In 2017, OnePeterFive published a three-part series examining all the support that Pope Francis has received from Freemasons around the world since his election. At the time, we presented a compilation of 62 examples of public support from various Freemasonic figures or lodges for the 266th pope — an almost impossible thing to imagine happening less than a century ago.
Today, from the Italian journalist Aldo Maria Valli, we present a new example from the Masons of the Grand Orient Lodge of Spain, who have praised Francis for his Christmas message, in which he expressed “a wish for fraternity” among “individuals of every nation and culture,” among “people with different ideas, yet capable of respecting and listening to one another,” and “among persons of different religions.”
This message has been interpreted by the Freemasons of Spain as compatible with their own values, despite a long enmity between the Church’s ideals and those of the Freemasons.
We present below Aldi’s full post, translated from Italian for our audience by Giuseppe Pellegrino.
“Thank you, Francis” from “All the Freemasons of the World.”
by Aldo Maria Valli
“All the Masons of the world unite themselves to the petition of the Pope for “fraternity between persons of diverse religions”
The message which Spanish Masons have sent to Francis is truly full of enthusiasm and gratitude: “All the Masons of the world unite themselves to the request of the pope for ‘fraternity between persons of diverse religions.’”
The text was re-sent in a tweet by the Grand Lodge of Spain, which emphasized its identification with the views expressed by Francis in his Christmas Message.
“In his Christmas message from the central loggia of the Vatican,” wrote the Masons of the Grand Orient Lodge of Spain, “Pope Francis asked for the triumph of universal brotherhood among all human beings:
For this reason, my wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity. Fraternity among individuals of every nation and culture. Fraternity among people with different ideas, yet capable of respecting and listening to one another. Fraternity among persons of different religions. Jesus came to reveal the face of God to all those who seek him.
The face of God has been revealed in a human face. It did not appear in an angel, but in one man, born in a specific time and place. By his incarnation, the Son of God tells us that salvation comes through love, acceptance, respect for this poor humanity of ours, which we all share in a great variety of races, languages, and cultures. Yet all of us are brothers and sisters in humanity!
Our differences, then, are not a detriment or a danger; they are a source of richness. As when an artist is about to make a mosaic: it is better to have tiles of many colors available, rather than just a few!
In affirming with emphasis the importance of the concepts expressed by Francis, the Grand Lodge of Spain observes: “The words of the Pope show how far the Church has come from the content of Humanum Genus (1884), the last great Catholic condemnation of Masonry.”
In the encyclical Humanum Genus Pope Leo XIII condemned Masonry without half-measures, stigmatizing “the great modern error of religious indifferentism and of the equality of all religions,” an attitude which the pope of that time called “the most opportune way to annihilate all religions, and especially Catholicism, which, because it is the one true religion, cannot be placed in a bundle with all the others without enormous injustice.”
According to the Spanish Masons, the way in which the present pope condemns religious fundamentalism and asks for fraternity and tolerance brings the Church alongside Masonry, uniting them in their commitment to universal fraternity, apart from their differences in the political, cultural, natural and religious fields.
The expression of esteem for the Pope by Masonry is noteworthy, but not surprising. After Paul VI, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (who has been an honorary member of the Rotary Club since 1999) is decisively the Pope most appreciated by international Masonry.
While John Paul II and Benedict XVI were strongly opposed by Masons, the Argentine Pontiff has received repeated praise from Masonry, both in Europe and in America. And certainly new praises are going to be coming in, since the Pope is now preparing to go to Abu Dhabi at the beginning of February, at the invitation of the Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for the Inter-Religious Meeting on Human Brotherhood, a theme which has always been dear to the heart of Masonry.
Over the course of time, even Italian Masons have made expressions of esteem and sympathy for Francis. Years ago, for example, Gustavo Raffi, who at the time was Grand Master of the Grand Orient Lodge of Italy, said to thousands of his fellow Masons gathered at a conference: “Just look inside those walls that separate Italy from the Vatican, and you will understand that something is changing. We observe with attention and respect how this Pope is accelerating the times of an epochal change within the horizon of traditional structures reluctant to welcome the ferment of innovation. And as a result his influence will reverberate far beyond the confines of the sacristy.”
For those who would like to read the April 20, 1884 enyclical Humanum Genus of Leo XIII on the “condemnation of philosophical and moral relativism of Masonry,” you may find the text here. Which concludes, it must be recalled, with a quadruple, intense invocation: to the Virgin Mary “that she may show her power over these evil sects,” to “Saint Joseph, spouse of the Most Holy Virgin and Heavenly patron of the Catholic Church,” and to the “great Apostles Peter and Paul, the fathers and victorious champions of the Christian faith.”
Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino. Originally published in Italian at the author’s website.