Why did the bishop buy the Lodge?

It sounds like a joke, does it not? But this is deadly serious. A Catholic Archbishop, in need of new premises for his admin offices, concluded that a Freemason’s Lodge would be the best location from which to preach, teach and sanctify his unwary flock.

This story might be a few years old now, but it’s still worth taking a closer look.

Timothy Costelloe was installed as Archbishop of Perth in 2012, and in August 2015 purchased a $7 million property in Perth’s CBD from which to run the Archdiocese. The property, 249 Adelaide Terrace was owned by the Grand Lodge WA and had been used as their headquarters. Who knows what kind of deal was struck, but the bishop got quite a bargain as he paid half a million less than the amount paid by the Masons when they bought the property six years earlier.

Before and after shots of 249 Adelaide Terrace, Perth. Pictures with Archdiocesan signage are pretty thin on the ground, so if any reader can supply, I’d be most grateful.

Now it is somewhat strange for a Catholic institution to take over a Masonic temple – especially in these days when our bishops seem only too willing to “dialogue and accompany” the Masons. In fact, there could be one of only three reasons why a bishop would make this decision:

1. Extreme piety: despite exorcists claiming that it is sometimes impossible to cleanse a geographical site from demonic influence, the bishop is confident that he can enlist all the powers of the Church (exorcism, prayers of liberation, sacramentals, Masses) to free the site and use it to further the mission of the Church.

2. Ignorance: the bishop’s formation was so dumbed-down that he sees Masonry as no threat to Catholicism; he thinks it’s nothing more than a social club for men intent on growing their virtues.

3. He is a Mason and wants to access the power that comes from the dual processes of mocking God (by moving Church offices into a former temple) and of tapping into the rituals that have been performed there.

Hopefully it’s number 2, although that doesn’t minimise the risk to the Archdiocese. (Number One is out of the question – this is Australia, remember?) So what is known about Archbishop Costelloe? Does he have any form as a Mason or Masonic sympathiser?

Well, he says he is against child abuse (don’t they all?) but followed his predecessors’ footsteps by covering it up (ditto) – even though he has “seen the anguish” first hand. He says enforced celibacy causes priests to abuse children but then sacked a priest for breaking his vow of celibacy. (Obviously, the action taken by His Grace was appropriate, however, it does seem a tad inconsistent with his stance on celibacy….) The Archbishop is also involved with a few legal battles with his priests, not to mention whispers of his utter contempt for the more orthodox ones.

But at least he honours the ancestors, right?

He has even opted not to stick up for a Catholic school principal who is against the state government’s vaccine mandates. Instead of lauding that man, Archbishop Costelloe distanced himself from the principal, saying that he was “deeply disappointed.”

Yes, your Grace, it is always disappointing when a layman shows up the clergy’s lack of conviction by demonstrating his own.

So now, having looked briefly at some poignant items from the bishop’s CV, let us return to the title of this piece: why DID the bishop buy the Lodge?

All things considered, could the answer possibly be: to get to the Other Side?