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Catholic Definitive Statements on the Irreconcilability of Christianity and Freemasonry

 

 

Clement XII (r. 1730-40): Constitution "In Eminenti", 28 April 1738;

Benedict XIV (r. 1740-58): "Providas", 18 May 1751;

Pius VII (r. 1800-23): "Ecclesiam", 13 September 1821;

Leo XII (r. 1823-29): "Quo graviora", 13 March, 1825;

Pius VIII (r. 1829-30): Encyclical "Traditi", 21 May 1829;

Gregory XVI (r. 1831-46): "Mirari", 15 August 1832;

Pius IX (r. 1846-78):

  • Encyclical "Qui pluribus", 9 November 1846;
  • Allocution "Quibus quantisque malis", 20 April 1849;
  • Encyclical "Quanta cura", 8 December 1864;
  • Allocution "Multiplices inter", 25 September 1865;
  • Constitution "Apostolicæ Sedis", 12 October 1869;
  • Encyclical "Etsi multa", 21 November 1873;

Leo XIII (r. 1878-1903):

  • Encyclical "Etsí nos", 15 February 1882;
  • Encyclical "Humanum Genus", 20 April 1884;
  • Encyclical Dall'alto dell'Apostolico Seggio ("Ab Apostolici"), 15 October 1890;
  • "Præclara", 20 June 1894;
  • "Annum ingressi", 18 March 1902;

 

Codex Iuris Canonici, ex editione 1917 - Code of Canon Law 1917 ... TITULUS XIII : De delictis contra auctoritates, personas, res

Can. 2335. Nomen dantes sectae massonicae aliisve eiusdem generis associationibus quae contra Ecclesiam vel legitimas civiles potestates machinantur, contrahunt ipso facto excommunicationem Sedi Apostolicae simpliciter reservatam.
Express excommunication of Masons.

 

Codex Iuris Canonici, ex editione 1983 - Code of Canon Law 1983

Can. 1374 — Qui nomen dat consociationi, quae contra Ecclesiam machinatur, iusta poena puniatur; qui autem eiusmodi consociationem promovet vel moderatur, interdicto puniatur.

Can. 1374 A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; however, a person who promotes or directs an association of this kind is to be punished with an interdict.

BUT, to avoid any confusion on this point, nearly contemporaneous publishing of Declaration on Masonic Associations:

 

 

26 November 1983 Declaration on Masonic Associations — (Following the English are German, French, Italian, Spanish and Polish versions of the same)

It has been asked whether there has been any change in the Church's decision in regard to Masonic associations since the new Code of Canon Law does not mention them expressly, unlike the previous Code.

This Sacred Congregation is in a position to reply that this circumstance is due to an editorial criterion which was followed also in the case of other associations likewise unmentioned inasmuch as they are contained in wider categories.

Therefore 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 faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.

It is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations which would imply a derogation from what has been decided above, and this in line with the Declaration of this Sacred Congregation issued on 17 February 1981 (cf. AAS 73 1981 pp. 240-241; English language edition of L'Osservatore Romano, 9 March 1981).

In an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II approved and ordered the publication of this Declaration which had been decided in an ordinary meeting of this Sacred Congregation.

Rome, from the Office of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 26 November 1983.

Joseph Card. RATZINGER
Prefect

+ Fr. Jerome Hamer, O.P.
Titular Archbishop of Lorium
Secretary

 


KONGREGATION FÜR DIE GLAUBENSLEHRE URTEIL DER KIRCHE UNVERÄNDERT

Es wurde die Frage gestellt, ob sich das Urteil der Kirche über die Freimaurerei durch die Tatsache geändert hat, daß der neue CIC sie nicht ausdrücklich erwähnt wie der frühere.

Diese Kongregation ist in der Lage zu antworten, daß diesem Umstand das gleiche Kriterium der Redaktion zugrunde liegt wie für andere Vereinigungen, die gleichfalls nicht erwähnt wurden, weil sie in breitere Kategorien eingegliedert sind.

Das negative Urteil der Kirche über die freimaurerischen Vereinigungen bleibt also unverändert, weil ihre Prinzipien immer als unvereinbar mit der Lehre der Kirche betrachtet wurden und deshalb der Beitritt zu ihnen verboten bleibt. Die Gläubigen, die freimaurerischen Vereinigungen angehören, befinden sich also im Stand der schweren Sünde und können nicht die heilige Kommunion empfangen.

Autoritäten der Ortskirche steht es nicht zu, sich über das Wesen freimaurerischer Vereinigungen in einem Urteil zu äußern, das das oben Bestimmte außer Kraft setzt, und zwar in Übereinstimmung mit der Erklärung dieser Kongregation vom 17. Februar 1981 (vgl. AAS 73/1981; S. 240-241).

Papst Johannes Paul II, hat diese Erklärung, die in der ordentlichen Sitzung dieser Kongregation beschlossen wurde, bei der dem unterzeichneten Kardinalpräfekten gewährten Audienz bestätigt und ihre Veröffentlichung angeordnet.

Rom, am Sitz der Kongregation für die Glaubenslehre, 26. November 1983.

Joseph Kardinal RATZINGER
Präfekt

+ Erzbischof Jérôme Hamer, O.P.
Sekretär

 

CONGRÉGATION POUR LA DOCTRINE DE LA FOI

DÉCLARATION SUR L'INCOMPATIBILITÉ ENTRE L'APPARTENANCE À L'ÉGLISE ET LA FRANC-MAÇONNERIE

On a demandé si le jugement de l'Eglise sur les associations maçonniques était changé, étant donné que dans le nouveau Code de droit canonique il n'en est pas fait mention expresse, comme dans le Code antérieur.

Cette Congrégation est en mesure de répondre qu'une telle circonstance est due au critère adopté dans la rédaction, qui a été suivi aussi pour d'autres associations également passées sous silence parce qu'elles sont inclues dans des catégories plus larges.

Le jugement négatif de l'Eglise sur les associations maçonniques demeure donc inchangé, parce que leurs principes ont toujours été considérés comme inconciliables avec la doctrine de l'Eglise, et l'inscription à ces associations reste interdite par l'Eglise. Les fidèles qui appartiennent aux associations maçonniques sont en état de péché grave et ne peuvent accéder à la sainte communion.

Les autorités ecclésiastiques locales n'ont pas compétence pour se prononcer sur la nature des associations maçonniques par un jugement qui impliquerait une dérogation à ce qui a été affirmé ci dessus, dans la ligne de la déclaration de cette Congrégation du 17 février 1981 (cf. AAS 73, 1981, p. 240-241: DC 1981, n° 1805, p. 349. Voir aussi la déclaration de l'épiscopat allemand du 12 mai 1980, DC 1981, n° 1807, p. 444-448).

Le Souverain Pontife Jean-Paul II, dans l'audience accordée au cardinal préfet soussigné, a approuvé cette déclaration, qui avait été délibérée en réunion ordinaire de la Congrégation, et en a ordonné la publication.

A Rome, au siège de la Congrégation pour la Doctrine de la foi, le 26 novembre 1983.

Joseph, card. RATZINGER
Préfet

+ Fr. Jérôme Hamer, O.P.
Secrétaire

 

CONGREGAZIONE PER LA DOTTRINA DELLA FEDE

DICHIARAZIONE SULLA MASSONERIA

È stato chiesto se sia mutato il giudizio del Chiesa nei confronti della massoneria per il fatto che nel nuovo Codice di Diritto Canonico essa non viene espressamente menzionata come nel Codice anteriore.

Questa Congregazione è in grado di rispondere che tale circostanza è dovuta a un criterio redazionale seguito anche per altre associazioni ugualmente non menzionate in quanto comprese in categorie più ampie.

Rimane pertanto immutato il giudizio negativo della Chiesa nei riguardi delle associazioni massoniche, poiché i loro principi sono stati sempre considerati inconciliabili con la dottrina della Chiesa e perciò l'iscrizione a esse rimane proibita. I fedeli che appartengono alle associazioni massoniche sono in stato di peccato grave e non possono accedere alla Santa Comunione.

Non compete alle autorità ecclesiastiche locali di pronunciarsi sulla natura delle associazioni massoniche con un giudizio che implichi deroga a quanto sopra stabilito, e ciò in linea con la Dichiarazione di questa S. Congregazione del 17 febbraio 1981 (Cf. AAS 73, 1981, p. 240-241).

Il Sommo Pontefice Giovanni Paolo II, nel corso dell'Udienza concessa al sottoscritto Cardinale Prefetto, ha approvato la presente Dichiarazione, decisa nella riunione ordinaria di questa S. Congregazione, e ne ha ordinato la pubblicazione.

Roma, dalla Sede della S. Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, il 26 novembre 1983.

Joseph Card. RATZINGER
Prefetto

Fr. Jérôme Hamer, O.P.
Arcivescovo tit. di Lorium
Segretario

 


CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA DOCTRINA DE LA FE

DECLARACIÓN SOBRE LA MASONERÍA


Se ha presentado la pregunta de si ha cambiado el juicio de la Iglesia respecto de la masonería, ya que en el nuevo Código de Derecho Canónico no está mencionada expresamente como lo estaba en el Código anterior.

Esta Sagrada Congregación puede responder que dicha circunstancia es debida a un criterio de redacción, seguido también en el caso de otras asociaciones que tampoco han sido mencionadas por estar comprendidas en categorías más amplias.

Por tanto, no ha cambiado el juicio negativo de la Iglesia respecto de las asociaciones masónicas, porque sus principios siempre han sido considerados inconciliables con la doctrina de la Iglesia; en consecuencia, la afiliación a las mismas sigue prohibida por la Iglesia. Los fieles que pertenezcan a asociaciones masónicas se hallan en estado de pecado grave y no pueden acercarse a la santa comunión.

No entra en la competencia de las autoridades eclesiásticas locales pronunciarse sobre la naturaleza de las asociaciones masónicas con un juicio que implique derogación de cuanto se ha establecido más arriba, según el sentido de la Declaración de esta Sagrada Congregación del 17 de febrero de 1981 (cf. AAS 73, 1981, págs. 230-241; L'Osservatore Romano, Edición en Lengua Española, 8 de marzo de 1981, pág. 4).

El Sumo Pontífice Juan Pablo II, en la audiencia concedida al cardenal Prefecto abajo firmante, ha aprobado esta Declaración, decidida en la reunión ordinaria de esta Sagrada Congregación, y ha mandado que se publique.

Roma, en la sede de la Sagrada Congregación para la Dotrina de la Fe, 26 de noviembre de 1983.

Cardenal Joseph RATZINGER
Prefecto

+ Fr. Jean Jerôme HAMER, O.P.
Arzobispo titular de Lorium
Secretario.

 


Kongregacja Nauki Wiary

DEKLARACJA O STOWARZYSZENIACH MASOŃSKICH

Zwrócono się z zapytaniem, czy uległa zmianie opinia Kościoła w sprawie stowarzyszeń masońskich, ponieważ w nowym Kodeksie Prawa Kanonicznego (w przeciwieństwie do poprzedniego) zagadnienie nie zostało wprost poruszone.

Święta Kongregacja Nauki Wiary może odpowiedzieć, że taka okoliczność jest podyktowana kryterium redakcyjnym, co dotyczy także innych stowarzyszeń podobnie nie wspomnianych, ujmowanych w szerszych kategoriach.

Pozostaje jednak niezmieniony negatywna opinia Kościoła w sprawie stowarzyszeń masońskich, ponieważ ich zasady zawsze były uważane za niezgodne z nauką Kościoła i dlatego przynależność do nich pozostaje zakazana. Wierni, którzy należą do stowarzyszeń masońskich, są w stanie grzechu ciężkiego i nie mogą przystępować do Komunii Świętej.

Nie należy do lokalnego autorytetu eklezjalnego wypowiadanie się o naturze stowarzyszeń masońskich sądem, który implikowałby uchylenie tego, co wyżej ustalono, i to, co jest zawarte w Deklaracji Świętej Kongregacji Nauki Wiary z dnia 17 lutego 1981 r. (AAS 73 [1981] 240-241).

W czasie audiencji, udzielonej niżej podpisanemu Kardynałowi Prefektowi, Jego Świątobliwość Jan Paweł II zatwierdził niniejszą Deklarację, uchwaloną na zebraniu plenarnym Kongregacji i nakazał jej opublikowanie.

Rzym, w siedzibie Świętej Kongregacji Nauki Wiary, 26 listopada 1983 r.

JOSEPH Kard. RATZINGER
Prefekt

+ JÉRÔME HAMER OP
Abp tyt. Loreny
Sekretarz

 

_____________________________

Following the English are German, French, Italian and Spanish versions of the same

Reflections a Year after Declaration of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the
Irreconcilability between Christian faith and Freemasonry

Article from L'Osservatore Romano, 11 March 1985

On 26 November 1983 the S. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (S.C.D.F.) published a declaration on Masonic associations (cf. AAS LXXVI (1984), 300). At a distance of little more than a year from its publication, it may be useful to outline briefly the significance of this document.

Since the Church began to declare her mind concerning Freemasonry, her negative judgment has been inspired by many reasons, both practical and doctrinal. She judged Freemasonry not merely responsible for subversive activity in her regard, but from the earliest pontifical documents on the subject and in particular in the Encyclical Humanum Genus by Leo XIII (20 April 1884), the Magisterium of the Church has denounced in Freemasonry philosophical ideas and moral conceptions opposed to Catholic doctrine. For Leo XIII, they essentially led back to a rationalistic naturalism, the inspiration of its plans and activities against the Church. In his Letter to the Italian people Custodi (8 December 1892), he wrote: «Let us remember that Christianity and Freemasonry are essentially irreconcilable, so that enrolment in one means separation from the other».

One could not therefore omit to take into consideration the positions of Freemasonry from the doctrinal point of view, when, during the years from 1970‑1980, the Sacred Congregation was in correspondence with some Episcopal Conferences especially interested in this problem because of the dialogue undertaken by some Catholic personages with representatives of some Masonic lodges which declared that they were not hostile, but were even favourable, to the Church.

Now more thorough study has led the S.C.D.F. to confirm its conviction of the basic irreconcilability between the principles of Freemasonry and those of the Christian faith.

Prescinding therefore from consideration of the practical attitude of the various lodges, whether of hostility towards the Church or not, with its declaration of 26 November 1983 the S.C.D.F. intended to take a position on the most profound and, for that matter, the most essential part of the problem: that is, on the level of the irreconcilability of the principles, which means on the level of the faith, and its moral requirements.

Beginning from this doctrinal point of view, and in continuity, moreover, with the traditional position of the Church as the aforementioned documents of Leo XIII attest, there arise then the necessary practical consequences, which are valid for all those faithful who may possibly be members of Freemasonry.

Nevertheless, with regard to the affirmation of the irreconcilability between the principles of Freemasonry and the Catholic faith, from some parts are now heard the objection that essential to Freemasonry would be precisely the fact that it does not impose any «principles», in the sense of a philosophical or religious position which is binding for all of its members, but rather that it gathers together, beyond the limits of the various religions and world views, men of good will on the basis of humanistic values comprehensible and acceptable to everyone.

Freemasonry would constitute a cohesive element for all those who believe in the Architect of the Universe and who feel committed with regard to those fundamental moral orientations which are defined, for example, in the Decalogue; it would not separate anyone from his religion, but on the contrary, would constitute an incentive to embrace that religion more strongly.

The multiple historical and philosophical problems which are hidden in these affirmations cannot be discussed here. It is certainly not necessary to emphasize that following the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church too is pressing in the direction of collaboration between all men of good will. Nevertheless, becoming a member of Freemasonry decidedly exceeds this legitimate collaboration and has a much more important and final significance than this.

Above all, it must be remembered that the community of «Freemasons» and its moral obligations are presented as a progressive system of symbols of an extremely binding nature. The rigid rule of secrecy which prevails there further strengthens the weight of the interaction of signs and ideas. For the members this climate of secrecy entails above all the risk of becoming an instrument of strategies unknown to them.

Even if it is stated that relativism is not assumed as dogma, nevertheless there is really proposed a relativistic symbolic concept and therefore the relativizing value of such a moral-ritual community, far from being eliminated, proves on the contrary to be decisive.

In this context the various religious communities to which the individual members of the lodges belong can be considered only as simple institutionalizations of a broader and elusive truth. The value of these institutionalizations therefore appears to be inevitably relative with respect to this broader truth, which instead is shown in the community of good will, that is, in the Masonic fraternity.

In any case, for a Catholic Christian, it is not possible to live his relation with God in a twofold mode, that is, dividing it into a supraconfessional humanitarian form and an interior Christian form. He cannot cultivate relations of two types with God, nor express his relation with the Creator through symbolic forms of two types. That would be something completely different from that collaboration, which to him is obvious, with all those who are committed to doing good, even if beginning from different principles. On the one hand, a Catholic Christian cannot at the same time share in the full communion of Christian brotherhood and, on the other, look upon his Christian brother, from the Masonic perspective, as an «outsider».

Even when, as stated earlier, there were no explicit obligation to profess relativism as doctrine, nevertheless the relativizing force of such a brotherhood, by its very intrinsic logic, has the capacity to transform the structure of the act of faith in such a radical way as to become unacceptable to a Christian, «to whom his faith is dear» (Leo XIII).

Moreover, this distortion of the fundamental structure of the act of faith is carried out for the most part in a gentle way and without being noticed: firm adherence to the truth of God, revealed in the Church, becomes simple membership, in an institution, considered as a particular expressive form alongside other expressive forms, more or less just as possible and valid, of man's turning toward the eternal.

The temptation to go in this direction is much stronger today, inasmuch as it corresponds fully to certain convictions prevalent in contemporary mentality. The opinion that truth cannot be known is a typical characteristic of our era and, at the same time, an essential element in its general crisis.

Precisely by considering all these elements, the Declaration of the Sacred Congregation affirms that membership in Masonic associations «remains forbidden by the Church», and the faithful who enrolls in them «are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion».

With this last statement, the Sacred Congregation points out to the faithful that this membership objectively constitutes a grave sin and by specifying that the members of a Masonic association may not receive Holy Communion, it intends to enlighten the conscience of the faithful about a grave consequence which must derive from their belonging to a Masonic lodge.

Finally, the Sacred Congregation declares that «it is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations which would imply a derogation from what has been decided above». In this regard, the text also refers to the Declaration of 17 February 1981, which already reserved to the Apostolic See all pronouncements on the nature of these associations which may have implied derogations from the Canon Law then in force (Can. 2335). In the same way, the new document issued by the S.C.D.F. in November 1983 expresses identical intentions of reserve concerning pronouncements which would differ from the judgment expressed here on the irreconcilability of Masonic principles with the Catholic faith, on the gravity of the act of joining a lodge and on the consequences which arise from it for receiving Holy Communion. This disposition points out that, despite the diversity which may exist among Masonic obediences, in particular in their declared attitude towards the Church, the Apostolic See discerns some common principles in them which require the same evaluation by all ecclesiastical authorities.

In making this Declaration, the S.C.D.F. has not intended to disown the efforts made by those who, with the due authorization of this Congregation, have sought to establish a dialogue with representatives of Freemasonry. But since there was the possibility of spreading among the faithful the erroneous opinion that membership in a Masonic lodge was lawful, it felt that it was its duty to make known to them the authentic thought of the Church in this regard and to warn them about a membership incompatible with the Catholic faith.

Only Jesus Christ is, in fact, the Teacher of Truth, and only in him can Christians find the light and the strength to live according to God's plan, working for the true good of their brethren.

 

 

ÜBERLEGUNGEN EIN JAHR NACH DER ERKLÄRUNG DER KONGREGATION FÜR DIE GLAUBENSLEHRE

UNVEREINBARKEIT VON CHRSTLICHEM GLAUBEN UND FREIMAUREREI

Am 26. November 1983 veröffentlichte die Kongregation für die Glaubenslehre eine Erklärung über die Freimaurervereinigungen (vgl. AAS LXXVI [1984] 300). Mehr als ein Jahr nach der Veröffentlichung mag es angebracht sein, kurz die Bedeutung dieses Dokuments zu erläutern.

Seitdem die Kirche sich zum ersten Mal zur Freimaurerei geäußert hat, war ihr negatives Urteil von vielfältigen praktischen und lehrmäßigen Erwägungen bestimmt. Sie hat die Freimaurerei nicht nur als verantwortlich für die gegen sie gerichtete, umstürzlerische Tätigkeit erklärt, sondern schon in den ersten päpstlichen Dokumenten zu dem Thema und insbesondere in der Enzyklika Humanum Genus Leos XIII (20. April 1884) hat das Lehramt der Kirche in der Freimaurerei philosophische Ideen und moralische Auffassungen aufgezeigt, die im Gegensatz zur katholischen Lehre stehen. Leo XIII. führte diese im wesentlichen auf einen rationalistischen Naturalismus zurück, der die Freimaurerei zu ihren Plänen und Aktionen gegen die Kirche inspirierte. In seinem Brief Custodi an das italienische Volk (8. Dezember 1892) schrieb er: "Denken wir daran, daß Christentum und Freimaurerei ihrem Wesen nach unvereinbar sind, so daß die Zugehörigkeit zu dieser die Trennung von jedem bedeutet".

Als daher in den Jahren 1970-1980 die Glaubenskongregation mit einigen Bischofskonferenzen in Briefwechsel stand, die an diesem Problem besonders interessiert waren wegen des Dialogs, den katholische Persönlichkeiten mit Logenvertretern aufgenommen hatten, die sich der Kirche gegenüber als nicht feindlich oder sogar als wohlgesonnen ausgaben, konnte man es nicht unterlassen, die Anschauungen der Freimaurerei vom Gesichtspunkt der christlichen Lehre her zu überprüfen.

Das gründliche Studium hat nun die Glaubenskongregation veranlaßt, bei der Überzeugung zu bleiben, daß die Prinzipien der Freimaurerei mit denen des christlichen Glaubens grundsätzlich unvereinbar sind.

Während sie also von der Betrachtung der praktischen Haltung einer mehr oder weniger großen Feindseligkeit gegen die Kirche von seiten der verschiedenen Logen absah, wollte die Glaubenskongregation mit ihrer Erklärung vom 26.11.1983 sich auf die tiefstgründende und zugleich wesentliche Ebene des Problems stellen: das heißt auf die Ebene der Unvereinbarkeit der Prinzipien, was bedeutet: auf die Ebene des Glaubens und seiner sittlichen Forderungen.

Von diesem Gesichtspunkt der Lehre ausgehend, erfolgen dann – im übrigen in Kontinuität mit dem traditionellen Standpunkt der Kirche, wie die obengenannten Dokumente Leos XIII beweisen – die notwendigen praktischen Konsequenzen, für alle Gläubigen geltend, die sich möglicherweise der Freimaurerei verschrieben haben.

Bezüglich der Bekräftigung der Unvereinbarkeit der Prinzipien wird jetzt jedoch von mancher Seite eingewandt, daß das Wesentliche der Freimaurerei eben darin bestehe, kein wie immer geartetes "Prinzip" im Sinne einer philosophischen oder religiösen Anschauung aufzuerlegen, das für alle ihre Anhänger bindend wäre, sondern vielmehr jenseits der Grenzen der verschiedenen Religionen und Weltanschauungen Menschen guten Willens auf der Grundlage verständlicher und von allen annehmbarer humanistischer Werte zusammenzuführen.

Die Freimaurerei würde ein Element der Zusammengehörigkeit für alle darstellen, die an den Baumeister des Alls glauben und die sich jenen sittlichen Grundeinstellungen, wie sie zum Beispiel in den Zehn Geboten definiert sind, verpflichtet fühlen; sie würde niemanden von seiner Religion abbringen, sondern im Gegenteil einen Ansporn darstellen, ihr noch stärker anzuhängen.

An dieser Stelle können nicht die vielfältigen historischen und philosophischen Probleme erörtert werden, die sich in solchen Behauptungen verbergen. Daß auch das Drängen der katholischen Kirche in die Richtung der Zusammenarbeit aller Menschen guten Willens geht, braucht nach dem Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzil wohl nicht unterstrichen zu werden. Die Zugehörigkeit zur Freimaurerei geht jedoch entschieden über diese legitime Zusammenarbeit hinaus und hat eine viel erheblichere und entscheidendere Bedeutung.

Vor allem muß daran erinnert werden, daß die Gemeinschaft der Freimaurer mit ihren moralischen Verpflichtungen ein fortlaufendes System von symbolischen Riten mit äußerst bindendem Charakter darstellt. Die strenge Disziplin des Geheimen, die darin herrscht, verstärkt noch das Gewicht der Wechselwirkung von Zeichen und Ideen. Dieses Klima der Geheimhaltung bringt für die Eingeschriebenen außerdem die Gefahr mit sich, zum Werkzeug ihnen unbekannter Strategien zu werden.

Auch wenn man behauptet, daß der Relativismus nicht als Dogma angenommen wird, wird tatsächlich doch eine relativistische Symbolauffassung vertreten, und der relativierende Einfluß einer solchen moralisch-rituellen Gemeinschaft, weit davon entfernt, sich beseitigen zu lassen, erweist sich im Gegenteil als entscheidend.

In diesem Zusammenhang können die verschiedenen religiösen Gemeinschaften, denen die einzelnen Logenmitglieder angehören, nur als einfache Institutionalisierungen einer Wahrheit angesehen werden, die darüber hinaus reicht und nicht zu fassen ist. Der Wert dieser Institutionalisierungen erscheint somit unvermeidlich relativ im Hinblick auf diese weiterreichende Wahrheit, die ihrerseits hingegen in der Gemeinschaft des guten Willens, also in der Freimaurerbruderschaft, offenbar wird.

Für einen katholischen Christen ist es jedoch nicht möglich, seine Beziehung zu Gott in einer doppelten Weise zu leben, gespalten in eine humanitäre, überkonfessionelle und eine innere, christliche Form. Er kann nicht Beziehungen zweierlei Art mit Gott pflegen noch seine Beziehung zum Schöpfer durch Symbole und Riten von zweierlei Art zum Ausdruck bringen. Das wäre etwas völlig anderes als jene für ihn selbstverständliche Zusammenarbeit mit allen, die sich, wenn auch von verschiedenen Prinzipien ausgehend, um die Erfüllung des Guten bemühen. Im übrigen kann ein katholischer Christ nicht gleichzeitig an der vollen Gemeinschaft der christlichen Brüderlichkeit teilhaben und anderseits seinen christlichen Bruder aus freimaurerischer Sicht als einen "Profanen" ansehen.

Auch wenn, wie bereits gesagt, keine ausdrückliche Verpflichtung bestünde, sich zum Relativismus als Lehre zu bekennen, ist die relativierende Kraft einer solchen Bruderschaft aufgrund der ihr innegewordenen Logik dennoch imstande, die Struktur des Glaubensaktes in so radikaler Weise zu verändern, daß das für einen Christen, "dem sein Glaube teuer ist" (Leo XIII.), unannehmbar ist.

Diese Umkehrung der Grundstruktur des Glaubensaktes vollzieht sich zudem meist allmählich und unmerklich: das Festhalten an der in der Kirche geoffenbarten Wahrheit Gottes wird zur bloßen Zugehörigkeit zu einer Institution und diese wird als eine neben anderen mehr oder weniger ebenso möglichen und gültigen Ausdrucksformen dessen betrachtet, wie der Mensch sich auf das Ewige einstellt.

Die Versuchung, in diese Richtung zu gehen, ist heute um so stärker, da sie gewissen, im modernen Denken vorherrschenden Anschauungen vollkommen entspricht. Die Meinung, die Wahrheit kön­ne nicht erkannt werden, ist eine typische Ansicht unseres Zeitalters und zugleich ein wesentliches Element seiner allgemeinen Krise.

In Erwägung all dieser Elemente bestä­tigt die Glaubenskongregation, daß die Zugehörigkeit zu den freimaurerischen Vereinigungen "von der Kirche weiterhin verboten bleibt" und die Gläubigen, die ihnen beitreten, "sich im Zustand der schweren Sünde befinden und nicht die heilige Kommunion empfangen dürfen".

Mit diesem Satz weist die Kongregation die Gläubigen darauf hin, daß der Beitritt zu einer solchen Vereinigung objektiv eine schwere Sünde darstellt, und dadurch daß sie präzisiert, daß die Mitglieder einer Freimaurervereinigung die heilige Kommunion nicht empfangen dürfen, will sie das Gewissen der Gläubigen über eine ernste Konsequenz aufklären, die sie aus ihrer Zugehörigkeit zu einer Freimaurerloge ziehen müssen.

Die Glaubenskongregation erklärt schließlich, daß "es den örtlichen kirchlichen Autoritäten nicht zusteht, sich um die Art der freimaurerischen Vereinigungen mit einem Urteil zu äußern, das eine Abweichung von dem oben Festgelegten implizieren würde". In diesem Zusammenhang bezieht sich der Text auch auf die Erklärung vom 17. Februar 1981, die bereits dem Apostolischen Stuhl jede Äußerung über das Wesen dieser Vereinigungen vorbehielt, die Abweichungen von dem damals geltenden Kirchenrecht (can. 2335) impliziert hätte.

In derselben Weise drückt das neue, von der Glaubenskongregation im November 1983 herausgebrachte Dokument gleiche Vorbehalte aus in bezug auf Äu­ßerungen, die von dem hier formulierten Urteil über die Unvereinbarkeit der Prinzipien der Freimaurerei mit denen des katholischen Glaubens, über den Ernst der Einschreibung in eine Loge und über die Konsequenz, die sich daraus für den Empfang der heiligen Kommunion ergibt, abweichen sollten. Diese Verfügung besagt, daß trotz der Verschiedenheit, die zwischen den freimaurerischen Obedienzen, besonders in ihrer erklärten Haltung gegenüber der Kirche, bestehen mag, der Apostolische Stuhl bei ihnen einige allgemeine Prinzipien feststellt, die von seiten aller kirchlichen Autoritäten ein und dieselbe Bewertung verlangen.

Mit dieser Erklärung beabsichtigte die Glaubenskongregation nicht, die unternommenen Anstrengungen derer zu verkennen, die mit der gebührenden Billi­gung dieses Dikasteriums einen Dialog mit Vertretern der Freimaurer herzustellen versuchten. Aber in dem Augenblick, da die Möglichkeit bestand, daß sich unter den Gläubigen die irrige Meinung verbreitete, die Zugehörigkeit zu einer Freimaurerloge sei erlaubt, hat sie es für ihre Pflicht gehalten, sie mit dem tatsächlichen, wahren Denken der Kirche in dieser Frage bekanntzumachen und sie vor einer mit dem katholischen Glauben unvereinbaren Zugehörigkeit zu warnen.

Denn allein Jesus Christus ist der Lehrer der Wahrheit, und nur in ihm können die Christen das Licht und die Kraft finden, nach dem Plan Gottes zu leben und für das wahre Wohl ihrer Brüder zu arbeiten.

(Orig. ital. in O.R. 23.2.85)

 


RÉFLEXIONS À UN AN DE LA DÉCLARATION DE LA CONGRÉGATION POUR LA DOCTRINE DE LA FOI

IMPOSSIBILITÉ DE CONCILIATION ENTRE FOI CHRÉTIENNE ET MAÇONNERIE

Le 26 novembre 1983 la Congrégation pour la Doctrine de la Foi publiait une déclaration sur les associations maçonniques (cf. AAS LXXVI (1984) 300).

À un peu plus d'un an de distance de sa publication il peut être utile d'illustrer brièvement la signification de ce document.

Dès que l'Église a commencé à se prononcer au sujet de la maçonnerie son jugement négatif a été inspiré par de nombreuses raisons, pratiques et doctrinales. Elle n'a pas seulement jugé la maçonnerie responsable d'activités subversives à son égard, mais dès les premiers documents pontificaux en la matière et en particulier dans l'Encyclique «Humanum Genus» de Léon XIII (20 avril 1884) le Magistère de l'Église a dénoncé dans la Maçonnerie des idées philosophiques et des conceptions morales opposées à la doctrine catholique. Pour Léon XIII elles se reliaient essentiellement à un naturalisme rationaliste, inspirateur de ses plans et de ses activités contre l'Église. Dans sa Lettre au Peuple Italien «Custodi» (8 décembre 1892) il écrivait: «Rappelons-nous que le christianisme et la maçonnerie sont essentiellement inconciliables et que s'inscrire à l'une signifie se séparer de l'autre».

On ne pouvait donc pas négliger de prendre en considération les positions de la Maçonnerie du point de vue doctrinal lorsque, durant les années 1970-1980 la S. Congrégation était en correspondance avec certaines Conférences Épiscopales particulièrement intéressées à ce problème par suite du dialogue qu'avaient engagé des personnalités catholiques avec des représentants de certaines loges qui se déclaraient non hostiles et même favorables à l'Église.

Or, une étude plus approfondie a conduit la S. Congrégation pour la Doctrine de la Foi à confirmer sa conviction en l'impossibilité fondamentale de conciliation entre les principes de la maçonnerie et ceux de la foi chrétienne.

Ainsi, indépendamment de la considération de 1'attitude pratique des diverses loges, d'hostilité ou non envers l'Église, la S. Congrégation pour la Doctrine de la Foi, par sa déclaration du 26.11.1983, entendait se placer au niveau le plus profond et par ailleurs essentiel du problème: soit sur le plan de 1'impossibilité de conciliation des principes, c'est-à-dire sur le plan de la foi et de ses exigences morales.

À partir de ce point de vue doctrinal, et par ailleurs en continuation de la position traditionnelle de l'Église, comme en témoignent les documents de Léon XIII cités plus haut, s'ensuivaient par la suite les conséquences pratiques nécessaires, valables pour tous ceux des fidèles qui auraient pu s'inscrire à la maçonnerie.

À propos de 1'affirmation sur 1'impossibilité de conciliation des principes, on objecte parfois de ci de là que ce qui est essentiel dans la maçonnerie serait précisément de n'imposer aucun «principe», au sens d'une position philosophique ou religieuse représentant un lien pour tous ses adhérents, mais de réunir les uns aux autres, au-delà des frontières des diverses religions et visions du monde, des hommes de bonne volonté sur la base de valeurs humanistes compréhensibles et acceptables par tous.

La maçonnerie représenterait un élément de cohésion pour tous ceux qui croient en l'Architecte de l'Univers et qui se sentent engagés vis-à-vis de ces orientations morales fondamentales définies par exemple dans le Décalogue; elle n'éloignerait personne de sa religion mais représenterait, au contraire, une incitation à y adhérer davantage.

On ne peut pas discuter ici les nombreux problèmes historiques et philosophiques qui se dissimulent dans de telles affirmations. Que par ailleurs l'Église catholique cherche à parvenir à une collaboration entre tous les hommes de bonne volonté, il est superflu de le souligner depuis le IIe Concile du Vatican. Qu'elle s'associe à la maçonnerie va cependant nettement au-delà de cette collaboration légitime et aurait une signification bien plus marquée et déterminante.

Il faut rappeler en premier lieu que la communauté des «maçons libres» et ses obligations morales se présentent comme un système progressif de symboles d'un caractère comportant un strict engagement. La discipline rigide de l'occulte qui y règne renforce par ailleurs le poids de l'interaction de signes et d'idées. Ce climat de secret comporte par dessus tout pour les inscrits le risque de devenir 1'instrument de stratégies qui leur demeurent inconnues.

Même si l'on affirme que le relativisme n'est pas assumé en tant que dogme, on propose cependant en réalité une conception symbolique relativiste et, ainsi, la valeur relativisante d'une telle communauté morale-rituelle, loin de pouvoir être éliminée, apparaît au contraire déterminante.

Dans un tel contexte, les diverses communautés religieuses auxquelles appartiennent chaque membre des Loges ne peuvent être considérées que comme de simples institutionnalisations d'une vérité plus vaste et insaisissable. La valeur de ces institutionnalisations apparaît donc comme inévitablement relative en regard de cette vérité plus vaste qui se manifeste au contraire plutôt dans la communauté de la bonne volonté, c'est-à-dire dans la fraternité maçonnique.

Toutefois, pour un chrétien catholique, il ne lui est pas possible de vivre sa relation avec Dieu de deux façons, c'est-à-dire en la scindant sous une forme humanitaire: supraconfessionnelle, et sous une forme interne: chrétienne. Il ne peut entretenir de relations de deux sortes avec Dieu, ni exprimer son rapport avec le Créateur par des formes symboliques de deux natures. Ceci représenterait quelque chose de totalement différent de cette collaboration, évidente pour lui, avec tous ceux qui sont engagés dans l'accomplissement du bien, même à partir de principes différents. D'autre part, un chrétien catholique ne peut pas, simultanément, participer à la pleine communion de la fraternité chrétienne et considérer son frère chrétien, par ailleurs, selon l'optique maçonnique, comme un «profane».

Même, comme on l'a déjà dit, s'il n'y avait pas obligation explicite de professer le relativisme en tant que doctrine, la force relativisante d'une telle fraternité, en raison de sa logique intrinsèque elle-même a cependant en soi la capacité de transformer la structure de l'acte de foi si radicalement qu'elle ne serait plus acceptable pour un chrétien «auquel sa foi est chère» (Léon XIII).

Ce bouleversement de la structure fondamentale de foi s'opère en outre, en général, de manière atténuée et sans que l'on s'en aperçoive: la solide adhésion à la vérité de Dieu, révélée dans l'Église, devient simple appartenance à une institution considérée comme une forme expressive particulière à côté d'autres formes expressives – également plus ou moins possibles et valables – de l'orientation de l'homme vers l'éternel.

La tentation d'aller dans cette direction est aujourd'hui d'autant plus forte en raison du fait qu'elle correspond entièrement à certaines convictions qui prévalent dans la mentalité contemporaine. L'opinion que la vérité ne peut être connue est une caractéristique typique de notre époque et, en même temps, un élément essentiel de sa crise générale.

C'est précisément en considérant tous ces éléments que la Déclaration de la S. Congrégation affirme que l'inscription aux associations maçonniques «demeure interdite par l'Église» et que les fidèles qui s'y inscrivent «sont en état de péché grave et ne peuvent accéder à la Sainte Communion».

Par cette dernière expression, la S. Congrégation indique aux fidèles qu'une telle inscription constitue objectivement un péché grave, et en précisant que ceux qui adhèrent à une association maçonnique ne peuvent accéder à la Sainte Communion, elle veut éclairer la conscience des fidèles sur la conséquence grave de leur adhésion à une loge maçonnique.

La S. Congrégation déclare enfin qu'il «n'appartient pas aux autorités ecclésiastiques locales de se prononcer sur la nature des associations maçonniques, par un jugement impliquant une dérogation à ce qui a été établi ci-dessus». À ce sujet, le texte se réfère également à la Déclaration du 17 février 1981 qui, déjà, réservait au Siège Apostolique toute déclaration sur la nature de ces associations qui aurait impliqué des dérogations à la loi canonique alors en vigueur (can. 2335).

De même manière, le nouveau document publié par la S. Congrégation pour la Doctrine de la Foi en novembre 1983, exprime des intentions identiques de réserve concernant des prononcés qui se seraient éloignés du jugement formulé ici sur l'incompatibilité entre les principes de la maçonnerie et la foi catholique, sur la gravité du fait de s'inscrire à une loge et sur la conséquence qui en dérive pour l'accès à la Sainte Communion. Cette disposition indique que malgré la différence qui peut subsister entre les obédiences maçonniques, en particulier dans leur attitude déclarée envers l'Église, le Siège Apostolique y constate certains principes communs qui appellent une appréciation identique de la part de toutes les autorités ecclésiastiques.

En formulant la présente Déclaration, la S. Congrégation pour la Doctrine de la Foi n'entend pas méconnaître les efforts entrepris par ceux qui, dûment autorisés par ce Dicastère, ont cherché à établir un dialogue avec des représentants de la Maçonnerie. Cependant, dès le moment qu'il y aurait eu possibilité que se répande parmi les fidèles l'opinion erronée selon laquelle l'adhésion à une loge maçonnique était désormais licite, elle a considéré de son devoir de leur faire connaître la pensée authentique de l'Église à ce sujet et de les mettre en garde quant à une appartenance incompatible avec la foi catholique.

Seul Jésus-Christ, en effet, est le Maître de la Vérité et c'est seulement en Lui que les chrétiens peuvent trouver la lumière et la force pour vivre selon le dessein de Dieu, en travaillant pour le bien véritable de leurs frères.

 

 

RIFLESSIONI AD UN ANNO DALLA DICHIARAZIONE DELLA CONGREGAZIONE PER LA DOTTRINA DELLA FEDE

INCONCILIABILITÀ TRA FEDE CRISTIANA E MASSONERIA


Il 26 novembre 1983 la Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede pubblicava una dichiarazione sulle associazioni massoniche (cfr AAS LXXVI (1984) 300).

A poco più di un anno di distanza dalla sua pubblicazione può essere utile illustrare brevemente il significato di questo documento.

Da quando la Chiesa ha iniziato a pronunciarsi nei riguardi della massoneria il suo giudizio negativo è stato ispirato da molteplici ragioni, pratiche e dottrinali. Essa non ha giudicato la massoneria responsabile soltanto di attività sovversiva nei suoi confronti, ma fin dai primi documenti pontifici in materia e in particolare nella Enciclica «Humanum Genus» di Leone XIII (20 aprile 1884), il Magistero della Chiesa ha denunciato nella Massoneria idee filosofiche e concezioni morali opposte alla dottrina cattolica. Per Leone XIII esse si riconducevano essenzialmente a un naturalismo razionalista, ispiratore dei suoi piani e delle sue attività contro la Chiesa. Nella sua Lettera al Popolo Italiano «Custodi» (8 dicembre 1892) egli scriveva: «Ricordiamoci che il cristianesimo e la massoneria sono essenzialmente inconciliabili, così che iscriversi all'una significa separarsi dall'altra».

Non si poteva pertanto tralasciare di prendere in considerazione le posizioni della Massoneria dal punto di vista dottrinale, quando negli anni 1970‑1980 la S. Congregazione era in corrispondenza con alcune Conferenze Episcopali particolarmente interessate a questo problema, a motivo del dialogo intrapreso da parte di personalità cattoliche con rappresentanti di alcune logge che si dichiaravano non ostili o perfino favorevoli alla Chiesa.

Ora lo studio più approfondito ha condotto la Sacra Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede a confermarsi nella convinzione dell'inconciliabilità di fondo fra i principi della massoneria e quelli della fede cristiana.

Prescindendo pertanto dalla considerazione dell'atteggiamento pratico delle diverse logge, di ostilità o meno nei confronti della Chiesa, la Sacra Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, con la sua dichiarazione del 26.11.83, ha inteso collocarsi al livello più profondo e d'altra parte essenziale del problema: sul piano cioè dell'inconciliabilità dei principi, il che significa sul piano della fede e delle sue esigenze morali.

A partire da questo punto di vista dottrinale, in continuità del resto con la posizione tradizionale della Chiesa, come testimoniano i documenti sopra citati di Leone XIII, derivano poi le necessarie conseguenze pratiche, che valgono per tutti quei fedeli che fossero eventualmente iscritti alla massoneria.

A proposito dell'affermazione sull'inconciliabilità dei principi tuttavia si va ora da qualche parte obiettando che essenziale della massoneria sarebbe proprio il fatto di non imporre alcun «principio», nel senso di una posizione filosofica o religiosa che sia vincolante per tutti i suoi aderenti, ma piuttosto di raccogliere insieme, al di là dei confini delle diverse religioni e visioni del mondo, uomini di buona volontà sulla base di valori umanistici comprensibili e accettabili da tutti.

La massoneria costituirebbe un elemento di coesione per tutti coloro che credono nell'Architetto dell'Universo e si sentono impegnati nei confronti di quegli orientamenti morali fondamentali che sono definiti ad esempio nel Decalogo; essa non allontanerebbe nessuno dalla sua religione, ma al contrario costituirebbe un incentivo ad aderirvi maggiormente.

In questa sede non possono essere discussi i molteplici problemi storici e filosofici che si nascondono in tali affermazioni. Che anche la Chiesa cattolica spinga nel senso di una collaborazione di tutti gli uomini di buona volontà, non è certamente necessario sottolinearlo dopo il Concilio Vaticano II. L'associarsi nella massoneria va tuttavia decisamente oltre questa legittima collaborazione e ha un significato ben più rilevante e determinante di questo.

Innanzi tutto si deve ricordare che la comunità dei «liberi muratori» e le sue obbligazioni morali si presentano come un sistema progressivo di simboli dal carattere estremamente impegnativo. La rigida disciplina dell'arcano che vi domina rafforza ulteriormente il peso dell'interazione di segni e di idee. Questo clima di segretezza comporta, oltre tutto, per gli iscritti il rischio di divenire strumento di strategie ad essi ignote.

Anche se si afferma che il relativismo non viene assunto come dogma, tuttavia si propone di fatto una concezione simbolica relativistica, e pertanto il valore relativizzante di una tale comunità morale-rituale lungi dal poter essere eliminato, risulta al contrario determinante.

In tale contesto, le diverse comunità religiose, cui appartengono i singoli membri delle Logge, non possono essere considerate se non come semplici istituzionalizzazioni di una verità più ampia e inafferrabile. Il valore di queste istituzionalizzazioni appare, quindi, inevitabilmente relativo, rispetto a questa verità più ampia, la quale si manifesta invece piuttosto nella comunità della buona volontà, cioè nella fraternità massonica.

Per un cristiano cattolico, tuttavia, non è possibile vivere la sua relazione con Dio in una duplice modalità, scindendola cioè in una forma umanitaria - sovraconfessionale e in una forma interna - cristiana. Egli non può coltivare relazioni di due specie con Dio, né esprimere il suo rapporto con il Creatore attraverso forme simboliche di due specie. Ciò sarebbe qualcosa di completamente diverso da quella collaborazione, che per lui è ovvia, con tutti coloro che sono impegnati nel compimento del bene, anche se a partire da principi diversi. D'altronde un cristiano cattolico non può nello stesso tempo partecipare alla piena comunione della fraternità cristiana e, d'altra parte, guardare al suo fratello cristiano, a partire dalla prospettiva massonica, come a un «profano».

Anche quando, come già si è detto, non vi fosse un'obbligazione esplicita di professare il relativismo come dottrina, tuttavia la forza relativizzante di una tale fraternità, per la sua stessa logica intrinseca ha in sé la capacità di trasformare la struttura dell'atto di fede in modo così radicale da non essere accettabile da parte di un cristiano, «al quale cara è la sua fede» (Leone XIII).

Questo stravolgimento nella struttura fondamentale dell'atto di fede si compie, inoltre, per lo più, in modo morbido e senza essere avvertito: la salda adesione alla verità di Dio, rivelata nella Chiesa, diviene semplice appartenenza a un'istituzione, considerata come una forma espressiva particolare accanto ad altre forme espressive, più o meno altrettanto possibili e valide, dell'orientarsi dell'uomo all'eterno.

La tentazione ad andare in questa direzione è oggi tanto più forte, in quanto essa corrisponde pienamente a certe convinzioni prevalenti nella mentalità contemporanea. L'opinione che la verità non possa essere conosciuta è caratteristica tipica della nostra epoca e, nello stesso tempo, elemento essenziale della sua crisi generale.

Proprio considerando tutti questi elementi la Dichiarazione della S. Congregazione afferma che la Iscrizione alle associazioni massoniche «rimane proibita dalla Chiesa» e i fedeli che vi si iscrivono «sono in stato di peccato grave e non possono accedere alla Santa Comunione».

Con questa ultima espressione, la S. Congregazione indica ai fedeli che tale iscrizione costituisce obiettivamente un peccato grave e, precisando che gli aderenti a una associazione massonica non possono accedere alla Santa Comunione, essa vuole illuminare la coscienza dei fedeli su di una grave conseguenza che essi devono trarre dalla loro adesione a una loggia massonica.

La S. Congregazione dichiara infine che «non compete alle autorità ecclesiastiche locali di pronunciarsi sulla natura delle associazioni massoniche, con un giudizio che implichi deroga a quanto sopra stabilito». A questo proposito il testo fa anche riferimento alla Dichiarazione del 17 febbraio 1981, la quale già riservava alla Sede Apostolica ogni pronunciamento sulla natura di queste associazioni che avesse implicato deroghe alla legge canonica allora in vigore (can. 2335).

Allo stesso modo il nuovo documento, emesso dalla Sacra Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede nel novembre 1983, esprime identiche intenzioni di riserva relativamente a pronunciamenti che divergessero dal giudizio qui formulato sulla inconciliabilità dei principi della massoneria con la fede cattolica, sulla gravità dell'atto di iscriversi a una loggia e sulla conseguenza che ne deriva per l'accesso alla Santa Comunione. Questa disposizione indica che, malgrado la diversità che può sussistere fra le obbedienze massoniche, in particolare nel loro atteggiamento dichiarato verso la Chiesa, la Sede Apostolica vi riscontra alcuni principi comuni, che richiedono una medesima valutazione da parte di tutte le autorità ecclesiastiche.

Nel fare questa Dichiarazione, la Sacra Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede non ha inteso disconoscere gli sforzi compiuti da coloro che, con la debita autorizzazione di questo Dicastero, hanno cercato di stabilire un dialogo con rappresentanti della Massoneria. Ma, dal momento che vi era la possibilità che si diffondesse fra i fedeli l'errata opinione secondo cui ormai la adesione a una loggia massonica era lecita, essa ha ritenuto suo dovere far loro conoscere il pensiero autentico della Chiesa in proposito e metterli in guardia nei confronti di un'appartenenza incompatibile con la fede cattolica.

Solo Gesù Cristo è, infatti, il Maestro della Verità e solo in Lui i cristiani possono trovare la luce e la forza per vivere secondo il disegno di Dio, lavorando al vero bene dei loro fratelli.

CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA DOCTRINA DE LA FE

REFLEXIONES SOBRE LA DECLARACIÓN DE LA CONGREGACIÓN PARA LA DOCTRINA DE LA FE REFERENTE A LAS ASOCIACIONES MASÓNICAS

FE CRISTIANA Y MASONERÍA SON INCONCILIABLES

La Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe publicó, el 26 de noviembre de 1983, una Declaración sobre las asociaciones masónicas (cf. AAS 76, 1984, 300; L'Osservatore Romano, Edición en Lengua Española, 4 de diciembre 1983, pág. 9).

A poco más de un año de dicha publicación puede ser útil aclarar brevemente él significado de este documento.

Desde que la Iglesia comenzó a pronunciarse sobre la masonería; su juicio negativo se ha basado en muchas razones prácticas y doctrinales. No la ha juzgado responsable sólo de actividades contrarias a ella, sino que desde los primeros documentos pontificios sobre el tema, y especialmente desde la Encíclica Humanum genus de León XIII (20 de abril de 1884), el Magisterio de la Iglesia denunció en la masonería ideas filosóficas y conceptos morales opuestos a la doctrina católica. Para León XIII consistían esencialmente en un naturalismo racionalista que inspiraba sus planes y actividades contra la Iglesia. En su Carta al Pueblo Italiano Custodi (8 de diciembre de 1892) escribió: "Recordemos que cristianismo y masonería son esencialmente inconciliables hasta el punto de que inscribirse en una significa separarse del otro".

Por tanto, no era posible, dejar de tomar en consideración las posturas de la masonería desde el punto de vista doctrinal cuando en 1970-1980 la Sagrada Congregación estaba en comunicación con algunas Conferencias Episcopales más interesadas en el problema, porque personalidades católicas habían entablado diálogo con representantes de algunas logias que se declaraban no hostiles y hasta favorables a la Iglesia.

Ahora un estudio más concienzudo ha llevado a la Sagrada Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe a reafirmar la convicción de que los principios de la masonería y los de la fe cristiana son radicalmente inconciliables.

Por tanto, prescindiendo de la consideración de la actitud práctica de las varias logias, sea o no de hostilidad respecto de la Iglesia, la Sagrada Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe, con su Declaración del 26 de noviembre de 1983, se propuso situarse en el nivel más profundo y esencial, por otra parte, del problema, es decir, a nivel de los inconciliables principios en el plano de la fe y de sus exigencias morales.

Partiendo de este punto de vista doctrinal y siguiendo, por lo demás, la postura tradicional de la Iglesia como atestiguan los documentos citados de León XIII, se derivan consecuencias prácticas subsiguientes, válidas para todos los fieles que están afiliados a la masonería.

A propósito de la afirmación de que son inconciliables los principios, en algunas partes se hace ahora la objeción de que es esencial en la masonería no imponer ningún "principio", en sentido de posición filosófica o religiosa vinculante para todos sus afiliados; porque más bien se trata de reunir juntos, por encima de los confines de las diversas religiones y visiones del mundo, a hombres de buena voluntad sobre la base de valores humanistas para todos comprensibles y aceptables.

La masonería constituiría así un elemento de cohesión para todos los que creen en el Arquitecto del universo y se sienten comprometidos respecto de aquellas orientaciones morales fundamentales que se definen, por ejemplo, en el Decálogo; de esta forma no separaría a nadie de su religión, sino que sería, por el contrario, un estímulo para adherirse más a ella.

No pueden debatirse en este artículo los muchos problemas históricos y filosóficos latentes en estas afirmaciones. Que también la Iglesia católica estimula a una colaboración entre todos los hombres de buena voluntad, no es necesario subrayarlo después del Concilio Vaticano II. Pero asociarse en la masonería sobrepasa esta colaboración legítima y tiene un significado más relevante y determinante.

Ante todo se debe recordar que la comunidad de los "albañiles libres" y sus obligaciones morales se presentan como un sistema progresivo de símbolos de carácter sumamente comprometido. La rígida disciplina del arcano que lo domina refuerza aún más el peso de la interacción de signos e ideas. Este clima de secreto comporta, además, para los afiliados, el riesgo de llegar a ser instrumentos de estrategias que les son desconocidas.

Aunque se afirma que el relativismo no se asume como dogma, sin embargo se propone de hecho una concepción simbólica relativista y, por consiguiente, el valor relativizador de una tal comunidad moral-ritual no sólo no puede ser eliminado, sino que resulta determinante.

En este contexto, las diversas comunidades religiosas a que pertenece cada uno de los miembros de las logias sólo pueden considerarse meras institucionalizaciones de una verdad más amplia e inalcanzable. Por tanto, el valor de estas institucionalizaciones resulta inevitablemente relativo respecto de esa verdad más amplia que, en cambio, se manifiesta sobre todo en la comunidad de la buena voluntad, es decir, en la fraternidad masónica.

Además, para un cristiano católico no es posible vivir su relación con Dios en una doble modalidad, o sea, diversificándola en una forma humanitaria-sopraconfesional y en otra interna-cristiana. No puede mantener relaciones de dos especies con Dios, ni expresar su relación con el Creador con formas simbólicas de dos especies. Ello sería algo muy diferente de esa colaboración, obvia para el cristiano, con cuantos están empeñados en hacer el bien, aun partiendo de principios distintos. Por otra parte, un cristiano católico no puede compartir la comunión plena de la fraternidad cristiana y, al mismo tiempo, mirar a su hermano cristiano, desde la óptica masónica, como a un "profano".

Aun en el caso de que, como ya se ha dicho, no hubiera una obligación explícita de profesar el relativismo como doctrina, con todo, la fuerza relativizadora de tal fraternidad tiene en sí, por su misma lógica intrínseca, la capacidad de transformar la estructura del acto de fe tan radicalmente que no sea aceptable por un cristiano "para quien la fe es algo muy querido" (León XIII).

Esta tergiversación de la estructura fundamental del acto de fe se realiza, además, por lo general suavemente y sin que uno se dé cuenta de ello: la adhesión firme a la verdad de Dios revelada en la Iglesia pasa a ser mera pertenencia a una institución considerada como una forma expresiva particular, al lado de otras formas expresivas, más o menos posibles y válidas también de la orientación del hombre hacia lo eterno.

La tentación de ir en esta dirección es más fuerte hoy porque responde plenamente a ciertas convicciones dominantes en la mentalidad contemporánea. La opinión de que la verdad no puede conocerse es característica típica de nuestra época y, al mismo tiempo, elemento esencial de su crisis general.

Precisamente teniendo en consideración estos elementos, la Declaración de la Sagrada Congregación afirma que la afiliación a las asociaciones masónicas "sigue prohibida por la Iglesia" y los fieles que pertenezcan a asociaciones masónicas "se hallan en estado de pecado grave y no pueden acercarse a la santa comunión".

Con esta última expresión la Sagrada Congregación indica a los fieles que esta afiliación constituye objetivamente un pecado grave; y al aclarar que los afiliados a una asociación masónica no pueden acercarse a la santa comunión, quiere iluminar la conciencia de los fieles sobre una consecuencia grave que deben deducir de su adhesión a una logia masónica.

La Sagrada Congregación declara al final que "no entra en la competencia de las autoridades eclesiásticas locales pronunciarse sobre la naturaleza de las asociaciones masónicas con un juicio que implique derogación de cuanto se ha establecido más arriba". A este propósito el texto hace referencia también a la Declaración del 17 de febrero de 1981, que reservaba ya a la Sede Apostólica todo pronunciamiento sobre la naturaleza de estas asociaciones que implicase derogación de la ley canónica vigente entonces (can. 2335).

Del mismo modo el nuevo documento emitido por la Sagrada Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe en noviembre de 1983 manifiesta iguales intenciones de reserva sobre pronunciamientos que discrepen del juicio formulado aquí según el cual los principios de la masonería y de la fe católica son inconciliables, sobre la gravedad del acto de afiliarse a una logia y sobre la consecuencia que deriva de ello en orden a recibir la santa comunión. Esta disposición indica que, no obstante las diferencias que puede seguir habiendo entre las obediencias masónicas, sobre todo respecto de su actitud declarada hacia la Iglesia, la Sede Apostólica encuentra en ellas algunos principios comunes que exigen la misma valoración por parte de todas las autoridades eclesiásticas.

Al hacer esta Declaración, la Sagrada Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe no ha querido ignorar los esfuerzos realizados por quienes han tratado de entablar diálogo con representantes de la masonería, autorizados debidamente por este dicasterio. Pero desde el momento que existía la posibilidad de que se difundiera entre los fieles la opinión errada de que ya la adhesión a una logia masónica era lícita, ha considerado deber suyo darles a conocer el pensamiento auténtico de la Iglesia a este respecto y ponerles en guardia sobre una pertenencia que es incompatible con la fe católica.

Sólo Jesucristo es realmente el Maestro de la Verdad y sólo en El pueden encontrar los cristianos luz y fuerza para vivir según el designio de Dios, trabajando por el bien verdadero de sus hermanos.

L'Osservatore Romano, Edición semanal en Lengua Española, 24 de marzo 1985, pág. 22.

 

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Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Freemasonry, Humanum Genus

(Following the English are French and Italian versions of Humanum Genus)

To the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and
Bishops of the Catholic World in Grace and
Communion with the Apostolic See.

The race of man, after its miserable fall from God, the Creator and the Giver of heavenly gifts, "through the envy of the devil," separated into two diverse and opposite parts, of which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other of those things which are contrary to virtue and to truth. The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ; and those who desire from their heart to be united with it, so as to gain salvation, must of necessity serve God and His only-begotten Son with their whole mind and with an entire will. The other is the kingdom of Satan, in whose possession and control are all whosoever follow the fatal example of their leader and of our first parents, those who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law, and who have many aims of their own in contempt of God, and many aims also against God.

2. This twofold kingdom St. Augustine keenly discerned and described after the manner of two cities, contrary in their laws because striving for contrary objects; and with a subtle brevity he expressed the efficient cause of each in these words: "Two loves formed two cities: the love of self, reaching even to contempt of God, an earthly city; and the love of God, reaching to contempt of self, a heavenly one."(1) At every period of time each has been in conflict with the other, with a variety and multiplicity of weapons and of warfare, although not always with equal ardour and assault. At this period, however, the partisans of evil seems to be combining together, and to be struggling with united vehemence, led on or assisted by that strongly organized and widespread association called the Freemasons. No longer making any secret of their purposes, they are now boldly rising up against God Himself. They are planning the destruction of holy Church publicly and openly, and this with the set purpose of utterly despoiling the nations of Christendom, if it were possible, of the blessings obtained for us through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Lamenting these evils, We are constrained by the charity which urges Our heart to cry out often to God: "For lo, Thy enemies have made a noise; and they that hate Thee have lifted up the head. They have taken a malicious counsel against Thy people, and they have consulted against Thy saints. They have said, 'come, and let us destroy them, so that they be not a nation.'(2)

3. At so urgent a crisis, when so fierce and so pressing an onslaught is made upon the Christian name, it is Our office to point out the danger, to mark who are the adversaries, and to the best of Our power to make head against their plans and devices, that those may not perish whose salvation is committed to Us, and that the kingdom of Jesus Christ entrusted to Our charge may not stand and remain whole, but may be enlarged by an ever-increasing growth throughout the world.

4. The Roman Pontiffs Our predecessors, in their incessant watchfulness over the safety of the Christian people, were prompt in detecting the presence and the purpose of this capital enemy immediately it sprang into the light instead of hiding as a dark conspiracy; and , moreover, they took occasion with true foresight to give, as it were on their guard, and not allow themselves to be caught by the devices and snares laid out to deceive them.

5. The first warning of the danger was given by Clement XII in the year 1738,(3) and his constitution was confirmed and renewed by Benedict XIV(4) Pius VII followed the same path;(5) and Leo XII, by his apostolic constitution, Quo Graviora,(6) put together the acts and decrees of former Pontiffs on this subject, and ratified and confirmed them forever. In the same sense spoke Pius VIII,(7) Gregory XVI,(8) and, many times over, Pius IX.(9)

6. 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 Christiandom 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 sectaries, indignant at this, thinking to elude or to weaken the force of these decrees, partly by contempt of them, and partly by calumny, accused the sovereign Pontiffs who had passed them either of exceeding the bounds of moderation in their decrees or of decreeing what was not just. This was the manner in which they endeavoured to elude the authority and the weight of the apostolic constitutions of Clement XII and Benedict XIV, as well as of Pius VII and Pius IX.(10) Yet, in the very society itself, there were to be found men who unwillingly acknowledged that the Roman Pontiffs had acted within their right, according to the Catholic doctrine and discipline. The Pontiffs received the same assent, and in strong terms, from many princes and heads of governments, who made it their business either to delate the masonic society to the apostolic see, or of their own accord by special enactments to brand it as pernicious, as, for example, in Holland, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Bavaria, Savoy, and other parts of Italy.

7. But, what is of highest importance, the course of events has demonstrated the prudence of Our predecessors. For their provident and paternal solicitude had not always and every where the result desired; and this, either because of the simulation and cunning of some who were active agents in the mischief, or else of the thoughtless levity of the rest who ought, in their own interest, to have given to the matter their diligent attention. In consequence, 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.

8. For these reasons We no sooner came to the helm of the Church than We clearly saw and felt it to be Our duty to use Our authority to the very utmost against so vast an evil. We have several times already, as occasion served, attacked certain chief points of teaching which showed in a special manner the perverse influence of Masonic opinions. Thus, in Our encyclical letter, Quod Apostolici Muneris, We endeavoured to refute the monstrous doctrines of the socialists and communists; afterwards, in another beginning "Arcanum," We took pains to defend and explain the true and genuine idea of domestic life, of which marriage is the spring and origin; and again, in that which begins ''Diuturnum,"(11) We described the ideal of political government conformed to the principles of Christian wisdom, which is marvellously in harmony, on the one hand, with the natural order of things, and, in the other, with the well-being of both sovereign princes and of nations. It is now Our intention, following the example of Our predecessors, directly to treat of the masonic society itself, of its whole teaching, of its aims, and of its manner of thinking and acting, in order to bring more and more into the light its power for evil, and to do what We can to arrest the contagion of this fatal plague.

9. There are several organized bodies which, though differing in name, in ceremonial, in form and origin, are nevertheless so bound together by community of purpose and by the similarity of their main opinions, as to make in fact one thing with the sect of the Freemasons, which is a kind of center whence they all go forth, and whither they all return. Now, these no longer show a desire to remain concealed; for they hold their meetings in the daylight and before the public eye, and publish their own newspaper organs; and yet, when thoroughly understood, they are found still to retain the nature and the habits of secret societies. There are many things like mysteries which it is the fixed rule to hide with extreme care, not only from strangers, but from very many members, also; such as their secret and final designs, the names of the chief leaders, and certain secret and inner meetings, as well as their decisions, and the ways and means of carrying them out. This is, no doubt, the object of the manifold difference among the members as to right, office, and privilege, of the received distinction of orders and grades, and of that severe discipline which is maintained.

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. As a convenient manner of concealment, they assume the character of literary men and scholars associated for purposes of learning. They speak of their zeal for a more cultured refinement, and of their love for the poor; and they declare their one wish to be the amelioration of the condition of the masses, and to share with the largest possible number all the benefits of civil life. Were these purposes aimed at in real truth, they are by no means the whole of their object. 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.

10. 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 lying, 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."(12) Now, the masonic sect produces fruits that are pernicious and of the bitterest savour. 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.

11. What We have said, and are about to say, must be understood of the sect of the Freemasons taken generically, and in so far as it comprises the associations kindred to it and confederated with it, but not of the individual members of them. There may be persons amongst these, and not a few who, although not free from the guilt of having entangled themselves in such associations, yet are neither themselves partners in their criminal acts nor aware of the ultimate object which they are endeavoring to attain. In the same way, some of the affiliated societies, perhaps, by no means approve of the extreme conclusions which they would, if consistent, embrace as necessarily following from their common principles, did not their very foulness strike them with horror. Some of these, again, are led by circumstances of times and places either to aim at smaller things than the others usually attempt or than they themselves would wish to attempt. They are not, however, for this reason, to be reckoned as alien to the masonic federation; for 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.

12. 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.

13. In those matters which regard religion let it be seen how the sect of the Freemasons acts, especially where it is more free to act without restraint, and then let any one judge whether in fact it does not wish to carry out the policy of the naturalists. By a long and persevering labor, they endeavor to bring about this result - namely, that the teaching office and authority of the Church may become of no account in the civil State; and for this same reason 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.

14. 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. The least possible liberty to manage affairs is left to the Church; and this is done by laws not apparently very hostile, but in reality framed and fitted to hinder freedom of action. Moreover, We see exceptional and onerous laws imposed upon the clergy, to the end that they may be continually diminished in number and in necessary means. We see also the remnants of the possessions of the Church fettered by the strictest conditions, and subjected to the power and arbitrary will of the administrators of the State, and the religious orders rooted up and scattered.

15. But against the apostolic see and the Roman Pontiff the contention of these enemies has been for a long time directed. The Pontiff was first, for specious reasons, thrust out from the bulwark of his liberty and of his right, the civil princedom; soon, he was unjustly driven into a condition which was unbearable because of the difficulties raised on all sides; and now the time has come when the partisans of the sects openly declare, what in secret among themselves they have for a long time plotted, that the sacred power of the Pontiffs must be abolished, and that the papacy itself, founded by divine right, must be utterly destroyed. If other proofs were wanting, this fact would be sufficiently disclosed by the testimony of men well informed, of whom some at other times, and others again recently, have declared it to be true of the Freemasons that they especially desire to assail the Church with irreconcilable hostility, and that they will never rest until they have destroyed whatever the supreme Pontiffs have established for the sake of religion.

16. If those who are admitted as members are not commanded to abjure by any form of words the Catholic doctrines, this omission, so far from being adverse to the designs of the 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.

17. But the naturalists go much further; for, having, in the highest things, entered upon a wholly erroneous course, they are carried headlong to extremes, either by reason of the weakness of human nature, or because God inflicts upon them the just punishment of their pride. Hence it happens that they no longer consider as certain and permanent those things which are fully understood by the natural light of reason, such as certainly are - the existence of God, the immaterial nature of the human soul, and its immortality. The sect of the Freemasons, by a similar course of error, is exposed to these same dangers; for, although in a general way they may profess the existence of God, they themselves are witnesses that they do not all maintain this truth with the full assent of the mind or with a firm conviction. Neither do they conceal that this question about God is the greatest source and cause of discords among them; in fact, it is certain that a considerable contention about this same subject has existed among them very lately. But, indeed, the sect allows great liberty to its votaries, so that to each side is given the right to defend its own opinion, either that there is a God, or that there is none; and those who obstinately contend that there is no God are as easily initiated as those who contend that God exists, though, like the pantheists, they have false notions concerning Him: all which is nothing else than taking away the reality, while retaining some absurd representation of the divine nature.

18. When this greatest fundamental truth has been overturned or weakened, 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.

19. When these truths are done away with, which are as the principles of nature and important for knowledge and for practical use, it is easy to see what will become of both public and private morality. We say nothing of those more heavenly virtues, which no one can exercise or even acquire without a special gift and grace of God; of which necessarily no trace can be found in those who reject as unknown the redemption of mankind, the grace of God, the sacraments, and the happiness to be obtained in heaven. We speak now of the duties which have their origin in natural probity. That 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. And, in truth, the teaching of morality which alone finds favor with the sect of Freemasons, and in which they contend that youth should be instructed, is that which they call "civil," and "independent," and "free," namely, that which does not contain any religious belief. But, how insufficient such teaching is, how wanting in soundness, and how easily moved by every impulse of passion, is sufficiently proved by its sad fruits, which have already begun to appear. For, wherever, by removing Christian education, this teaching has begun more completely to rule, there goodness and integrity of morals have begun quickly to perish, monstrous and shameful opinions have grown up, and the audacity of evil deeds has risen to a high degree. All this is commonly complained of and deplored; and not a few of those who by no means wish to do so are compelled by abundant evidence to give not infrequently the same testimony.

20. Moreover, human nature was stained by original sin, and is therefore more disposed to vice than to virtue. For a virtuous life it is absolutely necessary to restrain the disorderly movements of the soul, and to make the passions obedient to reason. In this conflict human things must very often be despised, and the greatest labors and hardships must be undergone, in order that reason may always hold its sway. But the naturalists and Freemasons, having no faith in those things which we have learned by the revelation of God, deny that our first parents sinned, and consequently think that free will is not at all weakened and inclined to evil.(13) On the contrary, exaggerating rather the power and the excellence of nature, and placing therein alone the principle and rule of justice, they cannot even imagine that there is any need at all of a constant struggle and a perfect steadfastness to overcome the violence and rule of our passions.

Wherefore we see that men are publicly tempted by the many allurements of pleasure; that there are journals and pamphlets with neither moderation nor shame; that stage-plays are remarkable for license; that designs for works of art are shamelessly sought in the laws of a so called verism; that the contrivances of a soft and delicate life are most carefully devised; and that all the blandishments of pleasure are diligently sought out by which virtue may be lulled to sleep. Wickedly, also, but at the same time quite consistently, do those act who do away with the expectation of the joys of heaven, and bring down all happiness to the level of mortality, and, as it were, sink it in the earth. Of what We have said the following fact, astonishing not so much in itself as in its open expression, may serve as a confirmation. For, since generally no one is accustomed to obey crafty and clever men so submissively as those whose soul is weakened and broken down by the domination of the passions, there have been in the sect of the Freemasons some who have plainly determined and proposed that, artfully and of set purpose, the multitude should be satiated with a boundless license of vice, as, when this had been done, it would easily come under their power and authority for any acts of daring.

21. What refers to domestic life in the teaching of the naturalists is almost all contained in the following declarations: that marriage belongs to the genus of commercial contracts, which can rightly be revoked by the will of those who made them, and that the civil rulers of the State have power over the matrimonial bond; that in the education of youth nothing is to be taught in the matter of religion as of certain and fixed opinion; and each one must be left at liberty to follow, when he comes of age, whatever he may prefer. To these things the Freemasons fully assent; and not only assent, but have long endeavoured to make them into a law and institution. For in many countries, and those nominally Catholic, it is enacted that no marriages shall be considered lawful except those contracted by the civil rite; in other places the law permits divorce; and in others every effort is used to make it lawful as soon as may be. Thus, the time is quickly coming when marriages will be turned into another kind of contract - that is into changeable and uncertain unions which fancy may join together, and which the same when changed may disunite.

With the greatest unanimity the sect of the Freemasons also endeavours to take to itself the education of youth. They think that they can easily mold to their opinions that soft and pliant age, and bend it whither they will; and that nothing can be more fitted than this to enable them to bring up the youth of the State after their own plan. Therefore, in the education and instruction of children they allow no share, either of teaching or of discipline, to the ministers of the Church; and in many places they have procured that the education of youth shall be exclusively in the hands of laymen, and that nothing which treats of the most important and most holy duties of men to God shall be introduced into the instructions on morals.

22. Then come their doctrines of politics, in which the naturalists lay down that all men have the same right, and are in every respect of equal and like condition; that each one is naturally free; that no one has the right to command another; that it is an act of violence to require men to obey any authority other than that which is obtained from themselves. According to this, therefore, all things belong to the free people; power is held by the command or permission of the people, so that, when the popular will changes, rulers may lawfully be deposed and the source of all rights and civil duties is either in the multitude or in the governing authority when this is constituted according to the latest doctrines. It is held also that the State should be without God; that in the various forms of religion there is no reason why one should have precedence of another; and that they are all to occupy the same place.

23. That these doctrines are equally acceptable to the Freemasons, and that they would wish to constitute States according to this example and model, is too well known to require proof. For some time past they have openly endeavoured to bring this about with all their strength and resources; and in this they prepare the way for not a few bolder men who are hurrying on even to worse things, in their endeavor to obtain equality and community of all goods by the destruction of every distinction of rank and property.

24. What, therefore, sect of the Freemasons is, and what course it pursues, appears sufficiently from the summary We have briefly given. Their chief dogmas are so greatly and manifestly at variance with reason that nothing can be more perverse. To wish to destroy the religion and the Church which God Himself has established, and whose perpetuity He insures by His protection, and to bring back after a lapse of eighteen centuries the manners and customs of the pagans, is signal folly and audacious impiety. Neither is it less horrible nor more tolerable that they should repudiate the benefits which Jesus Christ so mercifully obtained, not only for individuals, but also for the family and for civil society, benefits which, even according to the judgment and testimony of enemies of Christianity, are very great. In this insane and wicked endeavor we may almost see the implacable hatred and spirit of revenge with which Satan himself is inflamed against Jesus Christ. - So also the studious endeavour of the Freemasons to destroy the chief foundations of justice and honesty, and to co-operate with those who would wish, as if they were mere animals, to do what they please, tends only to the ignominious and disgraceful ruin of the human race.

The evil, too, is increased by the dangers which threaten both domestic and civil society. As We have elsewhere shown,(14) in marriage, according to the belief of almost every nation, there is something sacred and religious; and the law of God has determined that marriages shall not be dissolved. If they are deprived of their sacred character, and made dissoluble, trouble and confusion in the family will be the result, the wife being deprived of her dignity and the children left without protection as to their interests and well being.-To have in public matters no care for religion, and in the arrangement and administration of civil affairs to have no more regard for God than if He did not exist, is a rashness unknown to the very pagans; for in their heart and soul the notion of a divinity and the need of public religion were so firmly fixed that they would have thought it easier to have city without foundation than a city without God. Human society, indeed for which by nature we are formed, has been constituted by God the Author of nature; and from Him, as from their principle and source, flow in all their strength and permanence the countless benefits with which society abounds. As we are each of us admonished by the very voice of nature to worship God in piety and holiness, as the Giver unto us of life and of all that is good therein, so also and for the same reason, nations and States are bound to worship Him; and therefore it is clear that those who would absolve society from all religious duty act not only unjustly but also with ignorance and folly.

25. As men are by the will of God born for civil union and society, and as the power to rule is so necessary a bond of society that, if it be taken away, society must at once be broken up, it follows that from Him who is the Author of society has come also the authority to rule; so that whosoever rules, he is the minister of God. Wherefore, as the end and nature of human society so requires, it is right to obey the just commands of lawful authority, as it is right to obey God who ruleth all things; and it is most untrue that the people have it in their power to cast aside their obedience whensoever they please.

26. In like manner, no one doubts that all men are equal one to another, so far as regards their common origin and nature, or the last end which each one has to attain, or the rights and duties which are thence derived. But, as the abilities of all are not equal, as one differs from another in the powers of mind or body, and as there are very many dissimilarities of manner, disposition, and character, it is most repugnant to reason to endeavor to confine all within the same measure, and to extend complete equality to the institutions of civic life. Just as a perfect condition of the body results from the conjunction and composition of its various members, which, though differing in form and purpose, make, by their union and the distribution of each one to its proper place, a combination beautiful to behole, firm in strength, and necessary for use; so, in the commonwealth, there is an almost infinite dissimilarity of men, as parts of the whole. If they are to be all equal, and each is to follow his own will, the State will appear most deformed; but if, with a distinction of degrees of dignity, of pursuits and employments, all aptly conspire for the common good, they will present the image of a State both well constituted and conformable to nature.

27. Now, from the disturbing errors which We have described the greatest dangers to States are to be feared. For, the fear of God and reverence for divine laws being taken away, the authority of rulers despised, sedition permitted and approved, and the popular passions urged on to lawlessness, with no restraint save that of punishment, a change and overthrow of all things will necessarily follow. Yea, this change and overthrow is deliberately planned and put forward by many associations of communists and socialists; and to their undertakings the sect of Freemasons is not hostile, but greatly favours their designs, and holds in common with them their chief opinions. And if these men do not at once and everywhere endeavour to carry out their extreme views, it is not to be attributed to their teaching and their will, but to the virtue of that divine religion which cannot be destroyed; and also because the sounder part of men, refusing to be enslaved to secret societies, vigorously resist their insane attempts.

28. Would that all men would judge of the tree by its fruit, and would acknowledge the seed and origin of the evils which press upon us, and of the dangers that are impending! We have to deal with a deceitful and crafty enemy, who, gratifying the ears of people and of princes, has ensnared them by smooth speeches and by adulation. Ingratiating themselves with rulers under a pretense of friendship, the Freemasons have endeavoured to make them their allies and powerful helpers for the destruction of the Christian name; and that they might more strongly urge them on, they have, with determined calumny, accused the Church of invidiously contending with rulers in matters that affect their authority and sovereign power. Having, by these artifices, insured their own safety and audacity, they have begun to exercise great weight in the government of States; but nevertheless they are prepared to shake the foundations of empires, to harass the rulers of the State, to accuse, and to cast them out, as often as they appear to govern otherwise than they themselves could have wished. In like manner, they have by flattery deluded the people. Proclaiming with a loud voice liberty and public prosperity, and saying that it was owing to the Church and to sovereigns that the multitude were not drawn out of their unjust servitude and poverty, they have imposed upon the people, and, exciting them by a thirst for novelty, they have urged them to assail both the Church and the civil power. Nevertheless, the expectation of the benefits which was hoped for is greater than the reality; indeed, the common people, more oppressed than they were before, are deprived in their misery of that solace which, if things had been arranged in a Christian manner, they would have had with ease and in abundance. But, whoever strive against the order which Divine Providence has constituted pay usually the penalty of their pride, and meet with affliction and misery where they rashly hoped to find all things prosperous and in conformity with their desires.

29. The Church, if she directs men to render obedience chiefly and above all to God the sovereign Lord, is wrongly and falsely believed either to be envious of the civil power or to arrogate to herself something of the rights of sovereigns. On the contrary, she teaches that what is rightly due to the civil power must be rendered to it with a conviction and consciousness of duty. In teaching that from God Himself comes the right of ruling, she adds a great dignity to civil authority, and on small help towards obtaining the obedience and good will of the citizens. The friend of peace and sustainer of concord, she embraces all with maternal love, and, intent only upon giving help to mortal man, she teaches that to justice must be joined clemency, equity to authority, and moderation to lawgiving; that no one's right must be violated; that order and public tranquility are to be maintained; and that the poverty of those are in need is, as far as possible, to be relieved by public and private charity. "But for this reason," to use the words of St. Augustine, "men think, or would have it believed, that Christian teaching is not suited to the good of the State; for they wish the State to be founded not on solid virtue, but on the impunity of vice."(15) Knowing these things, both princes and people would act with political wisdom,(16) and according to the needs of general safety, if, instead of joining with Freemasons to destroy the Church, they joined with the Church in repelling their attacks.

30 .Whatever the future may be, in this grave and widespread evil it is Our duty, venerable brethren, to endeavour 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. Therefore, whatsoever the Roman Pontiffs Our predecessors have decreed for the purpose of opposing the undertakings and endeavours of the masonic sect, and whatsoever they have enacted to enter or withdraw men from societies of this kind, We ratify and confirm it all by our apostolic authority: and trusting greatly to the good will of Christians, We pray and beseech each one, for the sake of his eternal salvation, to be most conscientiously careful not in the least to depart from what the apostolic see has commanded in this matter.

31. We pray and beseech you, venerable brethren, to join your efforts with Ours, and earnestly to strive for the extirpation of this foul plague, which is creeping through the veins of the body politic. You have to defend the glory of God and the salvation of your neighbour; and with the object of your strife before you, neither courage nor strength will be wanting. It will be for your prudence to judge by what means you can best overcome the difficulties and obstacles you meet with. But, as it befits the authority of Our office that We Ourselves should point out some suitable way of proceeding, 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 their 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 that 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. Let no one be deceived by a pretense of honesty. It may seem to some that Freemasons demand nothing that is openly contrary to religion and morality; but, as the whole principle and object of the sect lies in what is vicious and criminal, to join with these men or in any way to help them cannot be lawful.

32. Further, by assiduous teaching and exhortation, the multitude must be drawn to learn diligently the precepts of religion; for which purpose we earnestly advise that by opportune writings and sermons they be taught the elements of those sacred truths in which Christian philosophy is contained. The result of this will be that the minds of men will be made sound by instruction, and will be protected against many forms of error and inducements to wickedness, especially in the present unbounded freedom of writing and insatiable eagerness for learning.

33. Great, indeed, is the work; but in it the clergy will share your labours, if, through your care, they are fitted for it by learning and a well-turned life. This good and great work requires to be helped also by the industry of those amongst the laity in whom a love of religion and of country is joined to learning and goodness of life. By uniting the efforts of both clergy and laity, strive, venerable brethren, to make men thoroughly know and love the Church; for, the greater their knowledge and love of the Church, the more will they be turned away from clandestine societies.

34. Wherefore, not without cause do We use this occasion to state again what We have stated elsewhere, namely, that the Third Order of St. Francis, whose discipline We a little while ago prudently mitigated,(16) should be studiously promoted and sustained; for the whole object of this Order, as constituted by its founder, is to invite men to an imitation of Jesus Christ, to a love of the Church, and to the observance of all Christian virtues; and therefore it ought to be of great influence in suppressing the contagion of wicked societies. Let, therefore, this holy sodality be strengthened by a daily increase. Amongst the many benefits to be expected from it will be the great benefit of drawing the minds of men to liberty, fraternity, and equality of right; not such as the Freemasons absurdly imagine, but such as Jesus Christ obtained for the human race and St. Francis aspired to: the liberty, We mean, of sons of God, through which we may be free from slavery to Satan or to our passions, both of them most wicked masters; the fraternity whose origin is in God, the common Creator and Father of all; the equality which, founded on justice and charity, does not take away all distinctions among men, but, out of the varieties of life, of duties, and of pursuits, forms that union and that harmony which naturally tend to the benefit and dignity of society.

35. In the third place, there is a matter wisely instituted by our forefathers, but in course of time laid aside, which may now be used as a pattern and form of something similar. We mean the associations of guilds of workmen, for the protection, under the guidance of religion, both of their temporal interests and of their morality. If our ancestors, by long use and experience, felt the benefit of these guilds, our age perhaps will feel it the more by reason of the opportunity which they will give of crushing the power of the sects. Those who support themselves by the labour of their hands, besides being, by their very condition, most worthy above all others of charity and consolation, are also especially exposed to the allurements of men whose ways lie in fraud and deceit. Therefore, they ought to be helped with the greatest possible kindness, and to be invited to join associations that are good, lest they be drawn away to others that are evil. For this reason, We greatly wish, for the salvation of the people, that, under the auspices and patronage of the bishops, and at convenient times, these gilds may be generally restored. To Our great delight, sodalities of this kind and also associations of masters have in many places already been established, having, each class of them, for their object to help the honest workman, to protect and guard his children and family, and to promote in them piety, Christian knowledge, and a moral life. And in this matter We cannot omit mentioning that exemplary society, named after its founder, St. Vincent, which has deserved so well of the lower classes. Its acts and its aims are well known. Its whole object is to give relief to the poor and miserable. This it does with singular prudence and modesty; and the less it wishes to be seen, the better is it fitted for the exercise of Christian charity, and for the relief of suffering.

36. In the fourth place, in order more easily to attain what We wish, to your fidelity and watchfulness We commend in a special manner the young, as being the hope of human society. Devote the greatest part of your care to their instruction; and do not think that any precaution can be great enough in keeping them from masters and schools whence the pestilent breath of the sects is to be feared. Under your guidance, let parents, religious instructors, and priests having the cure of souls use every opportunity, in their Christian teaching, of warning their children and pupils of the infamous nature of these societies, so that they may learn in good time to beware of the various and fraudulent artifices by which their promoters are accustomed to ensnare people. And those who instruct the young in religious knowledge will act wisely if they induce all of them to resolve and to undertake never to bind themselves to any society without the knowledge of their parents, or the advice of their parish priest or director.

37. We well know, however, that our united labors will by no means suffice to pluck up these pernicious seeds from the Lord's field, unless the Heavenly Master of the vineyard shall mercifully help us in our endeavours. We must, therefore, with great and anxious care, implore of Him the help which the greatness of the danger and of the need requires. The sect of the Freemasons shows itself insolent and proud of its success, and seems as if it would put no bounds to its pertinacity. Its followers, joined together by a wicked compact and by secret counsels, give help one to another, and excite one another to an audacity for evil things. So vehement an attack demands an equal defence-namely, that all good men should form the widest possible association of action and of prayer. We beseech them, therefore, with united hearts, to stand together and unmoved against the advancing force of the sects; and in mourning and supplication to stretch out their hands to God, praying that the Christian name may flourish and prosper, that the Church may enjoy its needed liberty, that those who have gone astray may return to a right mind, that error at length may give place to truth, and vice to virtue. Let us take our helper and intercessor the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, so that she, who from the moment of her conception overcame Satan may show her power over these evil sects, in which is revived the contumacious spirit of the demon, together with his unsubdued perfidy and deceit. Let us beseech Michael, the prince of the heavenly angels, who drove out the infernal foe; and Joseph, the spouse of the most holy Virgin, and heavenly patron of the Catholic Church; and the great Apostles, Peter and Paul, the fathers and victorious champions of the Christian faith. By their patronage, and by perseverance in united prayer, we hope that God will mercifully and opportunely succor the human race, which is encompassed by so many dangers.

38. As a pledge of heavenly gifts and of Our benevolence, We lovingly grant in the Lord, to you, venerable brethren, and to the clergy and all the people committed to your watchful care, Our apostolic benediction.

Given at St. Peter's in Rome, the twentieth day of April, 1884, the sixth year of Our pontificate.

LEO XIII

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REFERENCES:

1. De civ. Dei, 14, 28 (PL 41, 436).

2. Ps. 82:24.

3. Const. In Eminenti, April 24, 1738.

4. Const. Providas, May 18, 1751.

5. Const. Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo, Sept. 13, 1821.

6. Const. given March 13, 1825.

7. Encyc. Traditi, May 21, 1829.

8. Encyc. Mirari, Augusr 15, 1832.

9. Encyc. Qui Pluribus, Nov. 9, 1846; address Multiplices inter, Sept. 25, 1865, etc.

10. Clement XII (1730-40); Benedict XIV (1740-58); Pius VII (1800-23); Pius IX (1846-78).

11. See nos. 79, 81, 84.

12. Matt. 7:18.

13. Trid., sess. vi, De justif., c. 1. Text of the Council of Trent: "tametsi in eis (sc. Judaeis) liberum arbitrium minime extinctum esset, viribus licet attenuatum et inclinatum".

14. See Arcanum, no. 81.

15. Epistola 137, ad Volusianum, c. v, n. 20 (PL 33 525).

16. The text here refers to the encyclical letter Auspicato Concessum (Sept. 17, 1882), in which Pope Leo XIII had recently glorified St. Francis of Assisi on the occasion of the seventh centenary of his birch. In this encyclical, the Pope had presented the Third Order of St. Francis as a Christian answer to the social problems of the times. The constitution Misericors Dei Filius (June 23, 1883) expressly recalled that the neglect in which Christian virtues are held is the main cause of the evils that threaten societies. In confirming the rule of the Third Order and adapting it to the needs of modern times, Pope Leo XIII had intended to bring back the largest possible number of souls to the practice of these virtues.

(from www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals)

HUMANUM GENUS

LETTRE ENCYCLIQUE DE S. S. LE PAPE LÉON XIII
CONDAMNANT LE RELATIVISME PHILOSOPHIQUE ET MORAL DE LA FRANC-MAÇONNERIE

Aux Vénérables Patriarches, Primats, Archevêques, Evêques et autres ordinaires en paix et communion avec le Siège Apostolique

Depuis que, par la jalousie du démon, le genre humain s'est misérablement séparé de Dieu auquel il était redevable de son appel à l'existence et des dons surnaturels, il s'est partagé en deux camps ennemis, lesquels ne cessent pas de combattre, l'un pour la vérité et la vertu, l'autre pour tout ce qui est contraire à la vertu et à la vérité. Le premier est le royaume de Dieu sur la terre, à savoir la véritable Eglise de Jésus Christ, dont les membres, s'ils veulent lui appartenir du fond du coeur et de manière à opérer le salut, doivent nécessairement servir Dieu et son Fils unique, de toute leur âme, de toute leur volonté. Le second est le royaume de Satan. Sous son empire et en sa puissance se trouvent tous ceux qui, suivant les funestes exemples de leur chef et de nos premiers parents, refusent d'obéir à la loi divine et multiplient leurs efforts, ici, pour se passer de Dieu, là pour agir directement contre Dieu.

Ces deux royaumes, saint Augustin les a vus et décrits avec une grande perspicacité, sous la forme de deux cités opposées l'une à l'autre, soit par les lois qui les régissent, soit par l'idéal qu'elles poursuivent; et, avec un ingénieux laconisme, il a mis en relief dans les paroles suivantes le principe constitutif de chacune d'elles : " Deux amours ont donné naissance à deux cités : la cité terrestre procède de l'amour de soi porté jusqu'au mépris de Dieu; la cité céleste procède de l'amour de Dieu porté jusqu'au mépris de soi." Dans toute la suite des siècles qui nous ont précédés, ces deux cités n'ont pas cessé de lutter l'une contre l'autre, en employant toutes sortes de tactiques et les armes les plus diverses, quoique non toujours avec la même ardeur, ni avec la même impétuosité.

A notre époque, les fauteurs du mal paraissent s'être coalisés dans un immense effort, sous l'impulsion et avec l'aide d'une Société répandue en un grand nombre de lieux et fortement organisée, la Société des francs-maçons. Ceux-ci, en effet, ne prennent plus la peine de dissimuler leurs intentions et ils rivalisent d'audace entre eux contre l'auguste majesté de Dieu. C'est publiquement, à ciel ouvert, qu'ils entreprennent de ruiner la sainte Eglise, afin d'arriver, si c'était possible, à dépouiller complètement les nations chrétiennes des bienfaits dont elles sont redevables au Sauveur Jésus Christ.

Gémissant à la vue des maux et sous l'impulsion de la charité, Nous Nous sentons souvent porté à crier vers Dieu, " Seigneur, voici que vos ennemis font un grand fracas, ceux qui vous haïssent ont levé la tête. Ils ont ourdi contre votre peuple des complots pleins de malice et ils ont résolu de perdre vos saints. Oui, ont-ils dit, venez et chassons-les du sein des nations ".

Cependant, en un si pressant danger, en présence d'une attaque si cruelle et si opiniâtre du christianisme, c' est de Notre devoir de signaler le péril, de dénoncer les adversaires, d'opposer toute la résistance possible à leurs projets et à leur industrie, d'abord pour empêcher la perte éternelle des âmes dont le salut Nous a été confié; puis afin que le royaume de Jésus Christ, que Nous sommes chargé de défendre, non seulement demeure debout et dans toute son intégrité, mais fasse par toute la terre de nouveau progrès, de nouvelles conquêtes.

Dans leur vigilante sollicitude pour le salut du peuple chrétien, Nos prédécesseurs eurent bien vite reconnu cet ennemi capital au moment où, sortant des ténèbres d'une conspiration occulte, il s'élançait à l'assaut en plein jour. Sachant ce qu'il était, ce qu'il voulait, et lisant pour ainsi dire dans l'avenir, ils donnèrent aux princes et aux peuples le signal d'alarme et les mirent en garde contre les embûches et les artifices préparés pour les surprendre.

Le péril fut prononcé pour la première fois par Clément XII en 1738, et la constitution promulguée par ce pape fut renouvelée et confirmée par Benoît XIV. Pie VII marcha sur les traces des Pontifes et Léon XII, renfermant dans sa constitution apostolique Quo graviora tous les actes et décrets des précédents papes sur cette matière, les ratifia et les confirma pour toujours. Pie VIII, Grégoire XVI et, à diverses reprises, Pie IX, ont parlé dans le même sens.

Le but fondamental et l'esprit de la secte maçonnique avaient été mis en pleine lumière par la manifestation évidente de ses agissements, la connaissance de ses principes, l'exposition de ses règles, de ses rites et de leurs commentaires auxquels, plus d'une fois, s'étaient ajoutés les témoignages de ses propres adeptes. En présence de ces faits, il était tout simple que ce Siège apostolique dénonçât publiquement la secte des francs-maçons comme une association criminelle, non moins pernicieuse aux intérêts du christianisme qu'à ceux de la société civile. Il édicta donc contre elle les peines les plus graves dont l'Eglise a coutume de frapper les coupables et interdit de s'y affilier.

Irrités de cette mesure et espérant qu'ils pourraient, soit par le dédain, soit par la calomnie, échapper à ces condamnations ou en atténuer la force, les membres de la secte accusèrent les papes qui les avaient portées, tantôt d'avoir rendu des sentences iniques, tantôt d'avoir excédé la mesure dans les peines infligées. C'est ainsi qu'ils s'efforcèrent d'éluder l'autorité ou de diminuer la valeur des constitutions promulguées par Clément XII, Benoît XIV, Pie VII et Pie IX.

Toutefois, dans les rangs mêmes de la secte, il ne manqua pas d'associés pour avouer, même malgré eux, que, étant donné la doctrine et la discipline catholiques, les Pontifes romains n'avaient rien fait que de très légitime.

A cet aveu, il faut joindre l'assentiment explicite d'un certain nombre de princes ou de Chefs d'Etats qui eurent à coeur, soit de dénoncer la société des francs-maçons au Siège apostolique, soit de la frapper eux-mêmes comme dangereuse et portant des lois contre elle, ainsi que cela s'est pratiqué en Hollande, en Autriche, en Suisse, en Espagne, en Bavière, en Savoie et dans quelques parties de 1' Italie.

Il importe souverainement de faire remarquer combien les événements donnèrent raison à la sagesse de Nos prédécesseurs. Leurs prévoyantes et paternelles sollicitudes n'eurent pas partout ni toujours le succès désirable : ce qu'il faut attribuer, soit à la dissimulation et à l'astuce des hommes engagés dans cette secte pernicieuse, soit à l'imprudente légèreté de ceux qui auraient eu cependant l'intérêt le plus direct à la surveiller attentivement. Il en résulte que, dans l'espace d'un siècle et demi, la secte des francs-maçons a fait d'incroyables progrès. Employant à la fois l'audace et la ruse, elle a envahi tous les rangs de la hiérarchie sociale et commence à prendre, au sein des États modernes, une puissance qui équivaut presque à la souveraineté. De cette rapide et formidable extension sont précisément résultés pour l'Eglise, pour l'autorité des princes, pour le salut public, les maux que Nos prédécesseurs avaient depuis longtemps prévus. On est venu à ce point qu'il y a lieu de concevoir pour l'avenir les craintes les plus sérieuses; non certes, en ce qui concerne l'Eglise, dont les solides fondements ne sauraient être ébranlés par les efforts des hommes, mais par rapport à la sécurité des Etats, au sein desquels sont devenues trop puissantes, ou cette secte de la franc-maçonnerie, ou d'autres associations similaires qui se font ses coopératrices et ses satellites.

Pour tous ces motifs, à peine avions-Nous mis la main au gouvernail de l'Eglise que Nous avons clairement senti la nécessité de résister à un si grand mal et de dresser contre lui, autant qu'il serait possible, Notre autorité apostolique. Aussi profitant de toutes les occasions favorables, Nous avons traité les principales thèses doctrinales sur lesquelles les opinions perverses de la secte maçonnique semblent avoir exercé la plus grande influence. C'est ainsi que dans Notre encyclique Quod apostoli muneris Nous Nous sommes efforcé de combattre les monstrueux systèmes des socialistes et des communistes. Notre autre encyclique Arcanum Nous a permis de mettre en lumière et de défendre la notion véritable et authentique de la société domestique, dont le mariage est l'origine et la source. Dans l'encyclique Diuturnum Nous avons fait connaître, d'après les principes de la sagesse chrétienne, l'essence du pouvoir politique et montré ses admirables harmonies avec l'ordre naturel aussi bien qu'avec le salut des peuples et des princes.

Aujourd'hui, à l'exemple de Nos prédécesseurs, Nous avons résolu de fixer directement Notre attention sur la société maçonnique, sur l'ensemble de sa doctrine, sur ses projets, ses sentiments et ses actes traditionnels, afin de mettre en une plus éclatante évidence, sa puissance pour le mal et d'arrêter dans ses progrès la contagion de ce funeste plan.

Il existe dans le monde un certain nombre de sectes qui, bien qu'elles diffèrent les unes des autres par le nom, les rites, la forme, l'origine, se ressemblent et sont d'accord entre elles par l'analogie du but et des principes essentiels. En fait, elles sont identiques à la franc-maçonnerie, qui est pour toutes les autres comme le point central d'où elles procèdent et où elles aboutissent. Et, bien qu'à présent elles aient l'apparence de ne pas aimer à demeurer cachées, bien qu'elles tiennent des réunions en plein jour et sous les yeux de tous, bien qu'elles publient leurs journaux, toutefois, si l'on va au fond des choses, on peut voir qu'elles appartiennent à la famille des sociétés clandestines et qu'elles en gardent les allures. Il y a, en effet, chez elles, des espèces de mystères que leur constitution interdit avec le plus grand soin de divulguer, non seulement aux personnes du dehors, mais même à bon nombre de leurs adeptes. A cette catégorie, appartiennent les conseils intimes et suprêmes, les noms des chefs principaux, certaines réunions plus occultes et intérieures ainsi que les décisions prises, avec les moyens et les agents d'exécution. A cette loi du secret concourent merveilleusement : la division faite entre les associés des droits, des offices et des charges, la distinction hiérarchique savamment organisée des ordres et des degrés et la discipline sévère à laquelle tous sont soumis. La plupart du temps, ceux qui sollicitent l'initiation doivent promettre, bien plus, ils doivent faire le serment solennel de ne jamais révéler à personne, à aucun moment, d'aucune manière, les noms des associés, les notes caractéristiques et les doctrines de la Société. C'est ainsi que, sous les apparences mensongères et en faisant de la dissimulation, une règle constante de conduite, comme autrefois les manichéens, les francs-maçons n'épargnent aucun effort pour se cacher et n'avoir d'autres témoins que leurs complices.

Leur grand intérêt étant de ne pas paraître ce qu'ils sont, ils jouent le personnage d'amis des lettres ou de philosophes réunis ensemble pour cultiver les sciences. Ils ne parlent que de leur zèle pour les progrès de la civilisation, de leur amour pour le pauvre peuple. A les en croire, leur seul but est d'améliorer le sort de la multitude et d'étendre à un plus grand nombre d'hommes les avantages de la société civile. Mais à supposer que ces intentions fussent sincères, elles seraient loin d'épuiser tous leurs desseins. En effet, ceux qui sont affiliés doivent promettre d'obéir aveuglément et sans discussion aux injonctions des chefs, de se tenir toujours prêts sur la moindre notification, sur le plus léger signe, à exécuter les ordres donnés, se vouant d'avance, en cas contraire, aux traitements les plus rigoureux et même à la mort. De fait, il n'est pas rare que la peine du dernier supplice soit infligée à ceux d'entre eux qui sont convaincus, soit d'avoir livré la discipline secrète, soit d'avoir résisté aux ordres des chefs; et cela se pratique avec une telle dextérité que, la plupart du temps, l'exécuteur de ces sentences de mort échappe à la justice établie pour veiller sur les crimes et en tirer vengeance. Or, vivre dans la dissimulation et vouloir être enveloppé de ténèbres; enchaîner à soi par les liens les plus étroits et sans leur avoir préalablement fait connaître à quoi ils s'engagent, des hommes réduits ainsi à l'état d'esclaves; employer à toutes sortes d'attentats ces instruments passifs d'une volonté étrangère; armer pour le meurtre des mains à l'aide desquelles on s'assure l'impunité du crime, ce sont là de monstrueuses pratiques condamnées par la nature elle-même. La raison et la vérité suffisent donc à prouver que la Société dont Nous parlons est en opposition formelle avec la justice et la moralité naturelles.

D'autres preuves d'une grande clarté, s'ajoutent aux précédentes et font encore mieux voir combien, par sa constitution essentielle, cette association répugne à l'honnêteté. Si grandes, en effet, que puissent être parmi les hommes l'astucieuse habileté de la dissimulation et l'habitude du mensonge, il est impossible qu'une cause, quelle qu'elle soit, ne se trahisse pas par les effets qu'elle produit : un bon arbre ne peut pas porter de mauvais fruits, et un mauvais n'en peut pas porter de bons.

Or, les fruits produits par la secte maçonnique sont pernicieux et les plus amers. Voici, en effet, ce qui résulte de ce que Nous avons précédemment indiqué et cette conclusion Nous livre le dernier mot de ses desseins. Il s'agit pour les francs-maçons, et tous leurs efforts tendent à ce but, il s'agit de détruire de fond en comble toute la discipline religieuse et sociale qui est née des institutions chrétiennes et de lui en substituer une nouvelle façonnée à leurs idées et dont les principes fondamentaux et les lois sont empruntées au naturalisme.

Tout ce que Nous venons ou ce que Nous Nous proposons de dire doit être entendu de la secte maçonnique envisagée dans son ensemble, en tant qu'elle embrasse d'autres sociétés qui sont pour elle des soeurs et des alliées. Nous ne prétendons pas appliquer toutes ces réflexions à chacun de leurs membres pris individuellement. Parmi eux, en effet, il s'en peut trouver, et même en bon nombre, qui, bien que non exempts de faute pour s'être affiliés à de semblables sociétés, ne trempent cependant pas dans leurs actes criminels et ignorent le but final que ces sociétés s efforcent d'atteindre. De même encore, il se peut faire que quelques uns des groupes n'approuvent pas les conclusions extrêmes auxquelles la logique devrait les contraindre d'adhérer, puisqu'elles découlent nécessairement des principes communs à toute l'association. Mais le mal porte avec lui une turpitude qui, d'elle-même, repousse et effraie. En outre, si des circonstances particulières de temps ou de lieux peuvent persuader à certaines fractions de demeurer en deçà de ce qu'elles souhaiteraient de faire, ou de ce que font d'autres associations, il n'en faut pas conclure pour cela que ces groupes soient étrangers au pacte fondamental de la maçonnerie. Ce pacte demande à être apprécié, moins par les actes accomplis et par leurs résultats que par l'esprit qui l'anime et par ses principes généraux.

Or, le premier principe des naturalistes, c'est qu'en toutes choses, la nature ou la raison humaine doit être maîtresse et souveraine. Cela posé, il s'agit des devoirs envers Dieu, ou bien ils en font peu de cas, ou ils en altère l'essence par des opinions vagues et des sentiments erronés. Ils nient que Dieu soit l'auteur d'aucune révélation. Pour eux, en dehors de ce que peut comprendre la raison humaine, il n'y a ni dogme religieux, ni vérité, ni maître en la parole de qui, au nom de son mandat officiel d'enseignement, on doive avoir foi. Or, comme la mission tout à fait propre et spéciale de l'Eglise catholique consiste à recevoir dans leur plénitude et à garder dans une pureté incorruptible, les doctrines révélées de Dieu, aussi bien que l'autorité établie pour les enseigner avec les autres secours donnés du ciel en vue de sauver les hommes, c'est contre elle que les adversaires déploient le plus d'acharnement et dirigent leurs plus violentes attaques.

Maintenant, qu'on voie à l'oeuvre la secte des francs-maçons dans les choses qui touchent à la religion, là principalement où son action peut s'exercer avec une liberté plus licencieuse et que l'on dise si elle ne semble pas s'être donné pour mandat de mettre à exécution les décrets des naturalistes.

Ainsi, dut-il lui en coûter un long et opiniâtre labeur, elle se propose de réduire à rien, au sein de la société civile, le magistère et l'autorité de l'Eglise; d'où cette conséquence que les francs-maçons s'appliquent à vulgariser, et pour laquelle ils ne cessent pas de combattre, à savoir qu'il faut absolument séparer l'Eglise de l'Etat. Par suite, ils excluent des lois aussi bien que de l'administration de la chose publique, la très salutaire influence de la religion catholique et ils aboutissent logiquement à la prétention de constituer l'Etat tout entier en dehors des institutions et des préceptes de l'Eglise.

Mais il ne leur suffit pas d'exclure de toute participation au gouvernement des affaires humaines, l'Eglise, ce guide si sage et si sûr : il faut encore qu'ils la traitent en ennemie et usent de violence contre elle. De là l'impunité avec laquelle, par la parole, par la plume, par l'enseignement, il est permis de s'attaquer aux fondements même de la religion catholique. Ni les droits de l'Eglise, ni les prérogatives dont la Providence l'avait dotée, rien n'échappe à leurs attaques. On réduit presque à rien sa liberté d'action, et cela par des lois qui, en apparence, ne semblent pas trop oppressives, mais qui, en réalité, sont expressément faites pour enchaîner cette liberté. Au nombre des lois exceptionnelles faites contre le clergé, Nous signalerons particulièrement celles qui auraient pour résultat de diminuer notablement le nombre des ministres du sanctuaire et de réduire toujours davantage leurs moyens indispensables d'action et d'existence. Les restes des biens ecclésiastiques soumis à mille servitudes, sont placés sous la dépendance et le bon plaisir d'administrateurs civils. Les communautés religieuses sont supprimées ou dispersées.

A l'égard du Siège apostolique et du Pontife romain, l'inimitié de ces sectaires a redoublé d'intensité. Après avoir, sous de faux prétextes, dépouillé le pape de sa souveraineté temporelle, nécessaire garantie de sa liberté et de ses droits, ils l'ont réduit à une situation tout à la fois inique et intolérable, jusqu'à ce qu'enfin, en ces derniers temps, les fauteurs de ces sectes en soient arrivés au point qui était depuis longtemps le but de leur secret dessein : à savoir, de proclamer que le moment est venu de supprimer la puissance sacrée des Pontifes romains et de détruire entièrement cette Papauté qui est d'institution divine. Pour mettre hors de doute l'existence d'un tel plan, à défaut d'autres preuves, il suffirait d'invoquer le témoignage d'hommes qui ont appartenu à la secte et dont la plupart, soit dans le passé, soit à une époque plus récente, ont attesté comme certaine la volonté où sont les francs-maçons de poursuivre le catholicisme d'une inimitié exclusive et implacable, avec leur ferme résolution de ne s'arrêter qu'après avoir ruiné de fond en comble toutes les institutions religieuses établies par les Papes.

Que si tous les membres de la secte ne sont pas obligés d'adjurer explicitement le catholicisme, cette exception, loin de nuire au plan général de la franc-maçonnerie, sert plutôt ses intérêts. Elle lui permet d'abord de tromper plus facilement les personnes simples et sans défiance, et elle rend accessible à un plus grand nombre l'admission dans la secte. De plus, en ouvrant leurs rangs à des adeptes qui viennent à eux des religions les plus diverses, ils deviennent plus capables d'accréditer la grande erreur du temps présent, laquelle consiste à reléguer au rang des choses indifférentes le souci de la religion, et à mettre sur le pied de l'égalité toutes les formes religieuses. Or, à lui seul, ce principe suffit à ruiner toutes les religions, et particulièrement la religion catholique, car, étant la seule véritable, elle ne peut, sans subir la dernière des injures et des injustices, tolérer que les autres religions lui soit égalées.

Les naturalistes vont encore plus loin. Audacieusement engagés dans la voie de l'erreur sur les plus importantes questions, ils sont entraînés et comme précipités par la logique jusqu'aux conséquences les plus extrêmes de leurs principes, soit à cause de la faiblesse de la nature humaine, soit par le juste châtiment dont Dieu frappe leur orgueil. Il suit de là qu'ils ne gardent même plus dans leur intégrité et dans leur certitude, les vérités accessibles à la seule lumière de la raison naturelle, telles que sont assurément l'existence de Dieu, la spiritualité et l'immortalité de l'âme. Emportée dans cette nouvelle voie d'erreur, la secte des francs-maçons n'a pas échappé à ces écueils. En effet, bien que, prise dans son ensemble, la secte fasse profession de croire à l'existence de Dieu, le témoignage de ses propres membres établit que cette croyance n'est pas, pour chacun d'eux individuellement, l'objet d'un assentiment ferme et d'une inébranlable certitude. Ils ne dissimulent pas que la question de Dieu est parmi eux une cause de grands dissentiments. Il est même avéré qu'il y a peu de temps, une sérieuse controverse s'est engagée entre eux à ce sujet. En fait, la secte laisse aux initiés liberté entière de se prononcer en tel ou tel sens, soit pour affirmer l'existence de Dieu, soit pour la nier; et ceux qui nient résolument ce dogme sont aussi bien reçus à l'initiation que ceux qui, d'une façon certaine, l'admettent encore, mais en le dénaturant, comme les panthéistes dont l'erreur consiste précisément, tout en retenant de l'Etre divin on ne sait quelles absurdes apparences, à faire disparaître ce qu'il y a d'essentiel dans la vérité de son existence.

Or, quand ce fondement nécessaire est détruit ou seulement ébranlé, il va de soi que les autres principes de l'ordre naturel chancellent dans la raison humaine et qu'elle ne sait plus à quoi s'en tenir, ni sur la création du monde par un acte libre et souverain du Créateur, ni sur le gouvernement de la Providence, ni sur la survivance de l'âme et de la réalité d'une vie future et immortelle succédant à la vie présente. L'effondrement des vérités, qui sont la base de l'ordre naturel et qui importent si fort à la conduite rationnelle et pratique de la vie, aura un contrecoup sur les moeurs privées et publiques. Passons sous silence ces vertus surnaturelles que, à moins d'un don spécial de Dieu, personne ne peut ni pratiquer ni acquérir; ces vertus dont il est impossible de trouver aucune trace chez ceux qui font profession d'ignorer dédaigneusement la rédemption du genre humain, la grâce des sacrements, le bonheur futur à conquérir dans le ciel. Nous parlons simplement des devoirs qui résultent des principes de l'honnêteté naturelle.

Un Dieu qui a créé le monde et qui le gouverne par sa Providence; une loi éternelle dont les prescriptions ordonnent de respecter l'ordre de la nature et défendent de le troubler; une fin dernière placée pour l'âme dans une région supérieure aux choses humaines et au-delà de cette hôtellerie terrestre; voilà les sources, voilà les principes de toute justice et honnêteté. Faites-les disparaître (c'est la prétention des naturalistes et des francs-maçons) et il sera impossible de savoir en quoi consiste la science du juste et de l'injuste ou sur quoi elle s'appuie. Quant à morale, la seule chose qui ait trouvé grâce devant les membres de la secte franc-maçonnique et dans laquelle ils veulent que la jeunesse soit instruite avec soin, c'est celle qu'ils appellent " morale civique ", " morale indépendante ", " morale libre ", en d'autres termes, morale qui ne fait aucune place aux idées religieuses.

Or, combien une telle morale est insuffisante, jusqu'à quel point elle manque de solidité et fléchit sous le souffle des passions, on le peut voir assez par les tristes résultats qu'elle a déjà donnés. Là en effet où, après avoir pris la place de la morale chrétienne, elle a commencé à régner avec plus de liberté, on a vu promptement dépérir la probité et l'intégrité des moeurs, grandir et se fortifier les opinions les plus monstrueuses, et l'audace des crimes partout déborde. Ces maux provoquent aujourd'hui des plaintes et des lamentations universelles, auxquelles font parfois échos bon nombre de ceux-là mêmes qui, bien malgré eux, sont contraints de rendre hommage à l'évidence de la vérité.

En outre, la nature humaine ayant été violée par le péché originel, et à cause de cela, étant devenue beaucoup plus disposée au vice qu'à la vertu, l'honnêteté est absolument impossible si les mouvements désordonnés de l'âme ne sont pas réprimés et si les appétits n'obéissent pas à la raison. Dans ce conflit, il faut souvent mépriser les intérêts terrestres et se résoudre aux plus durs travaux et à la souffrance, pour que la raison victorieuse demeure en possession de sa principauté. Mais les naturalistes et les francs-maçons n'ajoutent aucune foi à la Révélation que Nous tenons de Dieu, nient que le père du genre humain ait péché et, par conséquent, que les forces du libre arbitre soient d'une façon " débilitées ou inclinées vers le mal ". Tout au contraire, ils exagèrent la puissance et l'excellence de la nature et, mettant uniquement en elle le principe et la règle de la justice, ils ne peuvent même pas concevoir la nécessité de faire de constants efforts et de déployer un très grand courage pour comprimer les révoltes de la nature et pour imposer silence à ses appétits.

Aussi voyons-nous multiplier et mettre à la portée de tous les hommes ce qui peut flatter leurs passions. Journaux et brochures d'où la réserve et la pudeur sont bannies; représentations théâtrales dont la licence passe les bornes; oeuvres artistiques où s'étalent avec un cynisme révoltant les principes de ce qu'on appelle aujourd'hui le réalisme; inventions ingénieuses destinées à augmenter les délicatesses et les jouissances de la vie; en un mot, tout est mis en oeuvre pour satisfaire l'amour du plaisir avec lequel finit par se mettre d'accord la vertu endormie.

Assurément ceux-là sont coupables mais, en même temps, ils sont conséquents avec eux-mêmes qui, supprimant l'espérance des biens futurs, abaissent la félicité au niveau des choses périssables, plus bas même que les horizons terrestres. A l'appui de ces assertions, il serait facile de produire des faits certains bien qu'en apparence, incroyables. Personne en effet, n'obéissant avec autant de servilité à ces habiles et rusés personnages que ceux dont le courage s'est énervé et brisé dans l'esclavage des passions, il s'est trouvé dans la franc-maçonnerie des sectaires pour soutenir qu'il fallait systématiquement employer tous les moyens de saturer la multitude de licences et de vices, bien assurés qu'à ces conditions, elle serait tout entière entre leurs mains et pourrait servir d'instrument à l'accomplissement de leurs projets les plus audacieux.

Relativement à la société domestique, voici à quoi se résume l'enseignement des naturalistes. Le mariage n'est qu'une variété de l'espèce des contrats; il peut donc être légitimement dissout à la volonté des contractants. Les chefs du gouvernement ont puissance sur le lien conjugal. Dans l'éducation des enfants, il n'y a rien à leur enseigner méthodiquement, ni à leur prescrire en fait de religion. C'est affaire à chacun d'eux, lorsqu'ils seront en âge, de choisir la religion qui leur plaira. Or, non seulement les francs-maçons adhèrent entièrement à ces principes, mais ils s'appliquent à les faire passer dans les moeurs et dans les institutions. Déjà, dans beaucoup de pays, même catholiques, il est établi qu'en dehors du mariage civil, il n'y a pas d'union légitime. Ailleurs, la loi autorise le divorce que d'autres peuples s'apprêtent à introduire dans leur législation, le plus tôt possible. Toutes ces mesures hâtent la réalisation prochaine du projet de changer l'essence du mariage et de le réduire à n'être plus qu'une union instable, éphémère, née du caprice d'un instant et pouvant être dissoute quand ce caprice changera.

La secte concentre aussi toutes ses énergies et tous ses efforts pour s'emparer de l'éducation de la jeunesse. Les francs-maçons espèrent qu'ils pourront aisément former d'après leurs idées cet âge si tendre et en plier la flexibilité dans le sens qu'ils voudront, rien ne devant être plus efficace pour préparer à la société civile, une race de citoyens telle qu'ils rêvent de la lui donner. C'est pour cela que, dans l'éducation et l'instruction des enfants, ils ne veulent tolérer les ministres de l'Eglise, ni comme surveillants, ni comme professeurs. Déjà, dans plusieurs pays, ils ont réussi à faire confier exclusivement à des laïques l'éducation de la jeunesse, aussi bien qu'à proscrire totalement de l'enseignement de la morale, les grands et saints devoirs qui unissent l'homme à Dieu.

Viennent ensuite les dogmes de la science politique. Voici quelles sont en cette matière les thèses des naturalistes : " Les hommes sont égaux en droit; tous, à tous les points de vue, sont d'égale condition. Etant tous libres par nature, aucun d'eux n'a le droit de commander à un de ses semblables et c'est faire violence aux hommes que de prétendre les soumettre à une autorité quelconque, à moins que cette autorité ne procède d'eux-mêmes. Tout pouvoir est dans le peuple libre; ceux qui exercent le commandement n'en sont les détenteurs que par le mandat ou par la concession du peuple, de telle sorte que si la volonté populaire change, il faut dépouiller de leur autorité les chefs de l'Etat, même malgré eux. La source de tous les droits et de toutes les fonctions civiles réside, soit dans la multitude, soit dans le pouvoir qui régit l'Etat, mais quand il a été constitué d'après les nouveaux principes. En outre, l'Etat doit être athée. Il ne trouve, en effet, dans les diverses formes religieuses, aucune raison de préférer l'une à l'autre; donc, toutes doivent être mises sur un pied d'égalité ".

Or, que ces doctrines soient professées par les francs-maçons, que tel soit pour eux l'idéal d'après lequel ils entendent constituer les sociétés, cela est presque trop évident pour avoir besoin d'être prouvé. Il y a déjà longtemps qu'ils travaillent à le réaliser, en y employant toutes leurs forces et toutes leurs ressources. Ils frayent ainsi le chemin à d'autres sectaires nombreux et plus audacieux, qui se tiennent prêts à tirer de ces faux principes des conclusions encore plus détestables, à savoir le partage égal et la communauté des biens entre tous les citoyens, après que toute distinction de rang et de fortune aura été abolie.

Les faits que Nous venons de résumer mettent en une lumière suffisante la constitution intime des francs-maçons et montrent clairement par quelle route ils s'acheminent vers leur but. Leurs dogmes principaux sont en un si complet et si manifeste désaccord avec la raison qu'il ne se peut imaginer rien de plus pervers. En effet, vouloir détruire la religion et l'Eglise, établies par Dieu lui-même et assurées par lui d'une perpétuelle protection, pour ramener parmi nous, après dix huit siècles, les moeurs et les institutions des païens, n'est-ce pas le comble de la folie et de la plus audacieuse impiété? Mais ce qui n'est ni moins horrible ni plus supportable, c'est de voir répudier les bienfaits miséricordieux acquis par Jésus Christ, d'abord aux individus, puis aux hommes groupés en familles et en nations : bienfaits qui, au témoignage des ennemis du christianisme, sont du plus haut prix. Certes, dans un plan si insensé et si criminel, il est bien permis de reconnaître la haine implacable dont Satan est animé à l'égard de Jésus Christ et sa passion de vengeance.

L'autre dessein, à la réalisation duquel les francs-maçons emploient tous leurs efforts, consiste à détruire les fondements principaux de la justice et de l'honnêteté. Par là, ils se font les auxiliaires de ceux qui voudraient, qu'à l'instar de l'animal, l'homme n'eût d'autre règle d'action que ses désirs. Ce dessein ne va rien moins qu'à déshonorer le genre humain et à le précipiter ignominieusement à sa perte. Le mal s'augmente de tous les périls qui menacent la société domestique et la société civile. Ainsi que Nous l'avons exposé ailleurs, tous les peuples, tous les siècles s'accordent à reconnaître dans le mariage quelque chose de sacré et de religieux et la loi divine a pourvu à ce que les unions conjugales ne puissent pas être dissoutes. Mais si elles deviennent purement profanes, s'il est permis de le rompre au gré des contractants, aussitôt la constitution de la famille sera en proie au trouble et à la confusion; les femmes seront découronnées de leur dignité; toute protection et toute sécurité disparaîtront pour les enfants et pour leurs intérêts.

Quant à la prétention de faire l'Etat complètement étranger à la religion et pouvant administrer les affaires publiques sans tenir plus de compte de Dieu que s'il n'existait pas, c'est une témérité sans exemple, même chez les païens. Ceux-ci portaient si profondément gravée au plus intime de leur âme, non seulement une idée vague des cieux, mais la nécessité sociale de la religion, qu'à leur sens il eût été plus aisé à une ville de se tenir debout sans être appuyée au sol que privée de Dieu. De fait, la société du genre humain, pour laquelle la nature nous a créés, a été constituée par Dieu autour de la nature. De lui, comme principe et comme source, découlent dans leur force et dans leur pérennité, les bienfaits innombrables dont elle nous enrichit. Aussi, de même que la voix de la nature rappelle à chaque homme en particulier l'obligation où il est d'offrir à Dieu le culte d'une pieuse reconnaissance, parce que c'est à lui que nous sommes redevables de la vie et des biens qui l'accompagnent, un devoir semblable s'impose aux peuples et aux sociétés.

De là résulte avec la dernière évidence que ceux qui veulent briser toute relation entre la société civile et les devoirs de la religion, ne commettent pas seulement une injustice, mais, par leur conduite, prouvent leur ignorance et leur ineptie. En effet, c'est par la volonté de Dieu que les hommes naissent pour être réunis et pour vivre en société; l'autorité est le lien nécessaire au maintien de la société civile, de telle sorte que, ce lien brisé, elle se dissout fatalement et immédiatement. L'autorité a donc pour auteur le même Etre qui a créé la société. Aussi, quel que soit celui entre les mains de qui le pouvoir réside, il est le ministre de Dieu. Par conséquent, dans la mesure où l'exigent la fin et la nature de la société humaine, il faut obéir au pouvoir légitime commandant des choses justes, comme à l'autorité même de Dieu qui gouverne tout; et rien n'est plus contraire à la vérité que de soutenir qu'il dépend de la volonté du peuple de refuser cette obéissance quand il lui plaît.

De même, si l'on considère que tous les hommes sont de même race et de même nature et qu'ils doivent tous atteindre la même fin dernière et si l'on regarde aux devoirs et aux droits qui découlent de cette communauté d'origine et de destinée, il n'est pas douteux qu'ils soient tous égaux. Mais, comme ils n'ont pas tous les mêmes ressources d'intelligence et qu'ils diffèrent les uns des autres, soit par les facultés de l'esprit, soit par les énergies physiques, comme enfin il existe entre eux mille distinctions de moeurs, de goûts, de caractères, rien ne répugne tant à la raison que de prétendre les ramener tous à la même mesure et d'introduire dans les instructions de la vie civile une égalité rigoureuse et mathématique. De même en effet que la parfaite constitution du corps humain résulte de l'union et de l'assemblage des membres, qui n'ont ni les mêmes forces, ni les mêmes fonctions, mais dont l'heureuse association et le concours harmonieux donnent à tout l'organisme sa beauté plastique, sa force et son aptitude à rendre les services nécessaires, de même, au sein de la société humaine, se trouve une variété presque infinie de parties dissemblables. Si elles étaient toutes égales entre elles et libres, chacune pour son compte, d'agir à leur guise, rien ne serait plus difforme qu'une telle société. Si, au contraire, par une sage hiérarchie des mérites, des goûts, des aptitudes, chacune d'elles concourt au bien général, vous voyez se dresser devant vous l'image d'une société bien ordonnée et conforme à la nature.

Les malfaisantes erreurs que Nous venons de rappeler menacent les Etats des dangers les plus redoutables. En effet, supprimez la crainte de Dieu et le respect dû à ses lois; laissez tomber en discrédit l'autorité des princes; donnez libre carrière et encouragement à la manie des révolutions; lâchez la bride aux passions populaires; brisez tout frein sauf celui du châtiment ; vous aboutissez par la force des choses à un bouleversement universel et à la ruine de toutes les institutions : tel est, il est vrai, le but avéré, explicite, que poursuivent de leurs efforts beaucoup d'associations communistes et socialistes ; et la secte des francs-maçons n'a pas le droit de se dire étrangère à leurs attentats, puisqu'elle favorise leurs desseins et que, sur le terrain des principes, elle est entièrement d'accord avec elles. Si ces principes ne produisent pas immédiatement et partout leurs conséquences extrêmes, ce n'est ni à la discipline de la secte, ni à la volonté des sectaires qu'il faut l'attribuer; mais d'abord à la vertu de cette divine religion qui ne peut être anéantie; puis aussi à l'action des hommes qui, formant la partie la plus saine des nations, refusent de subir le joug des sociétés secrètes et luttent avec courage contre leurs entreprises insensées.

Et plût à Dieu que tous, jugeant l'arbre par ses fruits, sussent reconnaître le germe et le principe des maux qui nous accablent, des dangers qui nous menacent. Nous avons affaire à un ennemi rusé et fécond en artifices. Il excelle à chatouiller agréablement les oreilles des princes et des peuples; il a su prendre les uns et les autres par la douceur de ses maximes et l'appât de ses flatteries. Les princes? Les francs-maçons se sont insinués dans leurs faveurs sous le masque de l'amitié, pour faire d'eux des alliés et de puissants auxiliaires, à l'aide desquels ils opprimeraient plus sûrement les catholiques. Afin d'aiguillonner plus vivement le zèle de ces hauts personnages, ils poursuivent l'Eglise d'impudentes calomnies. C'est ainsi qu'ils l'accusent d'être jalouse de la puissance des souverains et de leur contester leurs droits. Assurés par cette politique, de l'impunité de leur audace, ils ont commencé à jouir d'un grand crédit sur les gouvernements. D'ailleurs, ils se tiennent toujours prêts à ébranler les fondements des empires, à poursuivre, à dénoncer et même à chasser les princes, toutes les fois que ceux-ci paraissent user du pouvoir autrement que la secte ne l'exige.

Les peuples, ils se jouent d'eux en les flattant par des procédés semblables. Ils ont toujours à la bouche les mots de " liberté " et de " prospérité publique ". A les en croire, c'est l'Eglise, ce sont les souverains qui ont toujours fait obstacle à ce que les masses fussent arrachées à une servitude injuste et délivrées de la misère. Ils ont séduit le peuple par ce langage fallacieux et, excitant en lui la soif des changements, ils l'ont lancé à l'assaut des deux puissances ecclésiastique et civile. Toutefois, la réalité des avantages qu'on espère demeure toujours au-dessous de l'imagination et de ses désirs. Bien loin d'être devenu plus heureux, le peuple, accablé par une oppression et une misère croissantes, se voit encore dépouillé des consolations qu'il eût pu trouver avec tant de facilité et d'abondance dans les croyances et les pratiques de la religion chrétienne. Lorsque les hommes s'attaquent avec l'ordre providentiellement établi par une juste punition de leur orgueil, ils trouvent souvent l'affliction et la ruine de la fortune prospère sur laquelle ils avaient témérairement compté pour l'assouvissement de tous leurs désirs.

Quant à l'Eglise, si, par-dessus toute chose, elle ordonne aux hommes d'obéir à Dieu, souverain Seigneur de l'Univers, l'on porterait contre elle un jugement calomnieux si l'on croyait qu'elle est jalouse de la puissance civile ou qu'elle songe à entreprendre sur les droits des princes. Loin de là ! Elle met sous la sanction du devoir et de la conscience, l'obligation de rendre à la puissance civile ce qui lui est légitimement dû. Si elle fait découler de Dieu lui-même, le droit de commander, il en résulte pour l'autorité, un surcroît considérable de dignité et une facilité plus grande de se concilier l'obéissance, le respect et le bon vouloir des citoyens.

D'ailleurs, toujours amie de la paix, c'est elle qui entretient la concorde en embrassant tous les hommes dans la tendresse de sa charité maternelle. Uniquement attentive à procurer le bien des mortels, elle ne se lasse pas de rappeler qu'il faut toujours tempérer la justice par la clémence, le commandement par l'équité, les lois par la modération; que le droit de chacun est inviolable; que c'est un devoir de travailler au maintien de l'ordre et de la tranquillité générale et de venir en aide, dans toute la mesure du possible, par la charité privée et publique, aux souffrances des malheureux. Mais, pour employer fort à propos les paroles de saint Augustin, ils croient ou cherchent à faire croire que la doctrine chrétienne est incompatible avec le bien de l'Etat, parce qu'ils veulent fonder l'Etat, non sur la solidité des vertus, mais sur l'impunité des vices. Si tout cela était mieux connu, princes et peuples feraient preuve de sagesse politique et agiraient conformément aux exigences du salut général, en s'unissant à l'Eglise pour résister aux attaques des francs-maçons, au lieu de s'unir aux francs-maçons pour combattre l'Eglise.

Quoi qu'il en puisse advenir, Notre devoir est de Nous appliquer à trouver des remèdes proportionnés à un mal si intense et dont les ravages ne se sont que trop étendus. Nous le savons : notre meilleur et plus solide espoir de guérison est dans la vertu de cette religion divine que les francs-maçons haïssent d'autant plus qu'ils la redoutent davantage. Il importe donc souverainement de faire d'elle le point central de la résistance contre l'ennemi commun. Aussi, tous les décrets portés par les Pontifes romains, Nos prédécesseurs, en vue de paralyser les efforts et les tentatives de la secte maçonnique, toutes les sentences prononcées par eux pour détourner les hommes de s'affilier à cette secte ou pour les déterminer à en sortir, Nous entendons les ratifier à nouveau, tant en général qu'en particulier. Plein de confiance à cet égard dans la bonne volonté des chrétiens, Nous les supplions, au nom de leur salut éternel, et Nous leur demandons de se faire une obligation sacrée de conscience de ne jamais s'écarter, même d'une seule ligne, des prescriptions promulguées à ce sujet par le Siège apostolique.

Quant à vous, Vénérables Frères, Nous vous prions, Nous vous conjurons d'unir vos efforts aux Nôtres et d'employer votre zèle à faire disparaître l'impure contagion du poison qui circule dans les veines de la société et l'infecte tout entière. Il s'agit pour vous de procurer la gloire de Dieu et le salut du prochain. Combattant pour de si grandes causes, ni le courage, ni la force ne vous ferons défaut. Il vous appartient de déterminer dans votre sagesse par quels moyens plus efficaces vous pourrez avoir raison des difficultés et des obstacles qui se dresseront contre vous. Mais puisque l'autorité inhérente à Notre charge Nous impose le devoir de vous tracer Nous-même la ligne de conduite que Nous estimons la meilleure, Nous vous dirons :

En premier lieu, arrachez à la franc-maçonnerie le masque dont elle se couvre et faites la voir telle qu'elle est.

Secondement par vos discours et par vos Lettres pastorales spécialement consacrées à cette question, instruisez vos peuples; faites leur connaître les artifices employés par ces sectes pour séduire les hommes et les attirer dans leurs rangs, montrez leur la perversité de leur doctrine et l'infamie de leurs actes. Rappelez leur qu'en vertu des sentences plusieurs fois portées par Nos prédécesseurs, aucun catholique, s'il veut rester digne de ce nom et avoir de son salut le souci qu'il mérite, ne peut, sous aucun prétexte, s'affilier à la secte des francs-maçons. Que personne donc ne se laisse tromper par de fausses apparences d'honnêteté. Quelques personnes peuvent en effet croire que, dans les projets des francs-maçons, il n'y a rien de formellement contraire à la sainteté de la religion et des moeurs. Toutefois, le principe fondamental qui est comme l'âme de la secte, étant condamné par la morale, il ne saurait être permis de se joindre à elle ni de lui venir en aide d'aucune façon.

Il faut ensuite, à l'aide de fréquentes instructions et exhortations, faire en sorte que les masses acquièrent la connaissance de la religion. Dans ce but, Nous conseillons très fort d'exposer, soit par écrit, soit de vive voix et dans des discours ad hoc les éléments des principes sacrés qui constituent la philosophie chrétienne. Cette dernière recommandation a surtout pour but de guérir, par une science de bon aloi, les maladies intellectuelles des hommes et de les prémunir tout à la fois contre les formes multiples de l'erreur et contre les nombreuses séductions du vice, surtout en un temps où la licence des écrits va de pair avec une insatiable avidité d'apprendre. Pour l'accomplir, vous aurez avant tout l'aide et la collaboration de votre clergé, si vous donnez tout le soin à le bien former et à le maintenir dans la perfection de la discipline ecclésiastique et dans la science des Saintes Lettres.

Toutefois, une cause si belle et d'une si haute importance appelle encore à son secours le dévouement intelligent des laïques qui unissent les bonnes moeurs et l'instruction à l'amour de la religion et de la patrie. Mettez en commun, Vénérables Frères, les forces de ces deux ordres, et donnez tous vos soins à ce que les hommes connaissent à fond l'Eglise catholique et l'aiment de tout leur coeur. Car plus cette connaissance et cet amour grandiront dans les âmes, plus on prendra en dégoût les sociétés secrètes, plus on sera empressé d'en finir.

Nous profitons à dessein de la nouvelle occasion qui Nous est offerte d'insister sur la recommandation déjà faite par Nous en faveur du tiers ordre de saint François, à la discipline duquel Nous avons apporté de sages tempéraments. Il faut mettre un grand zèle à le propager et à l'affermir. Tel, en effet, qu'il a été établi par son auteur, il consiste tout entier en ceci : attirer les hommes à l'amour de Jésus Christ, à la pratique des vertus chrétiennes. Il peut donc rendre de grands services pour aider à vaincre la contagion de ces sectes détestables. Que cette sainte Association fasse donc tous les jours de nouveaux progrès. Un grand nombre de fruits peuvent en être attendus et le principal est de conduire les âmes à la liberté, à la fraternité, à l'égalité juridique, non selon l'absurde façon dont les francs-maçons entendent ces choses, mais telles que Jésus Christ a voulu enrichir le genre humain et que saint François les a mises en pratique.

Nous parlons donc ici de la liberté des enfants de Dieu au nom de laquelle Nous refusons d'obéir à des maîtres iniques qui s'appellent Satan et les mauvaises passions. Nous parlons de la fraternité qui nous rattache à Dieu comme au Créateur et Père de tous les hommes. Nous parlons de l'égalité qui, établie sur les fondements de la justice et de la charité, ne rêve pas de supprimer toute distinction entre les hommes, mais excelle à faire, de la variété des conditions et des devoirs de la vie, une harmonie admirable et une sorte de merveilleux concert dont profitent naturellement les intérêts et la dignité de la vie civile.

En troisième lieu, une institution due à la sagesse de nos pères et momentanément interrompue par le cours des temps, pourrait, à l'époque où nous sommes, redevenir le type et la forme de créations analogues. Nous voulons parler de ces corporations ouvrières destinées à protéger, sous la tutelle de la religion, les intérêts du travail et les moeurs des travailleurs. Si le pierre de touche d'une longue expérience avait fait apprécier à nos ancêtres l'utilité de ces associations, notre âge en retirerait peut-être de plus grands fruits, tant elles offrent de précieuses ressources pour combattre avec succès et pour écraser la puissance des sectes. Ceux qui n'échappent à la misère qu'au prix du labeur de leurs mains, en même temps que, par leur condition, ils sont souverainement dignes de la charitable assistance de leurs semblables, sont aussi les plus exposés à être trompés par les séductions et les ruses des apôtres du mensonge. Il faut donc leur venir en aide avec une grande habileté et leur ouvrir les rangs d'associations honnêtes pour les empêcher d'être enrôlés dans les mauvaises. En conséquence, et pour le salut du peuple, Nous souhaitons ardemment de voir se rétablir, sous les auspices et le patronage des évêques, ces corporations appropriées aux besoins du temps présent. Ce n'est pas pour Nous une joie médiocre d'avoir vu déjà se constituer en plusieurs lieux, des associations de ce genre, ainsi que des sociétés de patrons, le but des uns et des autres étant de venir en aide à l'honnête classe des prolétaires, d'assurer à leurs familles et à leurs enfants, le bienfait d'un patronage tutélaire, de leur fournir les moyens de garder, avec de bonnes moeurs, la connaissance de la religion et l'amour de la piété.

Nous ne saurions passer ici sous silence une Société qui a donné tant d'exemples admirables et qui a si bien mérité des classes populaires : Nous voulons parler de celle qui a pris le nom de son père, saint Vincent de Paul. On connaît assez les oeuvres accomplies par cette société et le but qu'elle se propose. Les efforts de ses membres tendent uniquement à se porter, par une charitable initiative, au secours des pauvres et des malheureux, ce qu'ils font avec une merveilleuse sagacité et une non moins admirable modestie. Mais plus cette société cache le bien qu'elle opère, plus elle est apte à pratiquer la charité chrétienne et à soulager les misères des hommes.

Quatrièmement, afin d'atteindre plus aisément le but de Nos désirs, Nous recommandons avec une nouvelle insistance à votre foi et à votre vigilance, la jeunesse qui est l'espoir de la société. Appliquez à sa formation la plus grande partie de vos sollicitudes pastorales. Quels qu'aient déjà pu être à cet égard votre zèle et votre prévoyance, croyez que vous n'en ferez jamais assez pour soustraire la jeunesse aux écoles et aux maîtres prés desquels elle serait exposée à respirer le souffle empoisonné des sectes. Parmi les prescriptions de la doctrine chrétienne, il en est une sur laquelle devront insister les parents, les pieux instituteurs, les curés, sous l'impulsion de leurs évêques. Nous voulons parler de la nécessité de prémunir leurs enfants ou leurs élèves contre ces sociétés criminelles, en leur apprenant de bonne heure à se méfier des artifices perfides et variés à l'aide desquels leurs prosélytes cherchent à enlacer les hommes. Ceux qui ont charge de préparer les jeunes gens à recevoir les sacrements comme il faut, agiraient sagement s'ils amenaient chacun d'eux à prendre la ferme résolution de ne s'agréger à aucune société à l'insu de leurs parents ou sans avoir consulté leur curé ou leur confesseur.

Du reste, nous savons très bien que nos communs labeurs, pour arracher du champ du Seigneur ces semences pernicieuses, seraient tout à fait impuissants si, du haut du ciel, le Maître de la vigne ne secondait ces efforts. Il est donc nécessaire d'implorer son assistance et son secours avec une grande ardeur et par des sollicitations réitérées, proportionnées à la nécessité des circonstances et à l'intensité du péril. Fière de ses précédents succès, la secte des francs-maçons lève insolemment la tête et son audace semble ne plus connaître aucune borne. Rattachés les uns aux autres par le lien d'une fédération criminelle et de leurs projets occultes, ses adeptes se prêtent un mutuel appui et se provoquent entre eux à oser et à faire le mal.

A une si violente attaque doit répondre une défense énergique. Que les gens de bien s'unissent donc, eux aussi, et forment une immense coalition de prière et d'efforts. En conséquence, Nous leur demandons de faire entre eux, par la concorde des esprits et des coeurs, une cohésion qui les rendent invincibles contre les assauts des sectaires. En outre, qu'ils tendent vers Dieu des mains suppliantes et que leurs gémissements s'efforcent d'obtenir la prospérité et les progrès persévérants du christianisme, la paisible jouissance pour l'Eglise de la liberté nécessaire, le retour des égarés au bien, le triomphe de la vérité sur l'erreur, de la vertu sur le vice.

Demandons à la Vierge Marie, Mère de Dieu, de se faire notre auxiliaire et notre interprète. Victorieuse de Satan dès le premier instant de sa conception, qu'Elle déploie sa puissance contre les sectes réprouvées qui font si évidemment revivre parmi nous l'esprit de révolte, l'incorrigible perfidie et la ruse du démon. Appelons à notre aide le prince des milices célestes, saint Michel, qui a précipité dans les enfers les anges révoltés; puis saint Joseph, l'époux de la Très Sainte Vierge, le céleste et tutélaire patron de l'Église catholique et les grands apôtres saint Pierre et saint Paul, ces infatigables semeurs et ces champions invincibles de la foi catholique. Grâce à leur protection et à la persévérance de tous les fidèles dans la prière, Nous avons la confiance que Dieu daignera envoyer un secours opportun et miséricordieux au genre humain en proie à un si grand danger.

En attendant, comme gage des dons célestes et comme témoignage de Notre bienveillance, Nous vous envoyons du fond du coeur la bénédiction apostolique, à vous, Vénérables Frères, ainsi qu'au clergé et aux peuples confiés à votre sollicitude.

Donné à Rome, près Saint Pierre, le 20 avril 1884, de Notre Pontificat la septième année.

LÉON XIII

 


HUMANUM GENUS

LETTERA ENCICLICA

"CONDANNA DEL RELATIVISMO FILOSOFICO
E MORALE DELLA MASSONERIA"


VENERABILI FRATELLI
SALUTE E APOSTOLICA BENEDIZIONE

Il genere umano, dopo che "per l'invidia di Lucifero" si ribellò sventuratamente a Dio creatore e largitore de' doni soprannaturali, si divise come in due campi diversi e nemici tra loro; l'uno dei quali combatte senza posa per il trionfo della verità e del bene, l'altro per il trionfo del male e dell'errore. Il primo è il regno di Dio sulla terra, cioè la vera Chiesa di Gesù Cristo; e chi vuole appartenervi con sincero affetto e come conviene a salute, deve servire con tutta la mente e con tutto il cuore a Dio e all'Unigenito Figlio di Lui. Il secondo è il regno di Satana, e sudditi ne sono quanti, seguendo i funesti esempi del loro capo e dei comuni progenitori, ricusano di obbedire all'eterna e divina legge, e molte cose imprendono senza curarsi di Dio, molte contro Dio. Questi due regni, simili a due città che con leggi opposte vanno ad opposti fini, con grande acume di mente vide e descrisse Agostino, e risali al principio generatore di entrambi con queste brevi e profonde parole: "Due città nacquero da due amori; la terrena dall'amore di sé fino al disprezzo di Dio, la celeste dall'amore di Dio fino al disprezzo di sé (De Civit. Dei, lib. XIV, c. 17).

In tutta la lunga serie dei secoli queste due città pugnarono l'una contro l'altra con armi e combattimenti vari, benché non sempre con l'ardore e l'impeto stesso. Ma ai tempi nostri i partigiani della città malvagia, ispirati e aiutati da quella società, che larga mente diffusa e fortemente congegnata prende il nome di Società Massonica, pare che tutti cospirino insieme, e tentino le ultime prove. Imperocché senza più dissimulare i loro disegni, insorgono con estrema audacia contro la sovranità di Dio; lavorano pubblicamente e a viso aperto a rovina della Santa Chiesa, con proponimento di spogliare affatto, se fosse possibile, i popoli cristiani dei benefizi recati al mondo da Gesù Cristo nostro Salvatore.

Gemendo su questi mali, spesso, incalzati dalla carità, Noi siam costretti a gridare a Dio: "Ecco, i nemici tuoi menano gran rumore e quei che t'odiano hanno alzato la testa. Hanno formato malvagi disegni contro i tuoi santi. Hanno detto: venite, e cancelliamoli dai numero delle nazioni" (Psalm. XXXII, 2-5).

In sì grave rischio, in sì fiera ed accanita guerra al Cristianesimo, è dover Nostro mostrare il pericolo, additare i nemici, e resistere quanto possiamo ai disegni ed alle arti loro, affinché non vadano eternamente perdute le anime che Ci furono affidate, e il regno di Gesù Cristo, commesso alla Nostra tutela, non solo stia e conservisi intero, ma per nuovi e continui acquisti si dilati in ogni parte della terra.

Chi fosse e a che mirasse questo capitale nemico, che usciva fuori dai covi di tenebrose congiure, lo compresero tosto i Romani Pontefici Nostri Antecessori, vigili scolte a salute del popolo cristiano; e antivenendo col pensiero l'avvenire, dato quasi il segnale, ammonirono Principi e popoli non si lasciassero ingannare alle astuzie e trame insidiose. Diede il primo avviso del pericolo Clemente XII (Cost. In eminenti, 24 Aprile 1738); e la Costituzione di lui fu confermata e rinnovata da Benedetto XIV (Cost. Providas, 18 maggio 1751). Ne seguì le orme Pio VII (Cost. Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo, 13 Settembre 1821); poi Leone XII con l'Apostolica Costituzione Quo graviora (Cost. in. data del 23 Marzo 1825), abbracciando in questo punto gli atti e i decreti de' suoi Antecessori, li ratificò e suggellò con irrevocabile sanzione. Nel senso medesimo parlarono Pio VIII (Encicl. Traditi, 31 Maggio 1829), Gregorio XVI (Encicl. Mirari, 15 Agosto 1832) e più volte Pio IX (Encicl. Qui pluribus, 9 Novembre 1846. Alloc. Multiplices inter, 25 Settembre 1865, ecc.).

Imperocché da fatti giuridicamente accertati, da formali processi, da statuti, riti, giornali massonici pubblicati per le stampe, oltre alle non rare deposizioni dei complici stessi, essendosi venuto a chiaramente conoscere lo scopo e la natura della setta massonica, quest'Apostolica Sede alzò la voce, e denunziò al mondo, la setta dei Massoni, sorta contro ogni diritto umano e divino, essere non men funesta al Cristianesimo che allo Stato, e fece divieto di darvi il nome sotto le maggiori pene, onde la Chiesa suol punire i colpevoli. Di che irritati i settari e credendo di poter, parte col disprezzo, parte con calunniose menzogne sfuggire o scemare la forza di tali sentenze, accusarono d'ingiustizia o di esagerazione i Papi, che le avevano pronunziate.

In questo modo cercarono di eludere la autorità ed il peso delle Costituzioni Apostoliche di Clemente XII, di Benedetto XIV, e similmente di Pio VII, e di Pio IX. Nondimeno tra i Frammassoni medesimi ve ne ebbe alcuni i quali riconobbero loro malgrado, che quelle sentenze dei Romani Pontefici, ragguagliate alla dottrina e alla disciplina cattolica, erano altamente giuste. E ai Pontefici si unirono non pochi Principi ed uomini di Stato, i quali ebbero cura o di denunziare all'Apostolica Sede le Società Massoniche, o di proscriverle essi stessi con leggi speciali nei loro domini, come fu fatto nell'Olanda, nell'Austria, nella Svizzera, nella Spagna, nella Baviera, nella Savoia ed in altre parti d'Italia.

Ma la saggezza dei Nostri Predecessori ebbe, ciò che più conta, piena giustificazione dagli avvenimenti. Imperocché le provvide e paterne loro cure, o fosse l'astuzia e l'ipocrisia dei settari, ovvero la sconsigliata leggerezza di chi pure aveva ogni interesse di tener gli occhi aperti, non avendo né sempre né per tutto sortito l'esito desiderato, nel giro d'un secolo e mezzo la società Massonica si propagò con incredibile celerità; e traforandosi per via di audacia e d'inganni in tutti gli ordini civili, incominciò ad essere potente in modo da parer quasi padrona degli Stati.

Da sì celere e tremenda propagazione ne sono seguiti a danno della Chiesa, della potestà civile, della pubblica salute, quei rovinosi effetti, che i Nostri Antecessori gran tempo innanzi avevano preveduti. Imperocché siamo ormai giunti a tale estremo da dover tremare pei le future sorti non già della Chiesa, edificata su fondamento non possibile ad abbattersi da forza umana, ma di quegli Stati, dove la setta di cui parliamo o le altre affini a quella e sue ministre e satelliti, possono tanto.

Per queste ragioni, appena eletti a governare la Chiesa, vedemmo e sentimmo vivamente nell'animo la necessità di opporCi, quanto fosse possibile, con la Nostra autorità a male si grande. E colta bene spesso opportuna occasione, venimmo svolgendo or l'una or l'altra di quelle capitali dottrine, in cui il veleno degli errori massonici pareva che fosse più intimamente penetrato. Così con la Lettera Enciclica "Quod Apostolici muneris", sfolgorammo i mostruosi errori dei Socialisti e Comunisti: con l'altra "Arcanum" prendemmo a spiegare e difendere il vero e genuino concetto della famiglia, che ha l'origine e sorgente sua nel matrimonio: con quella che incomincia "Diuturnum" ritraemmo l'idea del potere politico, esemplata ai principi dell'Evangelo, e mirabilmente consentanea alla natura delle cose e al bene dei popoli e dei sovrani.

Ora poi, ad esempio dei Nostri Predecessori, Ci siam risoluti di prender direttamente di mira la stessa società Massonica nel complesso delle sue dottrine, dei suoi disegni, delle sue tendenze, delle sue opere, affinché, meglio conosciutane la malefica natura, ne sia schivato più cautamente il contagio.

Varie sono le sètte che, sebbene differenti di nome, di rito, di forma, d'origine, essendo per uguaglianza di proposito e per affinità de' sommi principi strettamente collegate fra loro, convengono in sostanza con la setta dei Frammassoni, quasi centro comune, da cui muovono tutte e a cui tutte ritornano. Le quali, sebbene ora facciano sembianza di non voler nascondersi, e tengano alla luce del sole e sotto gli occhi dei cittadini le loro adunanze, e stampino effemeridi proprie, ciò nondimeno, chi guardi più addentro, ritengono il vero carattere di società segrete.

Imperocché la legge del segreto vi domina e molte sono le cose, che per inviolabile statuto debbonsi gelosamente tener celate, non solo agli estranei, ma ai più dei loro adepti: come, ad esempio, gli ultimi e veri loro intendimenti; i capi supremi e più influenti; certe conventicole più intime e segrete; le risoluzioni prese, e il modo ed i mezzi da eseguirle. A questo mira quel divario di diritti, cariche, offici tra' soci; quella gerarchica distinzione di classi e di gradi, e la rigorosa disciplina che li governa.

Il candidato deve promettere, anzi, d'ordinario, giurare espressamente di non rivelar giammai e a nessun patto gli affiliati, i contrassegni, le dottrine della setta. Così, sotto mentite sembianze e con l'arte d'una continua simulazione, i Frammassoni studiansi a tutto potere di restare nascosti, e di non aver testimoni altro che i loro. Cercano destramente sotterfugi, pigliando sembianze accademiche e scientifiche: hanno sempre in bocca lo zelo della civiltà, l'amore della povera plebe: essere unico intento loro migliorare le condizioni del popolo, e i beni del civile consorzio accomunare il più ch'è possibile a molti. Le quali intenzioni, quando fossero vere, non sono che una parte dei loro disegni.

Debbono inoltre gli iscritti promettere ai loro capi e maestri cieca ed assoluta obbedienza: che ad un minimo cenno, ad un semplice motto, n'eseguiranno gli ordini; pronti, ove manchino, ad ogni più grave pena, e perfino alla morte. E di fatti non è caso raro, che atroci vendette piombino su chi sia creduto reo di aver tradito il segreto, o disubbidito al comando, e ciò con tanta audacia e destrezza, che spesso il sicario sfugge alle ricerche ed ai colpi della giustizia.

Or bene questo continuo infingersi, e voler rimanere nascosto: questo legar tenacemente gli uomini, come vili mancipii, all'altrui volontà per uno scopo da essi mal conosciuto: e abusarne come di ciechi strumenti ad ogni impresa, per malvagia che sia: armarne la destra micidiale, procacciando al delitto la impunità, sono eccessi che ripugnano altamente alla natura. La ragione adunque evidentemente condanna le sètte Massoniche e le convince nemiche della giustizia e della naturale onestà.

Tanto più che altre e ben luminose prove ci sono della sua rea natura. Per quanto infatti sia grande negli uomini l'arte di fingere e l'uso di mentire, egli è impossibile che la causa non si manifesti in qualche modo pe' suoi effetti. "Non può un albero buono dar frutti cattivi, né un albero cattivo frutti buoni" (Matth. VII, 18). Ora della Massonica sètta esiziali ed acerbissimi sono i frutti. Imperocché dalle non dubbie prove che abbiamo testè ricordate apparisce, supremo intendimento dei Frammassoni esser questo: distruggere da capo a fondo tutto l'ordine religioso e sociale, qual fu creato dal Cristianesimo, e pigliando fondamenti e nome dal Naturalismo, rifarlo a loro senno di pianta.

Questo per altro, che abbiamo detto o diremo, va inteso della setta Massonica considerata in se stessa, e in quanto abbraccia la gran famiglia delle affini e collegate società; non già dei singoli suoi seguaci. Nel numero dei quali può ben essere ve ne abbia non pochi, che, sebbene colpevoli per essersi impigliati in congreghe di questa sorta, tuttavia non piglino parte direttamente alle male opere di esse, e ne ignorino altresì lo scopo finale. Così ancora tra le società medesime non tutte forse traggono quelle conseguenze estreme, a cui pure, come a necessarie illazioni dei comuni principi, dovrebbero logicamente venire, se la enormità di certe dottrine non le trattenesse. La condizione altresì dei luoghi e dei tempi fa che taluna di esse non osi quanto vorrebbe od osano le altre. Il che però non le salva dalla complicità con la setta Massonica, la quale più che dalle azioni e dai fatti, vuol esser giudicata dal complesso de' suoi principi.

Ora fondamentale principio dei Naturalisti, come il nome stesso lo dice, egli è la sovranità e il magistero assoluto dell'umana natura e dell'umana ragione. Quindi dei doveri verso Iddio o poco si curano, o mal ne sentono. Negano affatto la divina rivelazione; non ammettono dogmi, non verità superiori all'intelligenza umana, non maestro alcuno, a cui si abbia per l'autorità dell'officio da credere in coscienza. E poiché è privilegio singolare e unicamente proprio della Chiesa cattolica il possedere nella sua pienezza, e conservare nella sua integrità il deposito delle dottrine divinamente rivelate, l'autorità del magistero, e i mezzi soprannaturali dell'eterna salute, somma contro di lei è la rabbia e l'accanimento dei nemici. Si osservi ora il procedere della setta Massonica in fatto di religione, là specialmente dov'è più libera di fare a suo modo, e poi si giudichi, se ella non si mostri esecutrice fedele delle massime dei Naturalisti. Infatti con lungo ed ostinato proposito si procura che nella società non abbia alcuna influenza, né il magistero né l'autorità della Chiesa; e perciò si predica da per tutto e si sostiene la piena separazione della Chiesa dallo Stato. Così si sottraggono leggi e governo alla virtù divinamente salutare della religione cattolica, per conseguenza si vuole ad ogni costo ordinare in tutto e per tutto gli Stati indipendentemente dalle istituzioni e dalle dottrine della Chiesa.

Né basta tener lungi la Chiesa, che pure è guida tanto sicura, ma vi si aggiungono persecuzioni ed offese. Ecco infatti piena licenza di assalire impunemente con la parola, con gli scritti, con l'insegnamento, i fondamenti stessi della cattolica religione: i diritti della Chiesa si manomettono; non si rispettano le divine sue prerogative. Si restringe il più possibile l'azione di lei; e ciò in forza di leggi, in apparenza non troppo violente, ma in sostanza nate fatte per incepparne la libertà. Leggi di odiosa parzialità si sanciscono contro il Clero, cosicché vedesi stremato ogni giorno più e di numero e di mezzi. Vincolati in mille modi e messi in mano allo Stato gli avanzi dei beni ecclesiastici; i sodalizi religiosi aboliti, dispersi.

Ma contro l'Apostolica Sede e il Romano Pontefice arde più accesa la guerra. Prima di tutto egli fu sotto bugiardi pretesti spogliato del Principato civile, propugnacolo della sua libertà e de' suoi diritti; poi fu ridotto ad una condizione iniqua, e per gli infiniti ostacoli intollerabile; finché si è giunti a quest'estremo, che i settari dicono aperto ciò che segretamente e lungamente avevano macchinato fra loro, doversi togliere di mezzo lo stesso spirituale potere dei Pontefici, e fare scomparire dal mondo la divina istituzione del Pontificato. Di che, ove altri argomenti mancassero, prova sufficiente sarebbe la testimonianza di parecchi di loro, che spesse volte in addietro, ed eziandio recentemente dichiararono, essere veramente scopo supremo dei Frammassoni perseguitare con odio implacabile il Cristianesimo, e che essi non si daranno mai pace, finché non vedano a terra tutte le istituzioni religiose fondate dai Papi.

Che se la setta non impone agli affiliati di rinnegare espressamente la fede cattolica, cotesta tolleranza, non che guastare i massonici disegni, li aiuta. Imperocché in primo luogo è questo un modo di ingannar facilmente i semplici e gli incauti, ed un richiamo di proselitismo. Poi con aprir le porte a persone di qualsiasi religione si ottiene il vantaggio di persuadere col fatto il grand'errore moderno dell'indifferentismo religioso e della parità di tutti i culti: via opportunissima per annientare le religioni tutte, e segnatamente la cattolica che, unica vera, non può senz'enorme ingiustizia esser messa in un fascio con le altre.

Ma i Naturalisti vanno più oltre. Messisi audacemente, in cose di massima importanza, per una via totalmente falsa, sia per la debolezza dell'umana natura, sia per giusto giudizio di Dio che punisce l'orgoglio, trascorrono precipitosi agli errori estremi. Così avviene che le stesse verità, che si conoscono pei lume naturale di ragione, quali sono per fermo l'esistenza di Dio, la spiritualità ed immortalità dell'anima umana, non hanno più pei essi consistenza e certezza.

Or negli scogli medesimi va per via non dissimile ad urtare la setta Massonica. L'esistenza di Dio, è vero, i Frammassoni generalmente la professano: ma che questa non sia in ciascun di loro persuasione ferma e giudizio certo, essi stessi ne fan fede. Imperocché non dissimulano, che nella famiglia massonica la questione intorno a Dio è un principio grandissimo di discordia; ed anzi è noto come pur di recente si ebbero tra loro su questo punto gravi contese.

Fatto sta che la setta lascia agl'iniziati libertà grande di sostenere circa Dio la tesi che vogliono, affermandone o negandone la esistenza; e gli audaci negatori vi hanno accesso non men facile di quelli che, a guisa dei Panteisti, ammettono Iddio, ma ne travisano il concetto: ciò che in sostanza riesce a ritenere della divina natura non so quale assurdo simulacro, distruggendone la realtà. Ora abbattuto o scalzato questo supremo fondamento, forza è che vacillino anche molte verità di ordine naturale, come la libera creazione del mondo, il governo universale della provvidenza, l'immortalità dell'anima, la vita futura e sempiterna.

Scomparsi poi questi, come dire, principi di natura, importantissimi per la speculativa e per la pratica, è agevole il vedere che cosa sia per addivenire il pubblico e il privato costume. Non parliamo delle virtù sovrannaturali, che senza special favore e dono di Dio niuno può né esercitare, né conseguire, e delle quali non è possibile che si trovi vestigio in chi superbamente disconosce la redenzione del genere umano, la grazia Celeste, i Sacramenti, l'eterna beatitudine: parliamo dei doveri che procedono dalla onestà naturale. Imperocché Iddio, creatore e provvido reggitore del mondo; la legge eterna, che comanda il rispetto e proibisce la violazione dell'ordine naturale; il fine ultimo degli uomini, posto di gran lunga al di sopra delle create cose, fuori di questa terra; sono queste le sorgenti e i principi della giustizia e della moralità. I quali principi se, come fanno i Naturalisti ed altresì i Frammassoni, si tolgano via, incontanente l'etica naturale non ha più né dove appoggiarsi, né come sostenersi. E per fermo la morale, che sola ammettono i Frammassoni, e che vorrebbero educatrice unica della gioventù, è quella che chiamano civile e indipendente, ossia che prescinde affatto da ogni idea religiosa. Ma quanto sia povera, incerta, e ad ogni soffio di passione variabile cotesta morale, lo dimostrano i dolorosi frutti, che già in parte appariscono. Imperocché ovunque essa ha cominciato a dominare liberamente, dato lo sfratto alla educazione cristiana, la probità e integrità dei costumi scade rapidamente, orrende e mostruose opinioni levan la testa, e l'audacia dei delitti va crescendo in modo spaventoso. Il che si lamenta e deplora da tutti; e spesse volte, sforzati dalla verità, non pochi di quegli stessi l'attestano, che pur tutt'altro vorrebbero.

Oltre a ciò, per essere l'umana natura infetta dalla colpa di origine, e perciò più proclive al vizio che alla virtù, non è possibile vivere onestamente senza mortificare le passioni, e sottomettere alla ragione gli appetiti. In questa pugna è bene spesso necessario disprezzare i beni creati, e sottoporsi a molestie e sacrifici grandissimi, a fine di serbar sempre alla ragione vincitrice il suo impero. Ma i Naturalisti e i Massoni, ripudiando ogni divina rivelazione, negano il peccato originale, e stimano non esser punto affievolito né inclinato al male il libero arbitrio (Conc. Trid. Sess. VI, De justif., c. I.). Anzi esagerando le forze e l'eccellenza della natura, e collocando in lei il principio e la norma unica della giustizia, non sanno pur concepire che, a frenarne i moti e moderarne gli appetiti, ci vogliono sforzi continui e somma costanza. E questa è la ragione, per cui vediamo offerte pubblicamente alle passioni tante attrattive: giornali e periodici senza freno e senza pudore; rappresentazioni teatrali oltre ogni dire disoneste; arti coltivate secondo i principi di uno sfacciato verismo; con raffinate invenzioni promosso il molle e delicato vivere; insomma cercate avidamente tutte le lusinghe capaci di sedurre e addormentare la virtù. Cose altamente riprovevoli, ma pur coerenti ai principi di coloro che tolgono all'uomo la speranza dei beni Celesti, e tutta la felicità fanno consistere nelle cose caduche, avvilendola sino alla terra.

Ed a conferma di ciò che abbiamo detto, può servire un fatto più strano a dirsi, che a credersi. Imperocché gli uomini scaltri ed accorti non trovando anime più docilmente servili di quelle già dome e fiaccate dalla tirannide delle passioni, vi fu nella setta Massonica chi disse aperto e propose, doversi con ogni arte ed accorgimento tirare le moltitudini a satollarsi di licenza: così lesi avrebbero poi docile strumento ad ogni più audace disegno.

Quanto al consorzio domestico, ecco a un dipresso tutta la dottrina dei Naturalisti. Il matrimonio non è altro che un contratto civile; può legittimamente rescindersi a volontà dei contraenti; il potere sul vincolo matrimoniale appartiene allo Stato. Nell'educare i figli non s'imponga religione alcuna: cresciuti in età, ciascuno sia libero di scegliersi quella che più gli aggrada.

Ora questi principi i Frammassoni li accettano senza riserva: e non pure li accettano, ma studiansi da gran tempo di fare in modo, che passino nei costumi e nell'uso della vita. In molti paesi, che pur si professano cattolici, si hanno giuridicamente per nulli i matrimoni non celebrati nella forma civile; altrove le leggi permettono il divorzio; altrove si fa di tutto, perché sia quanto prima permesso. Così si corre di gran passo all'intento di snaturare le nozze, riducendole a mutabili e passeggere unioni, da formarsi e da sciogliersi a talento.

Ad impossessarsi altresì della educazione dei giovanetti mira con unanime e tenace proposito la setta dei Massoni. Comprendono ben essi, che quell'età tenera e flessibile lasciasi figurare e piegare a loro talento, e però non esserci espediente più opportuno di questo per formare allo Stato cittadini tali, quali essi vagheggiano. Quindi nell'opera di educare e istruire i fanciulli non lasciano ai ministri della Chiesa parte alcuna né di direzione, né di vigilanza: e in molti luoghi si è già tanto innanzi, che l'educazione della gioventù è tutta in mano dei laici; e dall'insegnamento morale ogni idea è sbandita di quei grandissimi e santissimi doveri, che l'uomo congiungono a Dio.

Seguono le massime di scienza sociale. Dove i Naturalisti insegnano, che gli uomini hanno tutti gli stessi diritti, e sono di condizione perfettamente eguali; che ogni uomo è, per natura, indipendente; che nessuno ha diritto di comandare agli altri; che volergli uomini sottoposti ad altra autorità, da quella in fuori che emana da loro stessi, è tirannia. Quindi il popolo è sovrano: chi comanda, non aver l'autorità di comandare se non per mandato o concessione del popolo; tantoché a talento di questo egli può, voglia o non voglia, esser deposto. L'origine di tutti i diritti e doveri civili è nel popolo, ovvero nello Stato, che si regga per altro secondo i nuovi principi di libertà. Lo Stato inoltre dev'essere ateo; tra le varie religioni non esservi ragione di dar la preferenza a veruna: doversi fare di tutte lo stesso conto.

Ora che queste massime piacciano ugualmente ai Frammassoni, e che su questo tipo e modello vogliano essi foggiati i governi, è cosa notissima, e che non ha bisogno di prova. Egli è un pezzo, di fatti, che, con quanto hanno di forze e di potere, apertamente lavorano per questo, spianando così la via a quei non pochi più audaci di loro, e più avventati nel male, che vagheggiano l'uguaglianza e comunanza di tutti i beni, fatta scomparire dal mondo ogni distinzione di averi e di condizioni sociali.

Da questi brevi cenni si scorge chiaro abbastanza, che sia e che voglia la setta Massonica. I suoi dogmi ripugnano tanto e con tanta evidenza alla ragione, che nulla può esservi di più perverso. Voler distruggere la religione e la Chiesa fondata da Dio stesso, e da Lui assicurata di vita immortale, voler dopo ben diciotto secoli risuscitare i costumi e le istituzioni del paganesimo, è insigne follia e sfrontatissima empietà. Ne meno orrenda e intollerabile cosa egli è ripudiare i benefizi largiti per Sua bontà da Gesù Cristo non pure agl'individui, ma alle famiglie e agli Stati; benefizi, per giudizio e testimonianza anche di nemici, segnalatissimi. In questo pazzo e feroce proposito pare quasi potersi riconoscere quell'odio implacabile, quella rabbia di vendetta, che contro Gesù Cristo arde nel cuore di Satana.

Similmente l'altra impresa, in cui tanto si travagliano i Massoni, di atterrare i precipui fondamenti della morale, e di farsi complici e cooperatori di chi, a guisa di bruto, vorrebbe lecito ciò che piace, altro non è che sospingere il genere umano alla più abbietta e ignominiosa degradazione.

Ed aggravano il male i pericoli, onde sono minacciati tanto il domestico, quando il civile consorzio. Come di fatti esponemmo altra volta, esiste nel matrimonio, per unanime consenso dei popoli e dei secoli, un carattere sacro e religioso: oltreché per legge divina l'unione coniugale e indissolubile. Or se questa unione si dissacri, se permettasi giuridicamente il divorzio, la confusione e la discordia entreranno per conseguenza inevitabile nel santuario della famiglia, e la donna la sua dignità, i figli perderanno la sicurezza d'ogni loro benessere.

Che poi lo Stato faccia professione di religiosa indifferenza, e nell'ordinare e governare il civile consorzio non si curi di Dio, né più né meno che se Egli non fosse, è sconsigliatezza ignota agli stessi pagani; i quali avevano nella mente e nel cuore così scolpita non pur l'idea di Dio, ma la necessità di un culto pubblico, che giudicavano potersi più facilmente trovare una città senza suolo, che senza Dio. E veramente la società del genere umano, a cui siamo stati fatti da natura, fu istituita da Dio autore della natura medesima, e da Lui deriva come da fonte e principio tutta quella perenne copia di beni senza numero, ond'essa abbonda. Come dunque la voce stessa di natura impone a ciascuno di noi di onorare con religiosa pietà Iddio, perché abbiamo da Lui ricevuto la vita e i beni che l'accompagnano; così per la ragione medesima debbono fare popoli e Stati. Opera perciò non solo ingiusta, ma insipiente ed assurda fanno coloro, che vogliono sciolta da ogni religioso dovere la civil comunanza.

Posto poi che per volere di Dio nascano gli uomini alla società civile, e che il potere sovrano sia vincolo così strettamente necessario alla società stessa, che, dove quello manchi, questa necessariamente si sfascia, ne segue che l'autorità di comandare deriva da quello stesso principio, da cui deriva la società. Ed ecco la ragione, che l'investito di tale autorità, sia chi si voglia, è ministro di Dio. Laonde fin dove è richiesto dal fine e dalla natura dell'umano consorzio, si deve obbedire al giusto comando del potere legittimo, non altrimenti che alla sovranità di Dio reggitore dell'universo: ed è capitalissimo errore il dare al popolo piena balia di scuotere, quando gli piaccia, il giogo dell'obbedienza.

Così ancora chi guardi alla comune origine e natura, al fine ultimo assegnato a ciascuno, ai diritti e ai doveri che ne scaturiscono, non è da dubitare che gli uomini sono tutti uguali fra loro. Ma poiché capacità pari in tutti è impossibile, e per le forze dell'animo e del corpo l'uno differisce dall'altro, e tanta è dei costumi, delle inclinazioni, e delle qualità personali la varietà, egli è assurdissima cosa voler confondere e unificare tutto questo, e recare negli ordini della vita civile una rigorosa ed assoluta uguaglianza. Come la perfetta costituzione del corpo umano risulta dall'unione e compagine di vali membri che, diversi di forma e di uso, ma congiunti insieme e messi ciascuno al suo posto, formano un organismo bello, forte, utilissimo e necessario alla vita; così nello Stato quasi infinita è la varietà degl'individui che lo compongono; i quali, se, parificati tra loro, vivano ognuno a proprio senno, ne uscirà una cittadinanza mostruosamente deforme; laddove, se distinti in armonia di gradi, di offici, di tendenze di arti, bellamente cooperino insieme al bene comune, renderanno immagine d'una cittadinanza ben costituita e conforme a natura.

Del resto i turbolenti errori, che abbiamo accennati, debbono troppo far tremare gli Stati. Imperocché tolto via il timore di Dio e il rispetto delle divine leggi, messa sotto i piedi l'autorità dei Principi, licenziata e legittimata la libidine delle sommosse, sciolto alle passioni popolari ogni freno, mancato, dai castighi in fuori, ogni ritegno, non può non seguirne una rivoluzione e sovversione universale. E questo sovversivo rivolgimento è lo scopo deliberato e l'aperta professione delle numerose associazioni di Comunisti e Socialisti: agli intendimenti dei quali non ha ragione di chiamarsi estranea la setta Massonica, essa che tanto ne favorisce i disegni, ed ha comuni con loro i capitali principi. Che se non si trascorre coi fatti subito e da per tutto alle estreme conseguenze, il merito di ciò deve recarsi, non già alle massime della setta o alla volontà dei settari, ma alla virtù di quella divina religione, che non può essere spenta, e alla parte più sana dell'umano consorzio, che, sdegnando di servire alle società segrete, si oppone con forte petto all'esorbitanza dei loro conati.

E volesse il Cielo, che universalmente dai frutti si giudicasse la radice, e dai mali che ci minacciano, dai pericoli che ci sovrastano si riconoscesse il mal seme! Si ha da fare con un nemico astuto e fraudolento che, blandendo popoli e monarchi, con lusinghiere promesse e con fini adulazioni entrambi ingannò.

Insinuandosi sotto specie di amicizia nel cuore dei Principi, i Frammassoni mirarono ad avere in essi complici ed aiuti potenti per opprimere il Cristianesimo; e a fine di mettere nei loro fianchi sproni più acuti, si diedero a calunniare ostinatamente la Chiesa come nemica del potere e delle prerogative reali. Divenuti con tali arti baldanzosi e sicuri, acquistarono influenza grande nel governo degli Stati, risoluti per altro di crollare le fondamenta dei troni, e di perseguitare, calunniare, discacciare chi tra' sovrani si mostrasse restio a governare a modo loro.

Con arti simili adulando il popolo, lo trassero in inganno. Gridando a piena bocca libertà e prosperità pubblica; facendo credere alle moltitudini che dell'iniqua servitù e miseria, in cui gemevano, tutta della Chiesa e dei sovrani era la colpa, sobillarono il popolo, e lui smanioso di novità aizzarono ai danni dell'uno e dell'altro potere. Vero è bensì che dei vantaggi sperati maggiore è l'aspettazione che la realtà: anzi oppressa più che mai la povera plebe vedesi nelle miserie sue mancare gran parte di quei conforti, che nella società cristianamente costituita avrebbe potuto facilmente e copiosamente trovare. Ma di tutti i superbi, che si ribellano all'ordine stabilito dalla provvidenza divina, questo è il consueto castigo, che donde sconsigliatamente promettevansi fortuna prospera e tutta a seconda dei loro desideri, trovino ivi appunto oppressione e miseria.

Quanto alla Chiesa, se comanda di ubbidire innanzi tutto a Dio supremo Signore di ogni cosa, sarebbe ingiuriosa calunnia crederla perciò nemica del potere de' Principi, od usurpatrice dei loro diritti. Vuole anzi essa, che quanto è dovuto alla potestà civile, lesi renda per dovere di coscienza. Il riconoscere poi da Dio, com'essa fa, il diritto di comandare, aggiunge al potere politico dignità grande, e giova molto a conciliargli il rispetto e l'amore dei sudditi. Amica della pace, autrice della concordia, tutti con affetto materno abbraccia la Chiesa; e intenta unicamente a far bene agli uomini, insegna doversi alla giustizia unir la clemenza, al comando l'equità, alle leggi la moderazione; rispettare ogni diritto, mantenere l'ordine e la tranquillità pubblica, sollevare al possibile privatamente e pubblicamente le indigenze degl'infelici. "Ma - per usare le parole di Sant'Agostino - credono o vogliono far credere che non torna utile alla società la dottrina del Vangelo, perché vogliono che lo Stato posi non sul fondamento stabile delle virtù, ma sull'impunità dei vivi" (Epist. CXXXVII, al. III, ad Volusianum c. v, n. 20). Per le quali cose opera troppo più conforme al senno civile e necessaria al comune benessere sarebbe, che Principi e popoli, in cambio di allearsi coi Frammassoni a danno della Chiesa, si unissero alla Chiesa per respingere gli assalti dei Frammassoni.

In ogni modo, alla vista d'un male sì grave e già troppo diffuso, è debito Nostro, Venerabili Fratelli, applicar l'animo a cercarne i rimedi. E poiché sappiamo che nella virtù della religione divina, tanto più odiata dai Massoni, quanto più temuta, consiste la migliore e più salda speranza di rimedio efficace, a questa virtù sommamente salutare crediamo che prima di tutto sia da ricorrere contro il comune nemico. Tutte queste cose pertanto, che i Romani Pontefici Nostri Antecessori decretarono per attraversare i disegni e render vani gli sforzi della setta Massonica; tutte quelle che sancirono per allontanare o ritrarre i fedeli da così fatte società; tutte e singole Noi con l'Autorità Nostra Apostolica le ratifichiamo e confermiamo. E qui confidando moltissimo nel buon volere dei fedeli, preghiamo e scongiuriamo ciascuno di loro per quanto su questo proposito fu prescritto dall'Apostolica Sede. Preghiamo poi e supplichiamo voi, Venerabili Fratelli, che cooperiate con Noi ad estirpare questo rio veleno, che largamente serpeggia in seno agli Stati. A voi tocca difendere la gloria di Dio e la salvezza delle anime; tenendo, nel combattimento, questi due fini davanti agli occhi, non vi mancherà coraggio né fortezza. Il giudicare quali sieno i più efficaci mezzi da superare gli ostacoli è cosa che spetta alla prudenza vostra.

Pur nondimeno trovando Noi conveniente al Nostro ministero l'additarvi alcuni dei mezzi più opportuni, la prima cosa da farsi si è togliere alla setta Massonica le mentite sembianze, e renderle le sue proprie, ammaestrando con la voce, ed eziandio con Lettere Pastorali, i popoli, quali siano di tali società gli artifizi per blandire ed allettare; quali la perversità delle dottrine e la disonestà delle opere.

Conforme dichiararono più volte i Nostri Predecessori, chiunque ha cara quanto deve la professione cattolica e la propria salute, non si lusinghi mai di poter senza colpa iscriversi, per qualsivoglia ragione, alla setta Massonica. Niuno si lasci illudere alla simulata onestà; imperocché può ben parere a taluno che i Massoni nulla impongano di apertamente contrario alla fede e alla morale: ma essendo essenzialmente malvagio lo scopo e la natura di tali sètte, non può essere lecito di darvi il nome, né di aiutarle in qualsivoglia maniera.

È necessario in secondo luogo con assidui discorsi ed esortazioni mettere nel popolo l'amore e lo zelo dell'istruzione religiosa: e a tal fine molto raccomandiamo, che con ragionamenti opportuni a voce e in iscritto si spieghino i principi fondamentali di quelle santissime verità, nelle quali consiste la cristiana sapienza. Scopo di ciò è guarire con l'istruzione le menti, e premunirle contro le molteplici forme degli errori, e i vari allettamenti dei vizi, massime in questa gran licenza di scrivere ed insaziabile brama di imparare.

Opera faticosa di certo: nella quale tuttavia partecipe e compagno delle fatiche vostre avrete specialmente il clero, se in grazia del vostro zelo sarà ben disciplinato e istruito. Ma causa così bella e di tanta importanza richiede altresì l'industria cooperatrice di quei laici, che all'amore della religione e della patria congiungono probità e dottrina. Con le forze unite di questi due ordini procurate, Venerabili Fratelli, che gli uomini conoscano intimamente ed abbiano cara la Chiesa; perché quanto più crescerà in essi la conoscenza e l'amore di lei, tanto maggiormente saranno aborrite e schivate le società segrete. Egli è per questo che, giovandoCi della presente occasione, torniamo non senza ragione a ricordare la opportunità inculcata altra volta, di promuovere caldamente e proteggere il Terz'Ordine di San Francesco, di cui recentemente con prudente condiscendenza mitigammo la regola. Imperocché, secondo lo spirito della sua istituzione, esso non mira ad altro, che a trarre gli uomini all'imitazione di Gesù Cristo, all'amore della Chiesa, alla pratica di tutte le cristiane virtù: e però tornerà efficacissimo a spegnere il contagio delle sètte malvagie. Cresca dunque di giorno in giorno questo santo sodalizio, da cui, tra molti altri, può anche sperarsi questo prezioso frutto, di ricondurre gli animi alla libertà, alla fraternità, alla uguaglianza: non quali va sognando assurdamente la sètta Massonica, ma quali Gesù Cristo recò al mondo e Francesco nel mondo ravvivò. La libertà diciamo dei Figli di Dio, che affranca dal servaggio di Satana e dalle passioni, tiranni pessimi: la fraternità, che da Dio prende origine, Creatore e Padre di tutti: l'uguaglianza che, fondata sulla giustizia e carità, non distrugge tra gli uomini tutte le differenze, ma dalla varietà della vita, degli offici, delle inclinazioni forma quell'accordo e quasi armonia, voluta da natura a utilità e dignità del civile consorzio.

In terzo luogo esiste un'istituzione, attuata sapientemente dai nostri maggiori, e poi coll'andar del tempo dimessa, la quale può servire ai di nostri come di modello e di forma a qualcosa di simile.

Intendiamo parlare dei Collegi e Corpi di arti e mestieri, destinati, sotto la guida della religione, a tutela degl'interessi e dei costumi. I quali Collegi, se per lungo uso ed esperienza riuscirono di gran vantaggio ai nostri padri, torneranno molto più vantaggiosi all'età nostra, perché opportunissimi a fiaccare la potenza delle sètte. I poveri operai, oltre ad essere per la stessa condizione loro degnissimi sopra tutti di carità e di sollievo, sono in modo particolare esposti alle seduzioni dei fraudolenti e raggiratori. Vanno perciò aiutati con la massima generosità, e invitati alle società buone, affinché non si lascino trascinare nelle malvagie. Per questo motivo Ci sarebbe assai caro che, adattate ai tempi, risorgessero per tutto sotto gli auspici e il patrocinato dei Vescovi a salute del popolo siffatte aggregazioni. E Ci è di grandissimo conforto il vederle fondate già in molti luoghi insieme coi patronati cattolici: due istituzioni, che mirano a giovare la classe onesta dei proletari, a soccorrere e proteggere le loro famiglie, i loro figli, e a mantenere in essi con l'integrità dei costumi l'amore della pietà, e la conoscenza della religione.

E qui non possiamo passare sotto silenzio la Società di San Vincenzo de' Paoli, insigne per lo spettacolo e l'esempio che porge, e si altamente benemerita della povera plebe. Le opere e le intenzioni di cotesta società sono ben note: essa è tutta in sovvenire i bisognosi e i tribolati, prevenendoli amorosamente, e ciò con mirabile sagacia, e con quella modestia, che quanto meno vuol comparire, tanto è più opportuna all'esercizio della carità e al sollevamento delle umane miserie.

In quarto luogo, a conseguir più facilmente l'intento, alla fede e vigilanza vostra raccomandiamo caldissimamente la gioventù, speranza dell'umano consorzio.

Nella buona educazione di essa ponete grandissima parte delle vostre cure, e non vi date mai a credere di aver vigilato e fatto abbastanza, pel tener lontana l'età giovinetta da quelle scuole e da quei maestri donde sia da temere l'alito pestifero delle sètte. Fate che i genitori, i direttori spirituali, i parroci, nell'insegnare la dottrina cristiana, non si stanchino di ammonire opportunamente i figli e gli alunni intorno alla rea natura di tali sètte, anche perché imparino per tempo le varie e subdole arti, solite usarsi dai propagatori di quelle per irretire la gente. Anzi quei che apparecchiano i giovinetti alla prima comunione faranno benissimo, se gl'indurranno a proporre e promettere di non ascriversi, senza saputa dei propri genitori ovvero senza consiglio del parroco o del confessore, a società alcuna.

Ma ben comprendiamo, che le comuni nostre fatiche non sarebbero sufficienti a svellere questa perniciosa semenza dal campo del Signore, se il Celeste padrone della vigna non ci sarà largo a tale effetto del suo generoso soccorso. Convien dunque implorarne il potente aiuto con fervore veemente ed ansioso, pari alla gravità del pericolo e alla grandezza del bisogno. Inorgoglita dei prosperi successi, la Massoneria insolentisce, e pare non voglia più metter limiti alla sua pertinacia. Per un'iniqua lega ed un'occulta unità di propositi da per tutto i seguaci suoi congiunti insieme, si dànno scambievolmente la mano e l'uno rinfocola l'altro a più osare nel male. Assalto sì gagliardo vuole non men gagliarda difesa: vogliam dire che tutti i buoni debbono collegarsi in una vastissima società di azione e di preghiera. Due cose pertanto dimandiamo da loro; da una parte, che unanimi, a schiere serrate, a piè fermo resistano all'impeto ognora crescente, delle sètte; dall'altra, che sollevando con molti gemiti le mani supplichevoli a Dio, implorino a grande istanza, che il Cristianesimo prosperi e cresca vigoroso; che riabbia la Chiesa la necessaria libertà; che i traviati ritornino a salute; che gli errori alla verità, i vizi faccian luogo alla virtù.

Invochiamo a tal fine l'aiuto e la mediazione di Maria Vergine Madre di Dio, affinché contro l'empie sètte, in cui si vedono chiaramente rivivere l'orgoglio contumace, la perfidia indomita, la simulatrice astuzia di Satana, dimostri la potenza sua, essa che trionfò di lui sin dal suo primo concepimento.

Preghiamo altresì San Michele, principe dell'angelica milizia, debellatore del nemico infernale; San Giuseppe, sposo della Vergine Santissima, Celeste e salutare patrono della cattolica Chiesa; i grandi Apostoli Pietro e Paolo, propagatori e difensori invitti della fede cristiana. Per il patrocinio di essi e per la perseveranza delle comuni preghiere confidiamo, che Iddio si degnerà di sovvenire pietosamente ai bisogni della umana società, minacciata da tanti pericoli.

A pegno poi delle grazie Celesti e della benevolenza Nostra impartiamo con grande affetto a voi, Venerabili Fratelli, al clero e a tutto il popolo commesso alle vostre cure l'Apostolica Benedizione.

Dato a Roma, presso San Pietro, il giorno 20 Aprile 1884, anno VII del Nostro Pontificato.

LEONE PP. XIII

 

 

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Dall'alto dell'Apostolico Seggio

Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII

On Freemasonry in Italy

Promulgated on 15 October 15 1890

 
     

To the Bishops, the Clergy, and the People of Italy.
Venerable Brethren and Beloved Children,
Health and Apostolic Benediction.

Italy Has Come to This

From the height of the Apostolic Throne, where Divine Providence has placed Us to watch over the salvation of all nations, We look upon Italy in whose bosom, by an act of singular predilection, God has established the See of His Vicar, and from which come to Us at the present time many and most bitter sorrows. - It is not any personal offence that saddens Us, nor the privations and sacrifices imposed upon Us by the present condition of things, nor the outrages and scoffs which an insolent press has full power to hurl every day against Us. If only Our person were concerned, and not the ruin to which Italy threatened in its faith is hastening, We should bear these offences without complaint, rejoicing even to repeat what one of Our most illustrious Predecessors said of himself: "If the captivity of my country did not every moment for each day increase, as to the contempt and scorn of myself I should joyfully be silent."(1) - But, besides the independence and dignity of the Holy See, the religion itself and the salvation of a whole nation are concerned, of a nation which from the earliest times opened its bosom to the Catholic Faith and has ever jealously preserved it. Incredible it seems, but it is true; to such a pass have we come, that we have to fear for this Italy of ours the loss even of the faith.-Many times have We sounded the alarm, to give warning of the danger; but We do not therefore think that We have done enough. In face of the continued and fiercer assaults that are made, We hear the voice of duty calling upon Us more powerfully than before to speak to you again, Venerable Brethren, to your Clergy, and to the whole Italian people. As the enemy makes no truce, so neither you nor We must remain silent or inert. By the Divine mercy We have been constituted guardians and defenders of the religion of the people entrusted to Our care, Pastors and watchful sentinels of the flock of Christ; and for this flock We must be ready, if need be, to sacrifice everything, even life itself.

The Object of the Encyclical

2. We shall not say anything new; for facts have not changed from what they were, and We have had at other times to speak of them when occasion was given. - But We now intend to recapitulate these facts in some way, and to group them into one picture, so as to draw out for general instruction the consequences which flow from them. The facts are incontestable which have happened in the clear light of day; not separated one from another, but so connected together as in their series to reveal with fullest evidence a system of which they are the actual operation and development. 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 endeavour 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 centre of Catholic unity, and the See of the Universal Pastor and Teacher of the Church.

3. It is well to trace from the beginning the different phases of this warfare.

"Facilis Descensus Averni"

4. 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 labourers for the propagation of the faith amongst the heathens, and for the sacred ministry and religious service of Catholic countries. - Later, the obligation of military service was extended to ecclesiastics, with the necessary result that many and grave obstacles were put to the recruiting and due formation even of the secular Clergy. Hands were laid upon ecclesiastical property, partly by absolute confiscation, and partly by charging it with enormous burdens, so as to impoverish the Clergy and the Church, and to deprive the Church of what is necessary for its temporal support and for carrying on institutions and works in aid of its divine apostolate. This the sectaries themselves have openly declared. To lessen the influence of the Clergy and of clerical bodies, one only efficacious means must be employed: to strip them of 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 pretences, 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 axe 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. To lay Clericalism (or Catholicism) waste in its foundations and in its very sources of life, namely, in the school and in the family: such is the authentic declaration of Masonic writers.

Italy Among the Fallen

5. It will be said that this does not happen in Italy only, but is a system of government which States generally follow. - We answer, that this does not refute, but confirms what We are saying as to the designs and action of Freemasonry in Italy. Yes, this system is adopted and carried out wherever Freemasonry uses its impious and wicked action; and, as its action is widespread, so is this anti-Christian system widely applied. But the application becomes more speedy and general, and is pushed more to extremes, in countries where the government is more under the control of the sect and better promotes its interest. Unfortunately, at the present time the new Italy is of the number of these countries. Not today only has it become subject to the wicked and evil influence of the sects; but for some time past they have tyranised over it as they liked, with absolute dominion and power. Here the direction of public affairs, in what concerns religion, is wholly in conformity with the aspirations of the sects; and for accomplishing their aspirations, they find avowed supporters and ready instruments in those who hold the public power. Laws adverse to the Church and measures hostile to it are first proposed, decided, and resolved, in the secret meetings of the sect; and if anything presents even the least appearance of hostility or harm to the Church, it is at once received with favour and put forward. - Amongst the most recent facts We may mention the approval of the new penal code, in which what was most obstinately demanded, in spite of all reasons to the contrary, were the articles against the Clergy, which form for them an exceptional law, and even condemn as criminal certain actions which are sacred duties of their ministry. - The law as to pious works, by which all charitable property, accumulated by the piety and religion of our ancestors under the protection and guardianship of the Church, was withdrawn altogether from the Church's action and control, had been for some years put forward in the meetings of the sect, precisely because it would inflict a new outrage on the Church, lessen its social influence, and suppress at once a great number of bequests made for divine worship. - Then came that eminently sectarian work, the erection of the monument to the renowned apostate of Nola, which, with the aid and favour of the government, was promoted, determined, and carried out by means of Freemasonry, whose most authorised spokesmen were not ashamed to acknowledge its purpose and to declare its meaning. Its purpose was to insult the Papacy; its meaning that, instead of the Catholic Faith, must now be substituted the most absolute freedom of examination, of criticism, of thought, and of conscience: and what is meant by such language in the mouth of the sects is well known. - The seal was put by the most explicit declarations made by the head of the government, which were to the following effect: - That the true and real conflict, which the government has the merit of understanding, is the conflict between faith and the Church on one side and free examination and reason on the other. That the Church may try to act as it has done before, to enchain anew reason and free-thought, and to prevail; but the government in this conflict declares itself openly in favour of reason as against faith, and takes upon itself the task of making the Italian State the evident expression of this reason and liberty: a sad task, which has just now been boldly reaffirmed on a like occasion.

The Masonic Ideal

6. In the light of such facts and such declarations as these, it is more than ever clear that the ruling idea which, as far as religion is concerned, controls the course of public affairs in Italy, is the realisation of the Masonic programme. We see how much has already been realised; we know how much still remains to be done; and we can foresee with certainty that, so long as the destinies of Italy are in the hands of sectarian rulers or of men subject to the sects, the realisation of the programme will be pressed on, more or less rapidly according to circumstances, unto its complete development. - The action of the sects is at present directed to attain the following objects, according to the votes and resolutions passed in their most important assemblies, - votes and resolutions inspired throughout by a deadly hatred of the Church. The abolition in the schools of every kind of religious instruction, and the founding of institutions in which even girls are to be withdrawn from all clerical influence whatever it may be; because the State, which ought to be absolutely atheistic, has the inalienable right and duty to form the heart and the spirit of its citizens, and no school should exist apart from its inspiration and control. - The rigorous application of all laws now in force, which aim at securing the absolute independence of civil society from clerical influence. - The strict observance of laws suppressing religious corporations, and the employment of means to make them effectual. - The regulation of all ecclesiastical property, starting from the principle that its ownership belongs to the State, and its administration to the civil power. - The exclusion of every Catholic or clerical element from all public administrations, from pious works, hospitals, and schools, from the councils which govern the destinies of the country, from academical and other unions, from companies, committees, and families, - an exclusion from everything, everywhere, and forever. Instead, the Masonic influence is to make itself felt in all the circumstances of social life, and to become master and controller of everything. - Hereby the way will be smoothed towards the abolition of the Papacy; Italy will thus be free from its implacable and deadly enemy; and Rome, which in the past was the centre of universal Theocracy will in the future be the centre of universal secularisation, whence the Magna Charta of human liberty is to be proclaimed in the face of the whole world. Such are the authentic declarations, aspirations, and resolutions, of Freemasons or of their assemblies.

7. Without exaggeration, this is the present condition and the future prospect of religion in Italy. To shrink from seeing the gravity of this would be a fatal error. To recognise it as it is, to confront it with evangelical prudence and fortitude, to infer the duties which it imposes on all Catholics, and upon us especially who as Pastors have to watch over them and guide them to salvation, is to enter into the views of Providence, to do a work of wisdom and pastoral zeal. - As far as We are concerned, the Apostolic office lays upon Us the duty of protesting loudly once more against all that has been done, is doing, or is attempted in Italy to the harm of religion. Defending and guarding the sacred rights of the Church and of the Pontificate, We openly repel and denounce to the whole Catholic world the outrages which the Church and the Pontificate are continually receiving, especially in Rome, and which hamper Us in the government of the Catholic Church, and add difficulty and indignity to Our condition. We are determined not to omit anything on Our part which can serve to maintain the faith lively and vigorous amidst the Italian people, and to protect it against the assaults of its enemies. We, therefore, make appeal, Venerable Brethren, to your zeal and your great love for souls, in order that, possessed with a sense of the gravity of the danger which they incur, you may apply the proper remedies and do all you can to dispel this danger.

Thus Shall You Fight

8. No means must be neglected that are in your power. All the resources of speech, every expedient in action, all the immense treasures of help and grace which the Church places in your hands, must be made use of, for the formation of a Clergy learned and full of the spirit of Jesus Christ, for the Christian education of youth, for the extirpation of evil doctrines, for the defence of Catholic truths, and for the maintenance of the Christian character and spirit of family life.

9. As to the Catholic people, before everything else it is necessary that they should be instructed as to the true state of things in Italy with regard to religion, the essentially religious character of the conflict in Italy against the Pontiff, and the real object constantly aimed at, so that they may see by the evidence of facts the many ways in which their religion is conspired against, and may be convinced of the risk they run of being robbed and spoiled of the inestimable treasure of the faith. - With this conviction in their minds, and having at the same time a certainty that without faith it is impossible to please God and to be saved, they will understand that what is now at stake is the greatest, not to say the only interest, which every one on earth is bound before all things, at the cost of any sacrifice, to put out of danger, under penalty of everlasting misery. They will, moreover, easily understand that, in this time of open and raging conflict, it would be disgraceful for them to desert the field and hide themselves. Their duty is to remain at their post, and openly to show themselves to be true Catholics by their belief and by actions in conformity with their faith. This they must do for the honour of their faith, and the glory of the Sovereign Leader whose banner they follow; and that they may escape that great misfortune of being disowned at the last day, and of not being recognised as His by the Supreme Judge who has declared that whosoever is not with Him is against Him.-Without ostentation or timidity, let them give proof of that true courage which arises from the consciousness of fulfilling a sacred duty before God and men. To this frank profession of faith Catholics must unite a perfect docility and filial love towards the Church, a sincere respect for their Bishops, and an absolute devotion and obedience to the Roman Pontiff. In a word, they will recognise how necessary it is to cease from everything that is the work of the sects, or that receives impulse or favour from them, as being undoubtedly infected by the anti-Christian spirit; and they will, on the contrary, devote themselves with activity, courage and constancy, to Catholic works, and to the associations and institutions which the Church has blessed, and which the Bishops and the Roman Pontiff encourage and sustain. Moreover, seeing that the chief instrument employed by our enemies is the press, which in great part receives from them its inspiration and support, it is important that Catholics should oppose the evil press by a press that is good, for the defence of truth, out of love for religion, and to uphold the rights of the Church. While the Catholic press is occupied in laying bare the perfidious designs of the sects, in helping and seconding the action of the sacred Pastors, and in defending and promoting Catholic works, it is the duty of the faithful efficaciously to support this press,-both by refusing or ceasing to favour in any way the evil press; and also directly, by concurring, as far as each one can, in helping it to live and thrive: and in this matter We think that hitherto enough has not been done in Italy.Lastly, the teaching addressed by Us to all Catholics, especially in the Encyclicals "Humanum genus" and "Sapientiae Christianae," should be particularly applied to the Catholics of Italy, and be impressed upon them. If they have anything to suffer or to sacrifice through remaining faithful to these duties, let them take courage in the thought that the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence and is gained only by doing violence to ourselves; and that he who loves himself and what is his own more than Jesus Christ, is not worthy of Him. The example of the many invincible champions who, throughout all time, have generously sacrificed everything for the faith, and the special helps of grace which make the yoke of Jesus Christ sweet and His burden light, ought to animate powerfully their courage and to sustain them in the glorious contest.

From Another Point of View

10. So far We have considered only the religious side of the present state of things in Italy, inasmuch as this is for Us the most essential, and the subject which eminently concerns Us by reason of the Apostolic office which We hold. But it is worthwhile to consider also the social and political side, so that Italians may see that not only the love of religion, but also the noblest and sincerest love of country should stir them to resist the impious attempts of the sects. - As a convincing proof of this, it suffices to take note of the kind of future, in the social and political order, which is being prepared for Italy by men whose object is - and they make no secret of it - to wage an unrelenting war against Catholicism and the Papacy.

11. Already the test of the past speaks eloquently for itself. - What Italy has become in this first period of its new life, as to public and private morality, internal safety, order and peace, national wealth and prosperity, all this is known to you by facts, Venerable Brethren, better than We could describe it in words. The very men whose interest it would be to hide all this, are constrained by truth to admit it. We will only say that, under present conditions, though a sad but real necessity, things could not be otherwise: the Masonic sect, with all its boast of a spirit of beneficence and philanthropy, can only exercise an evil influence - an influence which is evil because it attacks and endeavours to destroy the religion of Christ, the true benefactress of mankind.

Without Religion Ye Are Naught

12. All know with what salutary effect and in how many ways the influence of religion penetrates society. It is beyond dispute that sound public and private morality gives honour and strength to States. But it is equally certain that, without religion there is no true morality, either public or private. - From the family, solidly based on its natural foundations, comes the life, the growth, and the energy of society. But without religion, and without morality, the domestic partnership has no stability, and the family bonds grow weak and waste away. - The prosperity of peoples and of nations comes from God and from His blessings. If a people does not attribute its prosperity to Him, but rises up against Him, and in the pride of its heart tacitly tells Him that it has no need of Him, its prosperity is but a semblance, certain to disappear so soon as it shall please the Lord to confound the proud insolence of His enemies. - It is religion which, penetrating to the depth of each one's conscience, makes him feel the force of duty and urges him to fulfil it. It is religion which gives to rulers feelings of justice and love towards their subjects; which makes subjects faithful and sincerely devoted to their rulers; which makes upright and good legislators, just and incorruptible magistrates, brave and heroic soldiers, conscientious and diligent administrators. It is religion which produces concord and affection between husband and wife, love and reverence between parents and their children; which makes the poor respect the property of others, and causes the rich to make a right use of their wealth. From this fidelity to duty, and this respect for the rights of others come the order, the tranquillity, and the peace, which form so large a part of the prosperity of a people and of a State. Take away religion, and with it all these immensely precious benefits would disappear from society.

Italy Without Religion

13. For Italy, moreover, the loss would be sensible. - All its glories and greatness, which for a long time gave to it the first place among the most cultured nations, are inseparable from religion, which has either produced or inspired them, or certainly has given to them favour, help, and increase. Its communes tell us of its public liberties: of its military glories we read in its many memorable enterprises against the enemies of the Christian name. Its sciences are seen in its universities which, founded, fostered, and privileged by the Church, have been their home and theatre. Its arts are shown in the numberless monuments of every kind with which Italy is profusely covered. Of its institutions for the relief of suffering, for the destitute, and the working-classes we have evidence in its many foundations of Christian charity, in the many asylums established for every kind of need and misfortune, and in the associations and corporations which have grown up under the protection of religion. The virtue and the strength of religion are immortal because religion is from God. It has treasures of help and most efficacious remedies, which can be wonderfully adapted to the needs of every time and epoch. What religion has known how to do and has done in former times, it can do also now with a virtue ever fresh and vigorous. To take away religion from Italy, is to dry up at once the most abundant source of inestimable help and benefits.

The Dangers of Socialism

14. 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 organisation 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, civilised 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 defence 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.

15. But this is not all. - As, in the social order, the war against religion is becoming most disastrous and destructive to Italy, so, in the political order, the enmity against the Holy See and the Roman Pontiff is for Italy a source of the greatest evils. Even as to this, demonstration is not needed; it is enough, for the full expression of our thought, to state in few words its conclusions. The war against the Pope is for Italy, internally, a cause of profound division between official Italy and the great part of Italians who are truly Catholic: and every division is a weakness. This war deprives our country of the support and co-operation of the party which is the most frankly conservative; it keeps up in the bosom of the nation a religious conflict which has never yet brought any public good, but ever bears within itself the fatal germs of evil and of most heavy chastisement. Externally, the conflict with the Holy See, besides depriving Italy of the prestige and splendour which it would most certainly have by living in peace with the Pontificate, draws upon it the hostility of the Catholics of the whole world, is a cause of immense sacrifices, and may on any occasion furnish its enemies with a weapon to be used against it.

16. Such is the so-called welfare and i greatness prepared for Italy by those who, having its destinies in their hands, do all they can, in accordance with the impious aspiration of the '' sects, to overthrow the Catholic religion and the Papacy.

If Only

17. Suppose, instead of this, that all connection and connivance with the sects were given up; that religion and the Church, as the greatest social power, were allowed real liberty and full exercise of their rights. - What a happy change would come over the destinies of Italy! The evils and the dangers which we have lamented, as the result of the war against religion and the Church, would cease with the termination of the conflict; and further, we should see once more flourish on the chosen soil of Catholic Italy the greatness and glory which religion and the Church have ever abundantly produced. From their divine power would spring up spontaneously a reformation of public and private morality; family ties would be strengthened; and under religious influences, the feeling of duty and of fidelity in its fulfilment would be awakened in all ranks of the people to a new life. - The social questions which now so greatly occupy men's minds would find their way to the best and most complete solution, by the practical application of the gospel precepts of charity and justice. Popular liberty, not allowed to degenerate into license, would be directed only to good ends, and would become truly worthy of man. The sciences, through that truth of which the Church is mistress, would rise speedily to a higher excellence; and so also would the arts, through the powerful inspiration which religion derives from above, and which it knows how to transfuse into the minds of men. - Peace being made with the Church, religious unity and civil concord would be greatly strengthened; the separation between Italy and Catholics faithful to the Church would cease, and Italy would thus acquire a powerful element of order and stability. The just demands of the Roman Pontiff being satisfied, and his sovereign rights acknowledged, he would be restored to a condition of true and effective independence; and Catholics of other parts of the world, who, not through external influence of ignorance of what they want, but through a feeling of faith and sense of duty, all raise their voice in defence of the dignity and liberty of the supreme Pastor of their souls, would no longer have reason to regard Italy as the enemy of the Pontiff. - On the contrary, Italy would gain greater respect and esteem from other nations by living in harmony with the Apostolic See; for not only has this See conferred special benefits on Italians by its presence in the midst of them, but also, by the constant diffusion of the treasures of faith from this centre of benediction and salvation, it has made the Italian name great and respected among all nations. Italy reconciled with the Pontiff, and faithful to its religion, would be able worthily to emulate the glory of its early times; and from whatever real progress there is in the present age it would receive a new impulse to advance in its glorious path. Rome, pre-eminently the Catholic city, destined by God to be the centre of the religion of Christ and the See of His Vicar, has had in this the cause of its stability and greatness throughout the eventful changes of the many ages that are past. Placed again under the peaceful and paternal sceptre of the Roman Pontiff, it would again become what Providence and the course of ages made it - not dwarfed to the condition of a capital of one kingdom, nor divided between two different and sovereign powers in a dualism contrary to its whole history; but the worthy capital of the Catholic world, great with all the majesty of Religion and of the supreme Priesthood, a teacher and an example to the nations of morality and of civilisation.

Founded on a Rock

18. These are not vain illusions, Venerable Brethren, but hopes resting upon the most solid and true foundation. The assertion which for some time has been commonly repeated, that Catholics and the Pontiff are the enemies of Italy, and in alliance, so to speak, with those who would overturn everything, is a gratuitous insult and a shameless calumny, artfully spread abroad by the sects to disguise their wicked designs, and to enable them to continue without obstacle their hateful work of stripping Italy of its Catholic character. The truth which is seen most clearly from what we have thus far said, is that Catholics are Italy's best friends. By keeping altogether aloof from the sects, by renouncing their spirit and their works, by striving in every way that Italy may not lose the faith, but preserve it in all its vigour,-may not fight against the Church, but be its faithful daughter, - may not assail the Pontificate, but be reconciled to it, - Catholics give proof by all this of their strong and real love for the religion of their ancestors and for their country. - Do all that you can, Venerable Brethren, to spread the light of truth among the people so that they may come at last to understand where their welfare and their true interest are to be found; and may be convinced that only from fidelity to religion and from peace with the Church and with the Roman Pontiff, can they hope to obtain for Italy a future worthy of its glorious past. - To this We would call the attention, not of those affiliated to the sects, whose deliberate purpose it is to establish the new settlement of the Italian Peninsula upon the ruins of the Catholic Religion; but of others who, without welcoming such malevolent designs, help these men in their work by supporting their policy; and especially of young men, who are so liable to go astray through inexperience and the predominance of mere sentiment. We would that everyone should become convinced that the course which is now followed cannot be otherwise than fatal to Italy; and, in once more making known this danger, We are moved only by a consciousness of duty and by love of our country.

Prayers and Benedictions

19. But, for the enlightening of men's minds, we must above all ask for special help from heaven. Therefore, to our united action, Venerable Brethren, we must join prayer; and let it be a prayer that is general, constant, and fervent: a prayer that will offer gentle violence to the heart of God, and render Him merciful to Italy our country, so that He may avert from it every calamity, especially that which would be the most terrible - the loss of faith. - Let us take as our mediatrix with God the most glorious VIRGIN MARY, the invincible Queen of the Rosary, Who has such great power over the forces of hell, and has so many times made Italy feel the effects of Her maternal love. - Let us also with confidence have recourse to the holy Apostles PETER and PAUL, who subjected this blessed land to the faith, sanctified it by their labours, and bathed it in their blood.

20. As a pledge meanwhile of the help which We ask, and in token of Our most special affection, receive the Apostolic Benediction, which from the depth of Our heart We grant to you, Venerable Brethren, to your Clergy, and to the Italian people.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, on the 15th of October, 1890, the thirteenth year of Our Pontificate.

LEO XIII

REFERENCE:

1. St. Gregory the Great: Letter to the Emperor Maurice, Reg. 5.

     

 

 

And for those readers not suffering under a phobic aversion to the truth when truth touches on difficult matters, for major overlap in personnel see also:   ...On the Jewish Question.