Friday, March 27, 2009

Dulles on Feeney via Cardinal Cushing

Many many papers and holy cards fall out of our books at Loome Theological Booksellers, each item with varying historical significance. The following ended up on my desk the other week:

It's a letter from Richard Cardinal Cushing (which is for sale for $20 – email me if you want to purchase it) to, I assume, one of his parish priests regarding Rome's condemnation of Leonard Feeney's teaching and the work of St. Benedict's Center during the late 1940s in Boston. Feeney gets a bad rap these days (Feeneyism and Feeneyites) so I was surprised and delighted to find this article on Feeney by Avery Cardinal Dulles. Reading this Dulles article I was reminded of two issues of "From the Housetops" that we have in stock:

From the Housetops. Cambridge: St. Benedict Center, 1947.
"From the Housetops Vol. I, No. 4 June, 1947". 60pp booklet in good condition. Inlcudes two articles by Leonard Feeney: "Is Faith a Gift?" and "Sentiment and Emotion". Includes one article by Avery Dulles: "Outline of Art".
Price: $40.00

From the Housetops. Cambridge: St. Benedict Center, 1948.
"From the Housetops Vol. II, No. 4 June, 1948". 50pp booklet in good condition. Inlcudes two articles by Leonard Feeney: "The Four and Forty Rivers" and "Meet Doctor Livermore". Includes one article by Clare Boothe Luce: "A Postscript for the Prejudiced".
Price: $30.00

You can also find many of Feeney's novels by doing an author search for "Feeney" here. If Dulles is more to your liking, see our recent eCatalog of Dulles' works here.

Now, back to Cardinal Cushing's letter. Two passages from his letter stand out:

"You have read of the condemnation by the Holy See of the teaching and actions of St. Benedict's Center . . . It is my wish, therefore, that there be no comment of any kind, either in announcements or sermons, on this matter." – This passage shows Cushing's use of the tactic of silence. Far far better to impose silence on all rather than let rumors and dissension proliferate.

Secondly, "We all sincerely pray that the grace of God will touch the hearts of those associated with this misled group, and move them to seek reconciliation with the Church". – Thus Cardinal Cushing wrote in September of 1949, and, thanks be to God, Feeney and many of his followers were reconciled to the Church in 1974. Am I not the only one who sees in Feeney's situation shades of the present lifting of the excommunications of bishops of the Society of Pius X?

Christopher Hagen


  1. not a bad rap at all, but a very reasonable and reasoned one. And in any case he died a good Roman Catholic....

  2. I'm not a follower of all of Fr Feeney's views, but it's only fair to point out that: 1. his excommunication was for a disciplinary breach rather than for anything doctrinal (shades of the SSPX again); 2. his 'condemnation' such as it was, was in a letter of one cardinal to another, not from the sovereign pontiff; 3. when he was regularized, no retraction of his doctrine was required. These facts are public and beyond doubt.