Rapprochement from 2017

FROM KATHOLISCHES – NOVEMBER 2017

In 2017 the Masonic lodges will celebrate their 300th anniversary. Since 1717 the relationship between Lodge and Church has been rife with tension and conflict. In Syracuse there is a new attempt at an understanding with a spectacular aspect: For the first time a Catholic bishop takes part in a public box event and will discuss with the master of the chair. Some insights into the background of a controversial experiment.

Truth and the search for truth

For the Catholic Church the prescribed relativism and the factually practiced syncretism of the Lodge Brothers are incompatible with the truth of reality revealed by God. The lodges reject this revelation as a truth of faith. The orientation of the lodges is not only deistic, agnostic or atheistic, depending on obedience, but was from the beginning significantly shaped by the esoteric “search” for a “different” truth than the Christian one. In the Catholic states the lodges saw and organized themselves as direct opponents of the church. Following their relativistic credo, they want to eliminate the public influence of the church, which is why Freemasonry has always been attached to a striving for power. This battle has been raging for three centuries.

The history of the lodges, however, also knows the phenomenon of church representatives who allowed themselves to be initiated and thus became apostates according to the church’s understanding. Your covert work in the church as “agents of the lodges” is still awaiting investigation. A particularly striking example is the magnificent Benedictine Abbey of Melk on the Danube. At the end of the 18th century there was not only a monk’s convent in the monastery, but also a lodge. A part of the monks belonged to her and thus formed a convention of the “initiates” in the convent.

The status as a secret society, to which the lodges cling to this day, allows the abbreviated brothers undetected to infiltrate other organizations, parties and churches and to create an invisible network.

“Relaxation Exercises” after the Council

One consequence of the Second Vatican Council it was that lodge-friendly church districts ventured with newfound confidence from obscurity. The 1970s were marked by efforts, also in the German-speaking area, to bring about a “reconciliation” between lodge and church. Faithful bishops in the countries and the election of Pope John Paul II put an end to these attempts in the early 1980s.

Lists of alleged or actual church representatives, including cardinals, who are said to be lodge members, circulate repeatedly. The sociologist of religion, Massimo Introvigne, warned against false suspicions and in May 2013 formulated a sure way to clarify the suspicion of lodge membership:

“The crucial core of Masonic ideology is relativism, with all the related political implications, which often lead Masonic obedience to promote laws to legalize abortion, euthanasia, and gay associations. So if you hear about a Catholic church representative or politician saying that he is a Freemason, the question should be: does he represent relativistic ideas? Is he an abortion advocate? Is he in favor of euthanasia or the legal recognition of gay partnerships?

If the answer is ‘yes’, then he is – according to the definition used by the current Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy – a ‘Freemason without an apron’, a companion of Freemasonry, and the question of whether he has an official membership card or not is then only secondary.

If the answer is ‘no’ and the church official or Catholic politician openly opposes relativism and its consequences, then there is good reason to conclude that the allegations are defamatory. “

New signals of rapprochement

Although Freemasonry failed 35 years ago in its attempt to be recognized by the Church, the Lodge Brothers have neither given up their fight for repression against the Church, nor have they tried to make them spiritually submissive to their thinking. Since Pope Francis was elected, the curtailed or unvarnished “brothers” believe they see a new opportunity outside and inside the Church .

Among the signals that point in this direction include not only praise of the pope from Latin America, but also the sensational letter from Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi to the ” Brethren“.

The latest example is a discussion meeting of the Masonic Grand Orient of Italy , to be held at Syracuse next November 12 in the cathedral square. The invitations show Jesus Christ with a compass in hand, a typical Masonic instrument. The circle is one of the “three great lights” of Masonic symbolism, which lies on the altar in the lodge temples.

The theme of the event is: “ Church and Freemasonry – so close, so far? “The portrayal of Jesus is part of the title picture showing the creation of the world. The representation has nothing to do with the Lodge Brothers and their world of ideas. It was created around 1220, 500 years before Freemasonry was founded. The panel discussion is part of the 300-year-anniversary celebrations of the Grand Orient.

The purpose of the event is to present an understanding between lodge and church as possible. It gives the impression of a compatibility that the Church has rejected for 300 years.

Despite the provocative image and an even more provocative title, a Catholic bishop will take part in the discussion. Msgr. Antonio Staglianò, Bishop of Noto and Msgr. Maurizio Aliotta from the Archdiocese of Syracuse will discuss with two Honorary Grand Masters of the Greater Orient, Santi Fedele and Sergio Rosso. The host is the Master of the Chair of Syracuse, Alessandro Spicuglia.

“Communitarianism” as common ground?

Nuova Bussola Quotidiana (NBQ) reports that there are violent protests from devout Catholics against the event. People ask the Archdiocese of Syracuse what this “hug” is about with an organization condemned by the Church.

“It’s about an organization that in southern Italy has always had to do with (often occult) power and always had an esoteric streak between rites and brotherhood that was never really revealed.”

The Catholic Internet newspaper asked Bishop Staglianò what his participation was about. The bishop referred to the spectacular and equally controversial letter from Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi to the “Brothers Freemasons”. The chairman of the Pontifical Council for Culture had “clearly shown” that there could be similarities between the Church and Loge, namely the “communitarianism”. Bishop Staglianò said:

“I assume that he meant the opposition to unbridled individualism, anti-materialism, a certain idea of spirituality and finally also the philanthropy, that is, the solidary aspect.”

However, the Church gave a negative answer to all these alleged “similarities”, which not least had to do with the “danger of a relativistic and deistic methodology”, according to NBQ, which the lodges are trying to do.

“Hug process in progress”

“The reality is that there is a hugging process going on today,” NBQ said. The most recent example: On the discussion in Syracuse, there appeared in the daily newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference an article by the priest Ennio Stamile, who argued for the “dialogue” with the Freemasons. Bishop Staglianò was one of his theology professors, the priest defends the bishop’s participation. Stamile also refers to Pope Francis, who called for a dialogue “with everyone, no one excluded”.

The priest accuses the critics of rapprochement as “ignorant” and “superficial” because they “have no idea” about Freemasonry. The claim that the lodges are a “power lobby” is a fairy tale that must finally “disappear”.

Fr Ennio Stamile is one of the most famous priests in southern Italy. He is chairman of the Libera Calabria (Free Calabria) association, an umbrella organization “against the Mafia”. The association proves to be a firmly integrated part of the political left through language, symbols, actionism and contacts, and in any case it is fully recognized by this side. Stamile comes from the circle of Don Ciotti, the founder of the association, whom Pope Francis kissed on the hand in March 2014.

The union has received several hundred hectares of agricultural land by the state, confiscated from the members of the ‘Ndrangheta. The ‘Ndrangheta is the group of organized crime in Calabria and the Mafia in Sicily is comparable. The association runs farms on these areas with those who have been released from prison, former drug addicts, immigrants and those who have dropped out of the Mafia.

Lodge and Mafia?

Don Stamile’s request to speak is important not only because of his anti-Mafia reputation. His partisanship for the dialogue with the lodge is interesting. More information could explain this and open the door to a remarkable circular if the entanglement with organized crime – mafia and lodge are “occult” powers, as it has already been said – may even be a regional problem.

Since the 1960s there have been indications that mafia bosses have entered the lodges. Within the Calabrian mafia, the ‘Ndrangheta, there were violent conflicts about it. The initiative for this cooperation seems to go back to Gioa Tauro’s boss, Girolamo Piromalli (1918–1979).

Since then, investigative files by the public prosecutor have repeatedly referred to a “mass mafia”, a merger of Freemasonry and mafia into a Masonic mafia. 2014 protocol extracts were the interrogation of the former Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy, Giuliano Di Bernardo (1990-1993), known. Di Bernardo left the Grand Orient in the wake of the scandal surrounding the mysterious Propaganda Due Lodge (P2). Today he is Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Italy . According to the data Di Bernardo early 90s were 28 of 32 Calabrian boxes from , ‘Ndrangheta has been inspected.

In 2007 mafia boss Sebastiano Altomonte said in a conversation with his wife that had been recorded by the police through acoustic room surveillance:

“There is one you know about and one you don’t know about. There is the visible and the invisible that nobody knows about, except the invisible. “

The statement has been associated with the “Santa” – the group created by Girolamo Piromalli at the highest management level; the ‘Ndrangheta , whose members are all members of Freemasonry. However, this thesis has not yet been confirmed in a court-relevant manner.

In a conversation between mafia boss Pantaleone Mancuso, overheard by the police in 2013, said during a walk:

“The ‘Ndrangheta no longer exists… It once existed. Today ‘Ndrangheta is part of Freemasonry … Let’s put it this way: It is under Freemasonry but has the same rules! … The ‘Ndrangheta no longer exists, all that remains are Freemasonry and the four idiots who still believe in the’ Ndrangheta. “

Against this background, the words of Don Ennio Stamile may have a slightly different meaning, who mentions a connection between Mafia and Freemasonry in his statement, but dismisses it as an invention and attempt at disinformation by people who want to become something without “merits and competencies” and by to whom the Church is not free either.

But it is also a fact that the former President of the Higher Regional Court of Catanzaro (Calabria) and Honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy, Giuseppe Tuccio, has to answer in court for membership of the Mafia. It was only in 2016 that Tuccio, who was not unknown to Libera Calabria , published a book about the fight against the Mafia. “The Piromalli had judge Tuccio, a Freemason, in their hands,” a key witness had testified in a court case. Even in the wheels of justice of senior judges came in the wake of anti-mafia Operation Gotha .

Bishop Staglianò: Hans Küng and “why I talk to the Freemasons”

But back to the discussion event in Syracuse. Bishop Staglianò justifies his participation with a statement from Pope John XXIII: “Let us look more for what unites us than what divides us.” Despite all condemnations by the Church, especially Leo XIII. With the encyclical Humanum genus and the letter Inimica vis , or the declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of 1983, the bishop sees no problem in “having a dialogue with the lodge brothers, for example when these Freemasons should organize themselves to fight against injustice “. It should be examined where one can act together for the “common good”.

The question remains, according to NBQ, what “common good” means from a Catholic point of view and what it means, however, from the point of view of Freemasonry. Bishop Staglianò admitted that he was not “competent” to answer this question. Literally he let it be known:

“Look, I don’t know anything about Freemasonry. I am in the process of reading up, starting with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declaration [from 1983]. I think that one can have no other opinion on the condemnation of the Masonic theses. I will say more: it is the first time that I have found myself in the situation of speaking to Freemasons. I think that I will begin my remarks with the text by Hans Küng on the ‘Magic Flute’ by Mozart, who was both a Freemason and a Christian. But we cannot ignore the church at the time of the genius from Salzburg as a bureaucratic institution. Not true?”

Criticism of the “integralist” dialogue

NBQ asks whether it is “credible” when a recognized theologian and bishop like Staglianò describes himself as “not competent”. The bishop’s statement could also be seen as a provocation, since he seems to be saying one thing in a few sentences but seem to mean the opposite.

When asked about the Freemason’s invitation with the representation of Jesus Christ, the bishop said that this “does not scandalize” him:

“Didn’t Arius also attribute the cosmogonic traits of a demiurge to Jesus? If Arius made a mistake, it was – if he did – that he did not ascribe God’s features to the demiurge. “

And further:

“I will go like Jesus to the tax collectors and prostitutes and proclaim Christ. The Freemasons will then determine how close or how far they are to this proclamation. “

Bishop Staglianò condescendingly described criticism of the dialogue with the Freemasons as “stupid, superficial and integralistic”. He used one of those “magical” terms with which progressive church circles bludgeon devout Catholics. Ultimately, the bishop insulted the popes of the past 300 years, who condemned Freemasonry, as “stupid, superficial and integralist”. Leo XIII. wrote in Humanum genus :

“The sect is, according to its whole being and its innermost nature, corruption and vice; therefore it is not allowed to join her and to be of any help. “

Finally, Bishop Staglianò also refers to Pope Francis, who urged to go to the “existential fringes”, “and Freemasonry seems to be one”.

Is the Church still equipped for “dialogue” with Freemasonry?

The question that remains, according to NBQ, goes beyond Bishop Staglianò. In the past few years the church has tried to hardly speak about the Freemasons anymore. The intellectual and scientific preoccupation with the lodges at the relevant academies, institutes and faculties had almost completely come to a standstill. There are hardly any more coherent and thorough studies on the subject. The declaration by Paolo Maria Siano, of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, form a remarkable exception.

It is almost as if one does not want to be labeled with the stigma of a “conspiracy theorist”. However, the boxes are a reality, as the celebrations show. Other church districts have elevated dialogue to the “highest dogma” in which they believe, which is why any form of exclusion is frowned upon – at least any form contrary to the spirit of the times. The attempt at a more or less open distancing from the past with its condemnations of Freemasonry is obvious. This raises the question of “how the Church wants to meet Freemasonry, since its younger representatives have hardly any knowledge of the Lodge and reflexively tend to dismiss criticism of it as a“ yesterday’s conspiracy theory ”of an“ integralism ”that has been overcome.

The signals for a new “dialogue” are increasing, although the church staff seem less and less prepared for it. Or is the willingness to dialogue growing parallel to the loss of knowledge?

Dazu NBQ:

“Dialogue is not a gospel term. Does the church want to use the excuse of dialogue – after the radicals, the Protestants, the anti-clerical atheists and the plutocratic elites – to break the last taboo that lodges, which were once enemies, are now only ‘different’? “

Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Wikicommons / Grande Oriente d’Italia (Screenshots)

(Note – the original article was published in German. An online translation rendered some phrases unintelligible.)

Cardinal Ravasi flatters the Masons

This 2016 article by Cardinal Ravasi calls for dialogue with Freemasons. The Cardinal disingenuously implies that the penalties cited in Canon Law no longer apply to that ideology which Pope Leo XIII called, “pernicious,” “perverse” and “evil.”

Anonymous Catholic

From Rorate Caeli :

A few days ago, we published a few excerpts of the article published by Cardinal Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, in the Italian paper Il Sole 24 Ore last Sunday, February 14, 2016, calling for dialogue with Freemasons. We now have the full text of the article — followed by a response given by the Cardinal to a reader who asked him for a clarification.
***

DEAR BROTHER MASONS

Over and above our different identities, there is no lack of common values: a sense of community, charitable works and the fight against materialismby Cardinal Gianfranco RavasiI read some time ago in an American magazine that the international bibliography on Freemasonry exceeds more than a 100,000 articles. Certainly contributing to this interest is its aura of secrecy and mystery, more or less with good reason, its different “obediences” and Masonic “rites” shrouded in a sort of murkiness, not to mention its origins, which, according to the English historian Frances Yates, “are one of the most discussed and questionable problems in the entire field of historical research” (curiously the scholar’s study was dedicated to the Rosicrucian Enlightment, translated by Einaudi in 1976).We obviously do not want to go into this archipelago of “lodges” “orients” “arts” “affiliations” and denominations of which history has often weaved – for better or for worse – into the politics of many nations (for example, I’m thinking here of Uruguay where I took part recently in various dialogues with proponents of traditional Masonic culture and society), just as it is not possible to trace the lines of demarcation between the authentic, the false, the degenerate, or para-masonry and the various esoteric or theosophical circles.
It is also arduous to illustrate a map of the ideology which holds such a fragmentary universe, which is why we can speak of a horizon and a method more than a codified doctrinal system. Inside this fluid setting some rather distinct crossroads meet, such as an anthropology based on freedom of conscience, intellect and equal rights, in addition to a deism that acknowledges the existence of God, allowing however, for flexible definitions on His identity. Anthropocentrism and spiritualism, are, therefore, two somewhat excavated paths within a very changeable and flexible map that we are not able to outline in any precise way.


We are content, though, to indicate an interesting little volume which has a clearly distinct aim: that of defining the relationship between Freemasonry and the Catholic Church. Let’s be clear immediately though: it is not a historical analysis of this relationship, neither does it treat of possible contaminations between the two subjects. In fact, it is evident that Masonry has assumed Christian models – even liturgical ones. We must not forget, for instance, that in the 17th century many English lodges recruited members and maestros among the Anglican clergy and it is a fact that one of the first and fundamental Masonic “constitutions” was drawn up by the Presbyterian pastor, James Anderson who died in 1739. In it, among other things, it was affirmed, that an adherent ”will never be a stupid atheist nor an irreligious libertine” even if the creed proposed was, in the end, the vaguest possible, “that of a religion which all men agree on”.


Now, the vacillations of contacts between the Church and Freemasonry have had many varied movements, reaching even manifest hostility, marked by anticlericalism on the one side and excommunication on the other. Indeed, on April 28th 1738, Pope Clement XII, the Florentine Lorenzo Corsini, promulgated the first explicit document on Freemasonry, the Apostolic Letter In eminenti apostulatus specula, in which he declared: “that these same Societies, Companies, Assemblies, Meetings, Congregations, or Conventicles of Liberi Muratori or Francs Massons, or whatever other name they may go by, are to be condemned and prohibited”. Condemnations reiterated by subsequent pontiffs, from Benedict XIV to Pius IX and Leo XIII, affirmed the incompatibility between membership in the Catholic Church and Masonic obedience. Concise was the 1917 code of Canon Law in which canon 2335 reads: “Those who join a Masonic sect or other societies of the same sort, which plot against the Church or against legitimate civil authority, incur ipso facto an excommunication simply reserved to the Holy See.”


The new Code of 1983 tempered the formula, avoiding explicit reference to Freemasonry, conserving the substance of the punishment even if destined in the most generic sense “a person who joins an association which plots against the Church” (canon 1374). However the most articulated Church document on the irreconcilability between adhesion to the Catholic Church and Freemasonry is the Declaratio de associationibus massonicis issued by the Vatican Congregation for the Faith on November 26th 1983, signed by the then Prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. It specified precisely the value of the new Code of Canon Law, reaffirming: “the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden.”


The small volume to which we now return, is interesting since it attaches – along with an Introduction by the present Prefect for the Congregation, Cardinal Gerhard Muller – also two documents from two local Episcopates, the German Episcopal Conference (1980) and the Philippine one (2003). They are significant texts as they address the theoretical and practical reasons for the irreconcilability of masonry and Catholicism as concepts of truth, religion, God, man and the world, spirituality, ethics, rituality and tolerance. It is significant particularly for the method adopted by the Philippine Bishops, who articulate their discourse along three trajectories: the historical, the more explicitly doctrinal and the pastoral. All is examined along the lines of the question-answer type of catechesis. There are 47 question-answers and they go into details, such as the initiation ceremony, symbols, the use of the Bible, the relationship with other religions, the oath of brotherhood, the various levels of the hierarchy and so on. These various declarations on the incompatibility of the two memberships in the Church or in Freemasonry, do not impede, however, dialogue, as is explicitly stated in the German Bishops’ document which had already listed the specific areas for discussion, such as the communitarian dimension, works of charity, the fight against materialism, human dignity and reciprocal knowledge.


Further, we need to overcome that stance from certain Catholic integralist spheres, which – in order to hit out at some exponents even in the Church’s hierarchy who displease them – have recourse to accusing them apodictically of being members of Freemasonry. In conclusion, as the German Bishops wrote, we need to go beyond reciprocal “hostility, insults and prejudices” since “in comparison to past centuries the tone and way of manifesting [our]differences has improved and changed” even if these differences still remain in a clearly distinct way.

[Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]
***
After being contacted by a Rorate reader, Cardinal Ravasi sent the reader the following message:

Dear [X],
You are probably reacting mainly to the article’s title, which was added by the newspaper’s staff.
My article actually presented the 1983 document from the Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, signed by Cardinal Ratzinger, and also the documents on the Masons from the German and Philippine Episcopal Conferences, with clear doctrinal precision as well as practical indications.
Sincere regards,

Gianfranco Card Ravasi