“Those who join a Masonic sect or other societies of the same sort, which plot against the Church or against legitimate civil authority, incur ipso facto an excommunication simply reserved to the Holy See.” -Canon 2335, 1917 Code of Canon Law
Few Catholics today have a proper understanding, or often even any knowledge at all, about the danger of Freemasonry and their related groups (Shriners, Order of the Arrow, etc). Below can be found a number of resources by which Catholics can educate themselves on this important topic.
First a very clear and complete look at the history and issues with Freemasonry presented by Churchmilitant.tv:
Next we have the official teaching of the Church on Freemasonry laid out in a number of Encyclicals from the Holy Fathers over several centuries. Bolded encyclicals are most important:
Pope Clement XII – In Eminenti Apostolatus – 1738
Pope Benedict XIV – Providas Romanorum – 1751
Pope Pius VII – Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo – 1821
Pope Leo XII – Quo Graviora – 1826
Pope Pius VIII – Traditi Humilitati – 1829
Pope Gregory XVI – Mirari Vos – 1832
Blessed Pope Pius IX:
Qui Pluribus – 1846
Quibus quantisque malis – 1849
Quanta cura – 1864
Multiplices inter – 1865
Apostolicæ Sedis – 1869
Etsi multa – 1873
Pope Leo XIII:
Etsi Nos – 1882
Humanum Genus – 1884
Officio Sanctissimo – 1887
Ab Apostolici – 1890
Custodi di quella fede – 1892
Inimica vis – 1892
Annum ingressi – 1902
And finally we have the Alta Vendita, which is a document from within Freemasonry itself that clearly lays out and explains their plans to destroy the Catholic Church. It was printed in English in 1885 and discovered in Italian earlier and ordered published in 1859 by Blessed Pope Pius IX.
The Permanent Instruction of The Alta Vendita
The Freemasons Plan for the Destruction of the Catholic Church
“Ever since we have established ourselves as a body of action, and that order has commenced to reign in the bosom of the most distant lodge, as in that one nearest the centre of action, there is one thought which has profoundly occupied the men who aspire to universal regeneration. That is the thought of the enfranchisement of Italy, from which must one day come the enfranchisement of the entire world, the fraternal republic, and the harmony of humanity. That thought has not yet been seized upon by our brethren beyond the Alps. They believe that a revolutionary Italy can only conspire in the shade, deal some strokes of the poniard to sbirri and traitors, and tranquilly undergo the yoke of events which take place beyond the Alps for Italy, but without Italy. This error has been fatal to us on many occasions. It is not necessarily to combat it with phrases which would be only to propagate it. It is necessary to kill it by facts. Thus, amidst the minds of the most vigorous of our lodges, there is one which we ought to never forget.
The Papacy has at all times exercised by decisive action upon the affairs of Italy. By the hands, by the voices, by the pens, by the hearts of its innumerable bishops, priests, monks, nuns and people in all latitudes, the Papacy finds devotedness without end ready for martyrdom, and that to enthusiasm. Everywhere, whenever it pleases to call upon them, it has friends ready to die or lose all for it’s cause. This is an immense leverage which the Popes alone have been able to appreciate to its full power, and as yet have used it only to a certain extent. To-day there is no question of reconstituting for ourselves that power, the prestige of which is for the moment weakened. Our final end if that of Voltaire and of the French Revolution, the destruction forever of Catholicism and even of the Christian idea which, if left standing on the ruins of Rome, would be the resuscitation of Christianity later on. But to attain more certainly that result, and not prepare ourselves with gaiety of heart for the reverses which adjourn indefinitely, or compromise for ages, the success of a good cause, we must not pay attention to those braggarts of Frenchmen, those cloudy Germans, those melancholy Englishmen, all of whom imagine they can kill Catholicism, now with an impure song, then with an illogical deduction; at another time, with a sarcasm smuggled in like the cottons of Great Britain, Catholicism has a life much more tenacious than that. It has seen the most implacable, the most terrible adversaries, and it has often had the malignant pleasure of throwing holy water on the tombs of the most enraged. Let us permit, then, our brethren of these countries to give themselves up to the sterile intemperance of their anti-Catholic zeal. Let them even mock at our Madonnas and our apparent devotion. With this passport we can conspire at our ease, and arrive little by little at the end we have in view.
Now the Papacy has been for seventeen centuries inherent to the history of Italy. Italy cannot breathe or move without the permission of the Supreme Pastor. With him she has the hundred arms of Briareus without him she is condemned to a pitiable impotence. She has nothing but divisions to foment, hatreds to break out, and hostilities to manifest themselves from the highest chain of the Alps to the lowest of the Appenines. We cannot desire such a state of things. It is necessary, then, to seek out a remedy for that situation. The remedy is found. The Pope, whoever he may be, will never come to the secret societies. It is for the secret societies to come first to the Church, in the resolve to conquer the two.
The work which we have undertaken is not the work of a day, nor a month, nor of a year. It may last many years, a century perhaps, but in our ranks the soldier dies and the fight continues.
We do not mean to win the Popes to our cause, to make them neophytes of our principals, and propagators of our ideas. That would be a ridiculous dream, no matter in what manner of events may turn. Should cardinals or prelates, for example, enter, willingly or by surprise, in some manner, into a part of our secrets, it would be by no means a motive to desire their elevation to the See of Peter. That elevation would destroy us. Ambition alone would bring them to apostasy from us. The needs of power would force them to immolate us. That which we ought to demand, that which we should seek and expect, as the Jews expected the Messiah, is a Pope according to our wants. Alexander VI, with all his private crimes, would not suit us, for he never erred in religious matters. Clement XIV, on the contrary, would suit us from head to foot. Borgia was a libertine, a true sensualist of the eighteenth century strayed into the fifteenth. He has been anathematized, notwithstanding his vices, notwithstanding his vices, by all the voices of philosophy and incredulity, and he owes that anathema to the vigour with which he defended the Church. Ganganelli [Clement XIV] gave himself over, bound hand and foot , to the ministers of the Bourbons, who made him afraid, and to the incredulous who celebrated his tolerance and Ganganelli is become a very great Pope. He is almost in the same condition that is necessary for us to find another, if that be yet possible. With that we should march more surely to the attack upon the Church than with the pamphlets of our brethren in France, or even with the gold of England. Do you wish to know the reason? It is because by that we should have no more need of the vinegar of Hannibal, no more need of the powder of the cannon, no more need even of our arms. We have the little finger of the successor of St. Peter engaged in the plot, and that little finger is of more value for our crusade than all the Innocents, Urbans, and the St. Bernards of Christianity.
We do not doubt that we shall arrive at that supreme term of all our efforts; but when? but how? The unknown does not yet manifest itself. Nevertheless, as nothing should separate us from the plan traced out; as on the contrary, all things should tend to it– as if success were to crown the work scarcely sketched out to-morrow–we wish in this instruction which must rest a secret for the simple initiated, to give to those of the Supreme Lodge, councils with which they should enlighten the universality of the brethren, under the form of an instruction or memorandum. It is of special importance, and because of a discretion, the motives of which are transparent, never to permit it to be felt that these counsels are orders orders emanating from the Alta Vendita. The clergy is put too much in peril by it, that one can at the present hour permit oneself to play with it, as with one of these small affairs or of these little princes upon which one need but blow to cause them to disappear.
Little can be done with those old cardinals or with those prelates, whose character is very decided. It is necessary to leave them as we find them, incorrigible, in the school of Consalvi, and draw from our magazines of popularity or unpopularity the arms which will render useful or ridiculous the power in their hands. A word which one can ably invent and which one has the art to spread amongst certain honourable chosen families by whose means it descends into the cafe’s and from the cafe’s into the streets; a word can sometimes kill a man. If a prelate come to Rome to exercise some public function from the depths of the provinces, know presently his character, his antecedents, his qualities, his defects above all things. If he is an advance, a declared enemy, an Albani, a Pallotta, a Bernette, a Della Genga, a Riverola, envelope him in all the snares which you can place beneath his feet; create for him one of those reputations which will frighten little children and old women; paint him cruel and sanguinary; recount, regarding him, some traits of cruelty which can be easily engraved in the minds of the people. When foreign journals shall gather for us these recitals, which they will embellish in their turn (inveitably because of their respect for truth), show, or rather cause to be shown, by some respectable fool those papers where the names and the excesses of the personages implicated are related. As France and England, so Italy will never be wanting in facile pens which know how to employ themselves in these lies so useful to the good cause. With a newspaper, the language of which they do not understand, but in which they will see the name of their delegate or judge, the people have no need of other proofs. They are in the infancy of liberalism; they believe in liberals, as, later on, they will believe in us, not knowing very well why.
Crush the enemy whoever he may be; crush the powerful means of lies and calumnies; but especially crush him in the egg. It is to the youth we must go. It is that which we must seduce; it is that which we must bring under the banner of secret societies. In order to advance by steps, calculated but sure, in that perilous way, two things are of the first necessity. You ought to have the air of being simple as doves, but you must be prudent as the serpent. Your fathers, your children, you wives themselves, ought to always be ignorant of the secret which you carry in your bosoms. If it pleases you, in order the better to deceive the inquisitorial eye, to go often to confession, you are as by right authorised to preserve the most absolute silence regarding these things. You know that the least revelation, that the slightest indication escaped from you in the tribunal of penance, or elsewhere, can bring on great calamities and that the sentence of death is already pronounced upon the revealer, whether voluntary or involuntary.
Now then, in order to secure to us a Pope in the manner required, it is necessary to fashion for that Pope a generation worthy of the reign of which we dream. Leave on the one side old age and middle life, go to the youth, and, if possible, even to infancy. Never speak in their presence a word of impiety or impurity. Maxima debetur puero reverentia. Never forget these words of the poet for they will preserve you from licences which it is absolutely essential to guard against for the good of the cause. In order to reap profit at the home of each family, in order to give yourself the right of asylum at the domestic hearth, you ought to present yourself with all the appearance of a man grave and moral. Once your reputation is established in the colleges, in the gymnasiums, in the universities, and in the seminaries– once that you shall have captivated the confidence of professors and students, so act that those who are principally engaged in the ecclesiastical state should love to seek your conversation. Nourish their souls with the splendours of ancient Papal Rome. There is always at the bottom of the Italian heart a regret for the Republican Rome. Excite, enkindle those natures so full of warmth and of patriotic fire. Offer them at first, but always in secret, inoffensive books, poetry resplendent with national emphasis; then little by little you will bring your disciples to the degree of cooking desired. When upon all the points of the ecclesiastical state at once, this daily work shall have spread our ideas as the light, then you will be able to appreciate the wisdom of the counsel in which we take this initiative.
Events, which in our opinion, precipitate themselves too rapidly, go necessarily in a few months’ time to bring on an intervention of Austria. There are fools who in the lightness of their hearts please themselves in casting others into the midst of perils, and, meanwhile, there are fools who at a given hour drag on even wise men. The revolution which they meditate in Italy will only end in misfortunes and persecutions. Nothing is ripe, neither the men nor the things, and nothing shall be for a long time yet; but from these evils you can easily draw one new chord, and cause it to vibrate in the hearts of the young clergy. That is the hatred of the stranger. Cause the German to become ridiculous and odious even before his foreseen entry. With the idea of the Pontifical supremacy, mix always the old memories of the wars of the priesthood and the Empire. Awaken smoulderinng passions of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, and thus you will obtain for yourselves the reputation of good Catholics and pure patriots.
That reputation will open the way for our doctrines to be pass to the bosoms of the young clergy, and go even to the depths of convents. In a few years the young clergy will have, by the force of events, invaded all the functions. They will govern, administer, judge. They will form the council of the Sovereign. They will be called upon to choose the Pontiff who will reign; and that Pontiff, like the greater part of his contemporaries, will be necessarily imbued with the Italian and humanitarian principals which we are about to put into circulation. It is a little grain of mustard which we place in the earth, but the sun of justice will develop it even to be a great power, and you will see one day what a rich harvest that little seed will produce.
In the way which we trace for our brethren, there are found great obstacles to conquer, difficulties of more than one kind to surmount. They will be overcome by experience and by perspicacity; but the end is beautiful. What does it matter to put all the sails to the wind in order to attain it. You wish to revolutionize Italy? Seek out the Pope of whom we give portrait. You wish to establish the reign of the elect upon the throne of the prostitute of Babylon? Let the clergy march under your banner in the belief always that they march under the banner of the Apostolic Keys. You wish to cause the last vestige of tyranny and of oppression to disappear? Lay your nets like Simon Barjona. Lay them in the depths of the sacristies, seminaries, and convents, rather than in the depths of the sea, and if you will precipitate nothing you will give yourself a draught of fishes more miraculous than his. The fisher of fishes will become a fisher of men. You will bring yourselves as friends around the Apostolic Chair. You will have fished up a Revolution in Tiara and Cope, marching with Cross and banner— a Revolution which needs only to be spurred on a little to put the four quarters of the world on fire. Let each act as if your life tend then to discover the Philosopher’s Stone. The alchemists of the middle ages lost their time and the gold of their dupes in the quest of this dream. That of the secret societies will be accomplished for the most simple of reasons, because it is based on the passions of man. Let us not be discouraged then by a check, a reverse, or a defeat. Let us prepare our arms in the silence of the lodges, dress our batteries, flatter all passions the most evil and the most generous, and all lead us to think that our plans will succeed one day above even our most improbable calculations.”