Sunday, June 28, 2009

*The NY Times, John Birch Society and Father Feeney

Last week, the Times ran an article on the John Birch Society which was brief but good. It's especially vital reading for people who hear about the conspiracy theories driving a lot of far-right politics without knowing their historical context. The John Birch Society invented a number of these theories, and they're still going strong in promoting them. By the way, their national convention this year featured a keynote address by a John Birch supporter named Ron Paul, whose presidential campaign got some of these crackpot theories more attention than they've had in years.

Readers of this blog will find the following quote concerning John McManus, president of the John Birch Society, interesting.

from Firm Against Plots by Evildoers by Dan Barry

In late 2005 . . . (Arthur) Thompson became chief executive (of the John Birch Society) after staging a coup with the help of John McManus, the society’s most prominent member, its longtime president and an ultraconservative Roman Catholic. This prompted some ousted Birchers to disseminate recorded snippets of Mr. McManus lecturing to Catholic groups that Judaism became a dead and deadly religion after the establishment of the Catholic Church.

Mr. McManus is also heard to say that militant Jews have influenced the Freemasons, who are “Satan’s agents,” “the enemies of Christ Church” — and, in the view of the John Birch Society, part of the Illuminati conspiracy to cause world upheaval.

Mr. Thompson said that he was initially outraged by these comments, but that he now understands they were made in the context of Mr. McManus’s belief in Catholicism as the one true faith. He said the John Birch Society has Jewish and black members and has never tolerated anti-Semitism or racism, notwithstanding its notorious opposition to much of the civil rights movement.

So McManus' Birch Society conspiracy mongering has roots in radical traditionalist Catholic thinking, which promotes the idea that a conspiracy of Jews and Freemasons works covertly to destroy the Catholic church. Read here for an example of this line of thinking -- an example which praises McManus by name.

Better yet, try this website which features the anti-Jewish writings of the notorious bigot Father Leonard Feeney, founder in 1949 of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This group runs facilities known as the St. Benedict Center of Still River, Massachusetts and Richmond, New Hampshire. Before founding his radical order, Feeney made a habit of espousing extreme hatred of Jews from atop a soap box in Boston Common, as well as from church pulpits and in college classrooms. The church condemned these activities. When Feeney responded with even more provocative activism, he was excommunicated. (Read here. More on this below.)

Three weeks ago, John McManus gave the commencement speech at the Feeneyites' Immaculate Heart of Mary School. According to that school's website (read here), McManus has been
" a friend of the Center and Third Order member of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary since the 1970's."
McManus, as a Third Order member of the Feeneyites, follows the order's teachings to the letter. Although they do not take all of a monk's vows, such as celibacy or renunciation of possessions, Third Order members literally live under the instruction of the leadership of the order, as if they were monks, and are obliged to serve the order to a much greater degree than ordinary laymen. (In the words of another schismatic tradionalist order, the SSPX, the"Third Order is a state of life midway between the cloister and the world". Read here.)

To get a sense of the nature of this group, read the following excerpt from the Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report concerning this group's facility in Richmond, New Hampshire (read here):

Paul Anthony Melanson, a Catholic writer who lives in nearby Manchester, has been warning of the SBC's extremist rhetoric on his blog for years. In an interview with the Intelligence Report, Melanson said he first became aware of the SBC in 1990. What bothered him most, he said, was the SBC's wholehearted embrace of the thinking of the late Father Leonard Feeney, the founder of the Slaves. Melanson described Feeney as "a tremendously gifted writer and talented man, but also an individual who was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and began to say and do strange things."

Feeney founded the Slaves in Cambridge, Mass., in 1949, long before the Vatican sought to begin a reconciliation with Jews in the 1960s, during the liberalizing Vatican II reforms. He became known for the Jew-bashing sermons he delivered regularly on the Boston Common, like this 1953 rant: "Every Protestant hates the Jews. Harvard loathes Jews. That is why they got a new president — to keep the Jews away! I don't hate Jews for the reason he hates them. I hate them because they hate Jesus. They hate Jesus because they are Jews!"

Feeney was excommunicated that same year, and although he reconciled with the church shortly before his 1979 death, the Diocese of Manchester states that it "has no relationship" with the current Saint Benedict Center (neither does the official Roman Catholic Church). "Therefore," a diocesan official said recently, "faithful Roman Catholics are urged to not participate."

Yet the Slaves hotly defend Feeney and his beliefs from any criticism, echoing the anti-Semitism of their founder as they do.

In 2004, SBC prior Louis Villarrubia, who goes by the name of Brother Andre Marie, put it like this: "If anti-Semitism means opposing the Jews on religious matters, opposing the Zionist state in Palestine (as St. Pius X did), or opposing the Jewish tendency to undermine public morals (widely acknowledged by Catholic writers before the present age of PC [political correctness]), then we could rightly be considered such."

That same year, The Boston Globe quoted Brother Anthony Mary, whose real name is Douglas Bersaw, blaming the Jews for the murder of Christ and denying the World War II Holocaust: "There's a lot of controversy among people who study the so-called Holocaust. There's a misperception that Hitler had a position to kill all the Jews. It's all a fraud. Six million people… it didn't occur."

In 2005, at a radical conference hosted by a group called St. Joseph's Forum, Bersaw added that "the perpetual enemy of Christ is the Jewish nation" and said Jews should be dealt with using "blood and terror if it's required."

McManus not only knows about the Feeneyites bigotry against Jews, he supports these views wholeheartedly and has a history of espousing them. And Father Feeney's views dovetail perfectly with those of the Birchers. Take Feeney's loony 1958 essay on how the Jews used the New York Times to promote communism in Spain and promote what he called the "rape" of "Catholic Palestine" (read here). Here are are two excerpts:

"Essential to the understanding of our chaotic times is the knowledge that the Jewish race constitutes a united anti-Christian bloc within Christian society, and is working for the overthrow of that society by every means at its disposal. And because the daily press, as we know it, is the child of the Masonic era — the era which thinks it meet and just that the Jews should be allowed to subvert Christianity if they can — newspapers have had no sure ground for combating the Jewish take-over. Difficult Gentile journalists have been brought into line simply by being reminded of the Liberal, Masonically-inspired principles which all newspaperdom takes for granted. For example, the Jews have had no difficulty in getting yards of publicity and loud editorial acclaim for their Interfaith and Brotherhood endeavors. The premise underlying these movements — that to adore Christ as God and to reject Him as an impostor are both commendable, brotherly forms of religious activity — is never questioned. And this lack of protest has plainly unnerved Christian resistance to the encroachments of the Jews.

As for the large, distracting doses of smut and scandal which most papers regularly serve up, Jewish interests have done their best to encourage this poisonous diet in a number of ways — perhaps most effectively by waging incessant war against censorship and anti-obscenity regulations, wherever they may be found.

One further, and most necessary, aspect of the Jews’ press campaign has been to make sure that, as their anti-Christian purposes and activities proceed, nothing gets into the papers that would expose them to public view. To this end, they have found that what they cannot achieve by persuasion they can usually get by intimidation.

Because few newspapermen have the fortitude to stand up against high-pressure tactics, even those editors not intellectually convinced of the supremacy of the Jewish race are inclined to print articles favorable to the Jews, or else to keep quiet about them. So effective have Jewry’s organized intimidations proven that many overly-timid or flaccid-willed editors have decided to play safe by turning over to the Jews as many of their news columns as they might require, to be filled with whatever material the Jews might suggest.


(The New York Times') publisher is probably the least rabbinical-looking Hebrew ever to receive a degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary. His name is Arthur Hays Sulzberger, and his particular Jewish news enterprise is called The New York Times.

Unlike some Jewish papers, The New York Times appears daily and in English. Unlike many Jewish papers, the Times employs quantities of non-Jews in all its departments. And like no other Jewish paper (or magazine, or broadcast or news service), Mr. Sulzberger’s is an eminently assimilated one. It travels agreeably in the most rarefied Gentile company. Partisan newsmen look to it as America’s great neutral daily, the nation’s one “newspaper of record.” Scholars the world over cite it as an accepted, standard reference.

Through all these unlikely achievements, the Times has moved with gravity and balance. Cloaked in a conservatism which might have been tailored by the Brooks Brothers themselves, Mr. Sulzberger’s paper gives witness, in print if not in person, to the venerable virtues of that classic individual: the White, the very White, Jew.

But, as happens to the Whitest of them, every once in a while Mr. Sulzberger’s paper forgets itself. The Jewishness comes through. Often, we must say, it is no more than an airy suggestion — like a gentle breeze out of distant delicatessens.

At other times, however, it is close to overwhelming."

Now that the Times has accurately represented the Birchers as nutty for a multitude of far out conspiracy theories, and has also accurately represented McManus as a religious bigot, I wonder if McManus believes the report to be part of the same imaginary Jewish conspiracy decried by his spiritual master Leonard Feeney. If not, he might simply believe as Birch Society founder Robert Welch did, that the Times' criticism of the Birchers was evidence that the Times is an instrument of a non-sectarian international communist conspiracy.

UPDATE: The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary website runs a disclaimer that they do not endorse anti-Semitism (read here [NOTE: this document has been deleted from the Slaves website, but a document containing some of the same text is still available via a third-party archive here.]); however, the disclaimer itself is filled with it. In fact, it goes so far as to recommend a notorious book by Father Denis Fahey which alleged that a conspiracy of Jews and communists sought to destroy the church. This book was an inspiration for the anti-Semitic broadcasts of Father Coughlin. Here's a quote:

Anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews. We love Jews because we want them to convert so that they can live the life of grace and go to heaven. Like many saints (e.g., Sts. Augustine, John Chrysostom, Thomas Aquinas, Maximilian Maria Kolbe and many others), popes (e.g., Pope Benedict XIV) and other great Catholic thinkers (e.g., Hilaire Belloc, Father Dennis Fahey), we realize that the 'organized naturalism' of the Jewish Nation is at enmity with Our Lord’s plan, and this manifests itself in numerous ways. This is not racism, bigotry, or prejudice. It is a fact of history which is very documented. Father Dennis Fahey's balanced and intelligent work, The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation, which bears the imprimatur, is must reading on this subject."

It seems that these people are followers of Fahey's brand of mystical bigotry. (Read here and here.) Fahey is the fountainhead from which much of radical traditionalism's extreme anti-Jewish philosophy springs. I can't do it justice in this space, but here's a one sentence explanation. Fahey believed that the Catholic church was the "Mystical Body of Christ" and that modern Jews seek to kill that body just as, he said, Jews killed the physical body of Christ. In a nutshell, that's the blend of hate and religion espoused by Fahey, Feeney and their followers.

UPDATE 2: Here's a brief 1953 article on Feeney from Time magazine. Its title quotes Feeney himself: "I preach hate".


scbtracker said...

Great posting!!!~
To learn more about the Fenneyites, specifically the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Richmond NH, please go to my blog:

In Richmond we are in the middle of a court battle that has huge implications for not only the 12 members of the planning and zoning boards, but the whole form of local volunteers.

Catholic Mission said...

Fr.Leonard Feeney's supporters:
It is true that the Letter of the Holy Office 1949 had many technical irregularities and it could be a bishop-to-bishop private document. So we can mention this point in our posts and also, that the Letter referred specifically to ‘the dogma’, the ‘infallible statement’.

The text of ' the dogma' supports Fr.Leonard Feeney. The dogma carries the literal interpretation of outside the church no salvation and does not mention the baptism of desire or being saved in invincible ignorance. It does not imply that the baptism of desire etc are explicit exceptions to the dogma.

So the Letter of the Holy Office clearly supports Fr.Leonard Feeney here.

Secondly, while mentioning the technical irregularities of the Letter of the Holy Office 1949 we can also bring it to the attention of others that the baptism of desire is not an exception to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

Whether anyone is saved with the baptism of desire, or with the baptism of desire along with the baptism of water, is in a sense irrelevant to the dogma outside the church no salvation. It does not contradict the literal interpretation of the dogma by Fr.Leonard Feeney. This is also the interpretation of the Church Fathers, the Church Councils and the popes, Vatican Council I and II, all the Catechism including the present one, Dominus Iesus 20 and other magisterial documents.

The baptism of desire is always ‘speculation’, it can never be known to us. If the cardinals who approved the Letter of the Holy Office 1949 assumed that the baptism of desire was an explicit exception to the dogma then they were making an objective, common sense error.

Even though the baptism of desire accompadies by the baptism of water in certain cases known only to God, is a possibility, it is ‘speculative’ and ‘non binding’. Correct, whether it is ‘known to us or not matters not in the least’.

So there is nothing in Vatican Council II or the Letter of the Holy Office which explicitly contradicts the dogmatic teaching ?

Being saved by 'the seeds of the Word', a ' good conscience', 'invincible ignorance', 'imperfect communion', 'elements of sanctification' etc are known only to God. So they are not explicit exceptions to the dogma which says everyone needs to convert into the Catholic Church to avoid the fires of Hell.

The dogma like the New Testament specifially mentions that Jews need to convert to avoid Hell.

-Lionel Andrades

Adam Holland said...

Well that clears that up.


adamhollandblog [AT] gmail [DOT] com