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Pope Leo XIII vs. Freemasonry: Excerpts From Three Encyclicals

“Such a sect [freemasonry] cannot be anything other than the height of pride, greed, and sensuality.”


Pope Leo XIII. Image from Wikimedia Commons.



Freemasonry likely began with a mason guild in the Middle Ages. But Freemasonry, the strange group of Deists we know today, started during the Enlightenment.


The Enlightenment was nothing other than a war against God. It was the completion of Humanism, which seeks to make man his own god.


… your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods … (Gen 3:5)

Freemasonry rejects the supernatural. A rejection of this kind can only mean one thing to them: that God can only be man. Thus, they see Jesus as a wise man rather than God.

Masons believe in the “truths of all religions” rather than the Truth. They reject authority. They despise tradition. They hate dogma.


It is no surprise that their biggest enemy is none other than the Catholic Church.


Pope Clement XII, in his 1738 Papal bull, condemned Freemasonry. Ever since, Catholics, under threat of excommunication, have been disallowed from joining lodges:


“Wherefore We command most strictly and in virtue of holy obedience, all the faithful of whatever state, grade, condition, order, dignity or pre-eminence, whether clerical or lay, secular or regular, even those who are entitled to specific and individual mention, that none, under any pretext or for any reason, shall dare or presume to enter, propagate or support these aforesaid societies of Liberi Muratori or Francs Massons…”


As we will see, Pope Leo XIII took up the mantle of defending against Freemasonry in the 19th century. Vatican City then, only a few decades after the annexation of the Papal States, was under siege by the Masons who were infiltrating all positions of Italian society. They had, and still have, their eyes on the Most Holy Catholic Church.


“Our ultimate end is that of Voltaire and of the French Revolution — the final destruction of Catholicism and even of the Christian idea.” From The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita [a leaked 1859 Mason document]


Humanum Genus / Human Family (1884)



(…)


For as soon as the constitution and the spirit of the masonic sect were clearly discovered by manifest signs of its actions, by the investigation of its causes, by publication of its laws, and of its rites and commentaries, with the addition often of the personal testimony of those who were in the secret, this apostolic see denounced the sect of the Freemasons, and publicly declared its constitution, as contrary to law and right, to be pernicious no less to Christendom than to the State; and it forbade any one to enter the society, under the penalties which the Church is wont to inflict upon exceptionally guilty persons.


(…)


… the sect of Freemasons grew with a rapidity beyond conception in the course of a century and a half, until it came to be able, by means of fraud or of audacity, to gain such entrance into every rank of the State as to seem to be almost its ruling power. This swift and formidable advance has brought upon the Church, upon the power of princes, upon the public well-being, precisely that grievous harm which Our predecessors had long before foreseen. Such a condition has been reached that henceforth there will be grave reason to fear, not indeed for the Church — for her foundation is much too firm to be overturned by the effort of men — but for those States in which prevails the power, either of the sect of which we are speaking or of other sects not dissimilar which lend themselves to it as disciples and subordinates.


(…)


Candidates are generally commanded to promise — nay, with a special oath, to swear — that they will never, to any person, at any time or in any way, make known the members, the passes, or the subjects discussed. Thus, with a fraudulent external appearance, and with a style of simulation which is always the same, the Freemasons, like the Manichees of old, strive, as far as possible, to conceal themselves, and to admit no witnesses but their own members. (…) Moreover, to be enrolled, it is necessary that the candidates promise and undertake to be thenceforward strictly obedient to their leaders and masters with the utmost submission and fidelity, and to be in readiness to do their bidding upon the slightest expression of their will; or, if disobedient, to submit to the direst penalties and death itself. As a fact, if any are judged to have betrayed the doings of the sect or to have resisted commands given, punishment is inflicted on them not infrequently, and with so much audacity and dexterity that the assassin very often escapes the detection and penalty of his crime.


But to simulate and wish to lie hid; to bind men like slaves in the very tightest bonds, and without giving any sufficient reason; to make use of men enslaved to the will of another for any arbitrary act; to arm men’s right hands for bloodshed after securing impunity for the crime — all this is an enormity from which nature recoils. Wherefore, reason and truth itself make it plain that the society of which we are speaking is in antagonism with justice and natural uprightness. And this becomes still plainer, inasmuch as other arguments, also, and those very manifest, prove that it is essentially opposed to natural virtue. For, no matter how great may be men’s cleverness in concealing and their experience in Iying, it is impossible to prevent the effects of any cause from showing, in some way, the intrinsic nature of the cause whence they come. “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor a bad tree produce good fruit.” Now, the masonic sect produces fruits that are pernicious and of the bitterest savor. For, from what We have above most clearly shown, that which is their ultimate purpose forces itself into view — namely, the utter overthrow of that whole religious and political order of the world which the Christian teaching has produced, and the substitution of a new state of things in accordance with their ideas, of which the foundations and laws shall be drawn from mere naturalism.


(…)


Now, the fundamental doctrine of the naturalists, which they sufficiently make known by their very name, is that human nature and human reason ought in all things to be mistress and guide. Laying this down, they care little for duties to God, or pervert them by erroneous and vague opinions. For they deny that anything has been taught by God; they allow no dogma of religion or truth which cannot be understood by the human intelligence, nor any teacher who ought to be believed by reason of his authority. And since it is the special and exclusive duty of the Catholic Church fully to set forth in words truths divinely received, to teach, besides other divine helps to salvation, the authority of its office, and to defend the same with perfect purity, it is against the Church that the rage and attack of the enemies are principally directed.


(…) they declare to the people and contend that Church and State ought to be altogether disunited. By this means they reject from the laws and from the commonwealth the wholesome influence of the Catholic religion; and they consequently imagine that States ought to be constituted without any regard for the laws and precepts of the Church.

Nor do they think it enough to disregard the Church — the best of guides — unless they also injure it by their hostility. Indeed, with them it is lawful to attack with impunity the very foundations of the Catholic religion, in speech, in writing, and in teaching; and even the rights of the Church are not spared, and the offices with which it is divinely invested are not safe.


(…)


(…) Freemasons is more useful for their purposes. First, in this way they easily deceive the simple-minded and the heedless, and can induce a far greater number to become members. Again, as all who offer themselves are received whatever may be their form of religion, they thereby teach the great error of this age — that a regard for religion should be held as an indifferent matter, and that all religions are alike. This manner of reasoning is calculated to bring about the ruin of all forms of religion, and especially of the Catholic religion, which, as it is the only one that is true, cannot, without great injustice, be regarded as merely equal to other religions.


(…)


When this greatest fundamental truth has been overturned or weakened [the true reality of the triune God], it follows that those truths, also, which are known by the teaching of nature must begin to fall — namely, that all things were made by the free will of God the Creator; that the world is governed by Providence; that souls do not die; that to this life of men upon the earth there will succeed another and an everlasting life.


(…)


(…) God is the Creator of the world and its provident Ruler; that the eternal law commands the natural order to be maintained, and forbids that it be disturbed; that the last end of men is a destiny far above human things and beyond this sojourning upon the earth: these are the sources and these the principles of all justice and morality.


If these be taken away, as the naturalists and Freemasons desire, there will immediately be no knowledge as to what constitutes justice and injustice, or upon what principle morality is founded [hence, relativism].


(…)


Whatever the future may be, in this grave and widespread evil it is our duty, venerable brethren, to endeavor to find a remedy. And because we know that our best and firmest hope of a remedy is in the power of that divine religion which the Freemasons hate in proportion to their fear of it, we think it to be of chief importance to call that most saving power to our aid against the common enemy.

(…)



Ab Apostolici Solii Celsitudine /

From the Height of the Apostolic Throne (1890)



(…)


The system is not new; but the audacity, the fury, and the rapidity with which it is now carried out, are new. It is the plan of the sects that is now unfolding itself in Italy, especially in what relates to the Catholic religion and the Church, with the final and avowed purpose, if it were possible, of reducing it to nothing. — It is needless now to put the Masonic sects upon their trial. They are already judged; their ends, their means, their doctrines, and their action, are all known with indisputable certainty. Possessed by the spirit of Satan, whose instrument they are, they burn like him with a deadly and implacable hatred of Jesus Christ and of His work; and they endeavor by every means to overthrow and fetter it. This war is at present waged more than elsewhere in Italy, in which the Catholic religion has taken deeper root; and above all in Rome, the center of Catholic unity, and the See of the Universal Pastor and Teacher of the Church.


(…)


The war began by the overthrow of the civil power of the Popes, the downfall of which, according to the secret intentions of the real leaders, afterwards openly avowed, was, under a political pretext, to be the means of enslaving at least, if not of destroying the supreme spiritual power of the Roman Pontiffs. — That no doubt might remain as to the true object of this warfare, there followed quickly the suppression of the Religious Orders; and thereby a great reduction in the number of evangelical laborers for the propagation of the faith amongst the heathens, and for the sacred ministry and religious service of Catholic countries. (…) To lessen the influence of the Clergy and of clerical bodies, one only efficacious means must be employed: to strip them all their goods, and to reduce them to absolute poverty. So also the action of the State is of itself all directed to efface from the nation its religious and Christian character. From the laws, and from the whole of official life, every religious inspiration and idea is systematically banished, when not directly assailed. Every public manifestation of faith and of Catholic piety is either forbidden or, under vain pretenses, in a thousand ways impeded. — From the family are taken away its foundation and religious constitution by the proclaiming of civil marriage, as it is called; and also by the entirely lay education which is now demanded, from the first elements to the higher teaching of the universities, so that the rising generations, as far as this can be effected by the State, have to grow up without any idea of religion, and without the first essential notions of their duties towards God. This is to put the ax to the root. No more universal and efficacious means could be imagined of withdrawing society, and families, and individuals, from the influence of the Church and of the faith.


(…)


Moreover, one of the greatest and most formidable dangers of society at the present day, is the agitation of the Socialists, who threaten to uplift it from its foundations. From this great danger Italy is not free; and although other nations may be more infested than Italy by this spirit of subversion and disorder, it is not therefore less true that even here this spirit is widely spreading and increasing every day in strength. So criminal is its nature, so great the power of its organization and the audacity of its designs, that there is need of uniting all conservative forces, if we are to arrest its progress and successfully to prevent its triumph. Of these forces the first, and above all the chief one, is that which can be supplied by religion and the Church: without this, the strictest laws, the severest tribunals, and even the force of arms, will prove useless or insufficient. As, in old times, material force was of no avail against the hordes of barbarians, but only the power of the Christian religion, which entering into their souls quenched their ferocity, civilized their manners, and made them docile to the voice of truth and to the law of the gospel; so against the fury of lawless multitudes there will be no effectual defense without the salutary power of religion. It is only this power which, casting into their minds the light of truth, and instilling into their hearts the holy moral precepts of Jesus Christ, can make them listen to the voice of conscience and of duty, and, before restraining their hand, restrain their minds and allay the violence of passion. — To assail religion, is therefore to deprive Italy of its most powerful ally against an enemy that becomes every day more formidable.


(…)



Custodi di Quella Fede / Keepers of That Faith (1892)



Guardians of that faith to which the Christian nations owe their morality and civil redemption, We must dutifully discharge each one of Our supreme tasks. Therefore We must raise Our voice in loud protestations against the impious war which tries to take such a precious treasure away from you, beloved children. (…)


Can we be Catholic in mind and heart and gaze with dry eyes on that land where our wondrous Redeemer deigned to establish the seat of His kingdom? Now We see His teachings attacked and His reverence outraged, His Church embattled and His Vicar opposed. So many souls redeemed by His blood are now lost, the choicest portion of His flock, a people faithful to Him for nineteen centuries. How can We bear to look upon His chosen people exposed to a constant and ever-present danger of apostasy, pushed toward error and vice, material miseries, and moral degradation?


(…)


Our country has seen and suffered great evils in such a short span of time, for the faith of our fathers has been made a sign for persecutions of every sort. The satanic intent of the persecutors has been to substitute naturalism for Christianity, the worship of reason for the worship of faith, so-called independent morality for Catholic morality, and material progress for spiritual progress. To the holy maxims and laws of the Gospel, they have opposed laws and maxims which can be called the code of revolution. They have also opposed an atheistic doctrine and a vile realism to school, science, and the Christian arts. Having invaded the temple of the Lord, they have squandered the booty of the Church’s goods, the greatest part of the inheritance necessary for the ministers, and reduced the number of priests by the conscription of clerics beyond the limits of extreme need. If the administration of the sacraments could not be impeded, they sought nonetheless to introduce and promote civil marriages and funerals. If they have not yet succeeded in seizing control of education and the direction of charitable institutions, they always aim with perseverance to laicize everything, which is to remove the mark of Christianity from it. If they could not silence the voice of the Catholic press, they made every effort to discredit and revile it.


(…)


The road is very short from religious to social ruin. The heart of man is no longer raised to heavenly hopes and loves; capable and needing the infinite, it throws itself insatiably on the goods of this earth. Inevitably there is a perpetual struggle of avid passions to enjoy, become rich, and rise. Then we encounter a large and inexhaustible source of grudges, discords, corruptions, and crimes. In our Italy there was no lack of moral and social disorders before the present events — but what a sorrowful spectacle we see in our days! That loving respect which forms domestic harmony is substantially diminished; paternal authority is too often unrecognized by children and parents alike. Disagreements are frequent, divorce common. Civil discords and resentful anger between the various orders increase every day in the cities. New generations which grew up in a spirit of misunderstood freedom are unleashed in the cities, generations which do not respect anything from above or below. The cities teem with incitements to vice, precocious crimes, and public scandals. The state should be content with the high and noble office of recognizing, protecting, and helping divine and human rights in their harmonious universality. Now, however, the state believes itself almost a judge and disowns these rights or restricts them at will. Finally, the general social order is undermined at its foundations. Books and journals, schools and universities, clubs and theaters, monuments and political discourse, photographs and the fine arts, everything conspires to pervert minds and corrupt hearts. Meanwhile the oppressed and suffering people tremble and the anarchic sects arouse themselves. The working classes raise their heads and go to swell the ranks of socialism, communism, and anarchy. Characters exhaust themselves and many souls, no longer knowing how to suffer nobly nor how to redeem themselves manfully, take their lives with cowardly suicide.


Such are the fruits which the masonic sect has borne to us Italians. (…) The facts say that in the plans of masonry, the names of political independence, equality, civilization, and progress aimed to facilitate the independence of man from God in our country. From them, license of error and vice and union of faction at the expense of other citizens have grown. The easy and delicious enjoyment of life by the world’s fortunate is nurtured in the same source. A people redeemed by divine blood have thus returned to divisions, corruptions, and the shames of paganism.


That does not surprise Us. — After nineteen centuries of Christian civilization, this sect tries to overthrow the Catholic Church and to cut off its divine sources. It absolutely denies the supernatural, repudiating every revelation and all the means of salvation which revelation shows us. Through its plans and works, it bases itself solely and entirely on such a weak and corrupt nature as ours. Such a sect cannot be anything other than the height of pride, greed, and sensuality. Now, pride oppresses, greed plunders, and sensuality corrupts. When these three concupiscences are brought to the extreme, the oppressions, greed, and seductive corruptions spread slowly. They take on boundless dimensions and become the oppression, plundering and source of corruption of an entire people.


Let us then show you masonry as an enemy of God, Church, and country. Recognize it as such once and for all, and with all the weapons which reason, conscience, and faith put in your hands, defend yourselves from such a proud foe.



 


*Bold font added.


*Read the full encyclicals here:



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