March 2017 Print

An Irish Writer and Apostle for Christ the King

by Fr. Dominique Bourmaud, SSPX

On July 3, 1883, the man whom many consider the 20th century’s Apostle for the Social Reign of Christ the King came into the world, Fr. Denis Fahey. He was born into a truly devout Irish Catholic family and into a local environment in Golden, County Tipperary, saturated with the values of the true faith. In his childhood he would have heard many a tale of the sufferings of his ancestors for their Catholic faith in the not so distant past. Denis Fahey entered the Holy Ghost Congregation which developed him in his formative years.

The Formation of an Apostle

Sent to study in Rome, his high intelligence blossomed, but more importantly his faith in the Catholic Church as the Mystical Body of Christ deepened. Fahey’s study of history, viewed from the standpoint of the Faith, “which casts a new light on everything,” showed him the true meaning of the world and man. God knows best how man is to function. Only by living as God made him to live as individual and citizen can man attain peace on earth and eternal happiness in heaven.

Secularism, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, pretends that moral conduct should be determined exclusively by reference to social well-being. It is a view of life based on the premise that religion and considerations of God and the Future life should be excluded. Its other name is Naturalism, so dangerous to souls. Fr. Fahey’s The Kingship of Christ and Organized Naturalism, quotes Cardinal Pie: “Wherever the breath of Naturalism has passed, the very source of Christian life has dried up.” No clearer illustration of this truth can be given than the secular agenda promoting laws which have introduced divorce, abortion, and sodomy into almost all Western countries.

This is the age-old conflict of Light versus Darkness, of Good versus Evil, of Christianity versus Paganism. Fr. Fahey foresaw this and fought all his life to repel the attack on Christ and his Church. Once, in a lecture to the Holy Ghost Scholastics, commenting on some scurrilous attack on him in the media, Fahey declared, “I have said what I shall be glad to have said at Judgment.” This fearless champion of God’s rights knew how to be humorous. His students have fond memories of their teacher:

“It was as a teacher of Philosophy that most of us first encountered Father Fahey. We felt we were in the presence of one who was great because he was good, good with the goodness of God.  He had a rare sense of humor which found expression often at his own expense but never at the expense of others. He was wont to get quite a large mail from England and America, a large proportion of it from non-Catholics, writers in various social fields, who sought his advice and criticism. One day holding up a sheaf of such correspondence he remarked in his high-pitch voice: ‘They said Father Fahey had a bee in his bonnet, but now they are all coming looking for the honey!!’”

Standing Firm for Christ’s Kingship

Because he did not approve of Article 44 of the 1937 Constitution of Eire, he was termed “unpatriotic” by many. But, pointing out that such a disapproval flows from the principles of Catholic social teaching as inevitably as water from a fountain, Fr. Fahey explained: “The Popes posit the major premise: Article 44 provides the minor premise—and they all jump on me because I draw the conclusion!” The humor in the situation was the humor of the logician. As an Irish priest, however, he felt very keenly the infidelity to Christ contained in Article 44. It haunted his waking hours and disturbed his brief moments of repose.

Deeply Irish he certainly was, Fr. Fahey was fond of his Tipperary roots. The locals spoke of “Father Denis” with an affection and legitimate pride.  His sermons on the Sundays of his brief annual sojourn in his native parish were eagerly anticipated.  He knew his audience. That is why perhaps one of his listeners could pay him a tribute and make an important distinction at the same time.  “He’s a Tipperary man, is Father Denis, and hurling is in his blood. He never delays us on the Sunday of the Munster Final and thinks nothing of cycling the 25 odd miles to be present himself!”

Forced to write his apologia, he gives us an interesting and revealing flash-back on his student-days at Rome during the Pontificate of the St. Pius X:

“When in Rome, I began to realize more fully the real significance of the history of the world as the account of the acceptance and rejection of Our Lord’s program for order. I used to ask permission to remain at the Confession of St. Peter while the other scholastics went sightseeing around the Basilica. I spent the time there going over the history of the world, and I repeatedly promised St. Peter that if I ever got the chance, I would teach the truth about his Master in the way he and his successors, the Roman pontiffs, wanted it done. That is what I have striven to do and am doing.”

Though his writings where at first sight so varied, ranging from a treatise on mental prayer to a book on money, there is continuity and consistency throughout. He disapproved of Article 44 because it could not be reconciled with the traditional teaching of the Sovereign Pontiffs on the Social Rights of Christ the King. He opposed Freemasonry because it stood for organized and insidious opposition to the influence of the Mystical Body in society. He exposed and deplored the machinations of International Finance as a perversion of God’s order. Money in the hands of a small but powerful minority, instead of being the servant of prosperous family life, was imposing iniquitous conditions hostile to the life of Grace on millions of people.

Besides his priestly duties, professorship, and writing, Fr. Fahey was engaged in a considerable amount of “activism.” He founded Maria Duce [“With Mary as Our Leader”], an organization of likeminded clerics and laity whose purpose was to combat the cultural Marxism that was beginning to infiltrate and corrupt Irish life. Detested by Modernists even today, Maria Duce took concrete action to organize protests, petition politicians, and distribute written materials. Its hard-hitting periodical, Fiat, named names and kept records of those who sought to pollute and break down traditional Irish life.

Challenging the Media in the Name of Truth

Because of his books Fr. Fahey gained an international following, especially in America, where his work received notoriety through his association with the “radio priest” Fr. Charles Coughlin. Fr. Coughlin often quoted passages from Fr. Fahey’s books on his broadcasts and in the pages of his publication, Social Justice. Although Fr. Coughlin ended his popular radio program in 1942 (the same year, coincidently, that Fr. Fahey started Maria Duce), mostly because of pressure from Church authorities due to his criticism of the Roosevelt Administration and his supposed “anti-Semitism,” Fr. Fahey continued his activities despite a growing coolness by Irish ecclesiastics to his endeavors.

Fr. Fahey understood better than most how the media of film, television, radio, music, and the print industry were being used by the enemies of Christ the King to subvert society. Through Maria Duce, he sought to challenge and oppose these media. It would be almost impossible to deny that the cultural revolution sweeping the Western world during the 1960s was brought about, in large measure, by the forces that controlled the mass media. These media outlets, by the mid-20th century, would be just as important in the formation of public opinion, values, and mores as schools, churches, academia, and governments. Yet it was lights like Fr. Fahey and the pre-Vatican II popes who understood what was taking place in their own time and combated it. Unfortunately, that fight went out of the hearts and minds of many Westerners as they left their society defenseless against the onslaught of the cultural Marxists.

As we scan these achievements, one may be tempted to think of Fr. Fahey as the perpetual opponent, condemning this, deploring that. A closer study of the man and his teaching reveals the logic of that opposition, i.e., his unswerving loyalty to Christ. Perhaps his greatest handicap, humanly speaking, was his wisdom. He knew too much! Some thought he was abnormal. He was heard to say one day, apropos a recent attack, “I have been studying the problem for 40 years and it is just possible I may be right after all.” He realized intimately and almost viscerally, that ideas determine the course of history. Thus, he penetrated effortlessly behind the smokescreen of political propaganda and beheld Satan marshaling his minions for yet another attack on the Divine life of Grace. 

What Can We Learn From His Example?

What can traditional Catholics learn from this hero? While the post-conciliar Church erroneously portrays Christ as “milquetoast,” Sacred Scripture often reveals a combative figure. Not unlike his Divine Master, Fr. Fahey was a fighter. While the world and even Churchmen contradicted him, he continued the struggle. To him, the idea of compromise, no matter what allurement may have been offered, was anathema.

Fr. Fahey understood that if Christ was not King of the hearts, minds, and societies that man created, mankind would eventually be doomed. He grieved over his beloved Ireland as it drifted further and further from the ancient Faith, and he warned that if a spiritual reversal did not come about, his kinsmen would be swept away by the cultural upheavals to come. The sorry state of Catholicism today in the Emerald Island demonstrates just how right the priest was. Today, those who hope once again to make the ideal of Christ the King the governing ethos of society must take on the mindset of the indefatigable Fr. Fahey. This also demands that we get to learn these Catholic principles and that we defend them like the walls of the city.