There was such a dramatic change in the social and theological dispositions towards Freemasonry amongst many European, Argentinian, and North American Catholics immediately following the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, that, at minimum, should have provoked a reasonable and rational concern amongst the faithful.
Some have argued that this divergence from the traditional teaching about Freemasonry was just the fruit of an infiltration of Freemasons that began with the Carbonari’s 1859 Alta Vendita plot. However, this analysis is too simplistic.
The Carbonari was an Italian political sect, whose membership was not exclusively composed of Freemasons. It was not a Masonic sect (i.e., beholden as an affiliate or appendant to the Grand Lodge). The fact the Catholic Church has never treated the Carbonari as a Masonic sect, but as a distinct secret society that plots against the Church, is affirmed by Pope Pius VII in his 1821 Ecclesiam a Jesu, and by Pope Leo XIII in his 1826 Quo Gaviora.
This is not the say that there have not been initiated Freemasons throughout the clergy, for that has certainly been true in the past and in the present. Rather, it is to say we can do better in analyzing and verifying those movements inside the Catholic Church which made it more friendly with Freemasons and more sympathetic toward some sects of Freemasonry. This first article will discuss some of the Masonic influences before Vatican II, stretching back some three hundred years. In the next article we will treat more specifically the claim of some to place the blame of infiltration solely on the plot of the Alta Vendita.
Vatican II Red Flags
Truly, smoke signals should have gone up in 1967 when the Scandinavian Bishop’s Conference (consisting of the countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland), following a four-year study into Freemasonry in their dioceses, decided to permit Catholics in their dioceses to retain their Masonic membership, “but only with the specific permission of that person’s bishop.” This deference to the local ordinary on a matter, heretofore, considered to be immutable, was the Scandinavian’s Bishops interpretation of Paul VI’s Apostolic Letter Moto Proprio, De Episcoporum Muneribus, which, itself is an interpretative reading of para. 27 of Lumen Gentium, gave bishops more authority to be the final arbiters of Canon Law.
Truly, alarm bells should have gone off on March 16, 1968, The Tablet (a progressive Catholic international weekly review published in London) reported in their ‘The Church in the World’ news and noted section:
Go-ahead for Catholic Masons: Vatican sources have recently been quoted as saying that Catholics are now free to join the Masons in the United States, Britain and most other countries of the world. However, the European Grand Orient Lodge of Masons, established primarily in Italy and France, is still considered anti-Catholic or, at least, atheistic.
Later that year, The Tablet would also take an Editorial stance in opposition to Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae vitae.
Truly, visible panic should have ensued on July 19, 1974, when Cardinal Franjo Seper, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote a letter, which was supposedly intended to be private correspondence, to Cardinal John Krol, the Archbishop of Philadelphia at the time, supporting the Scandinavian interpretation of De Episcoporum Muneribus concerning Canon Law No. 2335 (prohibiting membership into societies that plot against the Catholic Church), stating,
Many Bishops have asked this Sacred Congregation about the extent and interpretation of Canon 2335 of the Code of Canon Law which prohibits Catholics, under pain of excommunication, to join masonic associations, or similar associations… Taking particular cases into consideration, it is essential to remember that the penal law has to be interpreted in a restrictive sense. For this reason, one can certainly point out, and follow, the opinion of those writers who maintain that Canon 2335 affects only those Catholics who are members of associations which indeed conspire against the Church.
It was almost hilarious that men who were plotting against the Catholic Church themselves were then putting themselves in a position to tell us which sects of Freemasons were not plotting against the Catholic Church. But this was something that went back centuries.
Pre-Vatican II Efforts to Normalize Freemasonry
This scheme to differentiate the Anglo-sects of Freemasonry (those whose charters and warrants originate from the Mother Grand Lodges of England, Ireland, and Scotland) from the Continental-sects of Freemasonry (those whose constitutions and rites are based upon the Grand Orient Lodges of France and Italy) began in 1738, when on the eve of Pope Clement XII issuance of his Apostolic Constitution In Eminenti apostolatus specula (The High Watch) on April 28, 1738. This Pontiff in fact had to endure the efforts of his nephew, Neri Maria Cardinal Corsini, who attempted to prevail upon him that Freemasonry in England was merely an “innocent mirth.”
Indeed, perhaps Cardinal Neri revealed himself as a Freemason with his choice of those descriptive words, which is, curiously, are the exact instruction given to Freemasons in Article VI of the 1723 Constitution of the Grand Lodge of England (so-called Anderson’s Constitution) concerning how Freemasons ought to behave amongst each other after the official meeting of the lodge has concluded and the brethren are not, yet, gone; “You may enjoy yourself with innocent Mirth . . .”
Pius IX clearly taught in this 1873 Etsi Multa that Church teaching does not distinguish between sects of Freemasonry; “Teach them that these decrees refer not only to Masonic groups in Europe, but also those in America and in other regions of the world.” Nevertheless, Father John E. Burke of the Catholic Board of Negro Mission, reported to the United States Bishops the fact that one of the barriers in place that was preventing more Black Americans from becoming Catholic was that too many of them belonged to forbidden secret societies like the Freemasons. Therefore, he argued, permission should be obtained from the Holy See to allow prospective Black American converts to retain their membership in such societies for the sake of the financial benefits. Burke’s errant finding was that Black secret societies did not present the same threat to Catholics that the White societies did.
The idea of their being a socially acceptable and theologically compatible version of Freemasonry is a myth. All sects of Freemasonry have always been prohibited because they all hold fast to the dogma of indifferentism and the belief that Freemasonry is man’s highest good (see my prior analysis here and here). Yet, to this day, this insane myth, first uttered by Cardinal Neri to Pope Clement XII, continues to be spread throughout the Catholic Church and made amazing strides in the neo-heterodox-praxis of the Catholic faith thanks to the liberal interpretation of para. 27 of Lumen Gentium that birthed De Episcoporum Muneribus in the wake of Vatican II.
World War II and Catholic-Freemasonry Rapprochement
The one thing that Catholics, Freemasons, and Jews had in common about eighty years ago was that each of them were equally hated by Communists and Nazis. From around 1917, until shortly after World War II, many activists in these alignments found that the circumstances of the day sometimes made tolerable bedfellows, despite having ideologically, philosophically, and theologically beliefs that were incompatible with each other.
The machinations of the Third Reich against the Catholics and Freemasons are too numerous for the purposes of this essay, but it suffices to say that given the state of fallen the Catholic Church in Germany today, Hitler won. The remnant of the Catholic faithful that remains in Germany today is struggling mightily against the normalcy of the demonic spirit of homosexuality, while the remnant of the Anglo-sect of Freemasonry in Germany today is struggling mightily against the normalcy of female and co-gender lodges.
The plots of the Third Reich against the Catholic Church and Freemasonry both began the same way – a lie was spread by writing it down in a book. Against Catholicism, Alfred Rosenberg wrote his 1930 The Myth of the Twentieth Century, which among many other things posited that Catholic was Judaized and a spiritual swindle. In 1937, Adolph Hitler awarded Rosenberg the inaugural ‘State Prize for Art and Science’ for this book.Against the Freemasons, General Erich von Ludendorff, wrote his 1931 The Destruction of Freemasonry through the Disclosure of its Secrets, which among many other things posited that Freemasonry was Judaized – its rituals were of Jewish origin, Freemasons were agents of the Jews, when Freemasons talked about ‘brothers in the society’ they were referring to the Jews, and Freemasons wear aprons to cover up the fact that they are circumcised.
From August 19, 1944, until the German garrison surrendered the French capital on August 25, 1944, many Catholics and Continental-sect Freemasons found themselves fighting side by side. People such as Freemason resistance leader Marc Rucart and Catholic resistance leader Henri Frenay, who would secretly meet after the battle, found much to agree on. Here, Godwin notes,
After the victory, the General Council of the Grand Orient wrote to General de Gaulle as they had written to Pétain in August 1940. They expressed their ‘profound admiration’ for de Gaulle’s actions ‘which have permitted France to recover her ideal of liberty’ and praised him for abolishing the illegal anti-masonic laws of Vichy. De Gaulle disliked Freemasons as much as other French generals did; like Pétain in 1940, he did not reply to the Grand Orient’s letter.
It would not be long after the Second Vatican Council that hostilities of the Grand Orient Grand Lodges against the Catholic Church would resume; most notably through Propaganda Due (P2 Lodge) of the Grand Orient Italy, but for now, it was agreed that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Such a notion of working together and meeting in secret was so far removed from the teachings Pope Clement XII in his 1732 papal bull In Eminenti apostolatus specula which taught us that not only can we not become Freemasons under any circumstances and under the pain of excommunication, but that we also cannot
receive them in their houses or dwellings or to hide them, be present with them, give power or permission for them to meet elsewhere, to help them in any way, 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, or to be present or to assist them in any way . . .
The Liberal Years of Pius IX
The idea that Catholics would be friends with Freemasons was not just a wartime sentiment but was an idea birthed by Pope Pius IX himself during his liberal years. In 1854, Pius IX donated a stone block of marble from the Temple of Concord in Rome to be used in the construction of the interior wall of George Washington’s Monument in Washington, D.C. The grave problem with the stone donation is that the Washington Monument is a Masonic edifice, whose ceremonial cornerstone was laid by Freemasons during their dedication ritual. Had not nine men from the Anti-Masonic Party stole that stone on the night of March 6, 1854, the Catholic Church would never have been able to shake the stain of that extended and accepted hand of friendship.
The number of prominent Catholics who ignored Church teaching and became more than friends, but brother Freemasons are also too extensive to list there, but they range from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Joseph Hayden, father of the symphony, to Edward Jenner, father of vaccinology, whom Pope Pius VII knighted as Chevalier of the Golden Spur, although he knew that Jenner was a Freemason.
I sympathize with Catholics who would like to explain all this away with the myth of some grand infiltration of some nefarious group. Such a Machiavellian scheme certain sounds sensational and it gives us an enemy to wag our victim finger at, but what is much closer to being the full truth, and most clearly verifiable, is that we Catholics have had a nearly 300 year history of giving allowances, brokering compromises, and deviating from the dogmatic teaching against Freemasonry. This is not to say that we have not had enemies from without who made their way within. Bella Dodd has woven together convincing proof and the evidence of a deep-state homosexual network today in the Catholic Church is undeniable.
On the contrary, the goal of this essay is merely to present the fact that the most penetrating infiltration of the Catholic Church did not come by the way of an organization, but an idea. The idea was that we faithful Catholics could be friends with the world and with those who want to destroy us. In this case, that idea did not begin at the Second Vatican Council. But that Council also did not resist the demonic spread of that lie. Quite the contrary.
 Matthew Scanlan, “The Pope and the Spy,” Freemasonry Today (Issue 25, Summer 2003). “In a letter written in the wake of the bull, the Cardinal emphasizes that he found that Freemasonry in England was nothing more than an ‘innocent mirth/amusement,’ but that in Florence it had degenerated into a ‘school of atheism’ and clearly identified Stosch as the man responsible for such degeneration.” Baron Philip von Stosch was the trusted agent of King George II and worked as a spy paid by Holland. In 1720 he was sent by Britain to Rome to spy on the James Stuart of the exiled House of Stuart, and would eventually make his headquarters in Florence, Italy.
 Cyprian Davis, The History of Black Catholics in the United States (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1990), 195.
 Ludendorff, Vernichtung der Freimaurerei durch Enthüllung ihrer Geheimnisse, 6, 14, 76.
 Jasper Godwin Ridley, The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society (Arcade), 219-220.
 Ibid., 241.
David L. Gray is a 2006 convert to the Catholic Church from agnosticism and Freemasonry. He earned his Master of Arts Degree in Theology from Ohio Dominican University, and today is the President and Publisher of Saint Dominic’s Media. He is writing at OnePeterFive on the topic of the Catholic Church’s prohibition against Freemasonry and its Appendant Masonic Bodies; drawing from his book, The Catholic Catechism on Freemasonry. Learn more about him and his work at https://www.davidlgray.info/