Catholic Church and Freemasonry – New Catholic Encyclopedia
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The following is from a webpage, citing the New Catholic Encyclopedia, at http://www.trosch.org/bks/freemasonry.html
Article below introductory comments is from New Catholic Encyclopedia© Volume 6, pages 132 through 139 inclusive
Volume 6, pages 132 through 139 inclusive
Freemasonry is a politically powerful financial organization operating under the guise of an all encompassing religion generally open, at least at some levels, to everyone but atheists. Their goal is the domination of the world from a deistic perspective (deism – a movement or system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing morality, and in the 18th century denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe. – Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary). NOTE: Freemason concern for morality is focused in relationship to their own membership, not upon morality in the world. While they allow membership to those who have belief systems that recognize the existence of a god or god’s ranging from the Christian universal creator, an active God, to totem pole worshippers and agnostics, most lodges will not allow the name of any god to be mentioned at meetings.
Groups and organizations that have separated from freemasonry, yet retain much of the structure, are in strong opposition to freemasonry. Freemasonry opposes these organizations and forbids association with them (Mormons, etc.). Among the antagonistic organizations and structures that are understood to be breakoff’s of freemasonry are Communism, Socialism, Mormonism, and, it is also believed, the Jehovah Witnesses.
Their goal, world domination, is sought through control of currency, through control of major corporations including banking, media, entertainment, and communications, through control of educators and textbooks, and most importantly the infiltration of religions. Major efforts at infiltration have been focused upon the Catholic (Universal) Church that is based in Rome (headquartered in the Vatican).
Freemasonry has now infiltrated the highest levels of the Church, including bishops and cardinals, and has not been effectively opposed by recent popes who at least seem to have been, or are sympathetic with freemasonry. While recent Church statements continue to some degree to support opposition to freemasonry, there has been no noticeable effort to enforce the teachings of the Church against freemasonry. The documents have served little purpose other than to give Church officials something to point at in order to placate opposition.
The homosexual agenda, now supported by many bishops and cardinals, is seen as a means of undermining the faith of Catholics. Freemasons support and promote this agenda. They also support the breakdown of religion through the use of media that is pro-immorality, pro-abortion, pro-pornography, and pro-population control – this latter is already seen as destroying Europe, North America, Japan and Israel through negative natural replacement birth rates.
While generally known as a social organization – with the Shriners branch in the U.S.A. acting as a fund raising organization for worthy causes – their goal is political control of all governments with the ultimate idea of the formation of a one world currency and then a one world government endorsed by docile domesticated religious leaders. The memberships of their organizations supply the financial backing, either directly or indirectly, for political action. Their focus is primarily upon the election of members to political office at all levels of government. They promote democracy in place of republicanism, the original legal form of government developed by the founding fathers of the U.S.A. The concept is for the government – controlled by freemasons – to dominate the population rather than having a government restricted as to its actions as intended by the American Constitution. Many powerful corporations are dominated by Freemasons and contribute to political causes that elect such men as William Clinton, an acknowledged supporter of sodomy and abortion.
Membership in, associating with, or contributing to any aspect of freemasonry under any title including Mason, Freemason, Illuminati, Shriner, Order of the Eastern Star, Order of DeMolay, and many others, even if believed for a worthy cause (children’s hospital) or under the guise of entertainment (circus), should be understood as a grave offense against God. No organization that is a separation from freemasonry or a mimic thereof should be seen as anything but humanistic and completely self-serving.
While originally an offshoot of Christianity, its membership includes Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. A Muslim recently sent an audio tape that develops the concept that the Gulf War of the early 1990’s was a planned step leading toward a one world government controlled by Freemasons. While any theist – believer in a God or gods as creator of man and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world – should be strongly opposed to any taint of freemasonry, for Catholics it constitutes automatic excommunication once they have knowledge that the teachings of the Church proscribe any association or activity related to them.
The following article has been extracted from the New Catholic Encyclopedia and is accurate except for underscoring that has been added by this editor for emphasis. Note in the following article the cause of God’s oppression of France relating to World War I, World War II, and to Dunkirk, the site of the 1940 evacuation of allied forces that allowed for the complete occupation of France by Germans. Keep also in mind the great cost in lives and to the economy of the British during both of these wars. The Jews, thought by many to be highly involved with freemasonry, also suffered much during and after World War II. Today they are still under great pressure to return occupied lands acquired in war. They will eventually loose all governance of Israel due to their lack of population replacement through the use of various methods of birth control, including murder – the death of children they do not recognize as having spiritual souls important to God. 15 January 2000 A.D.
Freemasonry – article from New Catholic Encyclopedia © 1967, Imprimatur:
+ Patrick A. O”Boyle, D.D., Archbishop of Washington, August 5, 1966 Organizational Chart of Degrees for Mason Scottish and York Rites Papal Encyclicals opposing and condemning Freemasonry
Condemnation of Freemasonry by Church and State Ideology of Freemasonry Oath – known to be taken by Freemasons at time of article Diffusion of Freemasonry from 18th Century to the Present Freemasonry in the United States Allied Rites and Masonic Organizations Masonic Statistics – 1964 A.D. (Calendar year from the birth of Jesus) Bibliography
Freemasonry is the largest worldwide secret society; it draws its name and many of its symbols from the building trade. It originated in the Middle Ages, but underwent substantial modifications in purpose and organization in the 18th century.
Derivation of the Term. The word mason is traced to the French maçon (Latin mation or machio), which means builder of walls or stonecutter. It is not known when the prefix “free” was added, nor is there agreement on its significance. It can describe a mason of superior skills or a craftsman who worked with free (ornamental) stone instead of common rough stone, or a mason exempt from control by the local guilds. Some Masons interpret it as liberty from intellectual bondage and freedom to follow their consciences. In practice the masons who built the medieval cathedrals, abbeys, and castles formed a craft or labor union with a system of passwords that set them apart from common workmen. Their worksheds were known as lodges. Since the 18th century the term Freemason has been understood to refer to a speculative or philosophical Mason instead of a craftsman.
Origin of Speculative Masonry. With the decline of cathedral building after the Protestant Reformation, some lodges of operative (working) masons began to admit honorary members to bolster their sagging membership. The first known nonoperative mason was John Boswell, who was admitted into the Edinburgh (Scotland) lodge in 1600. These nonworking members were initiated into the secrets of the lodges including the myths, grips, passwords, and symbols. The diary of the antiquary Elias Ashmole discusses such a masonic initiation in 1646. Eventually the number of honorary masons exceeded that of the operatives, and the lodges became schools of morality, which used the older symbols to inculcate particular ethical and moral lessons. Modern speculative Freemasonry dates from the foundation of the Grand Lodge of England on June 24, 1717. On that date four of the surviving lodges met in a London tavern to form a grand lodge. Freemasonry is mainly a British institution and has flourished mainly in the British Isles and in former British colonies.
Early Masonic historians sought to establish the foundation of Freemasonry in antiquity, but reputable modern historians put no faith in these legends. Dr. James Anderson (1684–1739), a Scottish Presbyterian minister, in the Book of Constitutions (published in 1723 and 1738) maintained that the craft was founded by God and received the patronage of Adam, the OT Patriarchs, and the kings of Israel. Masons built Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babel, the pyramids, and Solomon’s Temple. He identified Jesus Christ as grand master of the Christian Church. In 1738 Dr. Anderson added Alfred the Great, Cardinal Wolsey, and Sir Christopher Wren to the list of grand masters. Though these claims are not taken seriously today, popular Freemasonry places the founding of the lodge in the reign of King Solomon.
Freemasonry has incorporated bits of other systems in its initiations and higher degrees, such as the mystery schools, Mithraism, the Egyptian priesthood, the system of the Pythagoreans, Essenes, cabalists, Druids, the orders of knighthood, Rosicrucians, Arabic secret societies, and the Knights Templar. Evidence linking modern Freemasonry with these older secret societies is absent. Whereas the original operative masons were charged to remain loyal to the Church, the speculative Freemasons were invited to follow “that Religion to which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves.” From the organization of the Grand Lodge in 1717 until the adoption of Anderson’s Constitution in 1723, the character of the lodges was distinctly deistic, rationalistic, and materialistic, so that God became the Great Architect of the Universe. Later, Masons sought to restore certain Christian observances without, however, restricting membership to Christians. The transition from deism to theism was particularly apparent after the union of Antients and Moderns in 1813.
The essential features of Freemasonry are called landmarks. No Masonic authority has the power to establish their number, and as a result, they vary from 15 to as many as 60. The landmarks include the methods of recognition, the three-degree system including the royal arch, the Hiramic legend of the third degree, the right of every Mason to visit every regular lodge in the world, belief in God (GAOTU) and in the immortality of the soul, the volume of sacred law (usually the Bible), the equality of all Masons in the lodge, the necessity of secrecy, and the symbolic method of teaching. The organization of the three-degree Masonic system as we know it today was completed by 1725. The four indispensable officers of a master mason’s lodge are the worshipful master, senior and junior warden, and the tyler (doorkeeper). The ritual of the lodge is known as “work.” Freemasonry teaches through symbols that admit gnostic, deistic, or Christian interpretation. For example, the Masonic symbol “G” can stand for either God or geometry. Even familiar Christian symbols such as the cross and the INRI can have radically different meanings. A Masonic lodge will initiate a Christian, Jew, Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, or adherent of any other religion. Although each Anglo-American lodge will place a Holy Bible on its altar, an initiate may elect to swear his oaths on the Koran or the Vedas, or any scripture of his choice. Anderson’s Constitution states that a Mason, “if he rightly understand the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist or an irreligious Libertine.” Thus English-speaking lodges will initiate an agnostic or freethinker but not an atheist. When the Grand Orient of France eliminated (Sept. 13, 1877) the requirements of belief in God and in the immortality of the soul, the United Grand Lodge of England and its affiliated grand lodges immediately severed fraternal relations. This schism in worldwide Freemasonry has not been healed. Typically the Masonic lodges in Latin countries have appealed to freethinkers and anticlericals while those in England, northern Europe, and America draw their membership largely from Protestant churches.
Condemnation of Freemasonry by Church and State. Twenty-one years after the organization of the Grand Lodge of England, Roman Catholics were forbidden to seek membership in any Masonic group. In the bull In Eminenti of April 28, 1738, Clement XII condemned Freemasonry on the grounds of its naturalism, demand for oaths, religious indifferentism, and the possible threat to Church and State. These remain the chief objections to the Masonic system today. Since 1738 seven other popes have specifically proscribed Freemasonry. The major papal documents are: Benedict XIV, Providas, May 18, 1751 Pius VII, Ecclesiam, Sept. 13, 1821 Leo XIII [XII], Quo graviora, March 13, 1825 Pius VIII, May 21, 1829 Gregory XVI, Mirari, Aug. 15, 1832 Pius IX, Qui pluribus, Nov. 9, 1846
Quibus quantisque malis, April 20, 1849
Quanta cura, Dec. 8, 1864
Multiplices inter, Sept. 25, 1865
Apostolicae Sedis, Oct. 12, 1869
Esti multa, Nov. 21, 1873 Leo XIII, Esti nos, Feb. 15, 1882
Humanum genus, April 20, 1884
Ab Apostolici, Oct. 15, 1890
Praeclara, June 20, 1894
Annum ingressi, March 18, 1902
As a consequence no Catholic may join a Masonic lodge or affiliated organization without incurring excommunication reserved simpliciter to the Holy See (CIC c.2335). This deprives him of the reception of the Sacraments, the spiritual treasures of the Church, Christian burial, and such rights as acting as a godfather in Baptism. Likewise a Mason who wishes to enter the Catholic Church must first sever all ties with the lodge.
Masonry itself does not refuse admission to a member of any church, although the Grand Lodge of Utah will not initiate a Mormon, and the Grand Lodge of Quebec makes it very difficult for an apostate Catholic. The anti-Catholic atmosphere of many Masonic organizations would repel Catholics. One of the leading figures in American Freemasonry, Gen. Albert Pike (1809-91), called the papacy a “deadly, treacherous enemy,” and in his letter dated Dec. 28, 1886, to the Italian Grand Commander Timoteo Riboli, he wrote, “The Papacy has been for a thousand years the torturer and curse of Humanity, the most shameless imposture, in its pretense to spiritual power of all ages.”
Several Protestant states were the first to enact restrictive measures against the Masonic lodges. Holland banned the lodge in 1735; Sweden and Geneva, in 1738; Zurich, in 1740; and Berne, in 1745. Spain, Portugal, and Italy attempted to suppress Freemasonry after 1738. Bavaria followed in 1784; Austria, in 1795; Baden, in 1813; and Russia, in 1822. ln more recent years the various Nazi, fascist, and communist governments have attacked Freemasonry. Hitler and Mussolini confiscated lodge buildings and paraphernalia and disbanded the membership. However, the lodges revived to some extent after World War II. Communism considers Freemasonry a bourgeois organization and forbids its recognition. It is also outlawed in Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, and the United Arab Republic.
The Roman Catholic Church is not alone in denying its followers membership in a Masonic lodge. Many Protestant and Eastern Orthodox denominations have similar prohibitions for their communicants. In the U.S. the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, which have a combined membership of 3 million, and all other major Lutheran denominations warn against lodge affiliation, but not all enforce the ban. Among the other antilodge churches are the Christian Reformed Church, Church of the Brethren, Assemblies of God, Society of Friends (Quakers), Mennonites, Church of the Nazarene, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), United Brethren, Wesleyan and Free Methodist churches, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. General Booth condemned it for the Salvation Army. The National Christian Association was formed in 1874 to coordinate Protestant opposition to secret societies. On a worldwide basis the majority of Christians belong to denominations that absolutely forbid membership in a Masonic lodge or similar secret society. It must be admitted, however, that many of these Protestant condemnations have never been enforced and are dead letters today.
Diffusion from 18th Century to the Present. Freemasonry had a wide expansion during the last 3 centuries.
England, Ireland, and Scotland. The original lodges of the Grand Lodge of England attracted few members until 1721. Thereafter some members of the Royal Society applied for initiation and added prestige to the organization. Many others enrolled who were weary of the religious dissension of the times and sought a basis for society in the naturalism and unsectarianism of the lodge. Apart from any religious considerations, secret societies became fashionable among the 18th-century aristocracy. By 1725 the number of lodges had risen to 63; and by 1733, to 126. Gradually Anglo-Saxon Masonry turned away from deism and incorporated elements of Biblical Christian orthodoxy. Toward the end of the 18th century lodge chaplains were appointed, and the support of members of the Protestant clergy was enlisted. A rival grand lodge in England was formed by Irish Masons in 1751. Those who gave their allegiance to the new grand lodge were then known as “Antients” or “York” Masons. The Antients won recognition from the Grand Lodge of Scotland and Ireland and gained influence in the American colonies. A reunion was effected in 1813 and the new authority was called the United Grand Lodge of England. It incorporated several of the ritualistic preferences of the Antients such as the royal arch degree. The reunion of Moderns and Antients also reestablished the unsectarian character of the Masonic lodges under the staunchly deist Duke of Sussex as grand master. Several Roman Catholics served as grand masters of the English lodge during the 18th century. The Catholic Duke of Norfolk became grand master in 1730. Another prominent Catholic Freemason was Viscount Montagu. Robert Edward, the ninth Lord Petre, who was considered the head of the Catholic community in England, became a grand master in 1772 and held that office for 5 years. The Marquess of Ripon resigned the grand mastership in 1874 when he joined the Catholic Church.
English Freemasonry has from early Hanoverian times enjoyed the favor of the royal family and the established church. Edward VII served as grand master of England from 1874 to 1901. George VI was an active Mason, and his brother Edward VIII (who renounced the throne and became the Duke of Windsor) was a past provincial grand master. Prince Philip was initiated in 1952, but has taken no apparent interest in it since. Although many Anglican bishops have entered the higher degrees of Freemasonry, Dr. Geoffrey Fisher was only the second archbishop of Canterbury to wear the Masonic apron. In 1964 there were approximately 6,000 lodges in England.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland, formed in 1725, is the second oldest in the world. It has preserved some Christian elements in its ritual such as the Lord’s Prayer. For some years Roman Catholic laymen and priests participated in these lodges, since the papal bull of 1738 was not promulgated in Ireland until late in the century. The Irish patriot Daniel O’Connell was initiated in 1799 and served as master of Lodge No. 189 in Dublin. He later renounced his Masonic ties when the attitude of the Church was made known. Today the Irish lodges are patronized by the Protestant minority.
The Grand Lodge of Scotland, from which many American lodges have received their charters, was organized in 1736. One of the most famous Scottish Masons was Robert Burns.
France. Freemasonry crossed the English channel in 1721; the first Continental lodge was chartered at Dunkirk. The lodges in France dallied with occultism and inspired dozens of new degrees and rites, most of which have fallen into disuse. Facing the hostility of the Church, the French lodges tended to atheism and anticlericalism from the beginning. French Freemasons honor Voltaire as one of their brothers. When the grand master of the grand orient, Philippe-Egalité, resigned his position in 1793, French Masonry suffered a serious blow. Modern historians agree that the role of Masonry in the French Revolution has usually been exaggerated. Napoleon sought to harness the lodges to his service, although whether he was a Mason is doubtful. He did appoint his brother Joseph to be grand master in 1805. From the fall of the MacMahon government in 1877 to the start of World War II, Masonic politicians controlled the French government. They passed anticlerical laws designed to restrict the Church’s influence, especially in education. Marshal Pétain closed the lodges; and although they were again free after the war, they have not regained their former influence in national life.
Germany and Scandinavia. A veneer of Christianity tinged with anti-Semitism has covered most German and Scandinavian lodges, which usually refuse to initiate Jews or non-Christians. Their rituals include more allusions to Christianity than would be considered appropriate in the English, American, or grand orient lodges. The first German lodge was established in Hamburg in 1737. For a time Frederick the Great dabbled in Freemasonry, and a number of the Hohenzollern family and Prussian officers took Masonic degrees. German Freemasons fostered the Kulturkampf and helped further the dominance of the Prussian state. German Masonry has always been fragmented. At one time nine independent grand lodges claimed the loyalty of 85,000 members. These were obliterated by the Nazis, but after World War II, German lodges were reestablished by American army officers and now number about 250.
In Scandinavia the kings have been the hereditary grand masters and patrons of Masonry. As elsewhere in Europe the lodges enroll an elite who undergo lengthy indoctrination and enter the higher degrees only after strict surveillance and by invitation. The grand lodges in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have been recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England, although the Christian and sometimes Swedenborgian elements in their rites are foreign to an Anglo-American or grand orient Mason.
Belgium. The grand orient of Belgium has long been known for deep involvement in politics and a virulent anti-Catholicism. Many other Masonic jurisdictions have severed relations with the Belgians for these and other reasons. The first Belgian lodge was opened in 1765. Belgian Masons founded Brussels University (1834) to counteract the influence of the Catholic University of Louvain. A recent schism in Belgian Freemasonry has resulted in a grand orient and a grand lodge. The latter has been recognized by most grand lodges in the U.S.
The Netherlands. Unlike their neighbors, the Dutch Freemasons have long maintained good relations with the English grand lodge. The first lodge met at the Hague in 1734, and although at first proscribed by the government, the fraternity survived and gained a measure of respectability. The grand master died in a Nazi concentration camp during the war. There are about 5,000 Dutch Freemasons.
Spain. A grand orient was founded in Madrid in 1770, and the history of Masonic-Church relations since then has been turbulent. The first lodge in Spain was set up by the Duke of Wharton on Feb. 15, 1728. Lodges existed under English warrants till 1769, when Spain established its independent grand lodge. The name was changed to the grand orient of Spain in 1777. In 1809 a rival grand orient subordinate to the grand orient of France was founded by Joseph Bonaparte. Spanish Freemasons supported the Loyalist cause in the Spanish Civil War, and the lodges have been outlawed by the present Spanish government.
Portugal. Lodges have existed in Portugal since 1735. Freemasons took control of the government in 1910. They expelled the Jesuits and forced members of other religious orders to abandon community life. The state demanded the right to name all seminary professors and to fix all text books and curricula. Religious instruction in the schools was curtailed. When the republic was overthrown, Salazar denied Masons any legal status. Neither the grand orient of Portugal nor the grand orient of Spain has received recognition by the United Grand Lodge of England.
Italy. A Masonic lodge had been established in Naples in about 1764. Garibaldi formed a grand orient in Palermo in 1860, and in 1872 at the funeral of Mazzini, Masonic banners were seen on the streets of Rome for the first time. Soon after his seizure of power, Mussolini banned the lodges and ordered all Masonic symbols removed from monuments and public places. Several members of the Grand Fascist Council who were Freemasons left the lodge after Mussolini’s attack in 1923. In 1964 there were approximately 290 lodges in Italy.
Greece. Opposition by the Greek Orthodox Church has handicapped the spread of Freemasonry in Greece. The 50 Greek lodges disappeared during World War II, but Freemasonry has reestablished itself since then, and in 1962 numbered 53 lodges under the Grand Lodge of Greece.
Russia. Emperor Peter III served as grand master of the Russian grand lodge, which was organized in St. Petersburg in 1771. Attacked by the Russian Orthodox Church, it was finally banned by Alexander I in 1822. Leo Tolstoy discussed Freemasonry in War and Peace. Soviet Russia outlawed Masonry in 1922. Freemasonry does not exist today in the Soviet Union, China, or other Communist states. Postwar revivals of Freemasonry in Czechoslovakia and Hungary were suppressed in 1950.
Africa. Masonic lodges on the African continent were usually established in British colonies. Some of the West African lodges initiate Negro and white candidates. The dominant Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa has taken a firm stand against Masonic membership.
Latin America. Freemasonry in Latin America has always expressed itself in the form of an extreme anticlericalism that has sought to exclude the Catholic Church from all areas of education, social action, and public life. In some South American nations the office of president has always been filled by a Mason even though the population is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Many of Latin America’s famous patriots and revolutionaries, such as Simon Bolivar, Bernardo O’Higgins, and Benito Juárez, belonged to the Masonic lodge. Latin Masons belong to grand orients, which are usually not recognized by the Anglo-American grand lodges. Chile has always reported one of the largest Masonic memberships although the greatest enrollment existed in the Cuban grand orient before the revolution that put Fidel Castro in power. Rivalry between two factions in Mexican Freemasonry contributed to the civil turmoil in that country for several decades.
Other Countries. An estimated 365,000 members make up the Masonic lodges in Australia and New Zealand. The 250,000 Canadian Masons belong to nine independent grand lodges. The estimated 10,000 Freemasons in the Philippines belong to three separate grand lodges or grand orients. Most of the bishops and priests of the Philippine Independent Church (Aglipayans) belong to the lodge. This church has enjoyed Masonic support since its founding as a schismatic body in 1902. Small Masonic constituencies can also he found in India, Israel, Japan, Formosa, and Hong Kong.
Freemasonry in the United States. Freemasonry came to America shortly after the founding of the Grand Lodge of England. Daniel Coxe was granted a deputation appointing him provincial grand master of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania on June 5, 1730. Henry Price was appointed provincial grand master for New England in 1732. Benjamin Franklin joined one of the early lodges, probably in 1731, and published an edition of the Book of Constitutions in 1734. ln the same year he was elected provincial grand master of Masons in Pennsylvania. One regular lodge in Philadelphia dates from 1731. Several lodges were chartered by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, but most held affiliation with the Grand Lodge of England. After 1758 most American lodges passed over to the Antients, although the Moderns were also represented in every colony. Most of the American grand lodges adopted a ritual concocted by Thomas Smith Webb, based on British sources. The estimated 150 colonial lodges enrolled an average of only 15 members. During the American Revolution the Masonic lodges often served as rallying points for the colonials. Other Masons, of course, supported the king, and a few like Benedict Arnold changed sides. George Washington was initiated (1752) in the Fredericksburg (Va.) Lodge No. 4. Other patriots who were members of the lodge include Paul Revere, John Paul Jones, Alexander Hamilton, and Patrick Henry.
The abduction and possible murder of Capt. William Morgan in 1826 sparked an anti-Masonic crusade in this country. Morgan had planned to publish an exposé of the lodge, and his murder was charged to the Masons. When preachers, politicians, and journalists attacked Freemasonry and other secret societies, many Masons relinquished their membership, and countless lodges were forced to close. The anti-Masons formed a political party that won some local elections and nominated William Wirt for President in 1832, but after 10 years the agitation died down. Among the anti-Masonic politicians were John Quincy Adams, Thaddeus Stevens, and William H. Seward.
The latter half of the 19th century saw a proliferation of secret societies modeled after Freemasonry. These bodies usually charged lower dues and appealed to the poorer classes of workers and farmers. They included the independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Sons of Temperance. Their degree systems were frankly patterned after Masonic models. In 1894 Catholics were forbidden to join these oath-bound societies, but the ecclesiastical penalties were less severe than those attached to Masonic membership. Under certain conditions Catholics could even maintain nominal membership in the Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias in order to preserve insurance benefits. Today the Sons of Temperance have disappeared, the Knights of Pythias claim 250,000 members; and the Odd Fellows, 1 million. Freemasonry survived the anti-Masonic agitation and the general decline in popularity of secret societies. In 1964 the Masonic lodges enrolled about 1 out of every 12 men in the U.S. While the average English lodge reports a membership under 100, the American lodge averages several times this number. One lodge in Wichita, Kansas, boasts 5,000 members. Even though the lodges count more than 4 million members, they have failed to attract the intellectuals, scientists, and younger men. Unlike the European lodges, which cater to an elite, the American lodges have lost prestige by their mass organization and less discriminate membership. Some of the decline in status can he traced to the growth of service clubs, television, church affiliation, country clubs, and competing recreational interests.
The papal condemnations of Freemasonry were not promulgated in the American colonies by Bishop John Carroll. In fact his brother Daniel was an active Mason and a practicing Catholic. Bishop Carroll wrote to a layman in 1794 regarding the lodge question: “I do not pretend that these decrees (against Freemasonry) are received generally by the Church, or have full authority in this diocese.” James Hoban, the Irish-American architect who designed the White House, was an active Mason and a Roman Catholic.
After 1800 the prohibition against lodge affiliation was generally enforced by Catholic authorities in the U.S. Relations between the Masonic lodges and the Catholic Church have not been marked by the hatred evidenced in grand orient jurisdictions, although the opposition of the two institutions is well known. What militant anticlericalism exists has been promoted by the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite (headquarters in Washington. D.C.). It enrolls 32d-degree Masons in 33 Southern and Western states; its monthly magazine, the New Age, has long opposed parochial education, immigration from Catholic countries, and Catholic candidates for public office.
The organization of Freemasonry in the U.S. is structured upon independent grand lodges in each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, thereby departing from the more typical jurisdictional arrangement of one grand lodge or grand orient for all the lodges within a nation. All the U.S. grand lodges are recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England. Membership in all higher rites and quasi-Masonic bodies depends on maintenance of membership in the local or blue lodge. The blue lodge, which works the first three degrees, enforces no attendance requirements, so that it is possible for a man to receive his master mason degree and then pay his annual dues for 30 or 40 years without being present at a single meeting.
American lodges refuse to initiate anyone with Negro blood and reject the legitimacy of the Negro Masonic lodges, which they brand as clandestine. A white Mason is forbidden even to discuss Masonry with a Negro Mason. The Grand Lodge of England chartered the first lodge of Negroes in Boston in 1775, and this lodge in turn assumed grand lodge status and chartered other Prince Hall lodges. While Masonic scholars admit the legitimacy of Negro Freemasonry, not one of the grand lodges has allowed the initiation of a Negro. General Albert Pike, a Southerner, declared: “I took my obligation to white men, not Negroes. When I have to accept Negroes as brethren or leave Freemasonry, I shall leave it.” The sole exception to this widespread racial prejudice is the recognition of an all-Negro lodge in Newark, N.J., by the grand lodge of that state. Relations between the white and Negro lodges, however, have improved. About 320,000 Negroes belong to Prince Hall lodges in 38 states; these lodges use rituals identical to those worked in white lodges.
Thirteen American presidents have belonged to the lodge, but one of these, Millard Fillmore, recanted. The others were George Washington, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry S Truman. Harding became an entered apprentice but was prevented from advancing to the next degrees by the members of his home-town lodge. When he became president, he advanced to the 32d degree. He appointed many Masons to his cabinet, so that it could be said that Masonic influence in American government reached its peak during his administration. President Lyndon B. Johnson took the entered apprentice degree in Johnson City (Texas) Lodge No. 561 but did not continue in Masonry. Among other prominent Americans who have worn the Masonic apron have been Henry Clay, John Jacob Astor, Mark Twain, Samuel Gompers, Luther Burbank, John Philip Sousa, Andrew Mellon, Will Rogers, Henry Ford, Gen. John J. Pershing, Sigmund Romberg, Edgar Guest, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Irving Berlin, Harold Lloyd, Charles Lindbergh, and J. Edgar Hoover. Many American Freemasons have joined the lodge for social or business reasons, with a perfunctory education in Masonry and slight or no acquaintance with its philosophy. They pay dues, wear a Masonic ring or pin, and attend an occasional social function, but take no active part in the lodge unless elected to office.
Ideology of Freemasonry. Freemasonry displays all the elements of religion, and as such it becomes a rival to the religion of the Gospel. It includes temples and altars, prayers, a moral code, worship, vestments, feast days, the promise of reward or punishment in the afterlife, a hierarchy, and initiation and burial rites. The central Christian doctrines of the Fall, the Incarnation, the necessity of baptism, the church, the sacraments, and the like are considered improper for discussion within the lodge and are relegated to the category of divisive or peripheral opinions. Yet Pike explains, “Every Masonic lodge is a temple or religion; and its teachings are instruction in religion” (213). Albert Mackey observed, “Look at its ancient landmarks, its sublime ceremonies, its profound symbols and allegories – all inculcating religious observance, and teaching religious truth, and who can deny that it is eminently a religious institution . . .? Masonry, then, is indeed a religious institution; and on this ground mainly, if not alone, should the religious Mason defend it” (619). The Masonic candidate for the entered apprentice degree seeks “light” when he enters the lodgeroom. He is assured that the Masonic lodge will provide the light of spiritual instruction that he could not receive in the Church. He is told that if he lives and dies according to Masonic principles he will reach the haven of the celestial lodge. In fact, the membership of Protestant laymen and ministers in Anglo-American lodges, the presence of the Bible, and the appointment of chaplains have given a faulty impression that Freemasonry is a Christian institution. Masonic law is clear that the mention of Jesus Christ within the lodge or the use of His name in prayer is forbidden as offensive to non-Christian brethren.
A second basic religious objection to Freemasonry is the character of the oaths it administers. The Christian views a solemn oath as an act of religion, the calling of God to witness the truth of a statement or the fulfillment of a promise. While the Church or state may require an oath for a serious reason, Catholic moral theology denies the authority of Freemasonry (or of the Mafia, Chinese tong, or Mau Mau) to administer such sacred oaths. The penalties attached to the Masonic oaths, although now understood in a symbolic sense, would subject the violator to self-mutilation or death. The secrets the Mason swears to protect at the cost of his life and limb are trivial and easily discovered by anyone with curiosity and patience. The oath administered to the master mason in an American blue lodge is typical. The blindfolded candidate kneels at the altar, places both hands on the volume of sacred law, the square and compass, and repeats after the worshipful master: [3rd degree Master Mason OATH – 1 page]
I, _________, of my own free will and accord, in the presence of Almighty God, and this Worshipful Lodge, erected to Him and dedicated to the holy St. John, do hereby and hereon most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, that I will hail, ever conceal, and never reveal any of the secrets, arts, parts, point or points, of the Master Mason’s Degree, to any person or persons whomsoever, except that it be a true and lawful brother of this Degree, or in a regularly constituted Lodge of Master Masons, nor unto him, or them, until by strict trial, due examination, or lawful information, I shall have found him, or them, as lawfully entitled to the same as I am myself. I furthermore promise and swear, that I will stand to and abide by all laws, rules, and regulations of the Master Masons Degree, and of the Lodge of which I may hereafter become a member, as far as the same shall come to my knowledge; and that I will ever maintain and support the Constitution, laws, and edicts of the Grand Lodge under which the same shall be holden. Further, that I will acknowledge and obey all due signs and summons sent to me from a Master Masons’ Lodge, or given me by a brother of that Degree, if within the length of my cable tow. Further, that I will always aid and assist all poor, distressed, worthy Master Masons, their widows and orphans, knowing them to be such, as far as their necessities may require, and my ability permit, without material injury to myself and family. Further, that I will keep a worthy brother Master Mason’s secrets inviolable, when communicated to and received by me as such, murder and treason excepted. Further, that I will not aid, nor be present at, the initiation, passing, or raising of a woman, an old man in his dotage, a young man in his nonage, an atheist, a madman, or fool, knowing them to be such. Further, that I will not sit in a Lodge of Clandestine-made Masons, nor converse on the subject of Masonry with a clandestine-made Mason, nor one who has been expelled or suspended from a Lodge, while under that sentence, knowing him or them to be such. Further, I will not cheat, wrong, nor defraud a Master Masons’ Lodge, nor a brother of this Degree, knowingly, nor supplant him in any of his laudable undertakings, but will give him due and timely notice, that he may ward off all danger. Further, that I will not knowingly strike a brother Master Mason, or otherwise do him personal violence in anger, except in the necessary defense of my family or property. Further, that I will not have illegal carnal intercourse with a Master Mason’s wife, his mother, sister, or daughter knowing them to be such, nor suffer the same to be done by others, if in my power to prevent. Further, that I will not give the Grand Masonic word, in any other manner or form than that in which I shall receive it, and then in a low breath. Further, that I will not give the Grand Hailing Sign of distress except in case of the most imminent danger, in a just and lawful Lodge, or for the benefit of instruction; and if ever I should see it given, or hear the words accompanying it, by a worthy brother in distress, I will fly to his relief, if there is a greater probability of saving his life than losing my own. All this I most solemnly, sincerely promise and swear, with a firm and steady resolution to perform the same, without any hesitation, myself, under no less penalty than that of having my body severed in two, my bowels taken from thence and burned to ashes, the ashes scattered before the four winds of heaven, that no more remembrance might be had of so vile and wicked a wretch as I would be, should I ever, knowingly, violate this my Master Mason’s obligation. So help me God, and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same.
Allied Rites and Masonic Organizations. Although pure and ancient Freemasonry consists of the three degrees of entered apprentice, fellow craft, and master mason, clusters of so-called higher degrees, fun organizations, and auxiliary societies, have sprung up, especially in the U.S. A master mason who belongs to one of the 16,000 blue lodges in the U.S. may continue his Masonic education through either or both the Scottish or York rites. The Scottish rite was organized in the U.S. in 1801 and was based on the French Scottish Rite of Perfection. The rite consists of 32 degrees and the honorary 33d degree, but the first three degrees are conferred by the blue lodges. Those who wish to receive the 32d degree submit a petition, pay a fee averaging $150, and spend 2 or 3 days witnessing the degree enactments in a Scottish rite cathedral. As many as 500 men may receive the 32d degree during a weekend.
In the Scottish rite southern jurisdiction, four subordinate bodies confer the degrees: the Lodge of Perfection (4th through 14th degrees), Chapter of Rose Croix (15th through 18th), Council of Kadosh (19th through 30th), and Consistory (31st through 33d). The 33d degree is bestowed on distinguished 32d-degree Masons; about 7,000 men hold this degree in the southern and northern jurisdictions. In England the Ancient and Accepted Scottish rite is more commonly known as the Rose Croix. Only Christians may take the 14th degree, which means that no Jews may reach the 32d degree in England. While more than 900,000 American Masons have achieved the 32d degree, the number of 32d-degree Masons in England is limited to 180. The York or American rite culminates in the order of Knights Templar. The master mason begins his climb up the York rite in the capitular degrees by becoming a mark mason, past master, most excellent master, and royal arch mason. He may continue in the Cryptic rite, which confers the degree of royal master, select master, and super excellent master. Finally, the degrees of chivalry include the degrees of companion of the red cross, Knight Templar, and Knight of St. John and Malta. He pays a fee to receive each of these degrees, which may he conferred in his home lodge. Only Christians are admitted to the Knights Templar. As the Scottish rite has nothing to do with Scottish Freemasonry, so the York rite has no connection with York. Men who have been 32d-degree Masons or Knights Templar, for 5 years or more may join the Royal Order of Scotland, while royal arch Masons may take the degree of the red cross of Constantine. Both of these orders are closed to Jews.
Membership in the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, the fun organization, is open to 32d-degree Masons or Knights Templar. The Shrine, founded in New York City in 1871, has no official standing in Masonry but has gained great popularity among U.S. Masons. It features gaudy oriental costumes, grandiose titles, and pranks, and works a ritual that burlesques Islam. The Shrine reports a membership of 800,000 nobles and supports a chain of orthopedic hospitals for crippled children. The Shrine temple in Pittsburgh claims 26,000 members. English Freemasons are forbidden to affiliate with the Shrine on pain of suspension. Two similar fun organizations to which the master masons are eligible are the Grotto and Tall Cedars of Lebanon. The Grotto is formally known as the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm. Members wear a fez identical to that of the Shrine, but these two bodies are less exclusive and expensive than the Shrine.
The Order of the Eastern Star is a quasi-Masonic society that initiates women as well as men. Women applicants must be relatives of master masons, and each chapter must include a Mason as patron. A 5-degree ritual was composed by Robert Morris in 1850. About 3 million women belong to the Eastern Star, which, in the public mind, is the ladies auxiliary of the lodge. In no sense is the Eastern Star a Masonic rite as such; several varieties of female or adoptive Masonry have appeared on the Continent. The grand lodges of England and Scotland disapprove of the Eastern Star and will suspend any Mason who serves as patron. Other Masonic auxiliaries are the White Shrine of Jerusalem and the Order of Amaranth. The prohibition of the Church against membership in a Masonic lodge extends also to affiliation in any quasi-Masonic society.
Boys between the ages of 14 and 21 who are relatives of Masons may join the Order of DeMolay, named after the last head of the Knights Templar, who were suppressed at the Council of Vienne (1311). This Organization was founded in Kansas City in 1919, and since most DeMolays eventually join a Masonic lodge as adults, it serves as a Masonic novitiate. Another young men’s society sponsored by blue lodges is the Order of Builders. Girls have a choice of joining the Order of Job’s Daughters or the Order of Rainbow. Among the many special interest groups that demand Masonic membership as a prerequisite are the National Sojourners (active and retired officers of the armed forces), Acacia College fraternity, and the Philalethes (Masonic philosophy). High 12 clubs, Square and Compass clubs, and similar organizations provide social and cultural programs for Masons. The Masonic Service Association of the U.S. was formed in 1918 to coordinate Masonic welfare and public relations activities.
Most of the higher rites and fun groups are duplicated by Negro Freemasons, for example, the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North and South America. There are also Negro counterparts of the Scottish and York rites, the Eastern Star, etc. They use pirated rituals identical to those employed by the white Masonic organizations. In general the United Grand Lodge of England frowns on the pseudo-Masonic organizations, which have attracted so many U.S. Masons, as vulgar and ostentatious. In Europe the Mason who wishes to enter the Scottish rite must wait until he is carefully investigated and invited to petition for the degrees. He will spend an average of 20 years in Masonic study before reaching the coveted 32d degree. The American Mason can jump from the 3d to the 32d degree in a weekend.
Masonic Statistics. World Freemasonry, like Christendom, is not united. It is split into many competing Masonic jurisdictions and into Masonic philosophies that tend toward deistic, theistic, atheistic, or Christian philosophies.
The largest group of lodges is that recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England and includes the lodges of the British Isles, northern Europe, the U.S., Canada, and Australia-New Zealand. The continental and Latin American grand orients reject the Masonic landmarks of belief in the GAOTU and the use of the Bible in the lodge. They are involved in politics and carry on anticlerical activities, both of which are considered un-Masonic by the Anglo-American lodges. In France, however, there is evidence that anti-clericalism is on the decline in the lodges since the last war. A few Catholic authors such as Abbé Berteloot and Alec Mellor, without of course receding from the traditional Catholic position, have very tentatively entered into the first stages of a Catholic-Masonic ecumenical dialogue. In some countries, such as Italy and Germany, several grand lodges are in competition. The form of mixed or adoptive Masonry, admitting both men and women, known as Le Droit Humain, which was founded in 1899, can still be found in some cities on the Continent. Mixed lodges of theosophical Masonry instituted by Mrs. Annie Besant still survive in England, Canada, and Australia.
Of the world’s estimated 5,900,000 Freemasons the majority live in the U.S. Most of the others can he found in English-speaking nations. Statistics for English Masonry are somewhat unreliable because an individual can belong to more than one lodge.
The estimate of world membership in 1964 is as follows:
British Isles England and Wales 550,000 Scotland 400,000 Ireland 47,000 Canada 250,000 United States 4,100,000 Europe 80,000 Australasia 375,000 Latin America 50,000 Philippines 10,000 Other areas (India, Japan, Formosa, Africa, Israel, etc.) 25,000
Bibliography: B. E. JONES, Freemasons’ Guide and Compendium (London 1950). R. F. GOULD, Gould’s History of Freemasonry Throughout the World, ed. D. WRIGHT et al., 6 v. (rev. ed. New York 1936). A. G. MACKEY and H. L. HAYWOOD, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, ed. R. I. CLEGG, 3 v. (Chicago 1946). J. ANDERSON, comp., The Constitutions of the Free-Masons (London 1723, 1738; reprint Philadelphia 1906). F. L. PICK and G. N. KNIGHT, The Pocket History of Freemasonry (New York 1953). H. S. BOX, The Nature of Freemasonry (London 1952). E. BEHA, A Comprehensive Dictionary of Freemasonry (New York 1963). A. PIKE, comp., Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (Charleston 1881). H. V. B. VORRHIS, Masonic Organizations and Allied Orders and Degrees (New York 1952). W. HANNAH, Darkness Visible (7th ed. London 1954); Christian by Degrees (London 1954). W. J. WHALEN, Christianity and American Freemsonry ( Milwaukee 1958). A. PREUSS, A Study in American Freemasonry (St. Louis 1908). H. W. COIL, Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia, ed. W. M. BROWN et al. (New York 1961). [W. J. WHALEN]