The Miter and the Trowel

The Miter and The Trowel

by William G. Madison, MPS Albert Pike Lodge #1169, AF 
& AM San Antonio, Texas Wyoming Lodge, AF 
& AM Melrose, Massachusetts 

Author's Preface

I am not a Catholic. I have been a Freemason for 
nearly forty years. During that time I have repeatedly 
been asked the same two questions: 

  "Why are the Masons anti-Catholic?" 
  "Why is the Catholic Church anti-Masonic?" 

The answer to the first is that "Modern regular 
Masons are not anti-Catholic; they will accept any man 
of good character who believes and puts his trust in a 
Supreme Being." This answer is usually received with 
skepticism by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Even 
some Freemasons, I am sorry to say, are skeptical. 
("Regular" Freemasons are those having their membership 
in a Lodge under the jurisdiction of a generally 
recognized Grand Lodge.) 

The answer to the second question is simply that the 
Church found itself in direct opposition to most of the 
goals of the Enlightenment, and Freemasonry (and the 
Carbonari, a secret political society in Italy during 
the 18th century; now probably extinct) was the only 
identifiable body whose goals generally supported those 
of the Enlightenment. Thus, by association, the Church 
was opposed to Freemasonry. 

Condemnation of Freemasonry held one additional 
advantage; it was safe. Traditionally the Craft refuses 
to defend itself against scurrilous attack. Therefore it 
is always a safe target. [This continues to this day. 
Witness recent attacks by some extremist religious 
elements in the United States.] 

The Church's condemnation was spearheaded by a series 
of 21 bulls published between 1738 and 1902. In 
them, the Church condemned Freemasonry for: 

  Supporting public education 
  Supporting separation of Church and State 
  Supporting equality of all men, including clergy, under the law 
  Complete religious tolerance 
  Advocating or condoning overthrow of Church and State. 
  Having sacrilegious and obscene practices as part of its ritual 
  Practicing Satanism 

This list is, in effect, a condemnation of the entire 
Enlightenment, the first four points being linchpins of 
the movement. The Craft is certainly "guilty" on these 
four counts. 

The last two, vis-a-vis Freemasonry, have been 
fabricated from whole cloth, any possible connection 
between the Craft and the outlawed Knights Templar 

The fifth point, advocating or condoning overthrow of 
Church and State, may possibly have some basis if one 
makes the error of equating the Italian Masonry of the 
period with the entire Masonic Fraternity. From their 
founding, the Latin Grand Lodges, if not explicitly 
anticlerical, were strongly (at times, militantly) 
political. Thus it is quite possible that there may have 
been some basis in fact for the charge. 

Unfortunately, the disparity between the Latin 
version of Freemasonry and that practised by the 
Teutonic and the English speaking Grand Lodges 
completely escaped the notice of the Church. Thus, for 
nearly 200 years we have had two world-wide 
organizations, both of which are striving for the 
betterment of mankind, locked in an antagonistic 
relationship. I am reminded of the opening lines of 
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: 

Two households, both alike in dignity, 
  In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From 
  ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil 
  blood makes civil hands unclean. 

I am neither a professional historian nor a profound 
scholar. I have been able to deduce tentative answers to 
the questions of how and why this antagonism was allowed 
to flourish and to persist for so many years. In 
presenting my deductions for public scrutiny, my hope is 
that any resulting discussion may facilitate mutual 
understanding and possibly reconciliation. That some day 
these two great institutions may reach a modus vivendi. 


Freemasonry defines itself as: 

"A system of morality, veiled in allegory 
  and illustrated by symbols" 

While this definition is universally true, it must be 
realized that there is no single entity known as 
"Freemasonry." Freemasonry is made up of men 
("speculative" Masons) who assemble in "Lodges." 

[The word "Lodge" Masonically carries two 
  meanings; (a) a group of Masons organized to work, 
  and (b) the location in which such a group meets.] 

Lodges since 1717, in turn, have been organized into 
autonomous Grand Lodges. The Grand Lodges practice 
Masonry, each in its own way, but all according to 
certain fundamental principles. The chief among these 
for all regular Grand Lodges is a belief in "The 
brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God." 

Further description of the fundamental principles of 
the Craft may be found in a non-secret portion of the 
ritual of the second (Fellow Craft) degree of 
Freemasonry. It begins with a recognition that there 
exist two kinds of Masonry; operative and speculative, 
and typically continues (the exact wording depending 
upon the specific Grand Lodge): 

  "By Operative Masonry we allude to a proper 
  application of the useful rules of architecture, 
  whence a structure will derive fig ure, strength, and 
  beauty, and from which will result a due proportion 
  and just correspondence in all its parts. It furnishes 
  us with dwellings and convenient shelters from the 
  vicissitudes and inclemencies of the seasons; and 
  while it displays the effects of human wisdom, as well 
  in the choice as in the arrangement of the sundry 
  materials of which an edifice is composed, it demon 
  strates that a fund of science and industry is 
  implanted in man, for the best, most salutary and 
  beneficent purposes. 
  "By Speculative Masonry we learn to subdue the 
  passions, act upon the square, keep a tongue of good 
  report, maintain secrecy, and practice charity. It is 
  so far interwoven with religion as to lay us under 
  obligations to pay that rational homage to Deity which 
  at once constitutes our duty and our happiness. It 
  leads the contemp lative to view with reverence and 
  admiration the glorious works of creation, and 
  inspires him with the most exalted ideas of the 
  perfection of the Divine Creator. 
  "Our ancient Brethren wrought in Operative as well 
  as Speculative Masonry. They worked six days before 
  receiving their wages. They did no work on the 
  seventh, for in six days God created the heavens and 
  the earth, and rested on the seventh. 
  "The seventh day, therefore, our ancient Brethren 
  consecrated as a day of rest from their labors, 
  thereby enjoying frequent opportu nities to 
  contemplate the glorious works of creation, and to 
  adore their great Creator." 

Since shortly after the formation of the Grand Lodge 
of England (the first Masonic Grand Lodge to be formed - 
in 1717) and the subsequent formation of the Grand 
Lodges of France and Italy, the Roman Catholic Church 
and the Masonic Fraternity have been at odds. The 
Church, looking at global Masonry from the vantage of 
Rome and therefore seeing primarily Italian and French 
Masonry, has looked on Freemasonry as a repository of 
anticlericalism and political activism, and of 
supporting (or at least condoning) conspiracies against 
Church and State. 

The Church's condemnation of rationalism, religious 
tolerance ("indifferentism" in the terminology of the 
Church), cancellation of special legal status for the 
clergy, and the neutralization of Church influence in 
government placed all Freemasons (regardless of Grand 
Lodge affiliation) in direct and immediate conflict with 
the Vatican. 

All Grand Lodge Freemasonry of the 18th century, but 
most especially that of the Latin countries, was a child 
of the Enlightenment. Latin (i.e., Italian, French, 
Portuguese and Spanish) Freemasonry saw the Church, 
especially as embodied in Clement XII and Leo XIII, as a 
source of obstructionism. The Church saw Freemasonry, 
which advances a consistant, well defined moral and 
ethical system, as a potential rival for the hearts and 
minds of men. 

The Church failed completely to recognize the 
fragmented nature of Freemasonry. Thus it could not see 
that many of the views of Masonry which it found 
offensive were, in fact, unique to Latin Masonry. In 
many instances, more specifically to Italian or French 

Thus, in condemning all Freemasonry for the actions 
of a few Grand Lodges, the Church precipitated a 
needless conflict. Latin Masonry, in its refusal to 
attempt to lead rather than force change, thereby made 
itself, and thus all Masonry, a party to the conflict. 

English/Irish/American Masonry did not recognize that 
there actually was any problem. 

In the beginning ... 

The Masonic and Secular Worlds

The beginnings of Freemasonry are, quite literally, 
lost in time. The earliest known references place the 
Craft's origins prior to A.D. 932, some time during the 
reign of King Athelstan. 

The earliest unequivocal reference to Freemasonry, 
the "Regius Poem," outlines much of the conduct of the 
Craft at the time of its writing. It has been reliably 
dated at 1309 (coincidentally very close to the time of 
the suppression of the Order of the Temple). The 
language used in the poem suggests that the Craft had 
already been in existence for an indefinite (but long) 
period of time prior to the 14th century. The language 
also gives a strong hint of the relationship which the 
Craft had with the Church at that time. In particular, 
it invokes the Virgin Mary, refers to the Trinity, and 
gives instructions for observing Mass.[1] At that time, 
and up until approximately 1600, the Craft was 
exclusively Catholic. 

Though tradition holds that Masonry traces its 
genesis back to the craft guilds of the European 
cathedral-building period, this is almost certainly a 
fiction. Current historical research indicates, rather, 
a confluence of traditions resulting in that which we 
now recognize as "FREEMASONRY." The most prominent of 
these were the European "Craft Lodges" (as opposed to 
the guilds) of Stone Masons, the Knights Templar 
(following their suppression in 1307), and, much later, 
the Jacobite supporters of "The Young Pretender" - 
Bonnie Prince Charlie. 

By the time of the suppression of the Templars, 
Robert the Bruce had already been excommunicated. Thus, 
the Papal ban on the Templars would have had no effect 
in the lands controlled by Bruce. Celtic Scotland was a 
made-to- order haven for the proscribed Templars. 

As might be supposed, during this entire period the 
Craft was strongly Catholic. This position softened 
somewhat, however, following the Protestant Reformation. 
Masonry required its members to adhere and support the 
"religion of the country in which they were living and 
working." It was still strongly Christian, 
"aggressively" Christian has been one description, but 
no longer exclusively Catholic. 

This orientation persisted until about 1600 A.D., at 
which time a new view came to be held; a view which 
required only a belief in a Supreme Being, leaving the 
name of this Being and the manner of worship solely to 
the conscience of the individual.[2] This, the present 
view, was later formalized (1723) in the so-called Old 
Charges, one of the foundation stones upon which modern 
Freemasonry rests. The first of the Old Charges reads 
(with the spelling modernized): 

"A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey 
  the moral law; and if he rightly understands the art, 
  he will never be a stupid athiest, nor an irreligious 
  liber tine. But though in ancient times Masons were 
  charged in every country to be of the religion of that 
  country or nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now 
  thought more expedient only to oblige them to that 
  religion in which all men agree, leaving their 
  particular opinions to themselves; that is, to be good 
  men and true, or men of honor and honesty, by whatever 
  denominations or persuasions they may be 
  distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the center of 
  union and the means of concili ating true friendship 
  among persons that must have remained at a perpetual 

Now move to the year of our Lord 1680 and the 
burgeoning of the Age of Enlightenment. The decades 
ahead will see an explosion of original political and 
social thought. Locke, Hume, Newton, Spinoza, Voltaire 
and others will challenge conventional wisdom in the 
areas of philosophy, government, and religion. More and 
more the idea of rationalism (human reason is the only 
possible guide to wisdom) will be discussed and 
accepted. With it, anticlericalism will become a force 
to be reckoned with in Rome. As direct results of these 
ideas (in no particular order): 

  Newton has extended Galileo's findings about the 
  properties of falling bodies, until they now reach the 
  limits of the universe. The universe has become 
  The ideas of original sin and the necessity of 
  Divine redemption have been summarily rejected by some 
  Enlightenment philosophers, to be replaced by the idea 
  that the human condition can be improved through the 
  effort of individuals; human nature, and hence 
  society, is infinitely perfectible. 
  Voltaire advances the idea of equal rights under 
  the law, and completely rejects the concept of any 
  absolute authority. He is a firm anticlericalist, 
  considering the Church to be among greatest oppressors 
  of mankind because of its absolutism; its insistence 
  that it has the only truth and its demand for complete 
  Montesquieu promotes the idea of a government 
  based on separation of powers into legislative, 
  executive, and judicial branches with checks and 
  John Locke publishes his Second Treatise on Civil 
  Government, rejecting the idea of Divinely inspired or 
  sanctioned government.[3] In his view government is a 
  human compact of convenience, invented to encourage 
  individual liberty and rights. Second Treaise thus 
  provides the theoretical foundation for the American 
  and French revolutions as well as for the Italian War 
  of Unification. 

  The list goes on ... . 

A few years later February 1717 is a landmark for 
Freemasonry. The Grand Lodge of England is formed by the 
four Lodges existing in London. Anthony Sayre is elected 
Grand Master during a general meeting held on the next 
feast day of St. John the Baptist. These events mark the 
beginning of the modern Masonic fraternity. 

Six years later, 1723, sees the formalization of the 
foundations of Freemasonry; the Old Charges mentioned 
above are published. This event finalizes the movement 
of the Craft from its earlier status of an exclusively 
Catholic body to its present character as a common 
meeting ground for all who believe in a Supreme Being, 
however they wish to worship. It also completes the 
transition from Masonry's Operative beginnings to its 
present Speculative workings. 

A short twenty-six years after the formation of the 
English Grand Lodge, in 1733, Charles Sackville, Duke of 
Dorset, establishes a Masonic Lodge at Florence, Italy. 
He apparently did this completely on his own initiative, 
for no trace of any warrent empowering him to do so has 
ever been found. The fortunes of the Craft are shaky at 
first, until Sackville initiates the Grand Duke of 
Tuscany into the Order. The prestige of the Grand Duke 
greatly improves the prospects and growth of the Craft 
in Italy. From this first beginning, Italian Masonry is 
outspokenly political. 

By 1735, Lodges have been established in Milan, 
Verona, Padua, and Venice, comprising with Florence the 
major population centers in northern Italy. In addition, 
there is a Lodge in Naples, to the south. 
By 1737 the membership of the Lodge at Florence 
includes among its members the best of local society; 
men of liberal education, learning and culture; poets 
and painters; priests and politicians. The 
unconventional views and the wealth of some of the 
members has already attracted the attention of the 
Inquisition. In June of that year, at a conference of 
Cardinals held in Rome under the chairmanship of the 
Chief Inquisitor of Florence, the first bull to condemn 
Freemasonry, "In eminenti" is drafted, ... 

The Church's World

It is the year of our Lord 1737. A conference of 
Princes of the Roman Catholic Church is being held in 
Rome, under the chairmanship of the Chief Inquisitor of 

For over one thousand years, the Inquisition has been 
de facto autonomous many times. During these periods, it 
was not even answerable to the Pope except as a 
formality. In these periods of Inquisitorial autonomy, 
the leading role taken by the Chief Inquisitor at this 
meeting would not have been remarkable. But this was the 
mid-eighteenth century, not the mid-thirteenth! 

The Inquisition could trace its origins back to the 
fifth century. Originally set up to discover and punish 
heresy, its power began to decline in the sixteenth 
century, generally coincident with the rise of the 
Reformation. By the eighteenth century it could usually 
be ignored with impunity. The rise of naturalism, 
rationalism and anticlericalism which characterize the 
eighteenth century carries with it a loss of much of the 
power of both the Church and the Holy Office. An 
absolute power, regardless of its origin, could no 
longer command a strong hold on the lives of the people 
of post-Renaissance Europe. 

With this loss of power, the general populace has no 
incentive to discover and report on real or suspected 
heresy. The decreased number of trials being performed 
naturally causes a sharp decline in revenue.[4] Divided 
between the Church and the State, these revenues were 
historically the primary source of funds for 
Inquisitorial salaries. Thus there is a strong 
motivation to find new opportunities for Inquisitorial 

Since we are examining events in which the Chief 
Inquisitor of Florence took a leading part, we should be 
examining the contemporary records of the Florentine 
Inquisition. Unfortunately these records have, for the 
most part, been lost.[5] Using other nearby Inquisitions 
as models, however, some tentative conclusions may be 
drawn. These models graphically reflect a diminution of 
power and influence,[6] as measured by the number of 
trials being conducted. The reduction in number of 
trials correlates directly with the rise in naturalism, 
rationalism and anticlericalism which characterize the 
Age of Enlightenment in Europe. 

These records show, for example, that the Venetian 
Inquisition fell from a high average of 35 trials per 
year during 1586-1630 to an average of only 3 per year 
during 1721-1794. Similarly, the Neapolitan Inquisition 
fell from a high average of 35 per year during 1591-1620 
to 5 per year during 1701-1740.[7] 

The War of the Worlds

With this background it is understandable that 
ambitious men would be alert for opportunities to 
re-capture their earlier power, influence, and wealth. 
The drafting of "In eminenti" is not only 
understandable but perhaps even inevitable. 
Unfortunately for the Church, its effect was the 
antithesis of that desired. 

At the time of Clement XII and "In eminenti" 
many of the European, especially the Latin Lodges and 
Grand Lodges were Jacobite. However, the Craft was 
growing in influence very quickly, while the influence 
of the Church was declining. Thus it would be natural 
for the Church to forbid its adherents to join the 

While there was limited compliance from among the 
Jacobite faction, the bull was ignored elsewhere. Thus 
the departure of the Jacobite faction created a power 
vacuum within the continental Grand Lodges of the Craft. 
This vacuum came to be filled by, among others, the 
Templar influence. The Templars were quite naturally 
anticlerical. Thus the bull had much the opposite effect 
to that desired. Instead of weakening the Craft and its 
influence, and slowing its growth, the effect of "In 
eminenti" was to purge the Craft of the Catholic 
elements which might have moderated the anticlericalism. 
The strengthening of the anticlerical element carried 
with it a stiffening of the political element.[8] 

What basis did "In eminenti" set forth as 
the basis for the condemnation?[9] Specifically, 
Freemasonry was condemned because: 

  1. it is formed by "men of any Religion or sect, 
  satisfied with the appearance of natural probity" 
  2. [the members] have pledged "by a strict and 
  unbreakable bond which obliges them, both by an oath 
  upon the Holy Bible and by a host of grievous 
  punishment to an inviolable silence about all that 
  they do in secret together" 
  3. "... they do not hold by either civil or 
  canonical sanctions; ..." 
  4. there are " ... other just and reasonable 
  motives known to Us; ... " 

The first point, tolerance of alternative religions, 
has been given the name "religious indifferentism" by 
the Church. Religious indifferentism must be condemned 
by the Church, since the Church believes that it holds 
to the only Truth and therefore may tolerate no contrary 

The second point, requirement for secrecy regarding 
portions of the ceremonials, must be condemned by the 
Church, since it believes that it must act as the 
intercessor (and the only intercessor) for the 
forgiveness of sins following confession and repentance. 
Therefore there can be no subject barred to the 

As to the third point, Freemasonry does not even 
permit political or religious discussion to take place 
within its walls.[10] The Fraternity's goal is to 
sharpen its Members' awareness and senses, that they 
might work to eliminate tyranny and injustice as 
individuals. But it does not and never has take any 
institutional position on these matters. 

The last point, quoting the King of Siam from the 
musical The King and I, "is a puzzlement". 

By this time in its history, the Church had long held 
to a doctrine of exclusivity. It alone was granted the 
wisdom and knowledge to interpret God's will for the 
faithful. Centuries of persecution under the Roman 
Empire had welded the faithful into a coherent band 
possessing near unanimity of religious thought. The 
trauma wrought by the Reformation and the subsequent 
Counter Reformation had further hardened this position. 

The Church, thus oriented in its thought and belief, 
could not be expected to understand or be sympathetic to 
an organization which accepted men of any religious 
stripe into its ranks.[11] Masonry guaranteed to its 
membership complete freedom of religious thought. 
Masonry absolutely requires that any candidate for 
membership believe and put his trust in a Supreme Being. 
But it has traditionally refused to ask anything more 
about an individual's religious beliefs. 

An additional impetus can be found for the 
condemnation. Some of the fugitive Templars are known to 
have been instrumental in the victory of Robert the 
Bruce at Bannockburn. The participation of the fugitives 
appears to have been generally recognized at the time. 

Now recognize that Robinson was correct in his 
conclusion that there was a strong Templar influence in 
the early development of Freemasonry.[12] [The Order of 
the Temple (Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the 
Temple of Solomon; Knights Templar), was an order of 
warrior monks prominent during the Crusades.] 

At the time of their arrest and suppression in 1307, 
the Templars were undoubtedly the richest organization 
in the known world. By simply calling a small portion of 
their outstanding loans they could have bankrupted 
France, put the Church into serious financial 
difficulty, and upset the financial stability of much of 
the rest of Europe. On their suppression almost none of 
their vast known treasure was discovered and 
confiscated. One theory is that it was carried off by 
the Templar fleet, which is known to have put to sea 
several days before the mass arrest and was never seen 
again. (In addition to Bruce's Scotland, there was no 
vigorous suppression of the Templars throughout much of 
Europe,[13] with many rulers dragging their feet or 
openly defying both the Pope and the King of 

Now since the Freemasons were a party to the 
concealment of the Templars, they were automatically 
guilty of heresy. They might also have access to at 
least some of the lost Templar treasure. Now there is, 
in addition to the political motive, both a religious 
and an economic motive for suppression. 

The Interregnum

Regardless of what set of motives one ascribes to the 
generation of "In eminenti"; whether it was an 
Inquisitorial document imposed on an infirm Pope, or was 
a Papal document; its effect was directly the opposite 
of that desired by the Church. Thus, it is not 
especially surprising that no further strong Papal 
denunciations occurred for many years. The Church had 
placed itself in opposition to the Craft. The manner in 
which it was done fostered a virulent anticlericalism 
within Italian and French Masonry. The Church must now 
learn to recognize and deal with the chimera it has 
helped to create. 

Thus, after a rather luke-warm confirmation of 
"In eminenti" with the publication of 
"Providas" by Benedict XIV in 1751, nothing of 
significance is heard of an anti-Masonic nature until 
seventy years later. 

In 1821 "Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo" is published by 
Pius VII. But "Ecclesiam" is not primarily directed 
against the Freemasons. Rather, it places the 
"Carbonari"[15] (an Italian secret political society) 
under the same penalties as the Freemasons. 

Another five years with only minor activity. "Quo 
graviora mala" (1826 by Leo XII) mentions Freemasonry, 
although it, like "Ecclesiam", is again primarily 
directed against the Carbonari. It accuses both of being 
societies with "oathbinding secrecy and conspiracies 
against Church and State." 

Another four years. "Litteris altero" (1830, Pius 
VIII) condemns Masonic influence in education. The 
specific point at issue seems to be that the "Masonic 
influence" advocates removing explicit and mandatory 
clerical control from the educational process. 

Ten years later, in 1840, the Italian war of 
unification begins. Sardinia sends troops to assist in 
driving the Hapsburgs out of Tuscany. While this 
specific adventure failed, it reflects the rise of 
strong nationalistic sentiments in Italy. These 
sentiments are inextricably linked to the feelings of 
rationalism and anticlericalism mentioned above. Events 
in Italy are quickly coming to a head. "Qui pluribus", 
published in 1846 by Pius IX,[16] even though making no 
explicit mention of Freemasonry, provides an outline of 
the roots of the coming clash. 

Fifteen years after "Qui pluribus" (1861), Italy 
(with the exception of the Papal States) has been 
unified through the efforts of the combined Italian 
armies under the leadership of the Freemason Giuseppi 
Garabaldi. He has been stopped from conquering the Papal 
States and bringing them into the unified Italy only 
because they fall under the protection of France and 
Napoleon III.[17] In the eyes of the Church, the fact 
that Garabaldi was a Freemason must have been the final 
element in the proof that Freemasonry was inexorably in 
opposition to the Church. 

Four years later, in 1865, Pius IX published 
"Multiplices inter", which, in addition to condemning 
Masonry once again, reproves secular governments for not 
uprooting and suppressing it.[18] 

Shortly after this, in 1870, an event occurs which is 
equally important to the Church and to Freemasonry. 
Specifically, the Franco-Prussian War breaks out, 
forcing Napoleon to withdraw his protection of the Papal 
States. With the door thus left open, the Italian army 
under Garabaldi enters Rome. The Church is stripped of 
the last of its temporal domains and authority. Again, 
the villian is the Freemason Garabaldi. Again, the 
question of whether Garabaldi is an Italian who is also 
a Freemason, or whether he is a Freemason who happens to 
be Italian, is never asked. Again, there is a failure to 
distinguish between Latin Freemasonry and that practised 

One year following the City's capitulation (1871), 
Rome is declared the capital of a united Italy under 
Victor Emmanual II. With this declaration, the Papacy 
enters a voluntary exile inside the Vatican from which 
it will not emerge until the signing of the Lateran 
Treaty in 1929. By this time, Mussolini's Fascist party 
is in control of the Italian Government. 
In 1878 Leo XIII is elected to succeed Pius IX who 
has died after a reign of approximately 34 years. Leo's 
election marks the end of the "interregnum", and the 
beginning of full scale attacks by the Church on the 

The New Crusades

On his election in 1878, Leo XIII must have felt 
himself under grievous political pressure. His 
predecessor, Pius IX, had lost control of the Papal 
States. With their loss, the Vatican had been stripped 
of the remnants of its temporal domains. It is easy to 
imagine Leo feeling that, though history might brand 
Pius as the Pope who lost the Papal States, it would 
look on him (Leo) as the Pope who failed to recover 

Leo (Vincenzo Pecci)[19] had advanced rapidly in the 
Church following his ordination in 1837, being named to 
his first important post only a few weeks thereafter. In 
less than four years he was named delegate to 
Perugia.[20] His initial tenure in Perugia was only two 
years, but in that short time he established a solid 
reputation as a liberal, and a social and political 

In 1843 he was appointed nuncio to Brussels where he 
served for three years. Much of his time and energy 
during this period was spent in mediating an educational 
controversy which had been raging for some years. That 
he was successful speaks well for his skill in diplomacy 
and his tact. 

He was appointed Archbishop of Perugia in 1846, only 
nine years after being ordained. He was named a cardinal 
priest in 1853 by Pius IX. 

During his entire priesthood in Italy, he worked 
tirelessly to improve both the intellectual and the 
spiritual level of the clergy, and to achieve some 
measure of social reform. 

Somewhat later his further advancement was 
compromised by his very luke-warm support of the 
Syllabus Errorum, which had been published by Pius IX in 
1864. He was re-established to favor in 1870, however, 
by his vigorous protests against the seizure of the 
Church's properties and the loss of the Pope's temporal 
powers. In 1877 he was appointed camerlingo[21] and 
brought back to the Vatican. 

Following the death of Pius IX in 1878, Pecci was 
elected Pope on the third ballot. Presumably, the Sacred 
College was concerned by the possibility of interference 
in the electoral process by the Italian government; 
hence felt itself under pressure to conclude the 
election as quickly as possible. Sixty- eight years old 
at the time of his election, he must have been regarded 
as a short term fill-in. In one of history's ironic 
twists, he reigned for twenty- five years. 

During his reign, Leo significantly advanced and 
liberalized Catholic education and politics on a world 
wide basis. He worked to arrive at an accommodation 
between science and the Church. In all areas, however, 
he seemed to be unable to recognize that natural science 
or education or political science exist on an equal 
footing with the Church.[22][23] In his view, the Church 
must always be supreme. 

One must sympathize with Leo, whether or not one 
agrees with him. He was a liberal and a reformer by 
inclination, but had committed himself and his life to a 
conservative institution. He had given his life to the 
Church, and had seen the Church stripped and beggared. 
He had seen the Church, which had never hesitated to use 
both its political and spiritual power to achieve its 
ends, forced now to rely strictly on its spiritual 
power. The political power was gone. The ability to use 
political power for spiritual ends, or spiritual power 
for political ends was gone. The Church was groping, 
trying to learn the rules of a new ball game. The Church 
to which Leo had committed his life in 1837 was not the 
same Church which existed after 1870. With the Age of 
Enlightenment sweeping the world, he was an essential 
liberal bound with unbreakable ties to a conservative 

In an attempt to come to terms with his times Leo 
issued a series of pronouncements. During his reign he 
issued a total of 117 bulls and encyclicals, or an 
average of nearly five per year. This almost doubles the 
number written by any preceding Pope. 

Leo's more important pronouncements [in terms of 
their effect on Freemasonry] are: * Diturnum (1881)[22] 
* Etsi nos (1882)[23] * Humanum genus (1884)[31] * 
Officio sanctissimo (1887)[24] * Ab apostolici 
(1890)[25] * Custodi di quella fede (1892)[26] * Inimica 
vis (1892)[27] * Praeclara (1894)[28] * Annum ingressi 

A curious parallel exists between the emotions 
reflected in these pronouncements and the set of 
emotions through which an individual passes while 
dealing with extreme trauma or loss.[30] "Diturnum" sees 
him denying the effects of the Enlightenment 
(nationalism, religious tolerance, ...), seeing them 
only as minor perturbations on the political scene. 
"Etsi nos" sees the denial continue, but with the 
beginnings of anger. The anger peaks in "Humanum genus". 
"Officio sanctissimo" to "Inimica vis" sees the 
progression from anger through bargaining (with 
political powers and the national bishops primarily) to, 
finally, depression. The depression comes through quite 
clearly in "Inimica vis" and "Praeclara". And finally he 
receives the blessing of acceptance. This acceptance is 
seen in "Annum ingressi"; not acceptance of the 
Enlightenment or of nationalism or of Masonry, but 
acceptance of the idea that there exist things which 
cannot be changed, even when wielding the total power of 
the Catholic Church. Leo finally seemed to realize and 
accept that the Church he knew as a young man was gone 
forever and that the new Church must find a new path. 

He was forced to watch the encroachments of the 
effects of the Enlightenment, especially nationalism, on 
the prerogatives Church, and was powerless to halt them. 
He was a prisoner of the times. His voluntary 
imprisonment inside the Vatican was but a pale reminder 
of that more galling prison, the times in which he 
lived. Freemasonry, in many ways the visible embodiment 
and bulwark of ideas which were hateful to him, must 
have become to him the symbol as well as the agent of 
the wanton destruction of that which he held dear. 

The publication of "Humanum genus" is now quite 
understandable. This bull, published in 1884, is held up 
within the Masonic Fraternity as the archtype of 
anti-Masonic propaganda, and Leo XIII as one of the 
chief persecutors of the Craft. As in the case of 
"In eminenti", "Humanum genus" accuses the 
Craft of many things of which the Craft is actually 
quite proud; advocacy of separation of church and state, 
freedom of conscience and religion, equality of all 
people under the law, &c.[31] By implication, since 
the Church condemns Freemasonry for its defence of these 
ideas, frequently the Masonic perception is that the 
Church is unalterably opposed to them. 

Unfortunately, the inaccuracies and distortions 
contained in "Humanum genus" have driven a wedge between 
the Fraternity and the Church which has thus far been 
impossible to totally overcome.[32] But in fairness, 
"Humanum genus" must be seen as but one of a series of 
pronouncements which are products of the times as much 
as of the man. 

Within a very few months of the publication of 
"Humanum genus", the American bishops, meeting in 
plenary council in Baltimore, published a pastoral 
letter not only vigorously supporting "Humanum genus", 
but also effectively shutting off any debate by the 
faithful.[33] The problem is that such a document only 
serves to exacerbate the lack of understanding between 
the Church and Freemasonry. For whatever reason it was 
written, the ultraconservative message it conveys runs 
counter to the core teachings of Freemasonry. Hence, it 
magnifies the distance between the Church and the Craft. 

A New Dawn?

In 1903 Leo XIII dies and is replaced by Pius X, who 
ruled for eleven years. Pius' successor, elected in 
1914, was Benedict XV. 

In 1917 Benedict promulgates a new code of canon law, 
containing Article 2335. Article 2335 explicitly forbids 
access to Freemasonry, under punishment of automatic 
excommunication.[34] Nothing further is officially heard 
from the Church for many years. 

The election and regime of John XXIII in 1958 seems 
to signal a change in wind direction, but there is no 
change in official position. This must await the 
election of Paul VI in 1963, which sees a partial 
relaxation in the Church's position on many items. 
"Unitatis redintegratio" and "Nostra aetate" are 
published, recommending tolerance and open dialog with 
non-Catholic believers.[35] This spirit is carried 
further by Vatican II, as proclaimed in the declaration 
"Dignitatis humanae".[36] 

This new spirit of openness under Paul even permits 
the clergy to openly disagree with the hierarchy. This 
is nowhere better exemplified than in a book written by 
the Spanish Jesuit J.A. Ferrer Benimeli, S.J. His book, 
La Masoneria Despues del Concilio (Masonry since the 
[Vatican] Council), published in 1968, argues that the 
bans of the Papal Bulls should not be extended to the 
regular Grand Lodges.[37] 

In 1971, two English Freemasons are specifically 
permitted by the Holy See to join the Church without 
renouncing their Mason affiliations.[38] This had 
happened before in many parishes, but 1971 marks the 
first occasion on which the Vatican had explicitly given 
its permission. 

The capstone, however, comes in 1974. In that year, 
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 
reinterprets Article 2335 of the code of Canon Law, 
saying that it only pertains to Lodges known to be 
hostile to the Church.[39] 

Further formalizing this more permissive attitude, 
the new code of Canon Law is published in 1983. Article 
2335 is replaced in its entirety by the new Article 
1374, which only forbids association with organizations 
known to be hostile to the Church.[40] It appears that 
major accommodations have been reached between the 
Church and the Masonic Fraternity. 

The End of the Story

With the pronouncement of 1974 and the wording of the 
new Article 1374, there is general feeling that the door 
is open for cooperation and brotherhood between the 
Church and Freemasonry; that the period of ill will of 
the past two-hundred years is at an end. This optimism 
is soon called into question. 

The twenty year period of toleration and dialog 
beginning with the election of John XXIII in 1958 is 
placed in jeopardy in 1978 with the election of the 
conservative John Paul II. 

Only days before the new Article 1374 is to go into 
effect at the end of 1983, a new pronouncement 
("Quaesitum est") is issued by the Congregation for the 
Doctrine of the Faith under a new Prefect, supposedly 
"clarifying" the 1974 pronouncement; actually reversing 
it. This same pronouncement also compromises the wording 
of Article 1374, in effect saying "The Article doesn't 
really mean what it says. Nothing has changed."[41] As a 
result many Catholics are basing their actions vis-a-vis 
Freemasonry on the 1974 pronouncement, ignoring the 1983 

Since that time (1983) there have been numerous 
voices within the Catholic Church calling for a 
relaxation of the Church's attitude toward the 
Fraternity. Also, some dioceses are rejecting the 
authority of "Quaesitum est", basing their decisions 
regarding Masonic membership only on Canon 1374. The 
rationale for this stand is that "Quaesitum est" was 
promulgated prior to the effective date of Canon 1374; 
hence Canon 1374 supercedes "Quaesitum." 

Nothing has emerged from the Vatican of an official 
nature, however. 

So, while the future appears promising, the end of 
this bit of history has not yet been written. When and 
how the book will be closed must rest, as must all 
things, in the hands of the Grand Architect of the 


1. Claudy, C.H., Introduction To 
Freemasonry, Temple Publishers, Washington, 1931; 

2. Masonically the Deity is frequently referred to as 
"The Grand Architect of the Universe." The term has 
often been siezed on by anti-Masons as "proof" that 
Masonry worships a strange God. Nothing could be further 
from the truth. 

Masonry, while most definitely not a religion, opens 
and closes its ceremonies with prayer. It uses prayer as 
an integral part of all its ceremonies including the 
conferring of its degrees. The term is used in 
recognition of the disparate religious traditions which 
frequently are attending meetings. By using a term which 
has no association with any specific sect or body of 
faith, each individual attendee is free to mentally 
assign his own name to the Deity; to frame the prayer in 
the way which is most meaningful to him. 
Rather than being separatist, the use of the term 
reflects the Craft's attempt to accommodate all 
religious tradition. 

3. This idea is attacked in the bull 
"Diturnum"[22] published by Leo XIII in June, 

4. ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA (1959), vol. XII p. 379, 
Inquisition, states: 

"Soon the papacy managed to gain a share 
  of the spoils, even outside the states of the Church, 
  as is shown by the bulls ad extirpanda of Innocent IV 
  and Alexander IV, and henceforward had, in varying 
  proportions, a direct interest in these spoliations. 
  In Spain this division only applied to the property of 
  the clergy and vassals of the Church, but in France, 
  Italy, and Germany, the property of all heretics was 
  shared between the lay and ecclesiastical authorities. 
  Venice alone decided that all receipts of the Holy 
  Office should be handed over in full to the state." 

Inquisition in Early Modern Europe, Northern 
Illinois Univ. Press, DeKalb, 1986; p. 131, "Toward a 
Statistical Profile of the Italian Inquisitions, 
Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries" states: 

"If the Roman Holy Office was a victim of 
  Napoleonic looting, other important provincial 
  Inquisitions, in Florence, Milan, or Palermo, were 
  victims of Jacobin riots or suppression of the 
  religious establishments which housed them. The 
  consequence was the large-scale destruction or 
  disappearance of their records." 

6. HENNINGSTEN, G. and TEDESCHI, J., op. cit., pp 

7. HENNINGSTEN, G. and TEDESCHI, J., idem., The 
figures quoted draw only on the period of the 16th 
through the 18th centuries. No attempt has been made to 
reflect trends from the 15th or earlier periods; that is 
a subject for an entirely different study. 

8. We know nothing of the arguments with which the 
Pope was persuaded to give his assent to publication, 
however his agreement is quite out of character. Clement 
XII is a friendly and outgoing man. A measure of his 
character and personality lies in his ability to 
maintain, even after his election, a warm, cordial 
relationship with the rabidly anticlerical Voltaire. But 
at the time of his election in 1730, he was already 78 
years old and sick. By the time of the publication of 
"In eminenti" in the eighth year of his reign 
he was, in addition, blind. 

Despite his infirmities which required him to conduct 
most of the affairs of the Vatican from his bed, he was 
generally an able Pope. His ability, however, lay in 
areas of administration, trade and finance. In areas of 
politics and diplomacy Papal influence continued the 
downward spiral which had been evident during the reigns 
of his several predecessors. 

9. "In eminenti" states the penalties as: 

"Wherefore We command most strictly and in 
  virtue of holy obedience, all the faithful of whatever 
  state, grade, condition, order, dignity or 
  pre-eminence, whether clerical or lay, secular or 
  regular, even those who are entitled to specific and 
  individual mention, that none, under any pretext or 
  for any reason, shall dare or presume to enter, 
  propagate or support these aforesaid societies of 
  Liberi Muratori or Francs Massons [i.e., Freemasons], 
  or however else they are called, or to receive them in 
  their houses or dwellings or to hide them, be enrolled 
  among them, joined to them, be present with them, give 
  power or permission for them to meet elsewhere, to 
  help them in any way, to give them in any way advice, 
  encouragement or support either openly or in secret, 
  directly or indirectly, on their own or through 
  others; nor are they to urge others or tell them, 
  incite or persuade them to be enrolled in such 
  societies or to be counted among their number, or to 
  be present or to assist them in any way; but they must 
  stay completely clear of such Societies, Companies, 
  Assemblies, Meetings, Congregations or Conventicles, 
  under pain of excommunication for all the above 
  mentioned people, which is incurred by the very deed 
  without any declaration being required, and from which 
  no one can obtain the benefit of absolution, other 
  than at the hour of death, except through Ourselves or 
  the Roman Pontiff of the time." 

10. As an interesting sidelight, there are many 
recorded occasions when Freemasons in the military on 
both sides of the American Revolution, the War of 1812, 
and the Civil War would meet together as Masons, 
exchanging fraternal aid and assistance. 

11. Some authorities state that prior to the union of 
the two English Grand Lodges to form the United Grand 
Lodge of England in 1813, only Christians (but not 
necessarily Catholics) could become Freemasons, and that 
this requirement was removed to its present condition 
with the unification. 

Jews, Disqualification of] disputes this, stating that 
only in some of the German Grand Lodges, most especially 
the Prussian, was the restriction imposed. The 
restriction was removed at an early date due to 
objections from the rank and file membership. 

12. ROBINSON, J., Born In Blood, M. Evans, New York, 

13. To cite one remarkable example, see: 

LEA, H.C., A History Of The Inquisition In The Middle 
Ages, New York, Harbor Press, v. 3 p. 317: 

"Portugal belonged ecclesiastically to the 
  province of Compostella, and the Bishop of Lisbon, 
  commissioned to investigate the Order [of the Temple], 
  found no ground for the charges. The fate of the 
  Templars there was exceptionally fortunate, for King 
  Diniz, grateful for their services in his wars with 
  the Saracens, founded a new Order, that of Jesus 
  Christ, or de Avis, and procured its approval in 1318 
  from John XXII. To this safe refuge the Templars and 
  their lands were transferred, the commander and many 
  of the preceptors retaining their rank, and the new 
  Order was thus merely a continuation of the old." 

14. LEA, H.C., op. cit., p. 316, 

"In Castile no action seems to have been 
  taken until the bull Faciens misericordiam of August 
  12, 1308, was sent to the prelates ... . Fernando IV 
  then ordered the Templars arrested, ... . There was no 
  alacrity, however, in pursuing the affair, for it was 
  not until April 15, 1310, that Archbishop Gonzalo of 
  Toledo cited the Master of Castile, ..., to appear 
  before him at Toledo. ... The only judicial action [in 
  Europe, outside of France] of which we have notice was 
  that of the Council of Salamanca ..., where the 
  Templars were unanimously acquitted, and the cruel 
  orders to torture them issued the next year by Clement 
  seem to have been disregarded." 


  CARBONARI (art.) One of the most influential of 
  the numerous secret societies in l9th-century Italy 
  aiming at political and social betterment. ... 
  Origin, Organization, Membership. Many obscurities 
  remain concerning the Carbonari (literally charcoal 
  burners). ... It is doubtful, however, that the 
  Carbonari anteceded the late 18th century. and it is 
  possible that the society was introduced to Naples 
  early in the l9th century by returning exiles or by 
  French troops. ... Most Carbonari were middle-class, 
  militaries, petty bureaucrats, or peasants. Their aim 
  was to win national independence, institute 
  constitutional and democratic reforms, and broaden the 
  franchise. Professedly they were Christians, although 
  anticlerical, and they utilized Christian symbolism. 

16. Qui pluribusPublished by Pius IX on 
November 9, 1846 (To all bishops: on contemporary 
errors and the means of combatting them) 

Declares objective is to protect religion; 
  to guard papal possessions, rights, privileges. 
  Attacks compromises of indifferentism; condemns 
  rationalism and unlimited "progress"; condemns assault 
  on celibacy of clergy; warns against false teachers; 
  points out communism as contrary to natural law. 
  Reminds rulers of duty to protect, encourage, and 
  foster religion. Expresses his concern over the 
  philosophical perversion of the young; warns against 
  the contamination of anti-Catholic society. 

17. Burns, E.M., Western Civilizations; Their 
History and Their Culture third edition (1949), New 
York, W.W. Norton, p.618 ff 

18. Multiplices inter Published by Pius 
IX on September 25, 1865 

(At the Consistory: condemnation of Freemasonry and 
other secret societies) 

Accuses Masonic association of conspiracy 
  against the Church, God, and civil society; reproves 
  Catholic sovereigns for not uprooting this sect; 
  attributes revolutions and uprisings to Masonic 
  activity. Warns against designs of secret societies; 
  denounces clandestine meetings, secret oath, sanctions 
  against violation of rules; renews previous 

19. The biographical information on Pope Leo XIII is 
taken from: ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA, 1959, vol. 13, p. 
928 ff 

20. Perugia at that time was a known center of 
anti-Papal secret societies, so it may be assumed that 
it was during his two years in this post where he was 
first exposed to the Carbonari. It is possible that he 
was also first exposed to Freemasonry during this 
period. While it is not known if there were Lodges in 
Perugia at that time, there was a significant level of 
dual membership between the two organizations. 

21. The camerlingo is chief financial officer of the 
Vatican. Always a Cardinal. Between the death of a Pope 
and the election of his successor, or at any other time 
when there is a vacancy in the Papacy, the camerlingo is 
in charge of Vatican affairs. 

22. Diturnum Published by Leo XIII on 
June 29, 1881 (On the origin of civil power) 

Maintains Christianity is safeguard to 
  political order; right to rule comes from God; people 
  respect legitimate authority; rulers seek common good. 
  Denies theory that civil society has arisen from free 
  consent of men; asserts all authority comes from God 
  even though men have a certain freedom to choose such 
  forms of government as they deem necessary; condemns 
  naturalism as culminating in socialism, communism, 
  nihilism, leading to government based on force and 
  fear. Urges bishops to instruct laity, to warn them 
  against forbidden sects, secret societies. 

23. Etsi nos Published by Leo XIII on 
February 15, 1882 (To the bishops of Italy: on 
conditions in Italy) 

Sets forth dangers to Catholicism: 
  interference with Church; expulsion of religious from 
  convents; confiscation of Church property; sanction of 
  civil marriage; elimination of Church control of 
  education. Maintains Catholicism and nation fall 
  together: Christianity inherent in public life, source 
  of unity, safeguard of justice. Urges bishops to stir 
  people to work for preservation of the faith by: 1) 
  promotion of associations for religious instruction, 
  Catholic life, charity; 2) use of press to disseminate 
  truth; 3) care in selection and education of priests. 

24. Officio sanctissimo Published by Leo 
XIII on December 22, 1887 (To the bishops of 
Bavaria: on the condition of the Church in Bavaria) 

Surveys history of Bavaria; deplores 
  present hostility toward Church; offers counsel. 
  Stresses education of clergy in tradition of Fathers 
  of the Church: appropriate to vocation, to 
  contemporary apostolate of example, teaching, 
  refutation of error; emphasizes obedience to 
  hierarchy, respect for civil authority. Urges 
  education of children under auspices of Church; warns 
  against Freemasonry. 

25. Dall'alto dell'Apostolico seggio [Ab 
Apostolici] Published by Leo XIII on October 
15, 1890 (To the bishops and people of Italy: on the 
destructive work of the Freemasons in Italy) 

Recapitulates facts of warfare of Masons 
  against Church: overthrow of civil power of papacy; 
  suppression of religious orders; obligatory military 
  service for clerics; confiscation of Church property; 
  proclamation of civil marriage; State control of 
  education. Enumerates remedies: formation of learned 
  and holy clergy; Christian education of youth; 
  extirpation of evil doctrines: defense of Catholic 
  truths; restoration of Christian family life; exposure 
  of conflict as essentially an attack on religion. 

26. Custodi di quella fede (to the 
Italian people: Freemasonry in Italy) Published by 
Leo XIII on December 8, 1892 

Details method of working against 
  Freemasonry. Warns Christians to be on guard against 
  first steps; parents to guard homes against 
  infiltration; laity to shun non-religious societies. 
  Urges setting up Catholic schools in opposition to 
  neutral; charity against philanthropy; religious 
  asylums against houses of debauchery; Catholic against 
  impious press; Catholic congresses against sectarian 
  gatherings; Catholic circles against lodges; mutual 
  aid societies against Masonic counterpart. 

27. Inimica vis (To the bishops of 
Italy: Freemasonry in Italy) Published by Leo XIII 
on December 8, 1892 

Reiterates urgent necessity of combating 
  evils of Freemasonry; condemns claim that the State is 
  superior to the Church and can control property and 
  functions of the Church; entreats bishops to work for 
  conversion of victims of the sect, to arouse in clergy 
  and people zealous love for religion. 

28. Praeclara (To the rulers and nations 
of the world: appeal for religious unity) Published 
by Leo XIII on June 20, 1894 

Urges union with Church of Rome; calls for 
  unity of faith and government. Appeals to separated 
  Eastern churches, to recent schismatic groups, to 
  those in union with Rome (as safeguard). Warns against 
  Regalism and Freemasonry; enumerates benefits of 

29. Annum ingressi (To the bishops of 
the world: review of his pontificate) Published by 
Leo XIII on March 19, 1902 

Reviews twenty-five years of pontificate; 
  warns that liberty, peace are illusory apart from 
  religion. Recalls instructions on Christian 
  philosophy, human liberty, Christian marriage, 
  Freemasonry, nature of the State, Christian 
  constitution of States, socialism, labor question, 
  duties of Christian citizens, and analogous subjects. 
  Encourages bishops to continued resistance of 
  persecutions. Describes existing conditions: disorder 
  in social relations, in family life; prevalence of 
  socialism and anarchism; unjust warring of strong 
  nations against weak; increase of armaments. Urges 
  resistance to atheism and Freemasonry; calls on press 
  for defense of Church; exhorts parents and teachers to 
  give Christian education to children, public officials 
  to demonstrate firmness in defense of principle, 
  integrity of life. 

30. KÅbler-Ross, E., On Death And Dying, MacMillan, 
New York, 1974 LC #69-11789 

31. Humanum genus Published by Leo XIII 
on April 10, 1884 (On Freemasonry) 

Reviews warnings of previous pontificates; 
  recalls own refutations of Masonic opinions. Treats 
  specifically of Masonic society and of organized 
  groups bound to Freemasonry by community of purpose 
  and thought. Defines aim as overthrow of Christian 
  order; teaching as naturalistic: human reason supreme, 
  teaching and authority of Church of no civil 
  consequence; no possible certainty about God, soul, 
  immortality; complete equality of all men; State 
  control of marriage, education; moral license. 
  Confirms previous condemnations of Freemasonry; 
  forbids Catholics to join Masonic sect; prescribes 
  Christian philosophy as protection against error; 
  urges clergy and laity to win men to the Church; 
  recommends membership in Third Order of St. Francis, 
  restoration of Catholic guilds or associations. 

32. As one example, "Humanum genus" contains the 

"Nay, there are in them many secrets which 
  are by law carefully concealed not only from the 
  profane, but also from many associated, viz., the last 
  and intimate intentions, the hidden and unknown 
  chiefs, the hidden and secret meetings, the 
  resolutions and methods and means by which they will 
  be carried into execution. Hence the difference of 
  rights and of duties among the members; hence the 
  distinction of orders and grades and the severe 
  discipline by which they are ruled." 

This particular canard is usually attributed to Leo 
Taxil. "Humanum genus" was published in 1884, however; 
Taxil did not publish his embellished form of this 
slander until 1891. 

33. Summary of that portion of the pastoral letter of 
December 7, 1884 which treats of Freemasonry. 

Third plenary council of Bishops, held in 
  Baltimore issues a pastoral letter completely 
  supporting "Humanum genus", condemning Freemasonry and 
  all "secret societies". Strongly discourages any lay 
  questioning of the matter, apparently blocking any 
  possibility for exception or compromise; "Whenever, 
  therefore, the Church has spoken authoritatively with 
  regard to any society, her decision ought to be final 
  for every Catholic. He ought to know that the Church 
  has not acted hastily or unwisely, or mistakenly; he 
  should be convinced that any worldly advantages which 
  he might derive from his membership of such society, 
  would be a poor substitute for the membership, the 
  sacraments, and the blessings of the Church of Christ; 
  ... " 

34. In 1917 Benedict XV promulgates new code of Canon 
Law containing Art. 2335, which condemns Freemasons to 
automatic and irrevocable excommunication. [I have 
been unable to find the text of Canon 2335 (1917) in 
English. The following is a precis prepared for use by 
the Catholic faithful.] 

d) Those who enroll themselves in Masonic 
  sects or other similar associations, the very purpose 
  of whose being, or at least whose activity is 
  concerned with plotting against all lawful authority, 
  and especially against that of the Church, are also 
  guilty of a crime of disobedience. The penalty in 
  these cases is excommunication l.s., reserved simply 
  to the Holy See. Clerics and religious are to be 
  punished as set down in the previous paragraph, 
  besides the fact that such cases are also referred to 
  the Holy Office. 

35. The pertinent pronouncements of Paul VI 
Unitatis redintegratio Published on 
November 21, 1964 

Decrees positive Catholic response to 
  ecumenism as a means to bring non-Catholic believers 
  into the Church. 

Nostra Aetate Published on October 28, 1965 

Decrees tolerance for, and an exchange of 
  ideas with, non-Catholic beliefs and philosophies. 

36. "Dignitatis humanae" declaration 
published by Vatican II on December 7, 1965 

"The Vatican Council declares that the 
  human person has a right to religious freedom. Freedom 
  of this kind means that all men should be immune from 
  coercion on the part of individuals, social groups and 
  every human power so that, within due limits, nobody 
  is forced to act against his convictions nor is anyone 
  to be restrained from acting in accordance with his 
  convictions in religious matters in private or in 
  public, alone or in associations with others. The 
  Council further declares that the right to religious 
  freedom is based on the very dignity of the human 
  person as known through the revealed word of God and 
  by reason itself. This right of the human person to 
  religious freedom must be given such recognition in 
  the constitutional order of society as will make it a 
  civil right." 

37. La Masoneria Despues del Concilio 
(Masonry since the [Vatican] Council) published in Spain 
(1968). Author, J.A. Ferrer Benimeli, S.J.; 

" ... regular Freemasonry, 'based on 
  belief in God, could not stand condemned under the 
  Papal Bulls', whose charges should be directed only 
  against the irregular Grand Lodges which preach and 
  practise atheism and anti-clericalism." 

38. Carr, Harry, The Freemason At Work, 
Lewis Masonic, 1976 (rev. 1992) In 1971 Bro. Carr 
again sought an interview with Cardinal Heenan,... Bro. 
Carr recorded, as nearly as possible, the Archbishop's 
own words: 

  "We had a letter some time ago from one of my 
  priests, asking for guidance about a Protestant in his 
  parish, married to a Roman Catholic lady, their 
  children all being raised very respectably in the 
  Catholic faith. The husband, a freemason, out of love 
  for his wife and family, was anxious to be received 
  into the Catholic faith, but without having to give up 
  his Freemasonry. The priest had spoken very highly of 
  both the husband and the wife. 
  "I answered to the effect that this was a matter 
  for the Holy See to decide, and that I would write to 
  ask for an official ruling, which I did. I am 
  delighted to say that the reply was all that we could 
  have desired. The husband could be received into the 
  Church of Rome 'without restriction', this meaning 
  that he would not have to give up his Freemasonry, and 
  that he would be deemed as good a Catholic as any born 
  in the faith who have practiced it all their lives. 
  "Within a few weeks after this, a masonic friend of 
  the husband, in the same parish and in exactly the 
  same circumstances, made a similar application and 
  'both have now been received into the faith'." 

39. Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 
pulls the teeth from Art. 2335 of the Code of Canon Law. 
(July 19, 1974) 
"The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine 
  of the Faith ... has ruled that Canon 2335 no longer 
  automatically bars a Catholic from membership of 
  masonic groups ... And so, a Catholic who joins the 
  freemasons is excommunicated only if the policies and 
  actions of the freemasons in his area are known to be 
  hostile to the Church ...". 

This document was signed by Cardinal Seper, Prefect 
of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 

" ... Suffice to say that in July 1974 
  Cardinal Heenan received a communication from the Holy 
  See announcing that the Papal ban had been lifted. 
  Roman Catholics everywhere [but not Officers of the 
  Church of Rome] are now able to join the Craft without 
  the penalty of excommunication and already a number of 
  excellent Roman Catholic Candidates have joined the 
  Craft in England." [See Carr's, "The Freemason at 
  Work" pages 277-281]. 

40. Canon 1374 states that: 

"A person who joins an association which 
  plots against the Church is to be punished with a just 
  penalty; one who promotes or takes office in such an 
  association is to be punished with an interdict." 

41. Quaesitum est (Declaration on 
Masonic Associations published on November 26, 1983) 

The first three paragraphs suffice to give the flavor 
of the pronouncement: 

  "It has been asked whether there has been any 
  change in the Church's decision in regard to Masonic 
  associations since the new Code of Canon Law does not 
  mention them expressly, unlike the previous code. 
  "This sacred congregation is in a position to reply 
  that this circumstance is due to an editorial 
  criterion which was followed also in the case of other 
  associations likewise unmentioned inasmuch as they are 
  contained in wider categories. 
  "Therefore, the Church's negative judgment in 
  regard to Masonic associations remains unchanged since 
  their principles have always been considered 
  irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and, 
  therefore, membership in them remains forbidden. The 
  faithful, who enroll in Masonic associations are in a 
  state of grave sin and may not receive Holy 

This pronouncement, made during the tenure of Joseph, 
Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation 
for the Doctrine of the Faith, returns all of the 
previous condemnations of Freemasonry; only the 
punishment meted out to Catholics joining Masonic bodies 
is changed. It completely nullifies the earlier 
pronouncement made under the prefecture of Cardinal 
Seper in 1974, and compromises Canon 1374 in the 1983 
Code of Canon Law. 

Since it was published prior to the effective date of 
the Canon, however, some Catholic dioceses are holding 
that the Canon supersedes it. On that basis, they are 
granting permission for Catholics to join Masonic