Vatican upholds prohibitions placed on Feeneyite group by diocese in New Hampshire

St Peters Basilica at the Vigil of Divine Mercy April 2 2016 Credit Alexey Gotovskiy CNA St. Peter's Basilica. | Alexey Gotovskiy/CNA.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has declined to consider an appeal by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary located in New Hampshire against prohibitions placed on them by the Diocese of Manchester.

The group, located in Richmond, N.H., about 60 miles southwest of Manchester, has roots in an order originally founded by Fr. Leonard Feeney.

The Diocese of Manchester had placed the group under precepts of prohibition, effective Jan. 7, 2019, because of obstinacy in their theological position regarding the principle that there is no salvation outside the Church. They were prohibited from referring to themselves as an association of the faithful in the Church and having sacraments celebrated at their property, among other things.

The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart appealed the prohibitions to the CDF, but "Rome chose not to consider the appeal," Fr. Georges de Laire, judicial vicar of the Diocese of Manchester, said, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

"The decision from CDF says that it was rejected because it fell outside the statute of limitations," Fr. de Laire said.

He told the Union Leader that the diocese is "now engaged in an effort to dialogue" with the group and to encourage them to observe the prohibitions, and that the diocese has a "complicated relationship" with the Slaves.

Bishop Peter Libasci of Manchester "remains hopeful that a solution can be identified," Fr. de Laire said. "The bishop is committed to the Slaves and their supporters, as they are members of the Church and he owes them ministry."

That membership in the Church is necessary for all men for salvation is a truth of revelation; however, actual membership can, in special circumstances, be replaced by a desire, even implicit, for this membership.

The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Richmond are not affiliated in any way with the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary located in Still River, Mass. That community, also rooted in an order first founded by Fr. Feeney, was refounded in 1976, and was regularized by the Bishop of Worcester in 2002.

In October 2016 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote to Brother Andre Marie, leader of the group based in Richmond, that the position he retains - that articles from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Dominus Iesus on the principle 'outside the Church there is no salvation' have been given different readings that are contrary to one another, and it is permissible to hold the position that these articles contradict previous Church teaching - is unacceptable.

On that basis, and that the Slaves had persisted in their obstinacy and that scandal had continued, the Manchester diocese placed the prohibitions on the group which were to take effect in January 2019. The decree of prohibitions bears the signatures of Fr. de Laire and of Diane Quinlan, the diocesan chancellor.

The decree stated that only the Anointing of the Sick for a person in danger of physical death by an approved priest would be allowed at the group's property, and that no priest would validly hear Confession and impart Absolution at the property except for a penitent in imminent danger of physical death.

It added that documents signed by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart in April and July 2009, after which the then-bishop had provided for a priest to say Mass at their property, were null and void.

Our mission is the truth. Join us!

Your monthly donation will help our team continue reporting the truth, with fairness, integrity, and fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Church.