New ACBC head has Modernist form

It is with great regret that I inform you, dear readers, that the new head of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference will be none other than Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth. Archbishop Costelloe is no stranger to these pages, of course. His dedication to corruption, Modernism and COVID jabs is second to none, and it is fitting that he plans to take advice on his new role from the former president and fellow progressive, Archbishop Coleridge.

The ACBC’s media blog reported Costelloe’s glowing remarks about Coleridge:

“It was Archbishop Coleridge who guided our response beyond the Royal Commission, represented the Church in Australia at the global summit on sexual abuse and steered the bishops through a pandemic and a host of other challenges. Archbishop Coleridge has been a calm and considered leader locally and in the global Church and will be a trusted adviser for me in this new role.”

Sounds like the Australian Church has a bright (illuminated?) future ahead of it.

Costelloe also noted that the Church, of which he is a Prince and for whose members he was ordained in order to “preach, teach and sanctify”, still has a few things going for it – none of which, unfortunately, are spiritual benefits. He said:

“The Church in this country is an immense contributor to our society, through our parishes, our schools, our hospital and aged care, our social services and countless other ministries. As we continue to contemplate how we live out the Gospel in this age, including through the Plenary Council, I look forward to working with my brother bishops and the People of God to carry forward Christ’s mission.”

So, just another CEO of just another NGO, implementing the SDG’s of the UN and WEF. If that isn’t enough TLA’s (Three-Letter-Acronyms) for you, then here’s another:

IHS. It represents the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Redeemer of the world, Who was crucified and died for our sins that we may have eternal life.

May the same Lord Jesus Christ restore His Church and replace His Holy Name on the lips of all lost shepherds – those who seem to have forgotten the role for which they are so handsomely paid and for which the price of betrayal is eternal damnation.

Australia’s Bishops want Protestants to teach them how to be Catholic?

Yes, you read that correctly. Since Protestants have been doing “synodality” far longer than we Catholics have, we need to study them to see how it’s done.

Or something like that.

Here’s what the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference put out this week:

To help better understand the place of synodality in the Catholic Church, ecumenical leaders will attend national Uniting and Anglican gatherings this month to see how synodality works in those communities.

The global Synod on Synodality has encouraged engagement with ecumenical and interfaith groups as part of the process leading towards the gathering in Rome in October 2023.

Cardinals Mario Grech, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, and Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, recently said: “Conscious of our need for the accompaniment and the many gifts of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we call on them to journey with us during these two years and we sincerely pray that Christ will lead us closer to him and so to one another.”

ACBC Media blog May 4th.

So let me get this right: to learn how to be better Catholics, we need to learn from Protestants. Right.

Maybe we should send our teenagers to carjacking school to make them better drivers? Or send our daughters to Marie Stopes to make them better mothers? (Oh, I forgot – Archbishop Comensoli has already tried something like that.)

The article goes onto say that the Australian Synod of Bishops committee is sending “key ecumenical leaders” (Catholics) to the Uniting Church’s Assembly and to the Anglican Synod, which are both being held this month. This is where some of your hard-earned church-offerings are ending up, friends: sending Catholics to take notes from the Protestants.

One of the participants is a Fr Trainor, a priest from Adelaide. He said that “One of the key lessons I’ve learned is that open and friendly dialogue is at the heart of communion in faith …. The core of our communion is Baptism, which leads us to see each other as sisters and brothers in faith.”

So which is it, Father? Is it Baptism or is it “dialogue” that is the basis of our alleged communion with heretical churches? It matters not – neither would pass the Syllabus test, would they?

One good thing could come of this kind of meeting, though. If Catholics hear from their Protestant peers about the numerous difficulties involved in being a married priest, or the practical challenges of being a female priestess, or the lack of acceptance for (God forbid) an openly sodomite bishop, they just might have second thoughts about their own radical plans for the Church.

But until then, be prepared for more of this nonsense as the increasingly irrelevant Plenary movement morphs into the far more fashionable Synodality movement.

At least that’s what the Bishops are trying to convince us of, anyway.

More cringeworthy Synodality from the ACBC

Australia’s Catholic Bishops Conference must have decided that the patronising non-Catholic gibberish it inflicted on us for the Plenary Council wasn’t enough – still too many Catholics actually attending Mass, perhaps? No, apparently we need even more condescending advice, even more irrelevant talking points, all embellished with that infantile logo which has found its unfortunate way onto the promotional materials for Bergoglio’s “Synod on Synods.”

You all know what I think about that logo.

The more imaginative among you may see Van Gogh’s haystacks being blown around by the Holy Ghost as a disenfranchised crowd (from “the margins”, no doubt) turns its back on the Sun of Righteousness.

But I see a tiny, defenceless child being sucked from its mother’s womb, in order to make a toxic gene serum for the world’s fearful, clueless citizens who were encouraged by their fearful, clueless bishops.

Either way, the whole thing is a farce.

Who can actually repeat that title with a straight face? A “Synod on Synods”, indeed! It is like something straight from Lewis Carol.

We don’t see issuing from St Peter’s a (sorely-needed) “Catechism on Catechisms”, do we? Should the Holy Father compose a “Litany of Litanies”? Or should he offer a whole mass of Masses (Latin, of course!)?

Now, to be fair, John XXIII did effectively achieve an anathema on anathemas. And until recent times, the Church was known for Her tradition of tradition. But that was all in the dim, dark, unenlightened past. Now we have the Modern Methods.

We have scientific instructions that explain the way in which we should conduct our conversations, our dialogue. From the ACBC:

Speakers work in a clockwise direction. The facilitator may nominate someone to
start, then participants can share one after the other.
• Everyone speaks for two to three minutes about what happened during their
reflection time.
• Begin with the phrase: “In my reflection today…”

It is a brave participant who would dare to move in an anti-clockwise direction.

Survivors enter the Second Round, where a different phrase is used:

This round will be shorter than the first. Speaking order is clockwise, as before.
• Everyone speaks for one to two minutes.
• This is an opportunity to answer questions like:
• What consoled me or struck me as I listened to my companions?
• What did I hear? What did I feel? What was the Spirit saying to me/us?
• Was I especially touched by a particular sharing?
• Begin with the phrase, “In the group I heard…and it left me feeling…”

Dear Lord. What was the Spirit saying??

That the bishops need to be accountable to all those Catholics who are now out of work because they refused the vex? I could imagine the Holy Ghost saying that.

Or that He backed Pius V all the way when that good man announced the fate of anyone who tried to do away with the Traditional Mass?

Just ask Paul VI; he learned a bit about God’s wrath and it wasn’t very pleasant.

Consequences? [Source here.]

I know I’ve gotten off track but it is embarrassing to read what those highly-paid Catholic bureaucrats come up with when they’re working on their favourite mess: reimagining the Church.

“Discernment”, cringey prayers, cringey graphics and cringey sharing-groups from triple-jabbed ecumaniacs. Do they realise how irrelevant they are? We are over it.

Oh. There’s one more thing the Spirit might say if anyone concerned about their credibility was ever to listen to Him: if you must engage in a heterodox Modernist talkfest, then at least make the effort to get the name of your own country right.

Who needs the Stasi when we have the bishops?

Another Australian bishop has been throwing his pandemic-acquired weight around, this time in sunny Queensland. Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane, has decided to collaborate with the tyrannical state government by forcing his priests to get vaxxed or risk losing their faculties.

The Catholic Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, affectionately known as “Stasi,” has found a willing ally in the Archbishop of Brisbane. Like Daniel Andrews and his “good Catholic grandfather”, Palaszczuk has fond memories of her Polish grandparents with their “eight photos of Pope John Paul II in the living room.” Also like Daniel Andrews, Palaszczuk is left-wing, pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia and has been autocratically bullying her subjects into following a raft of COVID mandates, including barely-voluntary vaccination.

While the two State Premiers have much in common, it is remarkable to likewise observe some similarities between Archbishops Coleridge and Comensoli: the latter fancies himself to be the Australian incarnation of John Paul II, while the former was, at one stage, the Polish Pontiff’s speech writer. But unlike JPII, neither Archbishop seems to have the strength nor the will to stand up against their secular leaders’ repressive regimes.

Despite demanding that his priests are double-vaxxed with toxic gene serum by December 15th (“Clergy not doubly vaccinated are failing in their duty to care for the faithful”), the good Archbishop states that he respects his priests’ consciences.

“I too have a conscience”, says he. At least, that’s what he tries to convince them of in his four-page letter, reproduced below.

For the time-poor, the short version is: “You have to listen to me since I am the CEO of the Archdiocesan Corporation.”

The CEO, whose hobbies include holding Zoom meetings with his staff of one.
The Stasi, seen here throwing a totally innocent Illuminati-inspired hand signal.

Yes, that’s right. The Archdiocese of Brisbane is a Corporation, so as well as owing obedience to their Ordinaries, priests must also now submit themselves to medical trials at the behest of their CEOs. From the letter:

I recognise that having a vaccination, including the COVID-19 vaccination, is a matter of personal choice. However, I am the sole member and officer of the Archdiocesan Corporation which in civil law is the employer of Archdiocesan staff, including those working in parishes. I am therefore bound to take seriously compliance with health directions. Further, I have a legal obligation to ensure that the Archdiocesan Corporation meets its workplace health and safety obligations….

Oooohhh. Civil AND legal obligations. But no moral ones?

The Archbishop goes on to make some sophistic claims about his duty to protect his priests, his priests’ duty to protect their parishioners and everyone’s duty to protect unborn babies from medical experimentation – oops, sorry! – he didn’t actually write that last bit because Australian bishops no longer believe in minor obligations like upholding Catholic teaching.

Coleridge did include some extracts from Canon Law which is always guaranteed to make a prelate look more credible. The fact that those Canons are twisted and misapplied is neither here nor there. (He is a CEO with Obligations, remember!)

Just take a look at the penalties Coleridge has prepared for the non-compliant priests, who are, no doubt, some of his most holy and orthodox men: the cessation of their public ministry or worse – suspension of their faculties.

In circumstances where a priest or deacon has not complied with paragraph 1 above by 15 December 2021, I will be asking that he voluntarily stand aside from pastoral duties in his parish and from all pastoral ministry until he has been fully vaccinated. Should a priest or deacon in such circumstances decline to stand aside voluntarily, I will need to consider the temporary suspension of faculties until he fully complies..

Does the Archbishop not realise that unvaccinated Catholics (and probably many vaccinated ones) have no problem at all with being ministered to by an unvaccinated priest? The letter continues with a tirade about medical exemptions, and makes no provision for conscientious objection – or for objecting to His Grace’s conscientiousness!

Now, it really comes as no surprise that Archbishop Coleridge has agreed to do the government’s bidding. As President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference – that same Bishops Conference which in 2017 approved Catholics to be Freemasons – he is more than familiar with handshake deals and fraternal cooperation. Coleridge is not even averse to using Brisbane’s churches for sexually-explicit entertainment or from pushing an heretical agenda at his pet project, the Plenary Council.

However, there may be just a little hope for Brisbane’s faithful, unvaccinated priests. It seems Archbishop Coleridge can sometimes be quite lenient when it comes to his pastors breaking the law – at least, it depends on what kind of law is being broken. If it is something on the scale of child sex abuse, he seems to be able to turn a blind eye. He can even enlist help from his pal Cardinal Cupich when the need arises. But something tells me that his unvaxxed priests will not be so fortunate.

In case there’s any doubt left as to what kind of prelate we are dealing with, here’s Archbishop Coleridge’s take on “synodality.” Given that it was St Charles Borromeo who risked contracting the plague to ensure that all Catholics had access to the Sacraments, Archbishop Coleridge unironically uses the patron saint of facing-down pandemics to promote heresy, all the while shirking his own responsibility to safeguard the souls of his flock.

The hermeneutic is strong in this one.

Australian Bishops’ Conference Officially Sanctions Freemasonry

This article appeared on Life Site News back in December of 2019 – there doesn’t seem to have been any action taken by the Australian Bishops to date.
So What does that tell us?

From Life Site News

Back in July, I wrote an article for The Remnant on a Queensland priest who publicly admits to having been a Freemason for more than a decade. While that is shocking enough, the most disturbing part of this story was that the priest claims to have a letter from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, giving permission for Catholics to become Masons. This permission was said to be based on the erroneous conclusion that ‘Australian’ Freemasonry is somehow different from any other form of Freemasonry.

As my previous article explained, the communications officer for the ACBC Secretariat  responded to my query with this statement:

“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has exchanged private correspondence with officials from the Freemasons in recent years. Fr. Costigan’s writings do not accurately reflect the contents of that private correspondence nor any policy of the Conference.”

As will become clear, that statement might be technically true, but in no way explains the reality of the correspondence’s contents.

Hiding in plain sight

Multiple phone calls and emails to Archdioceses over several months rendered little fruit – only independent Catholic news sites and the Freemasons themselves seemed interested in Fr. Costigan’s conflicting loyalties. However, a careless social media post led to the discovery of the letter online, along with the letter from the Freemasons which originally sparked the ACBC’s response.

That letter was written by the former Grand Master of Northern Territory/South Australia, Stephen Michalak to Fr. Stephen Hackett, the ACBC Secretary, in 2016. In it, Mr. Michalak sought to clarify the Catholic Church’s position on its members becoming Freemasons.

Mr. Michalak is himself a Catholic, as were the Grand Masters of Queensland and Western Australia at that time.  In his letter, Mr. Michalak expounds on the supposed virtues of Masonry, while also admitting that the Church maintains its ban on Catholics being members. He speaks of his ‘long-standing friendship’ with a former Vicar-General of Adelaide, who advised him to contact then Vicar-General, Fr. Philip Marshall.

Fr. Marshall advised him to obtain the agreement of all of the Australian Grand Masters before contacting the Church, and suggested to Michalak that he then write to the ACBC ‘seeking pastoral resolution to the present challenges as well as outlining a pathway for Catholics who are Freemasons to full participation in the sacramental life of the Church.’

Mr Michalak concluded his letter by stating his hope that Roman Catholic Freemasons will eventually be allowed to receive the sacraments without being in a state of sin.

Fr. Hackett’s response

The response from Fr Hackett is dated July 2017, exactly one year after Mr Michalak sent his enquiry. This time was needed, he writes, in order to consult with the Bishops Commission for Canon Law, the Bishops Commission for Doctrine and Morals and the Bishops Conference itself.

Without any explanation other than an acknowledgement of Mr Michalak’s glowing report of Masonry, Fr. Hackett expresses his satisfaction that ‘Australian’ Freemasonry’ is not hostile to Catholicism. However, if this is truly the case, then it is reasonable to ask why this assessment has never been made public or revealed to be the official stance of the ACBC – even though, as Fr. Hackett alleges below, the Bishops Conference came to that conclusion in 1984. Surely, if a thorough investigation involving multiple apparatus of the ACBC and which took a year to complete had actually taken place, then it would behove the Secretary to publicly disclose this fact, and to allow the mysterious 1984 directive to be promulgated.

But there is more.

Fr. Hackett goes on to imagine the Church and the Masons working in a ‘spirit of harmony’ which would be ‘informed by circumstance, need and opportunity.’ He then makes the following alarming and frankly, false, statement:

“Perhaps most importantly for Catholic members of Freemasonry, I can reiterate a directive first made by the Bishops Conference in 1984 and affirmed this year. No penalty attaches to Catholic membership of the Masonic order. The involvement of Catholics in Freemasonry is foremost a moral matter which should normally be dealt with personally and pastorally in the local parish. I suggest that where a local pastoral response is not consistent with this expectation and liturgical-sacramental participation is made difficult or refused, that this might be referred to the local vicar general or to me.

I will raise issue of Catholics and Freemasonry during the annual meeting of Archdiocesan Vicars General, next due to be held in May 2018, to ensure that they are familiar with the preferred approach of the Bishops Conference.”

Fr Hackett’s excuse – that the secrecy is necessary in case there are some Australian lodges which are hostile to the Church – does not hold water, since he provides no criteria by which to judge ‘hostility’ and given that the Church condemns all Masonry in any case.

“No local authority has the competence to derogate from these judgements”

In case there is any doubt as to the Church’s constant teaching on Freemasonry’s incompatibility with the Faith, a summary of the most recent Vatican directive on Masonry is given below. This was the 1983 Directive on Masonic Associations from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and it was issued after the Code of Canon Law was changed in that same year, omitting the charge that Catholic Freemasons incur ex-communication. That revision had caused confusion amongst Catholics who in some cases assumed that there was no longer any penalty attached to their holding Masonic membership. Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger felt compelled to issue the Directive in order to dispel confusion about Freemasonry. According to the 1983 Directive:

1.    The Church’s negative judgment on Masonry remains unchanged, because the Masonic principles are irreconcilable with the Church’s teaching.

2.    Catholics who join the Masons are in the state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.

3.    No local ecclesiastical authority has the competence to derogate from these judgments of the Sacred Congregation.”

That last point, regarding a prohibition on local authorities to promulgate an alternative teaching on Masonry is very pertinent in this case. For in suggesting that the Australian Bishops Conference can administer a bespoke interpretation of the relationship between Masonry and the Church, Fr. Hackett is in clear violation of the CDF’s directive. Obviously, he has also violated the first point by suggesting that so-called ‘Australian Freemasonry’ can be reconciled with the Church, and the second by failing to advise Catholics who remain Masons that they are not to receive Holy Communion.

Fr. Hackett’s claim that the ACBC directive of 1984 approved Freemasonry after the CDF’s definitive proclamation hints at an arrogance that defies belief.

Freemasonry is an “instrument of Satan”

Fr. Hackett’s assessment of Freemasonry, in addition to violating the 1983 Directive, stands in contrast with that of the many popes, bishops and laymen who have denounced Masonry since its inception four hundred years ago. In fact, there have been more than twenty encyclicals and papal bulls written on this matter by the popes alone.

The most famous of these, Humanum Genus, was written by Pope St. Leo XIII in 1884. In it, Pope Leo wrote,

“We wish it to be your rule first of all to tear away the mask from Freemasonry, and to let it be seen as it really is; and by sermons and pastoral letters to instruct the people as to the artifices used by societies of this kind in seducing men and enticing them into its ranks, and as to the depravity of their opinions and the wickedness of their acts.

As our predecessors have many times repeated, let no man think he may for any reason whatsoever join the Masonic sect, if he values his Catholic name and his eternal salvation as he ought to value them.”

In 1985, American Cardinal Law specifically debunked the idea that Masonry could be acceptable even if ostensibly not hostile to the faith, when he said: “And even though Masonic organizations may not in particular cases plot against the faith, it would still be wrong to join them because their basic principles are irreconcilable with those of the Catholic faith.”

Bishop Athanasius Schneider, in a December 2016 talk, referred to Freemasonry as the ‘Instrument of Satan,’ reminding Catholics that St Maximilian Kolbe founded his Knighthood of the Immaculata in direct response to threats from the Italian Freemasons of his day. As Bishop Schneider pointed out, reiterating the Church’s constant teaching, Freemasonry’’s goal is “to eliminate the entire doctrine of God, especially Catholic doctrine.”

Former 32nd degree Mason, layman John Salza, is just as blunt. He states that “Freemasonry is a religion that is opposed to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. That’s the bottom line.”

The Bishops respond

FLI contacted Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, Vice-President of the ACBC and Archbishop Julian Porteous for a response to our queries:

Archbishop Fisher stated via his private secretary that:

 … he has no recollection of this being discussed at the Bishops Conference. The 1983 Declaration on Masonic Associations from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith makes clear that Catholics who enrol in Masonic activities are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion. Furthermore, the Declaration expressly says it is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to derogate from this.

Further, the Archbishop said that it is his understanding that while penalties have varied, the Church has never been in favour of Catholics joining any secret organisations with quasi-religious doctrines.”

Additionally, Archbishop Fisher’s secretary drew our attention to the 1937 Plenary Council for Australia which passed a decree that prohibited Catholics becoming members of the Freemasons.

Paul Hanrahan spoke to Archbishop Julian Porteous, FLI’s Patron, who would like to withhold any comment until he has had a reply to his letter to Father Stephen Hackett MSC, asking him for clarification, especially where he received the information he has quoted. He does however endorse the comments of Archbishop Anthony Fisher.

“For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed”

It’s quite ironic that attempts by Catholic clergy to undermine the Church by embracing Freemasonry were undone by that ‘secret’ society advertising the fact on social media.

One day, as Jesus has promised us, all such secrets will be laid bare. But in the interim before that fearful day, there are sure to be many more betrayals revealed.

In light of the ACBC’s failure to adequately defend the Church’s teaching on a matter as fundamental as Catholicism’s incompatibility with Freemasonry, it should also be asked how any sane Catholic could expect the upcoming Plenary Council to fare any better.

Unless information to the contrary is made known by the bishops, Catholics could well conjecture that there exists in Australia a cabal of the clergy who are involved in Freemasonry, a number that is possibly not insignificant.  Knowing the sad state of the Catholic Education system, the widespread incidence of heterodoxy in Australian parishes, unfettered homo-clericalism and its attendant abuse scandal, as well as the continued failure of anyone in authority to censure Fr Costigan – a spiritual work of mercy that is the obligation of every bishop – those fears would not be unfounded.

The offices of the Bishops Commission for Canon Law, the Bishops Commission for Doctrine and Morals, the Vicars-General and the Bishops Conference itself might be a good place to start looking.

A Freemason Priest in Australia

It isn’t always left to the laity to guess that their clergy are masons – sometimes they just come out and tell us.

Anonymous Catholic

FROM The Remnant

A Catholic priest and Freemason claims that the Bishops Conference gave permission for Catholics to become ‘Australian Freemasons’ in 2016.

Fr. Kerry Costigan, now retired, of the Toowoomba Diocese in Queensland, contributed an article to the liberal publication, The Swag, in which he admitted that he has been a member of the Ashlar Lodge for over ten years. In the article, Freemasonry and the Catholic Church,  Fr. Costigan claimed that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference approved Catholics to become members of Australian Freemasonry in 2016. Fr. Costigan also wrote that he would like to see this new policy be made public. (The article is available here, behind a paywall.)

Fr Costigan’s Sketchy Synopsis

Fr. Costigan’s article begins by relating how parishioners at a Church where he was about to celebrate Mass left copies of Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical on Freemasonry in the building’s foyer. He then goes on to explain that, in his opinion, Australian Freemasonry differs from that found in Europe, since it is less sectarian and political.

That article states several times that Freemasonry is not a ‘single, united body’, but that each lodge has its own supreme authority and is the sole authority over its members.

Fr. Costigan points to a change in the character of Freemasonry after the Reformation, and suggests that its current form was established during the 18th century, when it lost its sectarian and political nature. He then cites an oft-repeated tale of a 19th century French journalist whom Masons claim is the source of their bad publicity. The journalist, Leo Taxil, earned notoriety for initially exposing Freemasonry as being satanic, but later recanted and claimed that the whole episode was aimed at mocking the Church. Clearly, this explanation doesn’t account for the fact that the first papal encyclical condemning Masonry was written 150 years before Taxil was on the scene.

At this point, the article becomes a bit sketchy: Fr. Costigan claims that in 1984, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference began an inquiry into Australian Freemasonry. Fr. Costigan opines that the reason no conclusion was published was due to there being no conflict between Catholicism and Masonry. He admits that this contradicts the Vatican’s policy on Freemasonry in other countries, but fails to mention that the prohibition does, in fact, apply world-wide.

The priest goes on to say that in 2016, Catholic Freemasons contacted the Australian bishops to clarify their status. At that time, Catholic men were said to be the Grand Masters of the Western Australian, Queensland and South Australian/Northern Territory lodges. The Grand Master of SA/NT prepared a submission for the bishops and asked for an authoritative judgement from them. The ACBC’s secretary is said to have then requested a combined submission from the Grand Masters of all Australian lodges, which was to include information on the basic ideals and principles of Australian Freemasonry.

According to Fr. Costigan, the Australian Catholic Bishops, via their secretary, then replied that “any Catholic man may join Freemasonry as it exists in Australia as long as his conscience agrees.” Fr Costigan added that “the reply also asked that membership in the Craft was to be carried out discreetly and without publicity,” and he surmised that this call for discretion was due to Masonry’s prohibition overseas.

Fr. Costigan ends his article by thanking the bishops for their pastoral approach, with the hope that their statement will soon be made public. (One wonders how an article appearing in a national newsletter could not be deemed public!)  He stated that Australian Catholic Masons ‘have been condemned unjustly by the blanket condemnation of all Freemasonry’ and concluded with the somewhat blasphemous “May God prosper in the Craft.”

‘A thousand’ Catholic Freemasons in Queensland alone

Fr. Costigan’s involvement with the Ashlar Lodge has been known for almost a decade. In 2010, Tim Pemble-Smith of The Lepanto League’s QLD branch asked the former Ordinary of the Toowoomba Diocese, Bishop William Morris, to clarify the priest’s relationship with the lodge, and also to clarify his own position on Freemasonry. Bishop Morris declined to answer Mr. Pemble-Smith directly, instead publishing a clarification in a diocesan publication which stated that ‘Fr Kerry has a relationship of friendship and Pastoral Care’ with the lodge.

There was no mention of Bishop Morris’s own stance on Freemasonry. Bishop Morris was subsequently dismissed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011, for obstinately refusing to recant unrelated heretical positions. Most notably among these was his promulgation of the third Rite of Reconciliation and his unbridled support for women’s ordination. It is worth noting that Bishop Morris clung to his position for four years after first being requested to resign by the Vatican.

The Lepanto also reported in 2011 that a Catholic priest had held a public prayer service for members of the Oddfellows Lodge – a secret organisation affiliated with the Masons – and there were said to be ‘a thousand Catholics’ who were Freemasons in Queensland. A statement from then-Auxiliary Bishop of Brisbane, Michael Putney, was very telling. Bishop Putney said that ecumenism was breaking down many obstacles and “How the church responds to groups like the Masonic lodge is a different pastoral question which varies in different localities”.

Bishop Putney’s claim that the Church’s policy on Freemasonry can vary from place to place was in clear violation of the 1983 directive from the Confraternity for the Doctrine of the Faith, as stated below.

Hunter’s Hill Lodge in AustraliaJuly Hunters Hill Lodge

The CDF has spoken

There is no doubt that some confusion surrounding the status of Freemasonry arose when the Code of Canon Law was revised in 1983.

The new Code failed to reapply the penalty of excommunication for Catholics who held Masonic membership. This led some bishops to wrongly conclude that Freemason’s basic tenets vary from place to place and so its practise in a particular locale may not necessarily pose a danger to a Catholic’s salvation.

However, the German bishops who were in favour of retaining the penalty of excommunication concluded that Freemasonry was ‘an extraordinary danger’ for the Church. Similarly, Cardinal Pietro Palazzini spoke of the need to maintain the penalty of excommunication, since Freemasonry “eliminates truth and revealed religion while welcoming Catholics as ‘useful idiots’.”

Interestingly, Justice Michael Kirby, then deputy commissioner of the Law Reform Commission and former High Court Justice, was, in 1983, full of hope that the Vatican’s review of Catholics and Masonic membership would end the prohibition. In an address to the Lodge University of Sydney, Mr. Kirby predicted that ‘Catholics will soon be able to become Freemasons without fear of excommunication.’

Although the new code of Canon Law is less explicit than its predecessor, Quaesitum es – the CDF’s most recent statement on Masonry – is as clear as it is definitive:

  1. The Church’s negative judgment on Masonry remains unchanged, because the Masonic principles are irreconcilable with the Church’s teaching.
  2. Catholics who join the Masons are in the state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.
  3. No local ecclesiastical authority has competence to derogate from these judgments of the Sacred Congregation.” (Emphasis added.)

Australian Freemasonry: no different from any other form

A spokesman from Freemasons Victoria assured this author that there is little difference between Australian Freemasonry and that which is practised in other jurisdictions. He explained that there are minor differences in dress codes or salutes, for example, but that the basic tenets are the same, and that Australian Freemasonry is most closely aligned with that of Britain. He confirmed the only requirement for membership ‘in their faith’ is belief in ‘a deity’, but that members are free to choose who that deity is. He also confirmed that the name of Jesus Christ is not mentioned in any rituals, at least in the lower levels.

So even if one of Fr. Costigan’s claims is true –  that Australian Freemasonry has no political or sectarian nature – Masonry in this country retains the philosophical marks which render it incompatible with Catholicism.

This unchanging incompatibility has been reiterated time and again by the Church.

Pope St. Leo made it quite clear that ‘the Masonic federation is to be judged not so much by the things which it has done, or brought to completion, as by the sum of its pronounced opinions.’ (Humanum Genus §11.) This teaching was echoed in 1980 by the German bishops, who stated:

“The Freemasons have essentially not changed. Membership places the foundations of Christian existence into question. Detailed investigations of the Masonic rituals and fundamental ideas, and of their current, unchanged self-understanding make clear: Simultaneous membership in the Catholic Church and the Freemasons is incompatible.” (Heresy by Association, p 195.)

Cardinal Law, at the conclusion of an American Bishops’ enquiry into Freemasonry in 1985,  said, “And even though Masonic organizations may not in particular cases plot against the faith, it would still be wrong to join them because their basic principles are irreconcilable with those of the Catholic faith.”

Thus its practical activity is irrelevant; it is the philosophy which endangers a man’s soul.

The verse below comes from a hymn which was in use in Australian Masonic rituals  in 1951. It exemplifies Masonry’s incompatibility with Catholicism; namely that for the Freemason, salvation can be achieved without the Sacraments and without the redemptive action of Jesus Christ.

“Pure as that badge thy life may be, If by its teachings thou abide;

God’s Holy Face thine eyes shall see, If thou wilt make that badge thy guide.”

Freemasonry is always political

Deist philosophy aside, Fr. Costigan is wrong in writing that there is no political danger from Australian Freemasonry. Despite his opinions, Freemasonry’s practical activities have long been a source of contention. As early as 1876, Freemasonry was being blamed for being the driving force behind the secularisation of the education system in Australia. The Archbishop of Sydney at that time, Dr. Roger Vaughan, condemned Freemasonry for secretly driving the push for a government-controlled ‘Universal Secular, Free and Compulsory Education.’

Since then, there have been allegations of Masonic influence being brought to bear in courts of law, and university faculty appointments, at various times and places throughout the country’s history. Although not all the allegations have been proven, there remains little doubt that Freemasons have been able to exert an enormous influence in every facet of Australian society since the nation was founded. Famous Australian figures, such as Joseph Banks, Governor Lachlan Macquarie, the explorers Oxley, Hume and Leichhardt, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, Sir Donald Bradman, James Boag, and Sir Edward `Weary’ Dunlop were Freemasons. And many members of the Commonwealth Parliament have been Masons, including almost all conservative Prime Ministers up to 1972, from Edmund Barton to William McMahon.

Things are little different in the UK, where there have been historical calls for government enquiries into Masonry and contemporary allegations of corruption involving Freemasons in the medical field and in the police force.

What does the Bishops Conference have to say?

Fr. Costigan’s claims have been refuted by a spokesman for the Australian Bishops. Gavin Abraham, communications officer for the ACBC, issued this response to enquiries about the article:

“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has exchanged private correspondence with officials from the Freemasons in recent years. Fr. Costigan’s writings do not accurately reflect the contents of that private correspondence nor any policy of the Conference.”

What this statement does not mention is that it appears from Fr. Costigan’s article that the ‘officials from the Freemasons’, were those Catholic men who were Grand Masters of the states’ Grand Lodges at that time, asking for clarification about their status. Additionally, the statement completely fails to account for the priest’s version of things. Quoting Fr. Costigan’s article:

“… The reply given in writing on the official letterhead of the ACBC was that any Catholic man may join Freemasonry as exists in Australia as long as his conscience agrees. The reply also asked that membership for Catholics in the Craft was to be carried out discreetly and without publicity. No doubt, this was not publicly [sic] to go against the teaching of the Catholic Church about Freemasonry existing in other countries.

“This ruling of the ACBC would certainly be appreciated by Catholics who are members of the Craft. Gratitude is expressed to the Bishops of Australia for their open-handed, sensitive and pastoral approach to this matter.

“It is hoped that before long, this approval will be made public. At the moment, the many Catholic men who belong to the Craft here in Australia have been condemned unjustly by the blanket condemnation of all Freemasonry.”

Fr. Costigan is said to be recovering after surgery and unable to speak to members of the public. So does his article represent the warped reality of a sick, old man?  Or are there bishops in Australia who tolerate and even promote the idea that Freemasonry is somehow acceptable for Catholics?

This whole episode raises more questions than it answers. At a time when there are credible allegations of Freemasons infiltrating the Church at the highest levels, an Australian priest claims that he has been a Mason for a decade, apparently with the approval of his superiors. The bishops say that they haven’t violated the Church’s policy on Masonic membership, but Fr. Costigan claims he has an official statement on the official letterhead, to the contrary.

What of the ‘one thousand’ Catholics who are Freemasons in Queensland? What of the Grand Masters who were allegedly Catholic and thus should be barred from receiving Holy Communion? Where is the bishops’ vocal condemnation of Australian Freemasonry?

It is to be hoped that someone from within the ACBC will be concerned enough to take action on this serious matter.  Souls are at stake, and it is up to the laity to persevere in demanding answers from our bishops on this, and on all deviations from Catholic doctrine.