Father Feeney

By DAVE O'BRIAN  |  October 9, 2009

The October, 1954 Point said Jews were driven with “the wild, frenzied aim” of destroying Christianity.  Clothes designed by Jewish tailors, it said, have been innocently accepted by Catholics “as being merely modern and American, not suspecting that these clothes have been foisted on the country for the purpose of demoralizing and degrading it.”  Jews control movies and newspapers, the publication charged, and unsuspecting Catholics are being indoctrinated by them.

And on and on.  The paranoia of it all would be amusing if it were not so, well…for example: Six of Feeney’s supporters were arrested in a scuffle at Notre Dame College in ’55, and one of them delivered the classic quote of them all: “The first sign of approaching damnation is that Notre Dame has Protestants on its football team.”

The Raleigh, (North Carolina) News and Observer commented, after the Notre Dame incident, “There’s nothing funny, however, about furious fanatics on either side of the line of doctrinal division between Catholics and Protestants.”  Feeney’s group, the paper said, has as its sole purpose “hate and bitterness between men of religion.” 

They didn’t know the half of it.  Remember Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s witty, spiritually enlightening TV program, Life is Worth Living? Surely Feeney could find no fault with his holy man’s innocuous teachings.

“I think it is a mortal sin for Bishop Sheen, week after week, to be on television and never mention the Blessed Sacrament and the Hail Mary.  That is a mortal sin.  My own prayer is that he will have the courage to confess it.  If he does not, he will go to hell.”

Not to be too hard on a righteous man of the cloth (defrocked or not), but Feeney was becoming a difficult man to live with—except for his band of loyal Feeneyites, young college students from Harvard, Radcliffe and other Boston area schools who were absolutely devoted to him, so much so that many were reportedly turning against their friends and families.

Most of the Feeney quotations were supplied to me by the B’nai B’rith, which, of course, took off after Feeney for his anti-Semitism.  The mother of one of the Feeneyites, a girl who is still cloistered at the Harvard commune, was so heartbroken when her daughter spat on her that she offered her shorthand talents to the B’nai B’rith and began taking down every word that the defrocked Father and his fanatical followers uttered during their Sunday services.  Incredibly, the organization had in its files at one point virtually every word uttered by the Feeneyites every Sunday for the entire eight-year period. 

Those sermons, judging by transcripts in the B’nai B’rith files, were lots of fun.  On May 3, 1956, Feeney was talking (as a random example) about how the Jewish culture was saturating the city of Boston with “every kind of filth imaginable.”

"They will never succeed in getting me off the Common,” he vowed.  “I will be here every Sunday getting under your thick Jewish skins until the day I die.”

A heckler: “You’re a nut and a phoney, Feeney.”

Feeney turns deep purple and calls the heckler “a filthy adulterous kike.” 

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