Feeneyism and Traditionalism share heresies concerning grace
© Copyright 2014, T. Stanfill Benns (This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author. All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless indicated otherwise.)
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do…He stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him…He is a liar, and the father thereof. But if I say the truth, you believe me not,”(John 8:44-45).
It is never surprising to find the links between the groups that served as forerunners for Traditionalism and Traditionalism itself, as if the powers that be were testing the waters to see the response, (which they were). While many will object that the heresy first inspired by Rev. Leonard Feeney and his St. Benedict Center in the 1940s (Feeneyism) is more conservative Novus Ordo than Traditionalist and even stay-at-home, I beg to disagree. The group has made inroads into all three groups and with the same disastrous results. That is why it is being discussed here.
We all know the drill when it comes to Feeneyism: “outside the Church no salvation,” no one can be truly invincibly ignorant and no one can be saved except by water Baptism. Countless articles have been written refuting the invincible ignorance and water baptism only heresies, beginning with the condemnation of these heresies by the Sacred Congregation in 1949, (Suprema Haec Sacra, not released until Feeney’s excommunication in the early 1950s). To escape this condemnation, Feeney himself accused the Holy Office of heresy, and today one faction of his followers (Immaculata-one, who deny their position is grounded in Feeney’s teachings while following these same teachings to the letter) have declared popes Benedict XV through Pius XII heretics, in order to do as they please. Their “proofs” for this claim are shot through with every fallacious argument foreseen by the scholastics, and is documented largely by the journalistic efforts of Mary Ball Martinez.
Martinez was affiliated with the Vatican press corps during the 1970s-80s; her articles appeared in the National Review, The American Spectator and The Wanderer. Her book, “The Undermining of the Catholic Church,” first printed in 1991, relies largely on documentation provided by clergy and other members of the anti-Church. It cites few Catholic sources, relying quite often on Ball’s own observations and unconfirmed statements based on those observations. While Immacualta-one condemns the Siri theory, its originators’ methods of presentation and documentation are nearly identical, and every bit as flawed. Please see the recently posted article on the anti-Scholastic methods both these groups resort to at: /free-content/reference-links/7-recent-articles/siri-theory-a-good-example-of-anti-scholastic-thinking/ It also bears mentioning here that Leonard Feeney was the editor of The Point, an anti-Jewish publication often bordering on anti-Semitism. This and the broadcasts of Fr. Coughlin account for the anti-Semitic rhetoric currently disseminated by Traditionalists who often cross the line and actually encourage others to persecute Jews, something Popes Pius XI and Pius XII forbade. But then Feeney’s supporters today have excommunicated these popes, so they will have no trouble dismissing their teachings. (See the postings under Recent Articles: Free Content Site for articles on Traditionalists’ attitude toward the Jews.)
While I have been accused recently of “scapegoating Feeneyism,” blaming certain accusers of Feeneyite errors that are only incidental to the bigger picture, this is not the case. Once the history of Feeneyism is studied and understood, it is very clear that what they promote IS very much a Feeney thing and is the actual outgrowth of original Feeney arguments, despite their objections to the contrary. What this and other Feeney factions present is definitely not something springing from them alone — it is too well-entrenched, too virulent, too cocksure of itself. It is something that only is seen in those completely immersed in a longstanding heresy already well developed and disseminated. To this has been grafted additional “proofs” to augment the initial heresy, proofs which would never satisfy those demanded by the Church. In many respects it is anti-Catholic propaganda promoted by Protestants, for which the initial errors concerning justification first sprang. Careful examination of what these website operators present reveals that they use the same methodology and unit of measure employed by Feeney himself to gauge such “heresy,” and in the process become woefully entangled in matters far beyond their ability to process. Is this a snide and condescending remark? No, for as Fr. Frederick Faber explains, some men simply “outrun grace” in reaching for things beyond their understanding. And heresies concerning the operation of grace are what Feeneyism and Traditionalism both share.
First of all, Feeney’s fixation on “outside the Church no salvation” as the “linchpin” heresy of our time caused him to focus only on one aspect of Catholic dogma and teaching to the exclusion of all else. This even though the teaching of the Church is one integral whole, each part meshing perfectly with the preceding part. Rev. Pietro Parente writes concerning this truth: “Christian doctrine is not a fragmentary collection of truths…but a compact system of truths organically elaborated, in which reason moves in the light of faith and divine revelation.” Emboldened by his “discovery,” Feeney launched out into troubled waters. For once he made a name for himself defending the dogma, he helped set up St. Benedict Center in Massachusetts without his superior’s permission and adopted the heretical teaching concerning baptism of desire. (St. Benedict’s proved to be a prototype for later cult-like Traditionalist operations.) Things eventually went from bad to worse. When Feeney’s superiors told him to close the center, he refused. When Rome corrected his teaching on baptism of desire, he accused the Holy Office of heresy. When Pope Pius XII invited him to Rome to explain his teachings, he refused to go, demonstrating his evil intent and pertinacity. Finally after eight years of wrangling with him, Rome issued an excommunication signed by Pope Pius XII. In the instruction on the excommunication sent to the archbishop of Boston by the Sacred Congregation, (referred to as Suprema Haec Sacra), the true teaching of the Church was set forth.
Rev. J. C. Fenton reports: “The Suprema haec sacra insisted again upon the fact that the declaration: ‘there is no salvation outside the Church’ is an infallible statement which the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach, and it qualified this statement as a dogma. It explained that the Church understood this dogma to mean that the Church is necessary for the attainment of eternal salvation with both the necessity of precept and the necessity of means…’ The Sacred Congregation letter states : “No one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have been divinelyestablished by Christ, nevertheless refuses to submit to the Church or withholdsobedience from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth… That one may obtain eternal salvation, it is notalways required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it isnecessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing.However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; butwhen a person is involved in invincible ignorance God accepts also an implicit desire, socalled because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes hiswill to be conformed to the will of God.”
These teachings are in accord with all the Church has ever taught on the subject. It verifies the existence of invincible ignorance in certain cases, but in no way indicates it is a common thing or a certain thing in any particular case. This teaching is far from the teachings of the antipopes following Pius XII who extended salvation to all as though the vast majority could count on being saved willy nilly, when the possibility of salvation accorded those in invincible ignorance by (Pope Pius IX and) Pope Pius XII is qualified as existing outside of Church membership for what appears to be a select minority. The Feeneyites, however, try to attribute this teaching initially to Pope Pius XII, when it existed all along, but never in the sense taught by the anti-Church. This should surprise no one, for Feeney accused the Holy Office of heresy even before the advent of the antipopes; his followers are merely fleshing out and finishing what he began.
As Clarence Kelly and others have observed, Feeney could not equate justification, accompanied by the remission of sins, with salvation. He refused to believe that attaining then maintaining the state of grace, even though outside the Church, could merit Heaven. What else is this than the absolutely Satanic refusal of a heretic to recognize that God, not himself, is sole judge of who will enter Heaven and by what means? That He long ago communicated to His Church through the assistance of the Holy Ghost how this would be done? And now that we have no visible Church, the descendants of these heretics are going to insist that no one can be saved outside of it, even though well meaning Catholics cannot even determine where it now exists. And so we see Leonard Feeney’s denial of God’s mercy to those who could not have known the Church as a visible society cruelly perpetuated through his successors, causing many to despair of ever discovering what now constitutes Christ’s Church on earth. Traditionalists’ hatred of stay- at-home Catholics arises from the same errors concerning the operation of Christ’s grace in the Church. All of those teaching that the Perfect Act of Contrition will not save stay-at-homes are Feeneyites at heart. For they deny that sanctifying grace can be regained by a Perfect Act of Contrition, saving the soul of the stay-at-home, just as Feeney denied it can be gained by perfect love of God and a longing to be included in the true Church of Christ. And both errors spring from the same sources: Protestantism in general and Jansenism.
In his dogmatic Bull “Unigenitus,” Clement XI in 1713 condemned the proposition by the Jansenist Quesnel which falsely stated that: ‘outside the Church, no grace is granted,’ (DZ 1379). In 1690, Alexander VIII had already condemned the Jansenistic proposition of Arnauld that “Pagans, Jews, heretics, and other people of the sort, receive no influx [of grace] whatsoever from Jesus Christ,” (DZ 1295). Also Fr. Henry Semple, S. J., in his “Heaven Open to Souls,” refers to the rigorist doctrine denying remission of sin by a Perfect Act of Contrition as a Jansenist error. The scriptural teaching contrary to this error can be found in Jonas, Ch. 3. First Semple cites the anathema from the Council of Trent against those denying the efficacy of the Perfect Act of Contrition from Session 14, Ch. 4, Can. 5, (DZ 898, 915). “That this contrition is perfect because of charity and reconciles man to God, before this sacrament [Penance] is actually received, this reconciliation nevertheless must not be ascribed to the contrition itself without the desire of the sacrament included in it,” and this is duly stated in the Perfect Act of Contrition itself. Semple then remarks on p. 155: “Each one of the leaders of the Jansenists taught errors identical, or almost identical with these, and were duly condemned by the Holy See,” as shown above.
As Rev. Francis Connell, C.S.S.R. stated, “I strongly recommend that priests frequently instruct their people in the sound principles of Catholic theology concerning the efficacy of perfect contrition and the manner of making a perfect act of contrition…An act of perfect contrition will take away mortal sin at any time and not merely in a crisis…It is not difficult to make an act of perfect contrition for one who firmly believes all the doctrines of the Catholic faith. One who seeks pardon of mortal sins through perfect contrition must have the intention of confessing that sin the next time he receives the Sacrament of Penance — not necessarily as soon as possible,” (emph. his) “In the meantime he may not receive Holy Communion but is in the state of grace, so that if he died suddenly, he would be saved.”
This is clearly in full accord with the teachings of Trent and cannot be refuted as heretical or spurious. And yet the Feeneyists will continue to insist on convoluting the facts and spreading their errors, because it was the pattern set for them by their mentor Fr. Leonard Feeney, whose stubborn recalcitrance gave testimony to the pertinacity that earned him excommunication. How it is they cannot see that Feeney was modeling the Jansenist’s elitist “little church” or “petit eglise,” that his carefully cultured particularization and exclusivity and his hatred for authority was what led to his exclusion from the Church, is a mystery. But having continued to so foully pollute doctrinal waters with their BOB/BOD heresies and misrepresentation of the outside the Church no salvation dogma, can any rational Catholic really doubt the motivation for their “excommunication” of Benedict XV through Pius XII? And given the heresies they hold side by side with these pretended excommunications, how can anyone fail to see that this, too, is simply the full-circle, post-mortem culmination of Feeney’s own seething detestation for the very ones who condemned him?
(Please read also the accompanying article on legalism.)