The Roman Catholic Freemason

Past, Present and Future

The Royal Arch Mason - Spring 1972

By Wor. Bro. ALEC MELLOR Grande Loge Nationale
Francaise


Editor's Note:   For those who have been speculating as to
the present relationship between the Vatican and
Freemasonry, this article will be a revelation. The author is a
French Catholic Freemason who can speak from either the
standpoint of the Church or the Craft with equal authority.
This lecture was given October 24, 1971 before Phoenix
Lodge No. 30, a research lodge under the National Grand
Lodge of France. The introduction is by Arthur W. Barnett,
who was then serving as master of the lodge. Brother Mellor
is the present master; both are members of Britannic
Chapter No. 9, Royal Arch Masons.

PART I - THE PAST

Why do we speak of the "Roman Catholic Freemason"?

Why should there not be tomorrow a lecture on the
"Protestant Freemason," the "Jewish Freemason," or the
"Moslem Freemason"? Isn't there a kind of paradox in the
very title of my lecture? No! The reason is that the Roman
Catholic Church is the only one which, up to a quite recent
date, has not allowed its members to join the Craft, and that
this great historical conflict is now ending under our very
eyes.

That is the reason for my title!

Brethren, I would never have dared to treat such a ticklish
subject in any ordinary lodge, even in my Mother Lodge. But
we are tonight in a lodge of research, or as you would say, a
lodge for the diffusion of Masonic knowledge, where I
believe more allowance should be made. Nevertheless, I
fully intend to remain on purely historical ground and be
obedient to our rules, which preclude anything that might
resemble religious controversy.

Brethren, I am a Roman Catholic! am a staunch supporter of
the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. My spiritual
father is the Pope - and I am proud of it.

I am also a staunch and loyal Freemason, and I am proud of
that. I make no secret of the fact that I am a Mason. The
whole world may know it, and I feel very moved when
making this dual profession of faith, because ten years ago
it would not have been possible for anyone to do so.

With your permission I will divide this lecture into three
parts. Firstly, why did the great conflict between the Church
and the Craft occur in the past? Secondly, how did it come
to an end? Thirdly - and this is the most important - how can
we face the future?

THE THREE HISTORICAL PERIODS

I shall deal very quickly with the past. You know that the
history of the Craft is traditionally divided into three parts -
the operative period, the era of transition and the
speculative period.

During the operative period, harmony existed between the
Church and the Craft. The Regius poem itself was the work
of a cleric, and this was quite natural because the main aim
of the Craft was building religious edifices. During the era of
transition there were no attacks on the Craft by the Church  -
the few that did occur were by the Puritans. During the
speculative period, things were to change. When the first
Grand Lodge was founded in 1717, the Church made no
move and uttered no word. When Anderson's Constitutions
was published in 1723, the silence continued. But suddenly
and most unexpectedly, in 1738, Pope Clement XII
published his well - known Bull In Eminenti, the first
condemnation of the Craft in history. This was confirmed in
1751 by Pope Benedict XIV.

FIRST BULL BY POPE CLEMENT XII

If we read the text of the first Bull, we find that two reasons
are given. The first one is secrecy. I pass on. The second
reason is much more mysterious. It is expressed in a very
short sentence, the text and translation of which I quote.
This text, in Latin, was "Aliisque justis ac rationalilibus
causis nobis notis"; the translation being "and for other just
and rational causes known to us."

This little sentence is interesting because the Pope did not
explain the term "other (aliisque) reasons," and we are
driven to the conclusion that there was a hidden or occult
motive. What was that hidden motive? Was it a religious
one? I don't think so. Why?

First of all because Anderson's Constitutions was never put
on the Index (forbidden reading for Catholics). Secondly, if
there was a doctrine to be condemned, we wonder what that
doctrine could have been. It couldn't have been the "Deism"
upheld by the English philosophers of the time, such as
John Locke. Anderson, himself, was not a Deist. He was a
Presbyterian clergyman, while Desaguliers was of the
Church of England.

Silence as regards the Revelation - I allude to Desaguliers -
is no heresy. It couldn't have been 18th century rationalism,
for the German Aufklarung and that of Voltaire and the
French Encyclopaediast of 1738 was still far away. Had the
Bull appeared 20 years later, in 1758 for instance, things
would have been different. And there is another reason. In
1776, almost at the end of the 18th century, when Pope Pius
VI, in his Bull Inscrutabili, condemned the doctrines and the
rationalism of the 18th century, he did not allude to
Freemasonry.

When the Church condemns a doctrine, it always
emphasizes what that doctrine consists of, and such was not
the case regarding Freemasonry. If the hidden motive was
not religious, what could it have been? Was it a moral one?
Did the Roman Catholic Church put a ban against the Craft
in 1738 for some hidden moral reason? If so, for what
reason?

A MORAL FACTOR BEHIND FIRST BAN?

It is not speculation, but historical criticism that makes us
put this question. In those days, as you know, Brethren, the
first exposures came to light in England and in France and
certain of our enemies reproached us with homosexuality
and others with drunkenness. As for the first one, we find
one protest in that old song called The Swordbearer's Song,
which I quote:

We have compassion for those fools,
Who think our acts impure;
We know from ignorance proceeds
Such mean opinions of our deeds.

As for drunkenness, things were different. The period was
that of the implanting of the Hanoverian dynasty, when all
England reeled and rolled under the table! Since the Treaty
of Methuen, port wine could be imported free of duty. I
remember an English lady, a friend of mine, telling me one
day: "That's why we've all got rheumatism!" The squires
simply rolled under the table, and one was accustomed to
speak about two or three - bottle gentlemen, according to
their capacity.

In 1722, 33,000,000 bushels of malt were used for brewing.
At one time matters came to the point where Parliament tried
to check drunkenness by an Act, putting a tax on gin. It was
a vain, laughable effort. During a debate in the House of
Lords, Lord Chesterfield stressed the inconsistency of
banking on the reduction of alcoholism on one hand by the
means of a tax and on the other hand counting on that same
tax to finance military expenditure. Gin to the rescue of the
House of Austria! I am not trying to be funny, but want to put
the following question: Who in those days stood up against
the immorality of that period of the first Georges? The
answer is: The Craft.

HOGARTH PORTRAYED THE TIMES

It was our brother, our great brother, Hogarth, who executed
the famous engraving called Night, which represents a
Worshipful Master and a Tyler coming home drunk after a
lodge meeting. This was done to moralize the Craft, and it is
curious to note that this engraving came out in 1738, the
same year as the Papal Bull. There are other moralistic
engravings of Hogarth, such as The Rake's Progress, now
in the Sloane Museum, Lincoln Inns Fields. It is a fact that
the progress of what we might call "gentlemanness" is
largely due to the influence of the early lodges; and when
the Craft came across the channel to France the movement
went on, developing with all the gracefulness of French 18th
century manners.

So there was already something paradoxical about the
condemnation, and our astonishment increases when we
learn that Masonry was the only institution of the period
which welcomed Roman Catholics, who were
contemptuously called "Papists." If we read the newspapers
of the period, such as The Craftsman or The Gentleman's
Magazine, we find a passage concerning the Craft stating:
"They admit all men, including Jacobites and Papists
themselves." This statement in that time was the utmost limit
of scandal!

We can go even further and say that during that period
when Roman Catholics were considered as outlaws in
England, the Roman Catholic Duke of Norfolk was not only
admitted, but became Grand Master of the Craft. I have
even traced the presence, among Masons of the period, of a
Jesuit called Father Cotton, who was also Brother Cotton.
This was lawful in those days because the Papal
condemnation had not yet been promulgated.

THE REAL REASON FOR FIRST BULL

If the motives of the Papal Bull were neither religious nor
moral, what could they have been? There is only one
answer - they were political! I won't inflict the demonstration
on you - I have devoted half a book to it. I'll merely give you
my conclusion. My personal opinion is that the hidden
motive was the following:

As you know, the Old Pretender had finally found a refuge in
Rome. He was under the protection of the Pope, and he
represented the last card for the re - establishment of
Catholicism in England. There was a war of double - agents
between certain lodges composed of Jacobites and others
of Hanoverian membership. The Old Pretender decided to
put an end to this by closing the Jacobite lodge in Rome
and, finally, to enter into the first condemnation. This leads
us to understand why the motive was hidden. If the Holy See
had discovered the hidden motive it would have been a
terrible political blunder. The real reason was the politics of
the day and the cause of the Stuarts.

Now, after the first Bull, if we examine what English policy
was towards Roman Catholics, what do we find? First of all,
that the legislation of the period was extremely harsh,
because Roman Catholics were considered more or less as
Jews were under the Third Reich: This, of course, was to
become gradually milder, and the discrimination was to
come to an end in the 19th century under the reign of Queen
Victoria. But under the first Georges this was still very far
away. It is a fact that during those two centuries, the Craft
showed no hostility towards the Roman Catholic minority in
Britain. It took no part in the Gordon riots, nor in the long,
long troubles with Ireland. O'Connor himself was a Mason
up to a certain period in his life; and you know, of course,
that the so - called Orange "lodges" of nowadays are not, in
fact, Masonic bodies.

LORD RIPON - THE CATHOLIC GRAND MASTER

The Craft took no steps in the intellectual sphere against the
Oxford Movement, nor against the revival of Catholicism
under Cardinal Newman. The Craft never, in the slightest
way, opposed the gradual legal improvement of the status of
the Roman Catholics and the ultimate attainment of their
aims, yet nevertheless, the Papal condemnation of the Craft
remained even though no reprisals were sought by the
Freemasons.

This calm and impavid attitude was even somewhat heroic
in a case I would like to mention - that of Lord Ripon.

In 1874, Lord Ripon was Grand Master of the United Grand
Lodge of England. He was a very religious man, and for
pure motives of religious conviction, decided to convert and
become a Roman Catholic. It must have broken his heart to
resign not only his grand mastership, but his membership in
the Craft, as well. I will read a very moving page in the
newspaper, The Times of September 3, 1874. Imagine the
scene, brethren! Imagine the Grand Lodge of England
meeting held in that solemn fashion which is still its way.
Here is what The Times related under the title "Lord Ripon
and the Freemasons."

"Last night the members of the Grand Lodge of England
received the intelligence that the Grand Master, the Marquis
of Ripon, had sent in his resignation of the high office he
has held for three years as Head of the Craft in all parts of
the world, acting under the warrant of England. The Grand
Lodge was in the summons prepared to deal with the
resolutions to be prepared by the Grand Master in the
reference to the death of the Past Grand Master of Scotland,
the Earl of Dalhousie, and great was the astonishment,
therefore, of the brethren when it was found that the Grand
Master's place on the throne was occupied by the Provincial
Grand Master of Devonshire, the Rev. John Huish. There
was also present a very full lodge of provincial grand
officers, worshipful masters and wardens. The Grand
Secretary, John Hervey, said that he had received a letter
from the Most Worshipful, the Grand Master, to lay before
Grand Lodge and it was with the utmost of regret he had
read it, a feeling which he was sure would be shared by the
Craft, whose sorrow and dismay he fully anticipated. He
then read the following letter dated from Nopton Hall,
Lincolnshire, on the first instant:
'
Dear Grand Secretary,

I have to inform you that I find myself unable to discharge
any longer the duties of Grand Master, and it is therefore
necessary that I should resign that office into the hands of
the members of Grand Lodge. With the expression of my
grateful thanks for the kindness I have ever received from
them and my regret for any inconvenience which my
retirement may cause to them, I remain,

Faithfufly yours,
Ripon'

"The reading of the letter caused the greatest sensation,
and no one spoke for some time. The Grand Registrar,
Brother McIntyre, Q.C. then rose and addressed the Acting
Grand Master, saying that it was with feelings of the deepest
sorrow that he had to propose a resolution on an occasion
of this character. But the Grand Lodge had no alternative
and must adopt a resolution concerning the sorrowful matter
before them. It was a matter of the greatest grief to all that a
Grand Master, who had presided over the Craft with such
very great credit to himself and advantage to the Order
would, for reasons which must be most cogent but which
were entirely unconnected with the Noble Order, have felt it
incumbent in him to resign the high post which he had held
with such distinguished honour, and to which there was no
doubt the noble marquis would have been elected from year
to year by the body over which he had so long and so well
presided.

"Deeply as they regretted the step, which the Grand Master
had felt it his duty to take, they must know, all those who
knew him so well and loved Mm so dearly, that he would
never have taken that step unless there had been reasons
so cogent to his mind, and therefore to the minds of the
members of the Grand Lodge, to induce him to resign the
Grand Mastership. Into those reasons the speaker was
perfectly confident that no brother, throughout the great
Order, would seek to pry with impertinent curiosity. The
speaker then proposed that the resignation of Most
Worshipful, the Grand Master, be accepted by this Grand
Lodge with the deepest feelings of regret, and that the
Grand Lodge shall be able to regard him, in Ms retirement
from them, as they had in past times, as a bright ornament
to this great Craft. The resolution was then put and carried."

Brethren, I call this grandeur. It is a splendid page in the
history of Freemasonry. If Lord Ripon had lived now - adays
he would very probably not have resigned and the
consequence of such a conversion of a high - ranking
Mason to the Roman Catholic Church would be minimal. In
1874 he had to choose!

About 15 years later, Bradlaugh, who was the founder of a
league called The League of Freethinkers in Britain, and
who was an open atheist, published a book entitled What
Freemasonry Is; What It Has Been; and What It Ought to
Be. His main object was to prove that English Freemasonry
was bigoted, and that it should follow a line like that of
Continental Masonry - which had just been condemned by
Pope Leo XIII for its anti - religious views. Once more
nothing happened, and Bradlaugh was eventually expelled
from the House of Commons for political reasons which
coincided with his Masonic prejudices.

FREEMASONRY CROSSES THE CHANNEL

Now, after having rapidly seen what happened in the British
Isles, let us cross the Channel and try to see what happened
on this side.

Things change completely. On the Continent an historical
phenomenon which our brother, Jean Baylot calls La Voi
Substituee (The Substitute Path) had begun about the year
1820. In 1815 the Congress of Vienna had established,
throughout Europe, the political and spiritual Order known
as The Order of the Holy Alliance, which was an Order of
legitimate sovereigns connected with the spiritual source of
the Roman Church. This Order was necessary after the
troubles of the Napoleonic period, but it was nevertheless
an Order founded on strength, on compelling strength, and
even, in a certain way, on strength compelling human
conscience. A certain number of conspirators, such as the
Carbonari and others, at a period when there was no
freedom of speech, conceived the idea of joining Masonry,
which existed lawfully in Continental countries, simply
because it was a convenient way of conspiring.

I remember 25 years ago when, in order to escape
investigation by the German Gestapo, French resisters
would sometimes form groups of what we used to call in
those days "Collaborationists." It was the same thing. Little
by little, this perverted some lodges, however regular they
might have been, and the very spirit of the Craft on the
Continent. In 1849 there was a scandal in the town of Dijon.
The well - known atheist philosopher, Proudhon, was
admitted to the lodge in that town, and in accordance with
the ritual, he was asked to reply in writing to the following
three questions: What are the duties of a man toward God,
towards his neighbor and towards himself? Proudhon's
answer to the question concerning the relationship with God
was  -  "War!"

To a British Mason such a thing is unthinkable. It became
increasingly compulsory in French Masonry. You know what
followed. In 1877 the Grand Orient of France simply deleted
from its Constitutions the name of the G.A.O.T.U. and the
immediate riposte of the United Grand Lodge of England
was to cease relations with that so - called Masonic body.

In Italy the origin of irregular lodges was mainly political;
they confused Masonry with the fight against the temporal
power of the Pope. Then there came a number of scandals
in the French army - the famous "Scandale des Fiches." The
anti - clerical Combes government used the Grand Orient of
France for a disgusting kind of intelligence work, consisting
of favoring or hindering the promotions of officers, according
to their anti - religious ideas. Finally the very name
"Freemason" in France became synonymous with an anti -
clerical and anti - religious militant atheism.

Logically, the Church should have taken account of the
difference between Anglo - Saxon and Continental Masonry.
Why didn't it do so? Well, the reason is obvious - it is
because Roman Catholics were too few in Britain for the
matter to be important enough. At least that is how it seems,
and for the same reason the confusion has continued up to
the present. Brethren, so much for the past.

PART II - THE PRESENT

Now I come to the second point of this lecture. How did the
great conflict come to an end, and has it really come to an
end? Some do not yet know about it. Well, the proper
answer is - Yes! the present situation is the following.

Let us imagine a blackboard with a diagram. We may call
the Roman Catholic Church "A," irregular Masonry "B" and
regular Masonry "C." "A" has condemned "B," which means
that the Church has condemned irregular Masonry, and "C"
has condemned "B," for as you know, we have nothing to do
with the Grand Orient and other irregular obediences. Is it
therefore contrary to logic that, if "A" condemns "B" and "C"
condemns "B," that "A" and "C" should not agree? Both of
them condemn "B" and they even condemn "B" for the same
reason principally atheism! Unhappily, the human mind is
not always logical and progress is very, very slow. Ideas
have progressed during the last 30 years on both sides. On
the Roman Catholic side, the main promotors of pacification
- or cease fire, so to speak - have been the Jesuits, Father
Grouber, Father Berteloot and my friend Father Riquet, who
delivered a famous lecture, which I personally organized in
a lodge at Lavel. The lodge in question was not regular at
the time, but has since joined the Grande Loge Nationale
Francaise under another name.

On the Masonic side, we can now lift certain veils, and
certain things are no longer confidential. I remember
conversations having taken place in Paris with the Grand
Master of Germany, M.W. Bro. Theodore Vogel (who is one
of the great figures in the Craft), Brother Muller - Borner and
my friend, Bro. Baron F. Von Cles, who was here half an
hour ago and who was unfortunately obliged to leave. I must
very proudly mention brothers from the Grande Loge
Nationale Francaise, like our M.W. Grand Master Ernest
Van Heeke, who have been in touch with the leaders of the
Church. I must certainly not omit to mention Bro. Jean
Baylot's book, The Substitute Path. I will forget about my
own literary efforts, except to say one thing only: when I
tried to sustain hose theories, I waited to know whether or
not they would be disapproved by the Holy Office - they
were not censured. I consider, therefore, that they were
implicitly approved. And then things went so far that a
Spanish Jesuit, Father Forrer Benimeli, joined in this kind of
tug - of - war.

Then in 1966, an important event took place, and most
surprisingly, in the Scandinavian countries. The Roman
Catholic Scandinavian bishops decided that if Protestants
wished to join the Roman Catholic Church and happened to
be Masons, they could remain so. That was the first step. In
Paris, a former archbishop happened to be asked by
members of the Grande Loge Nationale Francaise who had
returned to faith after having lost it, what they should do in
actual practice. Was it their duty to resign or not? They were
told: "Oh well, remain where you are Wait and see, as you
say in English.'

ENGLISH EFFORT

My eminent friend and brother, Harry Carr, the secretary of
Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 (English Constitution),
who is not only a prominent British Mason, but also a
prominent Jew - and proud of it - then had certain contacts
with Cardinal Heenan in England and wrote an article on the
question, from which I extract the following:

". . . On my last visit to the London Grand Rank Association,
I spoke at some length of our hopes of bridging the gulf
which has so long separated the Craft and the Church of
Rome. During question time at the end of my talk, one of the
brethren asked: 'How can you possibly hope for an accord
between us and the R.C. Church, when the bookstall in
Westminster Cathedral still sells those horrible anti -
Masonic pamphlets, etc.?'

". . . I wrote to Cardinal Heenan explaining that the
pamphlets (I know them well) are both defamatory and
inaccurate and begged him to use his authority to get them
removed. I also sent him a copy of my talk on Freemasonry
and the Roman Catholic Church, expressing my eagerness
to see peace restored between the Craft and the Vatican,
and asked for an appointment when we might discuss these
matters. Cardinal Heenan replied, and in regard to the anti -
Masonic pamphlet he promised that '. . . if, as I suspect, it is
misleading, I shall see that it is withdrawn.' He also asked
me to arrange an appointment through his secretary, and I
went to Archbishold's House, Westminster on 18th March,
1968. I could not have prayed for a kinder or more
sympathetic reception.

CARDINAL HEENAN

"I first explained that, as a Jew, I had high hopes from the
ecumenical movement and, as a Freemason, the evidence
of wider tolerance in the Roman Catholic Church had been a
source of great joy to me. His Eminence replied: 'Yes, your
letter to me was quite an extraordinary coincidence because
I am deeply interested in the whole matter, and have been
for a very long time. I shall show you a picture later on.' Our
talk ranged over many aspects of the subject.

"He told me that he would be reporting direct to Rome on
Masonic matters, and he asked me a number of questions
on side degrees and other bodies and their supposed
connections with the Craft. (I later replied on eight sheets of
typescript with a collection of official printed documents, all
of which were subsequently taken by him to the Holy See.)

"The highlight of our conversation arose when I emphasized
how important it must be to draw a sharp line between the
kind of Freemasonry recognized by the U.G.L. of England
and the atheistic or anti - Christian Grand Orient type. I
urged that the Church of Rome could safely take the English
standards as a yardstick for distinguishing between 'the
good and the bad,' and I added - 'but what we really need is
an intermediary to convince your authorities.' He answered:
'I am your intermediary.'

"Then he led me into an adjoining council - chamber, a
lovely room, and showed me 'the picture,' a large oil painting
of Cardinal Manning's last reception. It depicted the dying
Cardinal seated on a settee, his face grey and haggard,
speaking to several frock - coated men nearby, while the
whole background was filled with similarly clad figures. It
was a 'portrait' picture of famous men with a chart below
giving their names.

"His Eminence pointed to one heavily-bearded man leaning
over the settee in the group surrounding the Cardinal, and
asked: 'Do you know who that is?' I pleaded ignorance and
he pointed to No. 3 on the chart. 'No. 3,' he said, 'is Lord
Ripon; you know he was a Grand Master and he resigned
from Freemasonry in order to become a Roman Catholic.' (I
did know, indeed.) His Eminence continued: 'You may not
know, perhaps, that after he resigned he used to say that
throughout his career in Freemasonry he had never heard a
single word uttered against the Altar or Throne. Those
words have always remained strong in my memory and so
you can understand how eager I am to help.'

"Cardinal Heenan very kindly gave me another interview a
few weeks later, when I was accompanied by a senior grand
officer. It was a most promising conversation because His
Eminence was on the eve of his departure for Rome when it
was hoped that all these matters were to be discussed at the
highest levels; but we were advised beforehand that 'the
mills of God grind slowly.' And then, almost without warning
'The Pill' exploded in Rome, and now we may have to start
all over again!

"I have told you all this, brethren, because I believe with all
my heart that the Craft has much to gain from a
reconciliation with the Church of Rome. Consider how
valuable it would be if at the very least, we were able, at one
stroke of the pen, to change millions of former enemies into
friends. . . ."

However, brethren, someone had to begin; someone had to
take, as our ritual says, the first regular step in
Freemasonry. Well, I took that step on March 28, 1969. My
sponsors were Father Riquet, a Roman Catholic Jesuit and
Brother Harry Carr, one of the most eminent representatives
not only of the Craft, but also of English Jewry. I was
admitted to the Craft and did not consider it to be
incompatible with my faith to adhere to "the religion to which
all men agree."

PART III - THE FUTURE

The third point is, how can we confront the future?

How do things stand in this autumn of 1970?

Before I joined the Craft, I had a personal conversation with
a very important English Mason, who told me in the plainest
way: "We never attacked the Church! The Church attacked
us! If the Church considers it has to withdraw the Bulls of
the past, we will just see what happens. We have no step to
take." This was the official position explained by a high -
ranking official. But in fact, British Masons go much further
and I have my own personal experience to testify to this.
They are looking forward to a settlement.

What about French Masonry? Well, I won't speak about the
Grand Orient, of course, which maintains its old hatred, not
only against my Church, but against all religious ideas and
the very name of God. As regards the Grande Loge
Nationale Francaise, it is entirely favorable, save perhaps
some individual members who do not represent the
obedience. As regards the Grande Loge de France, it has
taken up a curious kind of medium - way attitude. It is in
favor of what it calls a talk, and its position is: "Let's have a
talk, but why should the Church interfere with problems of
Masonic regularity? Why should the Church, if it intends to
lift the ban, lift it only for regular Masons - regularity is not
the Church's business." That is the position of the Grande
Loge de France.

POSITION OF THE CHURCH

On the Roman Catholic side, what is the position? I think we
can say there are three schools of thought. First of all there
are what we call the integrists. They are the extreme
conservatives of the past, what I think you call in English
politics, the "diehards." They are the diehards of the old anti
- Masonic feeling. They are not very numerous and they are
generally badly informed and impassioned.

Then come those who uphold a theory developed in Italy by
a Jesuit named Father Esposito, which we may call the
"Esposito Theory." It is not mine, but I will explain it.
According to Father Esposito, the Council of Vatican II has
developed the idea that the Church should enter into an
overall conversation, or dialogue, with all mankind, and
especially with other religions, and with all schools of
philosophy - atheists included. For that reason it involves
Masonry and it is in accordance with the Grande Loge de
France theory. I do not agree with it myself, for the simple
reason that to my mind, Masons are not unbelievers. And it
is a mistake to confuse the problem of a dialogue, which is
one thing, with the problem of being a member of two bodies
at the same time. It is quite different. As a Roman Catholic, I
don't mind entering into a dialogue with a Protestant or a
Shintoist, but that does not mean that I think that I can
belong to two churches at the same time. If I think that the
Shintoist faith is the best, I must logically adhere to the
Shintoist Faith. If I believe that my faith is the true one, I
remain faithful to my Church.

AND OF THE CRAFT

Regarding the Craft, the problem is quite different. Things
do not appear under the same light, and it is obvious that a
Roman Catholic may at the same time be a regular Mason.
Why? Because the law is such, and that is certainly the
compelling reason.

By "the law," I mean Article 2335 of the present - day Canon
Code, which I translate from Latin in the following way: "No
one has the right to join the Masonic sect, or a sect that
conspires against religion or against the Established
Power." As my friend Brother Doctor Vatcher said in a rather
humorous way in this very lodge: "We don't believe in
England that the Archbishop of Canterbury conspires
against religion, or that the Duke of Kent conspires against
the State." So, if it is a matter of pure, bare fact, it has been
proven that the Grande Loge Nationale Francaise, for
instance, does not conspire against the Church and does
not seek to overthrow the legitimate political power.

So the condemnation (there is no question of withdrawing it)
simply does not affect it; it affects something else. It's like
the story of the fellow who, when it rained, passed between
the drops of water; the rain didn't wet him! That is my
personal opinion, and that is the opinion upheld by Father
Riquet. We waited to see whether the theory would be
disapproved or condemned by the Church; it has not been
so condemned and we are therefore certain that this opinion
is the good one and the right one. Actually, the whole matter
is being reviewed once more and the Vatican is fully
informed.

HOW WILL IT END

So how will the whole matter end? That is the question!

Certain Masons and also certain Catholics hope for a
solemn pontifical document. I am afraid this cannot be
expected for an obvious reason. The Pope cannot legislate
on Freemasonry (I speak of both regular and irregular
bodies) because the Craft is too divided. It is impossible to
speak about Freemasonry in general because from a
Catholic point of view, there are Freemasonries in the plural.
Could one then expect the Pope to issue a sort of catalogue, stating that such a Masonic body is considered legal by Catholics, while another one is not? It could be done in theory, but it would compel the Church to intervene in
matters of Masonic regularity, which are none of its
business.

And then, brethren, it is a fact of which you are aware that
the various Grand Lodges in different countries are not all in
the same frame of mind. Can, for instance, a Roman
Catholic now join a lodge under the United Grand Lodge of
England with absolute security that he will be considered by
his brothers as being the same as any other Mason?
Certainly - there is no problem. Can he join the Grande Loge
Nationale Francaise? Of course he can. Can he join a
German lodge? Well, I'm afraid it all depends. Can he join
the Grand Lodge of Belgium (regular)? I don't know.

In fact, to leave things to each man's conscience is
probably, for the moment  - and I believe that is the idea of
the Church - perhaps the safest way.

Personally, I have faith in the Craft. Regularity is every day
gaining ground in this country. Many irregular Masons are
daily more and more disgusted and join the only regular
Masonic obedience, which is ours. I have faith too in the
destiny of the Church. Never has the Papacy seemed so
great. One can open papers to ascertain that there is no
great problem of the present period on which the Pope
remains mute. It is a fact, brethren, that whenever the
safeguard and the dignity of mankind are in question, the
tenets of the Church and the Craft are exactly the same. Let
me quote another example that of the attitude to be
observed towards that persecuted race, of which Our Lord
and his disciples were members.

There must be room in the world of the future for "THE
ROMAN CATHOLIC FREEMASON." What must he be?
Well, these will be my last words: Masonry, if he rightly
understands the Art, must make him a better Roman
Catholic, and his own religion, if he practices it, and upholds
it as is his duty, must make him a better Mason.

 

         

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