Denis Fahey

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Fr. Denis Fahey, C.S.Sp.
Born (1883-07-03)3 July 1883
Golden, County Tipperary, Ireland
Died 21 January 1954(1954-01-21) (aged 70)
Occupation priest, philosopher, theologian
Nationality Irish
Genre Scholasticism, Social Catholicism
Subject Christ the King, monetary reform, counterrevolution
Notable works The Rulers of Russia

Father Denis Fahey, C.S.Sp. (3 July 1883 – 21 January 1954) was an Irish Catholic priest. Fahey promoted the Catholic social doctrine of Christ the King, and was involved in Irish politics through his organisation Maria Duce. Fahey firmly believed that "the world must conform to Our Divine Lord, not He to it", defending the Mystical Body of Christ without compromise. This often saw Fahey in conflict with systems which he viewed as promoting "naturalism" against Catholic order—particularly communism, freemasonry and rabbinic Judaism.[1]

Early life and studies

Born in Golden, County Tipperary he was educated at Rockwell College and at 17 entered the Holy Ghost Congregation to train to become one of the Holy Ghost Fathers. He was sent by the order to Orly in 1900 as a novice, not long after the government of René Waldeck-Rousseau had begun an anti-clerical drive in the aftermath of the Dreyfus Affair. Although illness prevented him from completing his time in France, the episode was to influence his later ideas on relations between Church and State.[2] As a youth Fahey had excelled at rugby union and he had played on the same team as Éamon de Valera for a time, cementing a lifelong association between the two.[3]

After working at St. Mary's College, Dublin, Fahey returned to studies at the Royal University of Ireland in 1904, achieving a first class honours degree, later studying at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome before finally being ordained a priest in 1910. Returning to Ireland, he was appointed Senior Scholasticate of the Irish Province of the Holy Ghost Fathers at Kimmage in 1912.[4]

Early writings

Fahey began to turn his attention to writing in the early 1920s, submitting articles for a number of Catholic journals, including the prestigious Irish Ecclesiastical Record, most of which were philosophical in nature. Coming from a position of neo-Scholasticism, his early theological works included Kingship of Christ According to the Principles of St. Thomas Aquinas, with its foreword written by Father John Charles McQuaid, the head of Blackrock College.[5] At this early stage Fahey had little involvement in political issues, beyond being a strong supporter of Catholic Action as a bulwark against secularisation.[5] In this respect Fahey was one of a number of prominent clergymen, including McQuaid, Edward Cahill and Alfred O'Rahilly, who praised what they saw as the value of Catholic Action in this respect.[6]

It was in his books, most notably The Kingship of Christ and Organised Naturalism (1943) and The Mystical Body of Christ and the Reorganisation of Society (1945), that Fahey began to turn his attention to more political matters.[7] Much of Fahey's anti-Judaic stance influenced other members of the church, such as Father Charles Coughlin, a Canadian priest who regularly used references on his radio programs from Fahey's work.[8]

View of history

At the heart of much of Fahey's work was his belief in the existence of a divine programme which he understood to have been proclaimed by Jesus but rejected by the Jews. In Fahey's doctrine, history was to be understood as the "account for the acceptance or rejection of Our Lord's programme for order".[9] He argued that the medieval guild system had come closest to reaching the programme, and that since then society had gone into decay as it moved away from the ideal. The three main events in this process of decay had been the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution and the October Revolution, the last being initiated by Satan.[10] Fahey believed that the gradual Sovietization of the British Empire and the United States had begun through the founding of the Fabianism movement.[11]

Fahey felt that the contemporary Catholic Church faced its greatest challenge from the forces of naturalism, be they invisible (Satan and other demons) or visible (Jews and Freemasons).[12] Tapping into contemporary campaigns by parties such as Cumann na nGaedheal, Fahey wrote a series of articles for John J. O'Kelly's Catholic Bulletin attacking Freemasonry in particular and secret societies in general, referring frequently to the work of Edward Cahill.[13] His works appeared in the French language in Canada, having been translated by Adrien Arcand.[14]

He felt that there was a Judeo-Masonic conspiracy against the programme of Christ, and among other statements asserted that Jews had a hand in the propagation of communism. As a result, Fahey was strongly opposed to the Irish Republican Army, which he claimed was a communist organisation.[15]

Monetary reform

In his 1944 book Money, Manipulation and Social Order, Fahey turned towards the subject of economic reform. In this book he attacked gold standard economies, which he felt were debt-driven. Drawing on the ideas of Frederick Soddy, with whom he was in regular correspondence, Fahey wanted banks to be forced to balance all loans with holding of currency. Although he was not directly linked to such contemporary movements as Social Credit or Guild socialism, Fahey certainly shared elements of their economic ideas.[16] He had previously written in support of the views of An Ríoghacht – which advocated an Irish monetary system completely independent of the United Kingdom – in an article for the journal Hibernia in 1938.[17]

Maria Duce

Fahey had been closely involved with Edward Cahill's An Ríoghacht study group, although following Cahill's death in 1941 this organisation became more mainstream and less concerned with conspiracy theories. As a result, Fahey began to organise his own group, Maria Duce, the following year to continue this work.[18] With a membership drawn from various facets of society and with a programme largely the same as Fahey's, Maria Duce came to prominence in 1949 by launching a campaign to amend Article 44 of the Constitution of Ireland. This article had recognised the "special position" of the Catholic Church in Ireland although it also recognised various Protestant creeds, as well as Judaism. Ireland became the first country to recognise the rights of minority faiths such as Judaism as equal with the majority faith in its constitution.[19] Fahey argued that this was insufficient and that the Constitution should recognise the Catholic Church as being divinely ordained and separate from 'man-made' religions.[20] Fahey called into question the loyalty of Irish Jews to the Irish State.[21] The campaign succeeded in securing a resolution of support from Westmeath county council in 1950, but no further progress towards the goal of a constitutional amendment was made.[22]

Archbishop McQuaid

Fahey's writings have been a source of controversy, both in his lifetime and since.[citation needed] Writing to Joseph MacRory in 1942, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin stated that

Dr Fahey will certainly not err in doctrine, but he is capable of making statements and suggestions that are not capable of proof by any evidence available to the censors... I have been obliged to watch carefully his remarks upon the Jews. [He] will frequently err in good judgement, and this error will take the shape of excerpts from newspapers as proof of serious statements, unwise generalisations and, where Jews are concerned, remarks capable of rousing the ignorant or malevolent. In his own Congregation, Fr Fahey is not regarded as a man of balanced judgement. He is a wretched Professor, obscure and laborious.[23]

Although Fahey's Maria Duce organisation was initially left to its own devices, Archbishop McQuaid grew less sympathetic to it in the latter half of the 1950s. He condemned the group for their heavy-handed reaction to requests for an interview from the anti-Catholic American writer Paul Blanshard (whom Bishop McQuaid felt should have been treated courteously despite disagreeing strongly with him).[24] McQuaid went as far as to write to Fahey in 1954 stating that he opposed the latter's association of the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary with his organisation.[25] Fahey died before any response could be made, and the group was disbanded the following year; McQuaid took on the group afterward.[26]


Fahey left behind a large written body of work that he did not protect by copyright, instead leaving it in the public domain. Some of his publications remain in print in the United States, where he continues to have a following.[27] Antisemitic activist L. Fry also promoted much of Fahey's work on the decay of Christianity. People in Irish political circles also tried to set up movements adopting some Fahey's strong beliefs on Catholicism, coupled with a more extreme form nationalism; such figures included Gerry McGeough, who founded the magazine The Hibernian, and Irish conservative nationalist Justin Barrett.


Fahey was known to be hypersensitive to criticism of his work and was even driven to physical illness by anti-Christian arguments. He avoided social gatherings and was uncomfortable meeting people, which was in part caused by his consistent bouts of migraine.[28] Archbishop McQuaid, despite his severe criticisms of Fahey's writings, described him as "a most exemplary priest, of deep sanctity, and a man who will very generously sacrifice his time and health to help anyone: not a small sign of genuine holiness."[23]


  • Fahey, Denis. Mental Prayer According to the Teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Dublin: M.H. Gill, 1927.
  • Fahey, Denis. The Kingship of Christ, According to the Principles of St. Thomas Aquinas. Dublin, London: Browne and Nolan, Ltd, 1931.
  • Phillippe, A., and Denis Fahey. The Social Rights of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ, the King. Dublin: Browne and Nolan, 1932.
  • Philippe, Auguste, and Denis Fahey. The Social Rights of Our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, the King; Adapted from the French of the Rev. A. Philippe, C. SS. R. Dublin [etc.]: Browne and Nolan, 1932.
  • Fahey, Denis. The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern World. Dublin: Browne and Nolan, 1935.
  • Le Rohellec, Joseph, Denis Fahey, and Stephen Rigby. Mary, Mother of Divine Grace. Palmdale, Calif: Christian Book Club of America, 1937.
  • Joannès, G., and Denis Fahey. O Women! What You Could Be. [Dublin]: Browne and Nolan, 1937.
  • Fahey, Denis. The Mystical Body of Christ and the Reorganization of Society. Waterford, Ireland: Browne and Nolan, 1939.
  • Fahey, Denis. The Rulers of Russia. 3rd American edition, revised and enlarged. Detroit: Condon Print. Co., 1940.
  • Fahey, Denis. The Kingdom of Christ and Organized Naturalism. Wexford, Ireland: Forum Press, 1943.
  • Fahey, Denis. Money Manipulation and Social Order. Cork: Browne and Nolan Ltd, 1944.
  • Fahey, Denis. The Tragedy of James Connolly. Cork: Forum Press, 1947.
  • Fahey, Denis. The Rulers of Russia and the Russian Farmers. Maria Regina series, no. 7. Thurles: Co. Tipperary, 1948.
  • Fahey, Denis. Grand Orient Freemasonry Unmasked as the Secret Power Behind Communism. 1950. republication of George F. Dillon's work.
  • Fahey, Denis. Humanum Genus: Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII on Freemasonry. London: Britons Publishing Society, 1953.
  • Fahey, Denis. The Church and Farming. Cork: The Forum Press, 1953.
  • Fahey, Denis. The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation. Dublin: Holy Ghost Missionary College, 1953.
  • Fahey, Denis. The Rulers of Russia. 3d. Ed., Rev. and Enl. Hawthorne, Calif: Christian Book Club of America, 1969.
  • Fahey, Denis. Money Manipulation and the Social Order. Dublin: Regina Publications, 1974.
  • Fahey, Denis. Secret Societies and the Kingship of Christ. Palmdale, Calif: Christian Book Club of America, 1994.
  • Fry, L., and Denis Fahey. Waters Flowing Eastward; The War against the Kingship of Christ.. London: Britons Pub. Co, 1965.


  • The Coughlin-Fahey connection : Father Charles E. Coughlin, Father Denis Fahey, C.S. Sp., and religious anti-Semitism in the United States, 1938–1954, Mary Christine Athans, P. Lang, 1991 New York, ISBN 0-8204-1534-0

See also


  1. "Political Catholicism in Post-War Ireland: The Revd Denis Fahey and Maria Duce, 1945–54". Cambridge University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Retrieved on 9 August 2009.
  2. Enda Delaney, 'Political Catholicism in Post-War Ireland', Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 52, No. 3, July 2001, pp. 488–489
  3. Maurice Curtis, A Challenge to Democracy: Militant Catholicism in Modern Ireland, The History Press Ireland, 2010, p. 131
  4. Delaney, op cit, pp. 489–490
  5. 5.0 5.1 Curtis, A Challenge to Democracy, p. 120
  6. Curtis, A Challenge to Democracy, p. 127
  7. Delaney, op cit, p. 490
  8. A New Perspective on Father Charles E. Coughlin Mary Christine Athans Church History Vol. 56, No. 2 (Jun. 1987), pp. 224–235
  9. Fahey, The Mystical Body pp. 150–151
  10. Delaney, op cit, p. 491
  12. Delaney, ref, p. 492
  13. Delaney, op cit p. 493
  14. Delaney, op cit, p. 496
  15. Delaney, op cit, p. 494
  16. Delaney, op cit, p. 493-494
  17. Curtis, A Challenge to Democracy, p. 146
  18. Delaney, op cit, p. 497
  19. Price, Stanley: Somewhere to Hang My Hat: An Irish-Jewish Journey (2002).
  20. Delaney, op cit, pp. 500–502
  21. The Jews in Ireland,
  22. Delaney, op cit, p. 502
  23. 23.0 23.1 John Cooney, John Charles McQuaid: Ruler of Catholic Ireland (Dublin: The O'Brien Press, 2000), 162.
  24. Delaney, op cit, p. 506-507
  25. Delaney, op cit, p. 507
  26. Delaney, op cit, p. 510
  27. Catholic Heritage Books
  28. Appreciation of Fr Fahey from the Society of St. Pius X

External links