Freemasonry and the Anti-Christian Movement - Rev. E. Cahill

Papal Condemnations

It will be useful at this stage to place before the reader a summary account of the Papal condemnations of Freemasonry, which are so severe and so sweeping in their tenor as to be quite unique in the history of Church legislation.

General Tenor of the Papal Condemnations.

During the last two centuries Freemasonry has been expressly anathematized by at least ten different Popes, and condemned directly or indirectly by almost every pontiff that sat on the chair of St, Peter. The Popes charge the Freemasons with occult criminal activities, with "shameful deeds," with acting under the direct inspiration of the devil, if not actually worshipping Satan himself (a charge which is hinted at in some of the papal documents), with infamy, blasphemy, sacrilege, and the most abominable heresies of former times; with the systematic practice of assassination; with treason against the State; with anarchical and revolutionary principles, and with favouring and promoting what is now called Bolshevism; with corrupting and perverting the minds of youth; with shameful hypocrisy and lying, by means of which Freemasons strive to hide their wickedness under a cloak of probity and respectability, while in reality they are a very "synagogue of Satan," whose direct aim and object is the complete destruction of Christianity, and the universal restoration of paganism in a form more degraded and unnatural than the world has hitherto known.

The Popes again and again remind Christian rulers of their urgent duty, in the interests of religion and morality, and for the sake of the peace and safety of the State, to suppress all the secret societies in their dominions. Moreover, the Popes include in their condemnations and censures not only those that join the Freemason sect, but also those that encourage and assist them in any way directly or indirectly.

Clement XII.—The first Papal condemnation was issued by Clement XII in 1738, twenty-one years after the establishment of the first Masonic lodge in England, and seventeen years after the formal introduction of Freemasonry into the continent of Europe. The emphatic and comprehensive terms of this condemnation were never revoked or toned down, and the sentence of Clement XII has been confirmed in its full rigour by succeeding Pontiffs:—

"Under an outward semblance of natural probity, which they require, and which they regard as sufficient . . . they [the Freemasons] have established certain law's and statutes binding themselves towards each other . . . but since crime ultimately betrays itself . . . their assemblies have become to the faithful such objects of suspicion that every good man now regards affiliation to them as a certain indication of wickedness and perversion.

"Hence, the Pontiff, for the sake of the peace and safety of civil Governments, and the spiritual safety of souls, and to prevent these men from plundering the House like thieves, laying waste the Vineyard like wolves, perverting the minds of the incautious, and shooting down innocent people from their hiding places, pronounces the grave sentence of major excommunication against these "enemies of the common-weal":—

"Wherefore, to each and all of the faithful of Christ, of whatever state, grade, condition or order, We ordain stringently and in virtue of holy obedience, that they shall not under any pretext enter, propagate, or support the aforesaid societies, known as Freemasons, or otherwise named; that they shall not be enrolled in them, affiliated to them, or take part in their proceedings, assist them, or afford them in any way counsel, aid, or favour, publicly or privately, directly or indirectly, by themselves or by others in any way whatever, under pain of excommunication, to be incurred by the very act, without further declaration, from which absolution' shall not be obtainable through anyone except through Ourselves, or Our successor, the Roman Pontiff for the time being, unless in the article of death."

Benedict XIV and Pius VI.—This condemnation was renewed by Benedict XIV, who condemns anew the secularism [or religious indifference], the occult character, the oaths of secrecy, and the revolutionary tendencies of the Masonic sect, and calls upon all Catholic rulers to take effective measures against the Freemasons of their territories, and secure that the Apostolic prohibition of the sect be carried into effect.

Pius VI, without explicitly mentioning the Freemasons, manifestly refers to them, when he condemns the hypocrisy, the naturalistic philosophy, and the destructive revolutionary tendencies of his time.

Pius VII.—Pius VII denounces the secret societies as the prime cause of the revolutionary upheavals in Europe, and stigmatizes the hypocrisy of the Italian Carbonari (whose society, he says, is an offshoot of Freemasonry, or at least modelled upon it) who were actually affecting a pretended zeal for the welfare of the Church: "They affect a special obedience and wondrous zeal for the Catholic faith, and for the person and teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom they sometimes impiously dare to call the ruler of their society, and their great teacher." He denounces their secret oaths, their indifferentism in religion "than which nothing worse or more dangerous could be thought of." Again,

"They blasphemously profane and defile the Passion of Jesus Christ by their sacrilegious ceremonies. They dishonour the Sacraments of the Church (for which they sacrilegiously substitute others invented by themselves) and even turn into ridicule the very mysteries of the Catholic religion. They cherish a very special hatred against the Apostolic See, which they are striving to overthrow. . . . While boasting that they require from their members to cultivate charity and all other virtues, their real moral teaching is most depraved. They brazenly defend lustful excesses; they teach that it is lawful to assassinate those that betray their secrets, and to stir up sedition against kings and other rulers, . . . and deprive them of their power.

Leo XII.—Leo XII reproduces the three bulls of his predecessors, and bewails the fact that Christian rulers had not obeyed the wishes of the Vicars of Christ, and suppressed the Masonic sects, as the safety of both Church and State required. He stigmatizes the destructive ravages of the Freemasons and the other secret societies, in the intellectual centres throughout Europe. He accuses them of the systematic assassination of those whom they have marked out for death. He denounces their impious and irreligious propaganda, and assumes as a certain and authentic fact that all the secret sects "although differing in name, are closely united with each other by the unholy bond of the same wicked and impious designs." He again implores the temporal rulers to take active measures against them as enemies of both Church and State. He condemns in a special way the "absolutely impious and criminal oath by which the members bind themselves not to reveal to anyone the secrets of their association, and to execute the death sentence upon those who reveal them to their superiors, clerical or lay." He admonishes all the faithful to flee from those men who are "the darkness of the light," and "the [false] light of the darkness."

"Beware of their blandishments and honied words . . . [he continues]. Hold it for certain that none can have any share in the work of these sectaries without becoming guilty of a most grievous crime. Be deaf to the words of those who, in order to entice you into the lower grades, declare vehemently that nothing is permitted in them at variance with religion; that nothing even is spoken of, nothing done but svhat is blameless, honourable, and holy."

He renews in explicit and somewhat stronger term the excommunication pronounced by Clement XII against all those who either join these sects, or lend any kind of advice, help, or assistance to them, in any way, directly or indirectly.

Pius VIII and Gregory XVI—Pius VIII again renews the condemnation of his predecessors, and refers to the imminent peril arising from Masonic influences in the schools and colleges; for through their teachers they [the Freemasons] train up a type of men to whom the words of St. Leo may well be applied: "lying is their rule, Satan is their God, and shameful deeds their sacrifice."

Gregory XVI compares the secret societies to a sink in which "are congregated and intermingled all the sacrileges, infamy, and blasphemy which are contained in the most abominable heresies."

Pius IX.—Pius IX in his encyclicals and allocutions, condemned Freemasonry and the kindred secret sects, at least six different times between 1846 and 1873. In his first encyclical he confirms and renews the condemnations pronounced by his predecessors against "those baneful secret sects who have come forth from the darkness for the ruin and devastation of Church and State," He again reprobates the "dreadful doctrines allowing indifference in matters of religion, which is so directly opposed even to natural reason, the doctrine, namely, by which men pretend that they can obtain eternal salvation in the observance of any religion whatsoever." Later on, he applies to the Masonic sects the words of Our Lord; "You are from your father the devil, and it is the works of your father that you wish to do."

In 1865 he bewails the fact that so many rulers had disregarded the injunctions of the Holy See, and had not suppressed the Masonic sects, asserting that their neglect had brought ruin and devastation upon Europe. "Would that they had not shown such negligence in so serious a duty; we would not then have to deplore such great wars and movements of revolt by which all Europe has been set ablaze, nor those bitter evils wliich have afflicted and still weigh heavily upon the Church." He expressly reprobates the false but widespread opinion, arising from ignorance of the facts, that the Freemasons were a harmless and philanthropic body, and that the Church has nothing to fear from them.

"Who does not see how far such an idea is from the truth? What is the object and meaning of that dose association of men of every religious belief? What is the purpose of their secret meetings; of the dreadful oaths taken at their initiations that they will never divulge anything pertaining to their association; of the unspeakable penalties they imprecate upon themselves should they prove false to the promise?"

He also reprobates the opinion that the condemnation of Freemasonry did not extend to the countries in which it was allowed by the civil law. Finally, he renews solemnly the condemnations and censures pronounced by his predecessors; adding that all should know that these sectaries, who are "wolves in sheep's clothing, intent on the destruction of the flock," are to be reckoned amongst those of whom the Apostle has warned us so sternly "that he expressly orders to have no intercourse with them, nor even give them the ordinary salutations."

Again, in the Brief addressed to Monsignor Darboy, Archbishop of Paris, on the occasion of the death of Mons. Magnan, he speaks of the union of the sects as forming "the Synagogue of Satan . . . whose object is to blot out the Church of Christ, were it possible, from the face of the Universe."

Finally in 1873 the Pope enumerating the trials and persecutions which had lately come upon the Church in Home and throughout the whole world—the expropriation of the Holy See, the persecutions in Switzerland, the anti-Catholic activities of the German imperial government, the revolutions and anti-Catholic movement in Spanish-America—attributes this universal war against the true Church to the Masonic and allied sects, "of which the Synagogue of Satan that is now mobilising its forces against the Church of Christ is composed. . ."

He warns the Bishops to point out to the faithful the fallacy of those "Who whether deceived themselves or striving to deceive and ensnare others still presume to assert that these dark associations aim only at social betterment and human progress, and the practice of beneficence: and to impress the Pontifical decrees on their minds by constantly reminding them of them; pointing out at the same time that it is not alone the Masonic body in Europe that is referred to but also the Masonic associations in America and in whatever part of the world they may be."

Leo XIII.—Leo XIII in almost all his encyclicals strives to combat "the deadly poison circulating to-day in the veins of human society," which is none other than the spirit and the teachings of Freemasonry. In the encyclical which treats directly of the Masonic sects he reaffirms the condemnations of his predecessors, and expressly includes in them not only Freemasonry, but the sects springing from, or modelled upon Freemasonry, and which aim at the same objects, such as the Carbonari, the Orange Society, Nihilists, etc. "There are," he writes, "several organized bodies which, though differing in name, ceremonial, form and origin are, nevertheless, so bound together by a community of purpose, and by a similarity of their main opinions, as to make in fact one thing with the sect of Freemasons, which is a kind of centre whence all go forth, and whither all return."

He expressly includes in the condemnation all who adhere to the reprobate sect; for all share their guilt, even though they may not themselves participate actively in their crimes; "Even though there may be persons amongst the Freemasons, and these not a few, who are neither themselves partners in their criminal acts, nor aware of the ultimate objects at which they aim," neither these persons nor the affiliated societies which, perchance, do not approve of the extreme objects of the Masonic sect are for that reason to be reckoned as alien to the Masonic federation," for, "as the whole principle and object of the sect lie in what is vicious and criminal, to join these men, or in any way help them, must be unlawful." Again:—

"To wish to destroy the religion and the Church which God Himself has established . . . to bring back, after a lapse of eighteen centuries, the manners and customs of the pagans . . . is audacious impiety. . . . To have in public matters no care for religion, and in the arrangement and administration of civil affairs to have no more care for God than if He did not exist, is a rashness unknown to the very pagans; for in the hearts and souls of these latter the notion of a divinity and the need of public religion were so firmly fixed that they would have thought it easier to build a city in the air than to organize it without religion and worship."

Further on, the Pope expressly charges the Freemasons with revolutionary and disruptive activities, and even with favouring extreme Communism and revolutionary Socialism.

"For the fear of God and reverence for divine law being taken away . . . sedition permitted and approved, and the popular passions urged on to lawlessness . . . a change or overthrow of all things will necessarily follow. Yea, this change and overthrow is deliberately planned . . . by many associations of Communists and Socialists; and the sect of Freemasons greatly favours their designs, and holds in common with them their chief opinions. . . . The Freemasons . . . having by their artifices . . . secured great weight in the government of States are, nevertheless, prepared to shake the foundations of empires, to harass the rulers of States, to accuse and cast them out as often as they appear to govern otherwise than as they [the Freemasons] wish."

The following passages of the same Encyclical illustrate the wonderous accuracy with which the Pope analyses the tendency and results of Masonic influence on public life:

"What refers to domestic life in the teaching of the Naturalists is almost all contained in the following declarations: that marriage belongs to the genus of commercial contracts, which may rightly be revoked by the will of those who made them; and that the civil rulers of the State have power over the matrimonial bond; that in the education of youth nothing is to be taught in the matter of religion as of certain and fixed opinion; and each one must be left at liberty to follow, when he comes of age whatever he may prefer. These things the Freemasons . . . have long determined to make into a law and institution. For in many countries, and those nominally Catholic, it is enacted that no marriages shall be considered lawful except those contracted by the civil rite; in other places the law permits divorce; and in others every effort is used to make it lawful, as soon as may be. . . .

"With the greatest unanimity the sect of the Freemasons also endeavours to take to itself the education of youth. . . . Therefore in the education and instruction of children they allow no share either of the teaching or of discipline to the ministers of the Church; and in many places they have procured that the education of youth shall be exclusively in the hands of laymen, and that nothing which treats of the most important and most holy duties of man to God shall be introduced into the moral training."

The following passage of the Encyclical illustrates further the character and trend of the Masonic moral code:—

"But the Naturalists and Freemasons deny that our First parents sinned, and consequently that man's free will is in any way weakened or indined to evil. . . . Wherefore we see that men are publicly tempted by the many allurements of pleasure; that there are jo'umals and pamphlets with neither moderation nor shame; that stage-plays are remarkable for licence; that designs for works of art are shamelessly sought in the laws of a so-called realism; that the contrivances for a soft and delicate life are most carefully devised; and that all the blandishments of pleasure are diligently sought out by which virtue may be lulled to sleep. Wickedly also, but at the same time quite consistently, do those act who do away with the expectation of the joys of heaven, and bring down all happiness to the level of mortality, and, as it were, sink it in the earth. . . .

"Of what we have said the following fact . . . may serve as a confirmation. For since generally no one is accustomed to obey crafty anti clever men, so submissively as those whose soul is weakened and broken down by the dominance of the passions, there have been in the sect of the Freemasons some who have plainly determined and proposed artfully and of set purpose that the multitude should be satiated with a boundless licence of vice, as when this had been done, it would easily come under their power and authority."

In another passage the Pope gives additional reasons for the Church's uncompromising attitude towards Freemasonry.

"To simulate and wish to be hid; to bind men like slaves in the very tightest bonds; and, without giving any sufficient reason, to make use of men enslaved to the will of another, for an arbitrary act; to arm men's right hand for bloodshed, after securing impunity for the crime—all this is an enormity from which nature recoils. Wherefore, reason and truth itself make it plain that the society of which We are speaking is in antagonism with justice and natural uprightness."

Perhaps, the most remarkable of all the Papal pronouncements on Freemasonry is that of this same Pontiff in the Apostolic Letter which he addressed to the Bishops of the whole Church in 1902 on the occasion of the silver jubilee of his pontificate. In this letter, from which we shall quote later, he refers to the destructive work, the aims and the methods of the Masonic sect, which had gradually become more and more apparent during the previous twenty-five years.

Benedict XV.—Finally, in the Codex luris Canonici issued in 1917 by Pope Benedict XV, the previous ordinances are confirmed and enforced:—

"All those who enroll their names in the sect of Freemasons, or similar associations plotting against the Church or the legitimate civil authorities, incur by the very fact the penalty of excommunication, absolution from which Ls reserved to the Holy See. Tf the delinquents be clencs or religious, every Catholic is under the obligation of denouncing them to the Congregation of the Holy Office."

Members of the Freemason sects, even though nominally Catholics, are treated as heretics. Hence, the faithful are to be specially warned and prevented from contracting mamagcs with them. They are to be deprived of Christian burial, etc.

Reasons for the Papal Condemnations.

The Editor of the Acta Sancta Sedis enumerates several reasons for the Papal condemnations; any one of which reasons would be sufficient:—

  1. The aim and purpose of the Masonic Societies which is the disturbance or overthrow of the ecclesiastical or civil power, or of both.
  2. The unlawful means adopted—viz., corruption, lying, assassination, etc.
  3. The character of the Masonic ritual, which is often blasphemous or impious.
  4. The oaths and promises which are contrary to the Divine law.
  5. The Masonic doctrines of indifferent ism in religion, deism, pantheism liberalism, etc.
  6. Even though in case of any particular sect or section of Freemasonry, none of the above reasons applied, the Society would still be unlawful; as it implies a usurpation of authority which can belong only to the State or the Church.

These latter are the only type of Perfect Societies known to the natural or Divine law. Associations having their charter from neither, and still claiming extensive powers, even the power of life and death, over their own members, are anomalous, unnatural and radically unlawful.

Universality of the Papal Condemnations.

It will be observed in studying these Papal documents that although all individual Masons are not accused of participating actively in the crimes and shameful deeds of the Masonic body, all are held to share in the responsibility and guilt, since all members lend their names and at least their moral support to the reprobate society.

Furthermore, the whole sect of Freemasons is condemned indiscriminately. Indeed, the idea that the Popes should repeat such grave and indiscriminate accusations against the Masonic society, while at the same time meaning to exclude that portion of it which was the parent body, and was always by far the most numerous and important portion, is not credible, and besides, such a hypothesis is expressly excluded by some of the Popes, such as Pius IX. Moreover, most of the Papal condemnations predate the so-called schism between Anglo-American Freemasony and the French Grand Orient. In any case this so-called schism in no way destroyed the universally recognized solidarity of the whole Masonic sect.

The real strength of Freemasonry lies in the sections belonging to the non-Catholic countries like U.S.A., Great Britain, and Protestant Germany. Without the support of these, which are mostly wealthy and influential, Freemasonry could not have attained the place of strength it occupies in the world today.

Cardinal Gasparri, writing on June 20, 1918, to Monsignor Jouin, and conveying to him the Holy Father's grateful appreciation of his work, refers particularly to Monsignor Jouin's successful efforts "in establishing conclusively, in spite of the lying assertions which sometimes deceive even Catholics themselves the identity of Freemasonry with itself everywhere and always, and the consistent continuity of the Freemasons' policy, whose design, as one sees to-day, is the rejection of God and the ruin of the Catholic Church."

Authority of the Papal Decisions.

For Catholics the Papal condemnations of secret societies are final and conclusive. But even to a non-Catholic who knows the traditional policy of the Holy See, the caution and moderation which it is accustomed to exercise in its legislation, especially that of a penal character, and the circumspection which even the very circumstances of modern times, and the jealous watchfulness of the enemies of the Church force upon the Sovereign Pontiffs in their public pronouncements, these peremptory and unqualified condemnations of Freemasonry must needs be a very striking, if not conclusive, argument of its essential and almost unexampled wickedness. The suggestion that the Popes, one after another, in the course of nearly two centuries acted without sufficient knowledge of the spirit and aims of the Masonic order cannot be entertained. This was a matter in which no risks could be taken. Even the most ordinary prudence would prevent the Popes from making accusations that could not be proved against so powerful a body as the Freemasons.

Besides, the Popes were always able to secure the most accurate information. They had at hand for consultation the vast body of Masonic literature, and had access to the other sources of information already referred to in the foregoing chapter. They always had at their command the advice and co-operation of numbers of able and learned men whose function it was to make an exhaustive study of such questions, and who were not less devoted than the Popes themselves to the interests of the Church, and the prestige of the Holy See. They had, furthermore, the testimony of many adepts of the craft, who had left the ranks of the reprobate society, and come back to the Church's fold. In more recent times. Popes, such as Leo XIII and Benedict XV, had, besides, under their eyes the history of the Masonic activities in every country of Europe and America during the preceding two hundred years, and the numberless newspapers, reviews, and magazines edited under the auspices of the Masonic order, from which Masonic principles and activities can in large part be learned.

Hence, Leo XIII could state with truth, more than forty years ago, referring to the previous condemnations:—

"What is of the highest importance, the course of events has demonstrated the prudence of Our predecessors. . . . The sect of Freemasons in the course of a century and a half . . . has brought upon the Church, upon the power of princes, upon the public well-being, precisely the grievous harm which Our predecessors had foretold. Such a condition has been reached that henceforth there will be grave reason to fear, not indeed for the Church—for her foundations are too firm to be overturned by the efforts of man—but for those States in which prevails the power, either of the sect of which we are speaking, or of other sects not dissimilar which lend themselves to it as disciples and subordinates."

These last words might well have been spoken by the Pope had it been given to him to look into the future and see in vision the deplorable course of events during the past forty years: the systematic war against religion and Christian morality in France which threatens the final ruin of that great nation; the persistent campaign of assassination waged by the secret societies against the Catholic dynasty of the Hapsburgs, as well as the attempts on the life of the Catholic King of Spain; the revolution in Portugal, with all the horrors and excesses that accompanied it; the revolutions in Spanish America, in Cuba, and the Philippines; the various anarchical attempts in Spain itself, and especially the anarchical rising in Barcelona (July. 1909), and the subsequent agitation aroused by the Masonic and Jewish-controlled press all over the world for the organization of an international Kulturkampf; the awful tragedy of Russia; the whole course of the revolutions and persecutions in Mexico, with all their accompanying horrors; the perils that now surround ordered society in so many countries; the irreligion, immorality, race suicide, divorce, juvenile crime, destruction of home life; the spirit of unrest and dissipation, which are now affecting the very springs of life over the whole civilized world, all traceable in large part directly or indirectly, to the influence and activities of the same sinister but half-hidden power which, in the opinion of many, is to be identified with the Anti-Christ foretold in Holy Writ, or is at least the herald of his coming.

Hence, even to-day, we may repeat quite relevantly the words of Leo XIII, written forty-two years ago in reference to Freemasonry: "Would that all would judge of the tree by its fruits, and acknowledge the seed and origin of the evils that press upon us, and the dangers that are impending," so that Governments may be led to enforce the repressive measures against these enemies of God and man which the Holy See has so often and so urgently advised.