MASONS AND CATHOLICS

I have been posting on the pervasive influence of Freemasonry in Anglo-American culture. Usually, that tradition was very wide-open and generous in terms of its racial and religious attitudes, but there is one enormous exception to that rule, and that concerns Roman Catholics. Indeed, much of European and American politics over the past two centuries has involved a running and often bitter confrontation between Masons and Catholics. Why is that?

As a social and political movement, modern Freemasonry developed in the British Isles, in the early eighteenth century. It was devoted to the idea of brotherhood, and admitted anyone who could subscribe to belief in one God, however that figure was imagined. Christians, Jews and Muslims all qualified under that criterion, as did any Hindus who could assert that the various gods of that faith were manifestations of a higher monotheism.

So why not Catholics? Initially, the hostility derived from Catholics themselves. Masons were quite happy to admit Catholics, but the Catholic Church in absolutist Europe was highly nervous about what they saw as a Protestant-derived cult that taught radical ideas of broad religious tolerance. Also arousing suspicion was the very strong ancient Roman and Roman Law dislike of secret societies of any and all kinds, on the basis that secret groups must have something wicked to conceal. That assumption was all the more likely when the group in question demanded that its members swear oaths of secrecy, framed in astonishingly bloody terms.

Various Popes sternly forbade Catholics from joining lodges. In the words of the pioneering 1738 document,

Now it has come to Our ears, and common gossip has made clear, that certain Societies, Companies, Assemblies, Meetings, Congregations or Conventicles called in the popular tongue Liberi Muratori or Francs Massons or by other names according to the various languages, are spreading far and wide and daily growing in strength; and men of any Religion or sect, satisfied with the appearance of natural probity, are joined together, according to their laws and the statutes laid down for them, by a strict and unbreakable bond which obliges them, both by an oath upon the Holy Bible and by a host [sic] of grievous punishment, to an inviolable silence about all that they do in secret together. But it is in the nature of crime to betray itself and to show itself by its attendant clamor. Thus these aforesaid Societies or Conventicles have caused in the minds of the faithful the greatest suspicion, and all prudent and upright men have passed the same judgment on them as being depraved and perverted. For if they were not doing evil they would not have so great a hatred of the light.

By 1917, a Catholic who joined a Masonic Lodge faced automatic excommunication.

Lest you think that I am putting all the blame on one side, Masons in various countries did become viscerally anti-Catholic and anti-clerical, and lodges became the foci of radical political movements aimed at undermining the established royal and Catholic ancien regime. You get a wonderful sense of the political significance of Freemasonry from modern histories of the Radical Enlightenment by Margaret Jacob and Jonathan Israel.

That radical Masonry found its manifesto, and its greatest monument, in Mozart’s Magic Flute (1791). I quote Ritchie Robertson’s essay “Freemasons vs Jesuits”:

“Freemasonry flourished especially in Vienna, where a particularly famous lodge was “Zur wahren Eintracht” (True Harmony). Its grand master, Ignaz von Born, is often said to be the original of Sarastro in The Magic Flute. He was a well-known mineralogist, and sought to make his lodge into a centre of literary and scientific activity. He showed his versatility by also writing an extremely scurrilous anticlerical satire, Specimen monachologiae methodo Linnaeana, which purported to classify the various monastic orders as species in the manner of Linnaeus and defined the monk as “an anthropoid, cassock-wearing, thirsty animal that howls at night”.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Freemasonry became the principal vehicle for militant secularism and anti-clericalism. Those struggles almost led to overt civil war in France in the Dreyfus years, and they actually did spark armed violence in Spain and Mexico in the 1930s. It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that if you ignore Freemasonry, you have no hope of understanding Mexican history over the past century or so. Meanwhile, Masonic support of Jewish emancipation in Europe provoked reactionary denunciations of the “Masonic-Jewish” conspiracy, which was later expanded to include Bolsheviks.

Masons came to occupy a primary place in Nazi and ultra-Right demonology.

Matters were of course very different in the Anglo-American world, but Freemasons had a progressive bent. At least nine of 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons.

Through the nineteenth century, Freemasons and Catholics remained at odds over such issues as Catholic Emancipation, public education, and immigration. Masonic lodges tended to be anti-Catholic, and to be linked, explicitly or otherwise, to anti-Catholic mass movements.

This rivalry existed at all levels of society. Protestants enjoyed the great advantages of the Masonic order, in supplying mutual support in times of trouble, and also in creating invaluable networks in business, law and government. Feeling themselves excluded, the growing immigrant population (mainly Catholics) created their own pseudo-Masonic counterparts, most successfully the Knights of Columbus, which dates from 1882.

Although not well remembered today, the great American popular movement of the late nineteenth century was the American Protective Association, which preached radical anti-Catholicism, and prepared to resist a feared Catholic coup d’état. Founded in 1887, the movement’s support ran into the hundreds of thousands at least, chiefly in the Midwest. Its founder was Henry F. Bowers, a Freemason, who structured the movement on Masonic lines, with regalia, oaths and initiations. The APA oath specified that,

I do most solemnly promise and swear that I will always, to the utmost of my ability, labor, plead and wage a continuous warfare against ignorance and fanaticism; that I will use my utmost power to strike the shackles and chains of blind obedience to the Roman Catholic church from the hampered and bound consciences of a priest-ridden and church-oppressed people; that I will never allow any one, a member of the Roman Catholic church, to become a member of this order, I knowing him to be such; that I will use my influence to promote the interest of all Protestants everywhere in the world that I may be; that I will not employ a Roman Catholic in any capacity if I can procure the services of a Protestant.

Similar Masonic precedents marked the post-1915 Ku Klux Klan, which became a national US phenomenon between 1921 and 1926, drawing perhaps five million members at its height. And at this stage, the KKK was at least as heavily devoted to anti-Catholic and anti-immigration causes as to anti-Black racism. The Klan found its local leadership in Masonic lodges, and especially among local clergy. In order to appeal to Masons and other fraternal organizations, the Klan offered a rich mythology and heraldry, with all the mystique implied by its hierarchy of “Hydras, Great Titans, Furies, Giants, Exalted Cyclops, Terrors,” its distinctive secret language, and an elaborate system of progressive initiations, of signs and countersigns. (I published on this at some length in my 1997 book Hoods and Shirts).

It’s an oddity of US political history that histories of the mighty Klan of the 1920s pay so little attention to the APA, which was its immediate ancestor.

This political alignment created some outcomes that look distinctly odd today. If you look at Klan or Masonic literature in the 1920s and 1930s, you find a list of political concerns that look surprisingly, well, Left-wing. Masons favored strict secularization in the public schools, as a bulwark against Catholic incursions. They also fought hard against foreign interventionism: Catholics, on the other side, were pushing for armed US intervention against the anti-clerical Masonic regime in Mexico, and later against the anti-clerical Left in Spain.

In the US and Britain, these interfaith tensions focused on Masons and anti-Masonic conspiracy theories declined in later years, but they remained strong elsewhere, particularly in regions with populations derived from Ulster or Scotland. The Orange Order, so powerful in such lands, is a close relative of Freemasonry.

So this is a long and complex history, but one with political ramifications across the West.

 

 

 

  • http://www.bavarian-illuminati.info/ quibuslicet

    This is a very knowledgeable overview of the tit-for-tat maneuvering on both sides. I would only nitpick that you didn’t mention the Illuminati since Ignaz von Born was their appointed leader in Austria and the lodge Zur wahren Eintracht, of which he was master, was fully “illuminized.” Also, utilizing/infiltrating masonic lodges as the “principal vehicle for militant secularism and anti-clericalism” begins properly with the Illuminati and reaches its greatest expression in revolutionary groups such as the Italian Carbonari (beginning in the early 1800s), the French Charbonnerie (in the 1820s) and in the octopus of secret societies controlled or founded by Filippo Buonarroti (1790s-1830s). It was their modus operandi to specifically use masonry as a vehicle for radicalism, and/or revolution and/or insurrection.

  • Paul Frantizek

    Great read. I’ve often wondered about which denominations the Klan recruited from so this history is of interest to me.

    • cken

      The KKK only allowed white Anglo-Saxon protestants to be members.

  • cken

    1. You need to go farther back in history to discover the beginning of the schism between the actual stone masons and the Catholic church.
    2. While the Catholic church still doesn’t officially approve of the Free and Accepted Masons, many have become members without retribution in the last 40 years.
    3. No religion likes any organization which encourages it’s members to think for themselves.; unless of course their thinking agrees with that religions dogma.

    • Hegesippus

      It remains that any Catholic who becomes a Mason automatically excommunicates himself.

      • Lady Lydia Darrah

        Correct. But how often has it been seen publicly? Especially when it’s documented in the extreme hierarchy of the Vatican? “saint-pope” (small letters intended) John XXIII (who took the name of a15thC anti-pope) was highly suspected of Freemasonry by way of the Turkish registration the lodge has documented. He was kicked out of the Vatican by Pope Pius XII for his unabashed ties with communists. Not to mention Anibale Bugnini, the author of the novus ordo liturgy, who was also publicly touted as a Freemason, was exiled to a diocese in Iraq. He was never excommunicated. Freemasons have infiltrated Rome, and completely changed the religion (which is no longer Catholic) into their own religion.

        • Hegesippus

          I would strongly suggest that the position that Catholicism is no longer Catholicism is not only seriously in error but also at odds with Christ’s words to Peter in Matthew 16: 18.

          • Hegesippus

            TBC, the Catholic Church remains the Catholic Church, currently with Pope Francis at its head. No one has taken over the Church, the hermeneutic has not been disrupted (no matter how some have tried) and anyone who promotes schism from the See of Peter has become protestant in their beliefs. Mt 16:18.

          • Lady Lydia Darrah

            You obviously do not follow the Church as it was since 33AD, you follow the Vatican II Church, which has completely contradicted the previous 19+ centuries.

            This is not an “opinion” but outlined objective facts set by the previous Popes and Theologians. Francis is a heretic, as were the post conciliar “popes”. Continuously breaking God’s 1st Commandment as one who “occupies the Seat of Peter” is not an option: Worshiping with Rabbi’s, Muslims (let’s not forget “St Koran Kisser”), Hindu’s, ect…is flat out blasphemy and a slap in God’s face, breaking the First Commandment. Francis is an imposter “pope” even some of the “conservative” cardinals are even questioning his overt Marxism and liberalism. You cannot accept the tenants of Freemasonry and Catholicism at the same time, it is forbidden. Continuing to ignore the objective facts, and the evidence (by their fruits you will know them) of the utter damage that has been done to Holy Mother Church, will only continue to destroy Her.

            St Pope Pius X: “All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy going weakness of Catholics”.

            I have outlined above only a few encyclicals that prove the Vatican II religion is contrary to Catholicism. The “new mass” is completely invalid, and contradicts previously infallible teachings and decrees of the Catholic Church, including St Pope Pius V’s De Defectibus (and Quo Primum), The Council of Trent’s decree on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (session XXII), Pope Leo XIII’s Apostolicae Curae, Pope Pius XII’s Mediator Dei and Sacramentum Ordinis. This is objective fact that has been outlined already, the argument has already been settled and COUNTLESS Cardinals, Bishops and Priests have spoken. This is not laity’s “opinion”. The Magesterium has already outlined the last 19+ years.

            The “new order” is not valid and is contrary to Catholicism. Anyone who is honest enough to attempt to prove a half dozen popes (before 1958) wrong is only another foolish protestant destined for damage to their own souls. Prove the above Popes wrong, I dare you. You CANT.

            If you continue to believe in your fairy tales that “no one has infiltrated the Church” then you are lying to yourselves. It has been documented (see “Priest Where is Thy Mass, Mass, Where is Thy Priest”) for other references. It’s obvious that many of the elect have been deceived. Do your homework on the Church and Her teaching’s before you dare accuse anyone of being “protestant”.

          • Hegesippus

            It’s a little strange that you seem to think you know so much about me. It would be easier if you would not make assumptions, especially extreme ones, then base your argument upon them. For example, you seem to have concluded that you know how I regard Vatican II. Most of your argument seems to be of this “taking-to-an-extreme” nature.

            I follow the Church as founded by Christ upon Peter. You can accuse me of whatever you like but I will ignore your ad hominems and suggest you study the history of the Church with regard to heresy, Popes and Mt 16.

            A protestant is one who rejects the Church. Where the pope is, the Church is. Canon Law makes no sense otherwise. A Pope can be a heretic and remain Pope. Historically this has occurred several times.

            Again I direct you to:
            http://catholicdefense.blogspot.cz/2014/06/sedevacantism-is-impossible-how-we-can.html

            Just out of curiosity, who gave you the authority to proclaim a Pope to be an antipope?

            God bless

          • Lady Lydia Darrah

            Catholicism is and always WILL be Catholicism. It’s the modern “interpretation” of what is believed to be “catholicism” in the last 50 years, is what is in error, which was condemned by St Pope Pius X in Pacendi (among other encyclicals I have cited). You cannot contradict the previous 10+ centuries and call it “the same Church. It’s impossible. It’s been infested with modernism and Freemasonry. Unless you follow tradition, you are in error.

          • Hegesippus

            Assuming that you are not the “real” Pope that you seem to desire to exist, you are not in any position of authority to proclaim who is / is not the real Pope. The Church has spoken: Pope Francis is the Pope.

            And branding a Pope heretical does not stop him being Pope.

            Claiming different Churches and condemning those not to your liking is simply heretical.

            Joe Heschmeyer explains it very well here: http://catholicdefense.blogspot.cz/2014/06/sedevacantism-is-impossible-how-we-can.html

            And you are certainly not in any position to define what the Church is!

            God bless!

          • Lady Lydia Darrah

            Your utter lack of High School level reading comprehension as well as your shameless willful ignorance of what I have posted…referencing the Popes of the Holy Roman Catholic Church (not my own “real Pope” POV….I’ll thank you to please refrain from inflicting any more calumny in this forum)…is astounding at the least. You have not proved the references I have provided because YOU are not in a position to refute them. The Popes and the Magesterium have already spoken on the matter, not some “blogger” who has no standing in the Church.

            The Aryan Heresies lasted a good 400 years before they were finally corrected. The Church today is in a state of apostasy, and as Mr Glen above has said (as well as the author) has been scourged by the plague of Freemasonry. This is not opinion but predated warnings and facts laid out by the encyclicals, if you bothered to read them, which it is obvious you did not. The Popes HAVE spoken, it is fact, not “opinion”, and they have the final authority. I strongly suggest if you insist on being a faithful Catholic, you listen to all of the Popes of the Church, including the ones who predated Vatican II. Your soul will depend on it. Good day and I pray that St Rafael the Archangel will help you to see.

            Don’t bother replying, because I will not waste more bandwidth on arguing this point with someone who has convinced themselves that they can have their faith both ways. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. The Holy Church, The Magesterium, and the Popes has spoken and the matter has already been settled. God bless.

          • Hegesippus

            There are three important issues you need to consider.

            1. It takes a (living) Pope to proclaim a Pope to be heretical.
            So for anyone to accuse a living Pope to be heretical means that the accuser is claiming to be the true Pope.

            You are applying the teachings of one dead pope onto other dead Popes and two living Popes.

            I ask again: from where have you gained the authority to accuse the Pope of being a heretic?

            2. A heretical Pope is still the Pope. This is historical as the article I cited shows.

            3. You are assuming that the actions of recent Popes are actually heretical and continue to be so. Not only do you need to show this first but you also need to show that (if true) each pope remained in their heresy. There is such a thing as repentance.

            Please address these issues. It would be better if the ad hominems about reading, faithful Catholic, etc. were avoided. If you truly want to lead me to your way of thinking, branding me as stupid and unfaithful is very unhelpful. I don’t recall Pascendi using such language, after all.

      • Glen

        Ummm … NOT correct. Please invest the 15 minutes it would take you to update yourself on the Church’s position on masonic affiliation. It’s all readily available on the Vatican web site. Excommunication of masons went out with the introduction of the second code of Canon law over thirty years ago.

        • Hegesippus

          With a little research, I do recommend considering the excommunication understanding as still being in operation. However, it is not as clear-cut as it could be.

          I’m unsure about your source (what is it?) but as Catholic Answers says, ‘[excommunication] is implicit in the 1983 code (canon 1374)’. (http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/what-does-the-church-say-about-freemasonry)

          Clarifying 1983′s CCL, then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: ‘The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion….’ and ‘…the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association(s) remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden.’ (in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_ban_of_Freemasonry)

          Therefore, with an implicit meaning of excommunication in 1983′s CCL and the Ratzinger holding the Church as remaining unchanged in regard to Freemasonry, I would err on the side of excommunication, rather than simply(!) being mortal sin and being excluded from the sacraments.

          Do please offer your Vatican source if I have missed something as this is a very important matter, if only to clarify whether a Catholic who is also a Freemason is excommunicated or in a state of mortal sin.

          • Glen

            My sources appear to be the same as yours. It simply seems to be a case of wanting to believe what one wants to believe, and then reading the reference material with a pre-disposition to arrive at the desired interpretation. I read the material and see the explicit removal of reference to excommunication. You read the material and are willing to see “implicit” reference to excommunication, though that word does not appear in the text. I’m unlikely to successfully convince you otherwise.

          • Hegesippus

            With all due respect, I will take the advice of Catholic Answers and the slightly more authoritative position of (then) Cardinal Ratzinger, writing, ”…the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association(s) remains unchanged…’ over the opinion of an unknown forum poster.

            Perhaps the question needs to be addressed as to whether a Catholic who becomes a freemason then repents of this needs to merely make a good Confession or there are further canonical procedures necessary.

            Indeed, while some state that such a person is in a state of serious sin and cannot receive the Sacraments (http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/BACAFM.htm), there are those who have been excommunicated in the last decade for such a reason (http://www.canonlaw.info/canonlaw_excomm.htm).

            But while it is not clear the specific position a Catholic is in in being a Freemason, it is clear that it is never acceptable for a Catholic to be a Freemason. On that, the Church is very clear.

          • Glen

            Well, and wise you are not to listen to the ramblings of an anonymous forum poster. Let me try and close by saying a few things. First, I recognize that the great bulk of anti-masonic sentiment floating about among members of the church springs up from the best of intentions, no matter how inaccurate their information is. I don’t judge them in that regard, even the ones who seem happy to imagine that masons worship lucifer … my goal in joining this discussion is solely to attempt to mitigate to some extent the spread of hatred and misunderstanding on the topic.

            Secondly, I should state that despite all the anti-masonic rhetoric, the simple fact that there are hundreds of thousands of Catholic Freemasons the world over should give the Church pause to re-consider their position in this regard. Surely not ALL of us are heading straight from the pew to the lodge to plot against the Church.

            Finally, I’ll close with a quote from the current Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Argentina (http://www.argentinaindependent.com/feature/freemasonry-in-argentina/) who states “I am a Catholic man, baptised and married by the Catholic Church and that has never been a problem for me … so if the Vatican still upholds their excommunication it’s an issue they have to deal with by themselves. It’s not something on our conscience.”

            The Church, by which i mean both the organization and the individual members, has many important issue to deal with. Freemasonry is not one of them.

          • Hegesippus

            The Church has been clear and continues to be clear.

            A Catholic cannot receive the sacraments if he is a Freemason. He is in a state of mortal sin at the very least.

            The Church is not a democracy: your opinion or the opinion of thousands does not and cannot change the reality of the situation. A Catholic who is a Freemason has put his mortal soul in grave danger.

            God bless.

        • Lady Lydia Darrah

          It depends if one belongs to, and follows the apostate Vatican II “Church” which the council (and “new laws”) completely contradicted the previous 19+ centuries. Or if they follow the One, Holy, Apostolic and Catholic Church that existed since Pentecost 33AD, which completely rejects the scourge and deception of Freemasonry. Many Catholics today sadly still don’t understand the difference, nor were they taught.

          One of the better books I read (other than “Morals and Dogma”) on the subject, was written by a born again Christian, who was entrenched in Masonry, was a 33rd deg as well as past master of all Scottish Rite bodies. His description of the entire process is a utter and complete rejection of Christ the King as well as the denial of the Holy Trinity, and the acceptance of Lucifer as the “light”. It’s called “The Deadly Deception”, if you can find it, it’s by Jim Shaw and Tom McKenny (1988, Huntington House publications). Highly recommend.

          • Andrew Dowling

            “It depends if one belongs to, and follows the apostate Vatican II “Church””

            That is the Roman Catholic Church by any definition. By not liking the direction it went doesn’t make it not the Church. Just be honest and call yourself a disgruntled Protestant.

          • Lady Lydia Darrah

            Not “liking” the direction it went? Are you serious or are you just being intellectually dishonest? I call you on your complete and utter ignorance of the teachings of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. The multiple encyclicals written by St Pope Pius V, St Pope Pius X (Pascendi), Pope Gregory XVI (Mirari Vos) Pope Pius IX (Syllabus of Errors and Quanta Cura), Pope Leo XIII (Immortale Dei and Mortalium Animos), Pope Pius XII (Mystici Corporis) have completely condemned what was “updated” in Vatican II. Your “religion” that you errantly call “Catholic” completely contradicts the previous (nearly) 2000 years and what multiple Popes have proclaimed. I follow what the the Church has ALWAYS taught, not some new and improved “innovation” that is cool by modern standards (whoops…there’s that pesky Pascendi encyclical again). Go study your Church history and teachings and figure out who is the “protestant” here. It’s not me.

            Our Lady of La Salette and Our Lady of Fatima warned what was to become because of the failure of what she had requested. Are you calling her a “protestant” too?

  • mollysdad

    The reasons for condemning Freemasonry are as follows: (1) You enter Freemasonry, and are promoted within it, by imposing an obligation of secrecy which seditiously takes precedence over any lawful duty of disclosure to the legitimate public authorities. (2) The obligation is blasphemously reinforced by an oath. (3) The form of the obligation expresses the initiate’s consent to be defamed and murdered should he break his obligation. (4) Freemasonry is a religion in its own right, different from and alien to Christianity.

  • JohnnyVoxx

    This article plays patty-cake with the devil. The false god of Masonry is lucifer. Wake the bloody hell up.

  • Glen

    Articles like this make me grumpy. The author throws out random facts about masonry and people who have been masons. Then they leave the reader to apply all sorts of logical fallacies that allow them to imagine such facts to have a bearing on masonry today. This approach works, of course, because it allows people to then believe what they want to believe.

    • http://www.bavarian-illuminati.info/ quibuslicet

      I disagree. If the reader follows up on the recommended authors Margaret C. Jacob, Jonathan Israel and Ritchie Robertson, they will have Jenkins to thank for a thorough understanding of the major issues, arguments, and politics during the Enlightenment – which includes Freemasonry as an integral part of the emerging public sphere. Just the fact that he included these three in the same company proves that there was nothing random about it at all.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X