Masonic Education - April 2018

In this portion of our website, I will present various articles that I hope readers will find interesting and educational. Hopefully a new one each (calendar) month. Most, if not all articles will not be my own creation, so I will indicate my source of information. Should I depart from or add to the original script, I will indicate in brackets [ ]. As some of the entries on a website are done in ''code'', there may be slight variations from the original script which I may not indicate in the brackets.

PAPAL BULLS: It was in 1738 that a Pope first declared the animosity of his Church to Freemasonry. Clement XII's 'Bull', In Eminenti, was delivered in that year and, to an extent which varied as predominantly Catholic countries, it troubled those of the faithful who had become members of the still youthful speculative fraternity. In 1751 Benedict XIV issued his Providas, which called upon the civil powers to enforce the earlier proscription.

In Britain, understandably, these two edicts caused few problems. Ireland, by the end of the 1700's, more Catholic freemasons than Protestant. Daniel O'Connell was at first a convinced freemason but, as has been told in the relevant section, he changed his mind! England, during the period 1772-1776, had as the ruler of the premier Grand Lodge Lord Petre, whom some regard as then having been the country's leading Catholic layman. In parts of mainland Europe the Papal Bulls seem to have kept 'on hold' or even quite deliberately ignored. The initiation of priests- there were several well-recorded instances in Austria-could have been seen as a calculated rebuff to the Vatican.

Pius VII in Ecclesiam of 1821 confirmed his predecssors' condemnation of the Craft but his anathema was directed primarily against the Carbonari, who he described as the offspring of Freemasonry'. Then in 1826 was issued Leo XII's Quo Graviora, specifying 'all Secret Societies'-against the Church', Pius IX fulminated in his Mutiplices inter (properly an 'Alucation' rather a 'Bull') against 'that perverse society of men called Masonic', which had not been vanquished nor overthrown' but was to be blamed for many seditious movements, the many incendiary wars have set the whole of Europe in flames'. A story is told that this Pope Pious had himself entered the Craft at Palermo in 1839, seven years before his election to the throne of St. Peter. He was, it is further related, expelled from the fraternity for perjury; this was, it seems in 1874. But by then he had been the Pope for no less than twenty-eight years and was to rule his Church for four years more.

Other charges mentioned in the various attacks so far included firstly the undeniable one that Freemasonry admitted men of all faiths. Then its secrecy was attacked (the Church had its own secret societies) as were its oaths.

Leo XIII, who followed 'Pio Nono', sent out no fewer than three messages to the faithful with references to Freemasonry: the Encyclicals Humanum Genus (1884) and Ab Apostolici (1890), and a Pastorial Letter, Annum Ingressi (1902).

from 'A Reference Book For Freemasons' - compiled by Frederick Smyth and published in 1998.

R.W. Bro. Robert South-Webmaster