Posted by: frroberts | August 12, 2017

Catholics and Freemasonry

Original and complete source

…[A]s Freemasonry turns 300 years old, it is worth revisiting what was at the core of the Church’s absolute opposition to the group. Freemasonry can appear to be little more than an esoteric men’s club, but it was and remains a highly influential philosophical movement – one which has made a dramatic, if little-noticed, impact on modern Western society and politics.

The history of Freemasonry itself is long and interesting. Its gradual transformation from the medieval workers’ guilds of stonemasons into a network of secret societies with their own Gnostic philosophy and rituals is a fascinating tale in itself. The era of the latter version of Freemasonry began with the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717 in the Goose & Gridiron pub near St Paul’s Cathedral….

From the outset, the primary concern of the Church has been that Masonry suborns a Catholic’s faith to that of the lodge, obliging them to place a fundamental secularist fraternity above communion with the Church. The legal language, and penalties, used in the condemnations of Freemasonry were actually very similar to those used in the suppression of the Albigensians: the Church sees Freemasonry as a form of heresy. While the Masonic rites themselves contain considerable material which can be called heretical, and is in some instances explicitly anti-Catholic, the Church has always been far more concerned with the overarching philosophical content of Freemasonry rather than its ritual pageantry.

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the Catholic Church and its privileged place in the government and society of many European countries became the subject of growing secularist opposition and even violence. Now, there is little if any historical evidence of the lodges playing an active role in beginning the French Revolution. However, the anti-clerical and anti-Catholic horrors of the Revolution can be traced back to the secularist mentality described in the various papal bulls outlawing the Masonic lodges. Masonic societies were condemned not because they set out to threaten civil or Church authorities but because such a threat was the inevitable consequence of their existence and growth. Revolution was the symptom, not the disease.

The alignment of Church and state interests, and their assault by seditious and revolutionary secret societies, were clearest where the Church and state were one: in the Papal States of the Italian peninsula. As the 19th century began, a new iteration of Freemasonry came to prominence which was explicit in its revolutionary character and avowed in its opposition to the Church; they called themselves the Carbonari, or charcoal merchants. They sanctioned and practised both assassination and armed insurrection against the various governments of the Italian peninsula in their campaign for a secular constitutional government, and were perceived as an immediate threat to the faith, the Papal States and the person of the pope.

The link between the passive threat of the philosophy and secrecy of Masonry and the active revolutionary plots and acts of the Carbonari was laid out in Pius VII’s apostolic constitution Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo, promulgated in 1821. While the Carbonari’s avowed and active opposition to the temporal governance of the Papal States was addressed and condemned, it was still made clear that the gravest threat posed even by these violently revolutionary cells was their philosophy of secularism.

Throughout all the various papal condemnations of Freemasonry, even when lodges were actively supporting military campaigns against the pope, as they did with Garibaldi’s conquest and unification of Italy, what was always the first objection of the Church to the Lodge was its threat to the faith of Catholics and the freedom of the Church to act in society. The undermining of the teachings of the Church in the lodges, and the suborning of her authority on matters of faith and morals, were described repeatedly as a plot against the faith, both in individuals and in society.


Responses

  1. Hi Father — This is very interesting, as I have always wondered about the Church’s opposition to Masonry. However, could you throw some light in a future post, perhaps, on the activities of Masons today that still warrants condemnation? Is it that Masons still oppose the teachings of the Catholic Church? Thanks so much.

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  2. Fr. Roberts, the Blessed Virgin gave many messages to Fr. Stefano Gobbi in the book, “The Marian Movement of Priests”. Among them, are several messages about how Freemasonry works and has infiltrated our culture as well as the Church. Do you have a copy of this book?

    Like


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