Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A reader reports

A reader from Southern, New Hampshire has written me and forwarded a link:

At this website, Loreto Publications, which is affiliated with the Saint Benedict Center in Richmond, New Hampshire is described as "protestant":

PO BOX 603FITZWILLIAM, NH 03447-0603
Religious Organization( Protestant)

In reality, the Saint Benedict Center is more of a cult than anything else. One of the chief characteristics of a cult is the severing of family ties with one's natural parents, siblings, relatives and friends. This will vary in both degree and intensity among the various cults and will include not only physical alienation but at times psychological alienation as well. From the very beginning, Fr. Leonard Feeney's followers included 72 slaves who cut off all communication with their families. These followers lived together with Fr. Feeney as their spiritual leader and some of them dropped out of Harvard.

Another characteristic of a cult is the presence of a living, charismatic leader who is usually male (but not always) who controls the movement. There is also a demand of absolute loyalty and obedience, with no allowance for disagreement or direct input from the followers regarding philosophy or ideology. This is also very significant since, as Mr. Joseph Dever reported in his book entitled Cushing of Boston: A Candid Portrait, "Anyone who has ever been to St. Benedict Center during the first days of deterioration, or to the Sunday 'seances' at the Boston Common during the final days, can recall some of Father Feeney's sick, horrifying rhetoric. Even in the early days, no difference of opinion, no matter how gentle or reasonable, would be tolerated. At St. Benedict's one of his young lady patronesses had given the Center a set of her family's valuable and heavy brass candlesticks; they stood imposingly on a pamphlet table. During one of Feeney's famous 'one-way-street' lectures, this gentle soul had the temerity to demur from some point the leprechaun-like priest had made. Feeney pointed to the door and crisply said: 'Out!'...This particular young lady, when she divined that he meant what he said, showed a good, healthy flash of Irish temper. 'I'll go,' she said, 'but I'll take my candlesticks!' With that, she arose, rushed to the table, and with an effort embraced both huge candlesticks and walked slowly, bravely, out the door." (pp. 145-146).

Yet another characteristic of a cult is the selling of merchandise and/or courses as a means of fund-raising. And it's usually the leadership elite who benefits the most from the raised monies. Now, the Saint Benedict Center is in the business of selling books (through Loreto Publications) and offers courses from its "Saint Augustine Institute of Catholic Studies." With almost certainty, the Saint Benedict Center uses this "institute" as a vehicle to promote its distorted interpretation of the dogma Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus - Without the Church there is no salvation.

Lastly, one of the major characteristics of a cult is that the "new truths" which are advanced (in the case of the Saint Benedict Center a private interpretation of Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus which contradicts the Church's understanding of the dogma) must not be questioned but blindly accepted and meditated upon or studied. Anyone refusing to adhere to these "new truths" is ostracized and condemned, villified. I spoke with a Catholic layman who questioned the Saint Benedict Center's interpretation of the dogma Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. This gentleman had moved to Richmond because he was interested in attending Mass at the Center and being part of the community there. He was immediately denounced and condemned as a "heretic and apostate" and was ostracized.

One of the members of the Saint Benedict Center told me that he owns many guns, would like to see the government take them away, and that he and others at the Center study martial arts so that they may better defend themselves. This man spoke of "holy hate" and how he couldn't care less if the Church excommunicates him. Mr. Douglas Bersaw, a prominent member of the SBC cult, is on record as having denied the Holocaust and was quoted by The Boston Globe as having said that Pope John Paul II was one of the Catholic Church's worst popes.

Is the Saint Benedict Center a cult? In my view, it is. I just hope that we don't have to experience another Waco before most people come to realize that something is radically wrong in Richmond, New Hampshire.

Paul Anthony Melanson


Anonymous said...

There are definitely red flags there. Could the anti-semitism at the saint benedict center erupt into actual violence? Only time will tell. For now, it seems that they are content with promoting anti-semitism in many subtle ways. Mr. Matthew Anger has started a blog called Fringewatcher in which he examines conservative Catholic groups which tend toward anti-semitism or which are blatantly anti-semitic. The site:

Anonymous said...

One has to wonder where the hatred comes from. Or how the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary" reconcile anti-Semitic hatred with the theological virtue of love.

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