican II and his attitude to the non-establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. 0/17/2008}

--{8} Leonard Feeney Deserves a Decent Biography

Like him or love him, Leonard Edward Feeney is needlessly hard to research and study because no one has written a good, book length biography.  Newman had his Canon Barry, his Wilfrid and Maisie Ward and on and on. There are still a few early companions of Father Feeney alive to interview. Yes, Vatican and Boston archdiocesan archives are not as open as they should be. But the biographic deed is both feasible and necessary. Leonard Edward Feeney needs a rounded, contextual retelling of his story. Perhaps someone at this Newman conference will be his Boswell. Or perhaps someone associated with one of the seven or eight Saint Benedict Center offshoots will tackle the task. Tell us more about his years of Jesuit formation, his four years with AMERICA magazine in New York, his encounters with Sinclair Lewis and other notables.

--(9) Anglican 39 Articles and U.S. First Amendent as
Documents of Peace, Not Truth Claims

There are Americans who regard the text of the U. S. Constitution as Holy Writ, a divinely inspired document virtually revealing eternal truth as it appears in the mind of God Himself. Leonard Feeney took such a view of "extra ecclesiam nulla salus" (EENS) Yet most American Catholics fitted EENS as one tessara among many into an emerging mosaic of realistic Christian adaptations to an American world of many Christian denominations and many non-Christian religions. Newman had faced a similar dichotomy of attitudes regarding the Anglican 39 Articles, which he treated as articles of peace, not truth-claims. John Courtney Murray, S. J. laid out several possible interpretations of the U. S. first amendment, some old, some new. Why do we make "category mistakes?" Worth exploring.

--(10)  Reform as Return To Antiquity

Christian reformers almost by instinct are disgusted by something about the church of their present, hence they reach back for fresh approaches towards a golden or at least better, clearer age closer to the church's origins. Many want their "now" to resemble the churches of the Acts of the Apostles. Francis of Assisi headed for the Gospel narratives. John Henry Newman rediscovered the Fathers and the Caroline Divines. Leonard Feeney dusted off EENS. Avery Dulles, by contrast, says, in effect, (I paraphrase):

"Move on, step out smartly, make qualitative leaps. Look back with reverence if you must, but bring Jesus actively into the best thinking and acting that our current world has to offer. Make the Gospel intelligible to THIS world, not to 'every century but your own.' Explore the competing pulls of past and future, of genealogy and eschatology. {08/17/2008}


By the time of his death in 1978 time and Catholic dogmatic taste had passed Leonard Feeney by. One of his followers, a future Benedictine abbot, was expelled from seminary in November 1949 for believing precisely what Saint Francis Xavier had embraced as eternal dogma. (12)  Feeney and Feeneyites could cite all the popes, 29  doctors of the church and councils they chose -- to no avail. Times they were a changing. The Archbishop of Boston, the General of the Jesuits and Pius XII were equally "not amused." They did not silence Leonard Edward Feeney, but not for lack of trying. And without being overly nice about “canonical due process” either -- be it noted. Cardinal Newman might not have been surprised.

In 2008 Father Leonard Feeney is fondly remembered by mainstream Catholics like Cardinal Dulles and many others for the unclouded glories of his earlier life and preaching until 1947. His ostensibly schismatical but ultimately tolerated later interpretation of extra ecclesiam nulla salus (EENS) is championed today by a small but growing number of archaizing, ultra-conservative orthodox Roman Catholics, including many who exalt the Latin language liturgy, Gregorian chant and/or polyphonic church music. Even farther to the right, the followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and members of the Society of Saint Pius X thunder against Feeneyites over differences in interpreting such topics as baptism of desire and baptism of blood. (13)

Happily Avery Dulles is still with us. Leonard Feeney and his ideas are anything but dead. And John Henry Newman lives forever. Like Catholics before and after them (Athanasius and John Courtney Murray come to mind) Newman and Feeney were pressed down hard by higher authority and later rebounded. Their stubborn courage proved its worth. Alas for the otherwise articulate Feeney, he never wrote an APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA. Nor did he pass on a mass of letters and diaries like his beloved Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. It is never a good idea to leave the retelling of your life story solely to enemies or to disciples. The former might call you ill, an alcoholic or even mad. The latter might style you a Saint.


E N D   N O T E S


(1) For Arthur Hutton’s Encyclopedia Britannica text see

(2) William Barry, NEWMAN, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1904, p. 8 and p. 9.

(3) Wilfred Ward, THE LIFE OF JOHN HENRY CARDINAL NEWMAN: BASED ON HIS PRIVATE JOURNALS AND CORRESPONDENCE, London, Longman Greens, and Co., 1912. The citation is from Volume One, Chapter 2, note 2. See also online at

(4)  THE POINT, publication of Saint Benedict Center, for December 1954. Online at  THE POINT was a monthly publication. I have not seen a print version. Fortunately every word of every issue from 1952 - 1959 is on line.

COMMENT: THE POINT and other writings by Center people as well as contemporary reports make it clear that in some sense Leonard Feeney was anti-semitic. The reasons, whether right or wrong, I think, were entirely theological. Today I am speaking as much about Newman as about Feeney and this is not the best occasion to probe anti-semitism -- alas, a still living attitude today.

(5) From Leonard Feeney, LONDON IS A PLACE, Ch. V “Clouds Over London,” 91 - 95. See on line

(6) Waugh on Feeney is cited p. 16 f of George B. Pepper, THE BOSTON HERESY CASE IN VIEW OF THE SECULARIZATION OF RELIGION (1988), His source: Evelyn Waugh, THE LETTERS OF EVELYN WAUGH, ed., Mark Amory (New Haven: Ticknor & Fields, 1980, 292f).

The same letter is cited in the Brandeis University thesis of Jenny Goldstein on line at
Ms Goldstein begins quoting Waugh's reactions two sentences earlier than George Pepper's excerpts:

I went one morning by appointment and found him surrounded by a court of bemused youths of both sexes and he stark, raving mad. All his converts have chucked their Harvard careers and go to him only for all instruction. He fell into a rambling denunciation of all secular learning, which gradually became more and more violent.

Gary Potter (who was present on the occasion) suggests in AFTER THE BOSTON HERESY CASE, p. 65 that Feeney was simply having fun with Evelyn Waugh, Irishly pulling his leg regarding Waugh's close friend and mentor, Father Ronald Knox.

(7)  For St. Benedict Center School's Statement of Aims, see Gary Potter (1995) AFTER THE BOSTON HERESY CASE, p. 62.

In at least three places Avery Dulles pays warm tribute to Leonard Feeney (even warmer, be it noted en passant)  than presidential candidate Barack Obama loyally paid to Reverend Jeremiah Wright in 2008).

     --{1} The first tribute to Feeney is in Dulles’s equivalent of Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua. As a naval officer In the fall of 1944, Dulles composed A TESTIMONIAL OF GRACE, published in 1946. In 1996 Sheed and Ward issued a 50th anniversary edition with Dulles’s added update of the intervening decades called with the addition to the  title of ... AND REFLECTIONS ON A THEOLOGICAL JOURNEY.

On pages 98f Dulles sketches his involvement in creating Saint Benedict Center and its rise to new wartime

“heights of vitality under the inspiring leadership of Catherine Goddard Clarke, a remarkable woman who had been my godmother at my reception into the Church.”

He describes Leonard Feeney as

“an extraordinarily talented Jesuit, who made the Center his principal apostolate. Father Feeney was a poet, an actor, and a public speaker on fire with contagious devotion to the faith and apostolic zeal.”

Dulles also recalled his own efforts to launch the Center’s (almost totally unavailable today) quarterly journal, From the Housetops, and an article inspired by Feeney which he himself contributed to its second issue. Dulles did not personally experience Feeney’s rigid interpretation of and crusading for EENS. But

“I did observe, and support his efforts to confront non-Catholics with the full challenge of the faith.”

Dulles then sketched the apparent schism, reconciliation and other developments of Saint Benedict Center down to 1993.

     --{2} In a footnote to the 1996 50th anniversary edition, Cardinal Dulles also flagged an article written by him at the time of Feeney’s death, “Leonard Feeney: In Memoriam,” AMERICA 138 (February 25, 1978) 125-37. This is a beautiful, loving recollection, also available on line at

It begins:

“ With the death of Leonard Feeney, at the age of 80, on Jan. 30, 1978, the United States lost one of its most colorful, talented and devoted priests. The obituary notices, on the whole, tended to overlook the brilliance of his career and to concentrate only on the storm of doctrinal controversy associated with his name in the late 1940's and early 1950's.”

Dulles continues:

“When he quoted from the letters of Paul one had the impression that Paul himself was speaking. To this day, I imagine St. Paul with the features and voice of Leonard Feeney.” ... Outside St. Benedict Center, was there any place in the world where lay people in our day were so eagerly discussing the processions in the Blessed Trinity, the union of the two natures in Christ, the presence of Christ in the Mystical Body, the marvels of transubstantiation, the divinizing effects of sanctifying grace and the role of Mary in God's plan of salvation?

“... Already when I was there the Center was beginning to take on certain characteristics of a religious community -- one open to both men and women, single and married, with Father Feeney in the role of superior and novice master. Only later did St. Benedict Center draw up a rule of life for its members as "Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary."”

“In an age of accommodation and uncertainty, he went to extremes in order to avoid the very appearance of compromise. With unstinting generosity he placed all his talents and energies in the service of the faith as he saw it.”

     --{3} Dulles positioned Feeney in a broader context in “Harvard as an Invitation to Catholicism,” pp. 118 - 124 in Jeffrey Wills, editor, THE CATHOLICS OF HARVARD SQUARE, Petersham, MA, Saint Bede's Publications, 1993. There could not be a greater contrast in Feeney’s and Dulles’s views of Harvard University as a pathway toward or away from God. I reviewed THE CATHOLICS OF HARVARD SQUARE at

In other writings Cardinal Dulles touched upon some of the doctrinal issues central to the Center’s self-appointed mission. In his 1971 (reissued 1982) THE SURVIVAL OF DOGMA Dulles took EENS as an example.

{The following quotations were added in Dallas 08/06/2008.)

“ ... reconceptualization  ...  may be illustrated ... by the axiom ‘Outside the Church, no salvation” (Extra ecclesim nulla salus.) This ancient maxim, with a venerable patristic pedigree, was affirmed in the strongest terms by popes and ecumenical councils in the Middle Ages. ...  (and) many who proclaimed the principle understood it in a harshly literal sense. In our time the ancient understanding of the formula is repugnant to practically all Catholics.  ... According to the repeated teaching of Vatican Council II there is plentiful salvation outside the Church. Many contemporary theologians would prefer to see the formula used as little as possible in preaching, since it will almost inevitably be misunderstood.” (Ch 10, Dogma as an ecumencal problem, p. 161)

“ ... In all honesty it is not possible to say that Vatican II speaks about the other Churches, the other religions, or religious liberty in the same way as earlier popes and councils had spoken. The ancient doctrine ‘Outside the Church, no salvation’ has been so drastically reinterpreted by Vatican II that the meaning is almost the opposite of what the words seem to say. Modern Catholics take a very different view of this matter than their ancestors in the Middle Ages.” (Ch. 9 “Doubt in the Modern Church,” p. 145).

To me in private communication Newman scholar Professor Frank Turner of Yale has showered praise on Dulles’s little book of 2002, NEWMAN. Dulles himself calls this book his effort to “survey Newman’s teaching about the classical theological questions in a comprehensive and systematic way” (Preface, ix).

8 Catherine Goddard Clarke, THE LOYOLAS AND THE CABOTS, 1950, 48f. The Center invoked Matthew 10: 27  " ... and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops."

(9) The literature by or about Leonard Feeney, Catherine Goddard Clarke, the Saint Benedict Center and its seven or eight offshoots as well as “The Boston Heresy Case” is surprisingly large and growing. Most writing that I have read is by the participants themselves, including polemical and/or autobiographic reminiscenses. There was at one time voluminous national print media attention. But there has been relatively modest scholarly attention down the decades to a rare experiment in Catholic Action and communal living.

As starting points for learning about the Feeney movement, I recommend two books by somewhat detached scholarly or journalistic “outsiders”


ADDED 07/24/2008:

After page upon page of fascinating scholarly insights into secularization, "the heretical imperative" and other sociological constructs, Professor Pepper hoists Father Feeney very simply but ironically with the priest's own words:

"There is a great difference between a problem and a mystery. In the one you expect to find a solution, although you are in darkness about it when you tackle it for the first time. In the other you never expect to find a solution, but keep on getting more and more light as you go on. A problem is exhaustible, a mystery never." (Leonard Feeney, YOU'D BETTER COME QUIETLY, 1939, p. 22).

Pepper then argues that in the Boston of 1949 Father Leonard made the mistake of treating a profound mystery as if it were a mere problem, while Rome sailed majestically another way. The mystery was salvation. The mystery was the role of the Catholic church as the Jesus-ordained instrument for saving all who are saved, whether Catholic or not. What is salvation? What is faith? What is the Church? Why are so many good, holy men and women -- Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, agnostics -- uninfluenced by Christ's church?

Insist that those questions are puzzles to be solved rather than mysteries and you inevitably get something wrong.

-- Gary Potter: AFTER THE BOSTON HERESY CASE, Monrovia, CA, Catholic Treasures 1995.  Potter is a traditionalist Catholic convert from Protestantism. Years after his conversion he was astounded to discover the dogma EENS. His approach to Feeney, Clarke and their followers is upbeat and positive.

See also these others:

--A recent lengthy interpretation and updating by a key player is Abbot Gabriel Gibbs, O. S. B. (Joseph William Gibbs), HARVARD TO HARVARD: THE STORY OF SAINT BENEDICT CENTER’S BECOMING SAINT BENEDICT ABBEY, Ravengate, Still Water, MA, 2006.  The Abbey recounts its history in twelve URL panels starting at  This internet presentation also includes many photos in black and white.

Very helpful to readers new to the intricacies of the various splits within the original Saint Benedict center "movement" is the listing of the  current offshoots at PART IX EPILOGUE, Ch. 1 "The Seven Saint Benedict Centers." Of these the still canonically irregular Richmond, New Hampshire foundation is described on line at
This group is built around the early leading light of the Cambridge group: the philosopher Fakhri Maluf (Brother Francis). The URL gives a lively snapshot of worshippers and the current Prior Brother Andre Marie.

FROM HARVARD TO HARVARD is reviewed online by Brother Andre Marie in three panels beginning with,
continuing with
and ending with

I myself reviewed HARVARD TO HARVARD. See

07/26/2008 ADDENDUM: In my review of HARVARD TO HARVARD for included at my URL just above, I drew attention to the fact that when Saint Benedict Center decamped from Cambridge to Still River in the town of Harvard, it became the fourth utopian community to make a home for itself in Harvard. Its three predecessors there were America's second Shaker community, Bronson Alcott's Fruitland and the Tahanto Enclave, a single tax district. The seven (or eight) descendants of Saint Benedict center in Harvard and elsewhere have lasted longer and continue to augur more enduring futures than typical experiments described in Mark Holloway, UTOPIAN COMMUNITIES IN AMERICA, 1680 - 1880 (formerly titled HEAVENS ON EARTH, 1951), second edition, Dover Publications, Mineola NY, 1966.

--Thomas Mary Sennett (Brother Thomas Mary), an early member of Saint Benedict Center, mainly through providing texts, relates the thinking of Leonard Feeney to that of an earlier American Catholic thinker in THEY FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT: ORESTES BROWNSON AND FATHER FEENEY, Monrovia, CA 1987.

ADDED 07/24/2008: Feeney as enthusiastic speculator. "De Feeney Definita."

Worth noting in passing is that Brother Thomas Mary (Thomas Sennott: 1922 - 2005) was one of Father Feeney’s earliest disciples (from 1947). At Saint Benedict Center Thomas Sennott met and married Doris Coulombe (Sister Mary Dolores). They had four children. In the URL above Brother Thomas Mary wrote of Feeney’s thinking  out loud techniques: 

Father Feeney was a great theologian, but he was also a professional rhetorician; he taught Sacred Eloquence at the Jesuit Seminary at Weston. Father would try out a tentative idea on us, and sometimes the more tentative it was in his own mind, the more vehement he became in its presentation. He used to humorously call these rhetorical outbursts "de Feeney definita." He used to say "my danger is that I can make anything sound plausible."  Of course he never did this with some well established truth. All Father Feeney's speculations on Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood are of this de Feeney definita variety. In other words they are pure speculations and nothing else.”

--Thomas F. O'Dea: SOCIOLOGY AND THE STUDY OF RELIGION. New York, Basic, 1970. This is the second updating of O'Shea's 1949 Harvard undergraduate thesis on the then just emerging "Boston Heresy Case." So far as I know, this is chronologically the earliest scholarly study of Feeney and Feeneyism.

--John Murray Cuddihy in NO OFFENSE: CIVIL RELIGION AND PROTESTANT TASTE, New York, Seabury Press, 1978 contrasts Leonard Feeney with his even more famous contemporary John Courtney Murray  in Chapter 4, “Catholic: A Tale of Two Jesuits,”  pp. 49 - 100,

--In SEVEN AMERICAN CATHOLICS, Chicago, Thomas More Press, 1978, John Deedy treats the Boston Heresy Case in Chapter IV, “Leonard Feeney: The Dragon Turned Reluctant,” pp. 97 - 123. Deedy draws on a New York City conversation with Avery Dulles (118) to explain speculatively Feeney's oscillations between dogmatic positions as resulting from his temperament as a poet. Deedy also (116f) lays out the evolving anti-semitism (theological and perhaps otherwise) of Feeney and his young disciples, e. g. :

"From the time the Apostles first began to evangelize nations, the Catholic church has had one great, fierce, and enduring enemy. The enemy is the Jews ...").

--Cofounder of Saint Benedict Center, Catherine Goddard Clarke, presented her version of events in two forcefully written books: THE LOYOLAS AND THE CABOTS: THE STORY OF THE BOSTON HERESY CASE, Boston, Ravengate Press, 1950 and GATE OF HEAVEN, Still River, MA, Saint Benedict Center, 1951, reprinted 1977. This is the principal source for the atomic bombing of Japan as the Center's point of departure into EENS.

--In 1941 Sheed and Ward, New York, published Leonard Feeney’s SURVIVAL TILL SEVENTEEN: SOME PORTRAITS OF EARLY IDEAS. Scholars have flagged as important the 1980 Memorial Edition by St. Bede’s Publications, Still River, MA with the Introduction by Sister Mary Clare (Muriel Rose Vincent ), ix - xxx, for its intimate sketches of Feeney by an early Catholic convert and disciple. Muriel Vincent reminds us how often and how seriously Leonard Feeney was ill throughout his life. Elsewhere Gary Potter underscores the surgical removal of half of Feeney's stomach at some time during his first four years as a Jesuit.

-- In his 1985 FRANK & MAISIE: A MEMOIR WITH PARENTS (New York, Simon and Schuster, p. 108) Wilfrid Sheed, son of Sheed & Ward's founders, published the following Feeney quip contrasting his pint size with  six-footers Frank Sheed and Maisie Ward:

"Once, in his playful days, he had stood between Frank and Maisie at a street crossing and said, 'I feel like an ampersand'. ''

{NOTE: added in Dallas 08/11/08.}

Wilfrid Sheed identifies a document which Feeney scholars should try to lay their hands on for more insights into their subject:

" ... and finally, as far as we were concerned, he (Feeney) wrote an eight-or-so-page, single-spaced letter to my father withdrawing his books in perpetuity, cursing Frank and all that he stood for, and signing off, 'Yours in the Immaculate Heart of Mary.' If Frank hadn't beedn half-Irish, the attack might have been even worse.' " (p. 108)

For my reviews of FRANK & MAISIE see

{NOTE: added in Black Mountain, 08/17/2008}

For the point of view of one of the 39 Children (along with that of his four younger brothers) raised apart from their parents at Saint Benedict Center once it moved from Cambridge to Still River, see Robert Connor (pseudonym for Robert  Colopy, Jr.) WALLED IN: THE TRUE STORY OF A CULT, New York, Signet Classics, 1979. Reviewed by Patrick Killough at

{The following quotation from WALLED IN was added 08/06/08

For the text of the group's recreational/motivational nulla salus  song (to the tune of BARNEY GOOGLE) see p. 198:

No salvation outside the Catholic Church.
"No salvation": it will leave you in the lurch.
You've got to take the whole of it,
You can't belong to the soul of it.
No salvation outside the Catholic Church.

No salvation outside the Catholic Church.
No salvation outside the Catholic Church.
Without that personal submission to the Pope
You'll lose your charity, faith and hope.
No salvation outside the Catholic Church.

No salvation outside the Catholic Church.
No salvation outside the Catholic Church.
That crazy thing called Baptism of Desire
Will lead you into everlasting fire.
No salvation outside the Catholic,
The Roman Catholic,
Outside the Catholic Church.

Finally, there are scattered on-line reminiscences of Saint Benedict Center. One giving biographic data on all or most original participants is by Bill and Jean Smith at

The more generic Smith URL at
is a good starting point for studying what it was like to grow up in Still River as a Benedict Center child, one of 39. Not always edifying reading, to put it mildly.

(10)  Manning to Talbot on Newman is cited by Arnold D. Lunn, ROMAN CONVERTS, p. 61, 1924, reprinted 1966.

(11) Frank M. Turner (ed.) JOHN HENRY NEWMAN: APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA & SIX SERMONS, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2008, pp. 335f. Reviewed by Patrick Killough at

The passage concerning Origen continues:

He may seem to the world to be nothing else than a bold champion for the truth and a martyr to free opinion, when he is just one of those persons whom the competent authority ought to silence; and, though the case may not fall within that subject-matter in which that authority is infallible, or the formal conditions of the exercise of that gift may be wanting, it is clearly the duty of authority to act vigorously in the case. Yet its act will go down to posterity as an instance of a tyrannical interference with private judgment, and of the silencing of a reformer, and of a base love of corruption or error; and it will show still less to  advantage, if the ruling power happens in its proceedings to evince any defect of prudence or consideration. And all those who take the part of that ruling authority will be considered as time-servers, or indifferent to the cause of uprightness and truth; while, on the other hand, the said authority may be accidentally supported by a violent ultra party, which exalts opinions into dogmas, and has it principally at heart to destroy every school of thought but its own.

--(12) “If you hold what St. Francis Xavier held, you cannot stay here,” in Gabriel GIBBS, O.S.B. (Joseph William Gibbs), with Owen J. Murphy, Jr. , HARVARD TO HARVARD: THE STORY OF SAINT BENEDICT CENTER’S BECOMING SAINT BENEDICT ABBEY, Ravengate Press, Still River, MA, 2006.  The words above were uttered in late 1949 to the future Abbot by Msgr. Wilfrid T. Craugh, director of Saint Bernard’s seminary in Rochester, New York just before the former’s expulsion for following Father Feeney’s narrow interpretation of EENS.


07/24/2008 NOTE: Laisney is replied to on line  at  by  Brother Thomas Mary Sennott, Obl. S.B., M.I.C.M.  See End Note # 9 (THEY FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT) for Leonard Feeney's non-dogmatic speculating "de Feeney definita."



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