Freemasonry is controversial as it seems. Since the earliest days of Freemasonry, there were people and groups who opposed its existence for various reasons, both political and philosophical or religious. This is an overview of some types of anti-masonry which are available on the Internet, mainly centering on politics, philosophy and Masonic conspiracy theories. Besides conspiracy theories as a cause of anti-masonry, religious opposition is another aspect of anti-masonry. With regard to the relation with religions we need to make a distinction between so-called Continental Freemasonry (Liberal Freemasonry,Latin Freemasonry and Adogmatic Freemasonry), Co-Freemasonry and the Anglo-Saxon type of freemasonry related to the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE). Continental freemasonry is mainly atheistic (secular, agnostic), while Anglo-Saxon is mainly protestant in Western regions where freemasonry originated (see also Freemasonry: Its Origin and Nature and Its Relation to Religion. Two Masonic Orations, Etc, William Edwin HALL, J. Maxwell & Son, 1895 and Freemasonry and the Press in the Twentieth Century: A National Newspaper Study of England and Wales, Paul Calderwood, Routledge, 2016, Ch. 5).
The different denominations of Abrahamic religions, the Dharmic religions and Zoroastrianism (Avesta) have different relations with freemasonry. Secular humanism has different relations with Anglo-Saxon and Continental freemasonry The relation of freemasonry with some Abrahamic religions seems to be troublesome, as most Roman Catholic, some other Christian denominations (see Opposition to Freemasonry within Christianity) and Muslim leaders (see Opposition to Freemasonry within Islam) forbid their members to participate in Freemasonry. The great majority of Protestant denominations do not prohibit or discourage their members from joining Masonic lodges and have not issued any position papers condemning Freemasonry. In most Protestant regions, Christians can be freemasons without risk of prosecution. Of course religious people have to obey their religious leaders and not engage in freemasonry when not allowed. The relation with Judaism seems to be less troublesome nowadays, after the initial antisemitism which characterized Western society as a whole. Antagonisms comprise both the exoteric appearance of philosophical and theological systems, as well as the esoteric level, which of course is a bit harder to study and "understand". The antagonisms are mainly based on theological discussion about first principles, which resemble the discussions between different faiths and denominations of the same faith: "Contra principia negantem non est disputandum". It is not always feasible to look at the conflicts "sub specie aeternitatis" from a viewpoint which is universally and eternally true, as each group claims eternal truth for itself or claims God to be on its side as in 'Gott mit uns'. Considering antagonisms between any philosophical or religious systems it may be interesting to keep in mind The Buddha's Raft Parable (see also Handbook of Freemasonry, BRILL, 2014, pp. 4-5 and Freemasonry, Alexander Piatigorsky, Random House, 2013, p. 361 and The Politics of Sociability: Freemasonry and German Civil Society, 1840-1918, Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, University of Michigan Press, 2007, p. 163 and The Esoteric Codex: Freemasonry, Adam Prinkleton, Lulu.com, 2015, p. 27 and The Western Esoteric Traditions: A Historical Introduction, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Oxford University Press, 2008).
Suppression of freemasonry happens in different political systems because it is regarded as a potential source of opposition and due to its secret nature and international connections. After the founding of modern speculative Masonry in England in 1717, several Protestant states restricted Masonic lodges: Holland banned the lodge in 1735; Sweden and Geneva, in 1738; Zurich, in 1740; and Berne, in 1745. Catholic Spain, Portugal, and Italy attempted to suppress Freemasonry after the Papal Bull In Eminenti Apostolatus Specula of 28 April 1738 by Pope Clement XII (1652-1740 CE). Bavaria followed in 1784; Austria, in 1795; Baden, in 1813; Russia, in 1822; Pakistan, in 1972. Nowadays, the vast majority of protestant countries have lifted the ban on freemasonry.
One of the first to to develop a conspiracy theory with regard to Freemasonry and other secret societies involving the Bavarian Illuminati and the French Jacobins, was Augustin Barruel S.J. (1741-1820 CE) in his book Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire du Jacobinisme (1797). Barruel's thesis was that the "Jacobin storm" of the French Revolution masked a conspiracy orchestrated in secret by a powerful triumvirate of philosophes, Freemasons, and the Order of the Illuminati (see also Augustin de Barruel: Un jésuite face aux jacobins francs-maçons, 1741-1820, Michel Riquet, 1989). His work inspired the Freemason John Robison (1739-1805 CE) in his Proofs of a Conspiracy (1797), to accuse Freemasonry of being infiltrated by Adam Weishaupt's (1748-1830 CE) Order of the Illuminati. The Judeo-Masonic conspiracy is another popular conspiracy theory with regard to Freemasonry, which is based on the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an antisemitic text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination. It was first published in Russia in 1903.
Besides purely political anatagonism, freemasonry is also regarded as being part of diabolical plots and Satanism, such as in the Taxil case named after Léo Taxil (1854-1907 CE) and his work Les Mystères de la franc-maçonnerie dévoilés par Léo Taxil. During the 20th Century freemasonry was forbidden in Fascist and Communist countries, but allowed for in most democracies. In Nazi Germany, freemasons were considered part of a judeo-masonic conspiracy against Germany. The French propaganda film Forces occultes (1943) put forward that Freemasons are conspiring with the Jews and the Anglo-American nations to encourage France into a war against Nazi Germany. Freemasonry was also suppressed throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union (USSR) during the Communist era. Freemasonry is being regarded as part of a global conspiracy to take over world leadership and to establish a New World Order. Scandals such as the Affaire Des Fiches in France (1904-1905 CE) and the Propaganda Due scandal in Italy are of course to be considered as proof of the conspiracy theories (see also The March to the Marne: The French Army 1871-1914, Douglas Porch, 2003, pp 92-104 and The Dark Heart of Italy, Jones, Tobias, North Point Press, 2003 and Puppetmasters: The Political Use of Terrorism in Italy, Philip P. Willan, iUniverse, 2002 and The Last Supper: the Mafia, the Masons and the Killing of Roberto Calvi, Philip P. Willan, Constable & Robinson, 2007).
Freemason conspiracy theories
Freemasonry under Totalitarian Regimes
The Judeo-Masonic conspiracy
The Leo Taxil Hoax
The Leo Taxil confession
The Cutting Edge - Biblical prophecy of The New World Order
United States Presidents and The Illuminati / Masonic Power Structure.
Masonic Myths about the Founding Fathers
Freemasonry: Foundation of the Revolution - USA
Freemasonry and Washington D.C.'s Street Layout
Liberty Enlightening the World - Statue of Liberty
The Cult of Liberty - Rev. Donald J. Sanborn (Catholic Restoration)
Conspiracy of Hate
Propaganda Due - P2
Propaganda Due - P2
Before considering several types of antagonism towards Freemasonry there is of course the antagonism between several types of Freemasonry, each considering themselves to be the true representatives of the ancient tradition and guardians of the old landmarks. Freemasons do not need external forces to reject one another, they can reject one another without any outside help. Anglo-Saxon freemasonry (UGLE-style) does not recognize Continental style freemasonry and Co-freemasonry and vice versa. Freemasonry has known several schisms during its history. The reason for a schism is a combination of power struggle (governance), combined with discussions about principles. The two major schisms in Freemasonry, the first between Antients and Moderns (1751 until 1813 CE) and the schism since 1877 between the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and the Grand Orient de France (GOdF) show the inability of these organizations to live up to their own ideal of universal brotherhood. A global conspiracy is simply impossible with this divided system of lodges: Divide et impera. Almost 300 years after the foundation of "modern" freemasonry on 24 June 1717 freemasonry is as divided as countries, regions, religions or just any organization built by man. Alas poor mankind, which is unable to coexist in peace (see also Masonic Areopagitica or Why Freemasonry Is Dead, Antonio Palomo-Lamarca, Lulu Press, Inc, 2015, p. 25 and Constructing Tradition: Means and Myths of Transmission in Western Esotericism, Andreas Kilcher, BRILL, 2010, p. 223 and Schism: The Battle That Forged Freemasonry, Ric Berman, Sussex Academic Press, 2013 and Evil Consequences of Schisms and Disputes for Power in Masonry and of Jealousies and Dissensions Between Masonic Rites, 1858, Albert Pike, Kessinger Publishing, 1997).
These masonic schisms resemble the schisms in the Abrahamic religions like Christianity, such as the East-West Schism since 1054, the Western Schism (from 1378 to 1417 CE) and the Protestant Reformation since the 16th century. Judaism also has its Jewish schisms. Schism also happened in Islam between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam. Schisms also occur within other religious and philosophical systems such as between rationalism and empirism and Aristotle (384-322 BCE) and Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) (see also Sacred Schisms: How Religions Divide, James R. Lewis, Sarah M. Lewis, Cambridge University Press, 2009 and The Future of Life: A Unified Theory of Evolution, David Hunter Tow, Future of Life Media, 2010, p. 268).
There is a general reaction to freemasonry in the Islamic world, mostly based on the relation between freemasonry and Judaism. Many Islamic anti-Masonic arguments are closely tied to both Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism. Some Muslim anti-Masons argue that Freemasonry promotes the interests of the Jews around the world and that one of its aims is to rebuild the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem after destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Possibly the most influential body in promulgating and interpreting Islamic Law is the Islamic Jurisdictional College (IJC) at El-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt (the oldest Islamic university in world). At its meeting on 15 July 1978, it issued an opinion concerning "The Freemasons' Organization". Given that Freemasonry involves itself in dangerous activities, it is a great hazard, with wicked objectives, the Jurisdictional Synod determines that Freemasonry is a dangerous, destructive organization. Any Muslim, who affiliates with it, knowing the truth of its objectives, is an infidel to Islam.
Islam and freemasonry
Freemasonry in the Islamic World
An Islamic view on Freemasonry
The philosophical principles of the "Liberi Muratori", "Francs Massons" or "Freemasons" are considered irreconcilable with the Thomistic doctrin of the Roman Catholic Church and therefore membership in them is forbidden for Roman Catholics. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are therefore in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.
On 28 April 1738, Pope Clement XII issued a papal bull, In Eminenti Apostolatus Specula, criticizing the Freemasons and condemning members of the Roman Catholic church that enrolled in Masonic associations. Set forth in this bull was the consequence for such activity; excommunication. In 1917, the Code of Canon Law (Codex Iuris Canonici) maintained that a member of the Roman Catholic church that joined the Freemasons were to be excommunicated from the church (Canon 2335). In 1983, the revised Code of Canon Law indicated that any members of the church that enrolled in Masonic associations were "in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion" (Canon 1374). This should make clear that one cannot be a faithful and loyal Roman Catholic Christian and a freemason.
The present legislation or
Code of Canon Law (Codex Iuris Canonici) of the Roman Catholic Church is contained in Canon 1374
(effective 27 November 1983, Pope John Paul II),
which replaced Canon 2335 of the 1917 codification (Codex Iuris Canonici of 27 May 1917, Pope Benedict XV):
Canon 2335 (1917): Nomen dantes sectae massonicae aliisve eiusdem generis associationibus quae contra Ecclesiam vel legitimas civiles potestates machinantur, contrahunt ipso facto excommunicationem Sedi Apostolicae simpliciter reservatam.
Canon 1374 (1983): Qui nomen dat consociationi, quae contra Ecclesiam machinatur, iusta poena puniatur; qui autem eiusmodi consociationem promovet vel moderatur, interdicto puniatur. (E: A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; one who promotes or takes office in such an association is to be punished with an interdict)
In the previous Code (Canon 2335), Masonry was explicitly mentioned. As the declaration of 26 November 1983 explains, the omission of the name "Mason" in the present Church law is due to an "editorial criterion". Masonic associations are thus included under a more general heading which could include any other association conspiring against the Church (e.g. a specific communist party).
The difficult relation between State and Church is also shown in the troubled relation between The Roman Catholic Church and freemasonry. The first Papal Bull, In eminenti apostolatus issued by Pope Clemens XII (1652-1740 CE) on 28 April 1738 against Freemasonry, was aimed against the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster founded on 24 June 1717, which was close to the Protestant House of Hannover which now ruled England while the Pope supported the Jacobite cause of the Catholic Pretender to the throne James Francis Edward Stuart. The new Grand Lodge had succeeded to side freemasonry with the new protestant rulers of England and to distance itself from its association with the Roman Catholic Stuarts. The political condemnation of freemasonry by the Pope did not cause any harm to its relation with the Anglican Church, but would bring freemasonry in conflict with the Roman Catholic Church in Continental Europe. And of course the Roman Catholic Church is right to condemn these groups which oppose its theology, philosophy, politics and his political allies (see also The Stuarts in Italy, 1719-1766: A Royal Court in Permanent Exile, Edward T. Corp, Cambridge University Press, 2011, p. 224 and The Freemasons: Our Separated Brethren, Alec Mellor, Harrap, 1964, pp. 156-160).
In the 19th Century during the Italian Risorgimento, the Italian wars of independence and unification cost Pope Pope Pius IX (1792-1878 CE) his Papal States and became the so-called Captivus Vaticani (Prisoner in the Vatican). The Carbonari (E: charcoal burners) and freemasons such as Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882 CE) were involved in the Italian Risorgimento, which brought them into conflict with the Holy See. Pius IX (1792-1878 CE) would be the last Pope to rule as the Sovereign of the Papal States. This of course did not help to ease the relations between freemasonry and the Holy See. The Papal constitution Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo (13 Sept. 1821 CE) of Pope Pius VII (1742-1823 CE) and the encyclical Qui Pluribus (9 Nov. 1846 CE) of Pope Pius IX were directed against the secret societies of the Carbonari and freemasons. As several freemasons were involved in scientific (naturalistic), cultural and political activities which were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church, their relations became even worse over time. The encyclical Syllabus Errorum (8 December 1864) by Pope Pius IX was a reaction to the Italian unification and the Revolutions of 1848. The encyclical Quanta Cura (8 December 1864) by Pope Pius IX was aimed against freedom of conscience and several other propositions. In the encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis (8 September 1907) Pope Pius X condemned modernism (see also The Art of the Macchia and the Risorgimento: Representing Culture and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Italy, Albert Boime, University of Chicago Press, 1993, p. 25 and The Civilization of the Holocaust in Italy: Poets, Artists, Saints, Anti-semites, Wiley Feinstein, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 2003, p. 152).
Neither Adolf Hitler (1889-1945 CE), Benito Mussolini (1883-1945 CE), Fulgencio Batista (1901-1973 CE), Francisco Franco (1892-1975 CE), nor Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006 CE) were ever excommunicated in contrast to protestants, orthodox Christians, freemasonry, communists, scientists, writers and philosophers. Excommunication is based on crimes against religious dogma, not on crimes against humanity. These right-wing dictators never plotted against the Church and its teachings and authority as such, which differs from left-wing dictators such as communists. Thinking different from condemned first principles or 'dogmata ' is condemned, not acting as such. Accepting the first principles or 'dogmata ' is the 'conditio sine qua non' for membership of any faith. Any sin will be forgiven, no matter the severity of the crime, if only one is faithful to the rules and regulations of the Church. Of course the situation is a bit more complicated (e.g. the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge of Pope Pius XI), but the general principle remains that right-wing dictatorship or Totalitarianism is compatible with Roman Catholicism. At the side of freemasons things are also a bit more complicated. Both president Salvador Allende (1908-1973 CE) of Chili and general Augusto Pinochet are believed to have been freemasons, but Pinochet on 11 September 1973 lead a coup d'état against Salvador Allende. The rule of dictators fits within the hierarchical non-egalitarian Thomistic and Pauline (The Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans, 13:1-2) concept of government which opposes egalitarianism and popular government. The intricacies of Roman Catholicism and its view on politics may seem incomprehensible at first, but there is a clear Thomistic logic in the system, based on the political theories of Aristotle put forward in his Politics. For Aristotle, democracy is not the best form of government, while in democracy, rule is by and for the needy. Absolutism or its modern equivalent totalitarianism are as such acceptable from an Aristotelian point of view. To conclude this section, Aristotle may have provided the medieval Roman Catholic Church with a consistent philosophical and political "brain", but it has not provided it with a "heart" and Aristotelianism is not entirely congruent with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth (7/2 BCE-30/36 CE) such as in the Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes present a set of ideals that focus on love and humility rather than force and exaction; they echo the highest ideals of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth on spirituality and compassion. The inconsistencies between the Indo-European philosophy of Aristotle (384-322 BCE) (Thomism) and the Semitic religion established by Jesus of Nazareth cannot be reconciled easily within one theological framework, but Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) certainly created an impressive and elaborate theological construction (see also The Roman Catholic Church - A Critical Appraisal, Hendrick Park, Xulon Press, 2008, p. 118 and Laws Proclaimed in Spain Against "Freemasonry", by the Dictator Francisco Franco, Issued by the Gaceta Oficial of March 1st, 1940, Gaceta Oficial, 1945 and Handbook of Freemasonry, BRILL, 2014, p. 5 and Inquisition: The Reign of Fear, Toby Green, Pan Macmillan, 2009, p. 316).
Freemasons, are required to be law abiding members of a (democratic) civil society at all times and not put religious law before civil law, which is not the case for Roman Catholics as they also have to adhere to Canon Law. The sacred law of God of course stands above man-made law which is inherently imperfect and flawed. Canon (or church) law is the Christian counterpart of Hindu law, (Jewish) halakha and (Muslim) sharia.
Civil law, Roman Catholic canon law and common law are all rooted in the ancient world. The early civil law reaches back to the foundation of Rome, while canon law mostly developed during the Middle Ages and was largely consolidated during the Concilium Tridentinum (1545-1563 CE). The roots of Roman Catholic canon law can be traced back to the Decretum Gratiani or Concordia discordantium canonum. The 1983 revision, (begun after Vatican II) is currently in force for the Roman Catholic Church. It replaces the 1917 code, compiled by Cardinal Pacelli (1876-1958 CE) who later became Pope Pius XII (see also History of Canon Law, Constant Van De Wiel, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992).
The civil and common law systems, during the Enlightenment, adjusted themselves to the problems and ideals of democracy, while canon law still shows aspects of medieval absolutism. Medieval political theorists put forward that rulers received their authority from God as is the case with the Roman Catholic pope. The duties of freemasons towards civil authority are written down in Anderson's Constitutions of 1723 in the section Of the Civil Magistrates Supreme and Subordinate (see also The History of Medieval Canon Law in the Classical Period, 1140-1234, Wilfried Hartmann, Kenneth Pennington, CUA Press, 2008 and The Moral Design of Freemasonry: Deduced from the Old Charges of a Freemason, Samuel Lawrence, Pub. at the "Signet and journal" office, 1860, p. 45 and Some Deeper Aspects Of Masonic Symbolism (Extended Annotated Edition), Arthur Edward Waite, Jazzybee Verlag, 2013).
Canon law comprises three bodies of law: Divine Law (irreformable truths of faith, dogma and morals), ecclesiastical (Catholics only) and civil law. In canon law all rights and duties on earth come ultimately from God through the Divine Law, either natural or positive as opposed to modern democracy where power comes from the people. Canon law, like Sharia law, takes precedence over civil and common law as it is considered the infallible law of God as opposed to man-made law. The Code of Canon Law has the force of law for the whole Latin (Roman Catholic) Church and must be observed (cfr. Sacrae Disciplinue Leges, of 25 January 1983, and Canon 1: "The canons of this Code regard only the Latin Church"). The prescriptions of the civil law must be observed and are given effect in canon law, insofar as the civil law is not contrary to divine law and unless the canon law provides otherwise (Canon 22: "Civil laws to which the law of the Church yields are to be observed in canon law with the same effects, insofar as they are not contrary to divine law and unless canon law provides otherwise"). Observance of civil law takes place particularly in the area of the administration and defense of the temporal goods of the Church (e.g. property, contracts, etc. ). Both civil and canon law are autonomous systems of law and both claim priority in accordance with their basic principles, which are not always compatible. This means that, on occasion, conflict will arise between the requirements of canon law and those of civil law. The duty of adherence to civil law may be mandatory for freemasons, but it is less so for Roman Catholics, due to the subordination of civil law to (divine) canon law (see also The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 4, Erwin Fahlbusch, Geoffrey William Bromiley, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005, p. 600 and The Philosophy of Customary Law, James Bernard Murphy, Oxford University Press, 2014, p. 39).
For everyone, clergy (Can. 273), monks and nuns (Can. 601) and faithful Catholics (Can. 212 §1) alike, canon law stresses that obedience to the Church amounts to following the will of God. Furthermore the Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church which is to be taken by all clerics and even laymen who teach religion or run Catholic institutions (Can. 833) involves directly promising to obey canon law. The call to obey is strengthened by another demand of canon law - the moral obligation to avoid "scandal" (Can. 2284), in effect, anything that would damage the public image of the Church. The principle of ultramontanism also places strong emphasis on the superiority of Papal authority over the authority of civil or spiritual authoritiy and hierarchies. (see also An Introduction to Canon Law, James A. Coriden, Paulist Press, 2004 and Christian Belief and Practice: The Roman Catholic Tradition, Gordon Geddes, Jane Griffiths, Heinemann, 2002 and Magisterium: Teaching Authority in the Catholic Church, Francis A. Sullivan, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2002).
The fundamental equality of men and women is only a recent development in certain parts of the (developed) world. Although the fundamental equality of all of God's people-above and beyond all distinctions-can be found in canons 204 and 208, women have no equal rights in the Roman Catholic Church. In this matter the Roman Catholic Church resembles several types of freemasonry, which only allow men to be members. At least in the Roman Catholic Church women can become a nun. Time will come, but as we say for the speed of change in the Roman Catholic Church: "pensiamo in sæculo" (see also A Short History of Women's Rights, Eugene Hecker, Cosimo, Inc., 2005 and New Catholic Women: A Contemporary Challenge to Traditional Religious Authority, Mary Jo Weaver, Indiana University Press, 1995, p. 112 and Women's Agency and Rituals in Mixed and Female Masonic Orders, Alexandra Heidle, Joannes Augustinus Maria Snoek, BRILL, 2008, p. 222).
Freemasonry tries to make its own synthesis of the three philosophical traditions which run through (Western) philosophy: idealism versus realism concerning reality, realism versus nominalism concerning universals, rationalism (a priori) versus empiricism (a posteriori), faith versus reason and science and moral realism (rigorism) versus probabilism or casuistry. The approach to universals and realism and nominalism is different between freemasonry and the Roman Catholic Church (see also Fides et Ratio of 14 Sept. 1998 by Pope John Paul II (1920-2005 CE). Realism relates to the school of thought which attributes objective reality to general notions that are usually designated as "abstract". Realists designate it as "universalia", all things pertain to the universal. Nominalism, on the other hand, admits that only "particulars" are real. Realists believe that abstract entities or universals exist in their own right independently of the mind that thinks them, whereas nominalists deny the extra-mental reality of universals and abstract ideas. The differing concepts also draw grave significance from the discussion about which is more important, the individual, or society. In realism there is also a difference between extreme or Platonic realism ("ante res ") and moderate or Aristotelian realism ("in res "). The Roman Catholic Church with his Aristotelian Thomistic theology, based on the work of Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE), condemns both extreme Platonic realism and Nominalism (see also A History Of The Medieval Church 590-1500, M. Deanesly, Read Books Ltd, 2013, Ch. XVII).
In the papal encyclical Custodi di quella fede (1892) Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903 CE) condemned the 'vile realism' or extreme (Platonic) realism of the modernism of continental freemasonry in Italy. Custodi di quella fede (1892) was promulgated together with Inimica vis against Italian freemasonry. The First Vatican Council (8 December 1869-20 October 1870) had already condemned the rationalist (modernist) conception of philosophical inquiry that exalted reason and denigrated faith, which lead it to deny "the possibility of any knowledge which was not the fruit of reason's natural capacities". Modernism would develop into positivism which also assumes a realist ontology or a world "out there" which exists without the acknowledgment of a conscious mind. Objects have inherent meanings in them which are there to be discovered by scientific inquiry leading to scientific realism. Positivistic epistemology relies on gathering of data through sense-perception (empiricism) and its interpretation is carried out within strict scientific generalized laws based on the principle of reductionism and demanding reliability and validity. For positivists (universal) truth is to be found and can be found through reason only, which leads to scientism. The conflict between faith and science (modernism, positivism) is a problem of the foundation first principles ('principia neutra'), either in reason or in faith and the precedence of the one over the other which cannot be solved as long as they claim primacy over the same domains of life. The same problem arises when trying to apply faith and science to the same epistemological or ontological problems or mixing both to solve the same problems. The acceptance of first principles, such as religious dogma, axioms or postulates is alway an act of faith and both religion and science are essentially founded on arbitrary premises which cannot be proven, neither can their differences be solved by means of reason or logic. It is therefore better to follow the advice of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951 CE) in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: "Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen" (see also Secrets and Practices of the Freemasons: Sacred Mysteries, Rituals and Symbols Revealed, Jean-Louis de Biasi, Llewellyn Worldwide, 2010, p. 104 and A History Of The Medieval Church 590-1500, M. Deanesly, Read Books Ltd, 2013, Ch. XVII and The Matrix of Mysticism: An In-depth Expose of, Martin Hudale, Xulon Press, 2008, p. 57 and Thomas Aquinas: Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives, Brian Davies, Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 97 and Confronting the Truth: Conscience in the Catholic Tradition, Linda Hogan, Paulist Press, 2000 and Positivism, Logical Positivism, Constructionism and Subjectivism: A Synthesis from a Modernist Perspective, Naveed Yazdani et al and Roman Catholic Modernists Confront the Great War, C.J.T. Talar, Lawrence F. Barmann, Springer, 2015, Ch. 'The pausibility of conspiracy' and Italian Modernism, Social and Religious, William Frederic Badè, The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Apr., 1911), pp. 147-174).
Another philosophical cause for conflict between the Roman Catholic Church and freemasonry is the great divide between the (teleological, qualitative) Aristotelian philosophy (Thomism) of the Roman Catholic Church and the (quantitative) Pythagorean (Alexandrian), Neoplatonic, and Newtonian (causal, corpuscular philosophy, experimental physics, mechanical and mathematical philosophy) philosophical roots of speculative freemasonry. Roman Catholicism like the other monotheistic religions is Hebrew (Abrahamic, Semitic) in its religion, but Aristotelian (Indo-European) in its philosophy, combining an Abrahamic faith with pagan Aristotelian philosophy. The Alexandrian/Pythagorean tradition (immanent number as first principle) is different from the Athenian philosophy of Aristotle, which uses other conjectures as its first principle (Forms "in res", Primum movens). The Alexandrian/Pythagorean tradition also supports the use of geometry or architecture as a memory or mnemonic for ethics and morality (e.g. the classical "Art of Memory"). In the Aristotelian tradition, Forms (universals) are part of the world "in res", while in the Platonic system they are transcendent and "ante res". The view on the history of the world also differs between freemasonry and the Roman Catholic Church. Aristotle in his book Physics argued that the world must have existed from eternity and was uncreated, but this was rejected in Thomism in order to stay in line with the "Creatio ex nihilo" in Genesis. For Aristotle the "primum movens" was only the primal cause of motion, but it did not create the world. The relation between faith (logos as word) and reason (logos as ratio), differs between Roman Catholicism and freemasonry. In Roman Catholicism and in Orthodox Christianity faith supersedes reason, while in freemasonry both are regarded equal, which is more in line with a Protestant and Augustinian approach. Non-causality and (moral) relativism with regard to cause and effect is also more prominent in Roman Catholicism and in Orthodox Christianity as opposed to freemasonry and Protestantism. In an atomistic or naturalistic philosophy, based on the natural philosophy of Democritus (ca. 460-ca. 370 BCE) and Epicurus (341-270 BCE), matter is also eternal and there is no "Creatio ex nihilo" which is of course a "conditio sine qua non" to postulate the Abrahamic omnipotent God. In the Abrahamic view, the essence of the Universe and man is a gift from God and man is no end to its own means.
When looking at the Neoplatonic mystical theology of Christianity, with people like Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th to early 6th century), Johannes Scottus Eriugena (ca.800-ca.877 CE), Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179 CE), Meister Eckhart OP (ca. 1260-ca. 1328 CE), Johannes Tauler OP (ca. 1300-1361 CE), Henry Suso OP (1295-1366 CE), Nicolaus Cusanus (1401-1464 CE), Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582 CE) and John of the Cross (1542-1591 CE), we find elements of the same tradition of which freemasonry draws its inspiration. The Neoplatonic tradition remained a living tradition only inside the monasteries, while the worldly church moved away from Platonism towards Aristotle. During the Renaissance philosophers like Basilios Bessarion (1403-1472 CE), Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499 CE) and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494 CE) would bring Neoplatonism back into the Western (Latin) secular world. As the Neoplatonic tradition remained alive within the walls of monasteries such as with the Dominicans (Ordo Praedicatorum, OP), a monk or nun will understand the Neoplatonic symbolism of freemasonry, although he or she may not approve it of course.
Interesting enough, Joseph Ratzinger's doctoral dissertation Volk und Haus Gottes in Augustins Lehre von der Kirche (The People and the House of God in Augustine's Doctrine of the Church), which he defended 'summa cum laude' in 1951 and first published in 1954, dealt with Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE), Plotinus (ca. 204/5-270 CE) and Porphyry (ca. 234-ca. 305 CE). The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium (21 Nov. 1964), of the Second Vatican Council, claimed Augustine of Hippo's support for its doctrine that the Church is both spiritual and instututional. The monopoly exercised by neo-Thomists in the church collapsed after Vaticanum II, and Aquinas's influence was reduced but did not disappear (see also Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II, Tracey Rowland, Routledge, 2003 and Religion and Dialectics, Anthony E. Mansueto, University Press of America, 2002, p. 157).
The personal encounter with the divine (spark within) is a universal mystical experience, which is shared by mystical traditions all over the world. Western mysticism is rooted in Plato (429-347 BCE) and Neoplatonism, while Aristotle (384-322 BCE) rejected mysticism as a means of explaining the world at large. The conflict of Aristotle versus Plato is the conflict of reason versus mysticism. Therefore a (lay) movement which embraces the Western mystic tradition cannot come to terms with an organization which has Aristotle (Thomism) as its core. Mysticism is to live within the safe confinement of a monastery and not out into the open, where it confuses the minds and hearts of the faithful who are surrounded by a clergy trained in Thomistic theology (see also Christian Platonism and Christian Neoplatonism by John Uebersax and From Athens to Chartres: Neoplatonism and Medieval Thought : Studies in Honour of Edouard Jeauneau, Édouard Jeauneau, Haijo Jan Westra, BRILL, 1992 and Marsilio Ficino: His Theology, His Philosophy, His Legacy, Michael J. B. Allen, Valery Rees, Martin Davies, BRILL, 2002 and Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism, Albert Camus, University of Missouri Press, 2007).
Both philosophical systems are incommensurable, the Aristotelian system of the worldly Roman Catholic Church and the Neoplatonism of freemasonry. The first principle, axioms or dogmas of both philosophical systems are different and lead to opposing philosophical consequences for the postion of man in the Universe and his relation to the World. Both sides oppose each other, based on first principles (conjectures or 'principia neutra') which are incompatible. Each one considers its own conjectures as propositions to be true and which cannot be disproven within its own philosophical or theological system. However this is only possible when ignoring or rejecting potential discordant aspects of reality or explaining them only within the context of the chosen philosophical context. There is an inability to create a philosophical system which contains the opposing systems and unifies them into one consistent system. First principles are called 'principia neutra' as they can never be part of any rational or logical discussion themselves. Stated otherwise: 'Contra negantem principia non est disputandum' (Auctoritates Aristotelis et aliorum philosophorum). The sophisms of the philosophical and theological warfare between the Roman Catholic Church and freemasonry are anathema to the message of universal love of Jesus of Nazareth (7/2 BCE-30/36 CE), most notably in his Sermon on the Mount, and the message of universal love and brotherhood of Freemasonry. Stated otherwise and quoting Tertullian (ca. 160-ca. 225 CE): "Quid ergo Athenis et Hierosolymis?"
The same antagonism between the "via Aristotelica" and "via Platonicorum" caused the initial conflicts between scientists like Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543 CE), Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 CE), Johannes Kepler (1571-1630 CE), Isaac Newton (1642 or 1643-1727 CE) and the Roman Catholic Church. The antagonism is not scientific, but philosophical, because of the consequences for Church doctrine of Platonism/Pythagoreanism and the atomism of Democritus/Epicurus instead of Aristotelianism upon which Roman Catholic theology is founded (e.g. transubstantiation versus consubstantiation). Classical Protestantism may also be seen as anti-Aristotelian Thomism and leaning towards the Neoplatonism of Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE), which is why it has less problems with science and freemasonry.
The influence of Stoicism (Neo-Stoicism) on freemasonry also poses problems. The Neo-Stoicism of Justus Lipsius (1547-1606 CE) in De constantia in publicis malis (1583 CE) was an attempt to combine Stoicism and Christianity, in order to create a new philosophy. Justus Lipsius tried to develop a system which would help individuals to live through the difficult period of civil and religious wars, which were devastating Northern Europe. Robert Moray (1608 or 1609-1673 CE), an early Freemason, was a Christian stoic. The adversity against Stoicism came from Aurelius Augustinus or Augustine (354-430 CE), who in Book 13 and 14 of his De civitate Dei argued against the arrogance of the Stoics (e.g. Seneca) with regard to their belief that human reason alone is sufficient for salvation (Ch. 14.6, 14.8 14.9, 14.11). For Augustine, due to his concept of original sin, only divine grace can liberate man. Stoic pride of self-love is their defining vice, which makes them live according to their self and not according to God. Man is to be a wretched miserable being not capable of liberating himself from the miseries of life without divine intervention. Augustinian philosophy created the great divide between Greek rational self-development and the wretched nature of the Christian, whose the only salvation from misery lies with Christ. Any system where man is assumed to take rational responsibility for his own moral development and liberation from sin is of course unacceptable for a Christian (see also Philosophic Pride, Stoicism and Political Thought from Lipsius to Rousseau, Christopher Brooke, Princeton University Press, 2012, pp. 1-11 and The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland's Century, 1590-1710, David Stevenson, Cambridge University Press, 1990, p. 166 and Restoring the Temple of Vision: Cabalistic Freemasonry and Stuart Culture, Marsha Keith Schuchard, BRILL, 2002, p. 511 and Neostoicism and the Early Modern State, Gerhard Oestreich, Cambridge University Press, 1982 and Working the Rough Stone: Freemasonry and Society in Eighteenth-Century Russia, Douglas Smith, Northern Illinois University Press, 1999, pp. 48-50).
Freemasonry was part of a philosophical and religious development which resulted from a response to the philosophical developments of the Enlightenment and Deism and thereby opposed parts of traditional Roman Catholic Thomistic theology. Freemasonry and its Deism also recalls the philosophy of nominalism, represented by William of Ockham (ca. 1287-1347 CE), who advocated the separation of faith, as dealing only with the theological attributes of God, from reason. Freemasonry and Roman Catholicism also differ in the way their Christian doctrine combines the message of the gospel with the philosophy of Plato (424/423-348/347 BCE) and Aristotle (384-322 BCE). The abstract deity required by Greek metaphysics is combined differently with the personal God of the Hebrew Bible in freemasonry and Roman Catholicism. The different denominations of Christianity and also of freemasonry are a Chimaera of Hebrew faith with Greek philosophy, each with a different mixture and emphasis on both traditions. Religious concepts often are oxymorons hiding within them opposing concepts derived from Greek philosophy and Hebrew religion, leading to religious conflicts due to their differing interpretation. This must lead to the conclusion: 'Contra principia negantem non est disputandum'. A similar debate on the relation between Greek philosophy and Abrahamic faith took place within the Arab world with philosophers like Avicenna (ca. 980-1037 CE) and Averroes (Ibn Rushd) (1126-1198 CE) during the rational scientific enlightenment in the early days of Islam and with the great theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE) on Aristotle and Christianity (see also From Logos to Trinity: The Evolution of Religious Beliefs from Pythagoras to Tertullian, Marian Hillar, Cambridge University Press, 2012, p. 271 and Understanding Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism, Lawrence H. Schiffman, KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 2003, p. 131 and A Ready Reference to Philosophy East and West, Eugene F. Bales, University Press of America, 1987, p. 36-37 and A History of the World, Andrew Marr, Pan Macmillan, 2012, p. lxix).
The Divine Principle (First Principle) in Freemasonry is called the Great Architect of The Universe (GAOTU). It seems to be based on a Unitarian concept and a Deistic approach to religion. The Divine Principle in Freemasonry also seems to be an immanent principle as opposed to the transcendent deity of Christianity and Judaism. Deism is the belief in a supreme being, who remains unknowable and untouchable. God is viewed as merely the "first cause" or primum movens (ὃ οὐ κινούμενος κινεῖ) and underlying principle of rationality in the universe. Deists believe in a god of nature, a non interventionist creator, who permits the universe to run itself according to natural laws. Like a "clockmaker god" initiating the cosmic process, the universe moves forward, without needing God's supervision as opposed to Theism. Deism believes that precise and unvarying laws define the universe as self-operating and self-explanatory. These laws reveal themselves through "the light of reason and nature". Reliance on the power of reasoning exchanges faith for human logic. Since the latter part of the 18th century, deism used science to justify its stance. Natural philosophers (scientists), like Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) in his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687), were able to elaborate more and more to explain how the universe and everything around us worked. Many of the mysteries that man attributed to God, yielded simple mechanistic explanations. The increase in knowledge spurred the decline in religious faith among the intellectual elite. As a philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes (1596-1650 CE) defined God as a "mathematical abstraction". Reason pushed faith off into the realm of mythology and superstition, and extreme deism even developed into atheism (belief in no God at all). Science seemed to engage in a centuries-old battle with religion for the mind of man. Life itself became a part of mechanistic causality instead of teleological. These developments lead to liberal protestantism, which moved away from chiliastic and conservative protestantism and tried to establish a new relation between faith and natural philosophy. English Deism would influence French Deism, which would develop into a more radical deism and even atheism.
The philosophical principles of freemasonry resemble a "natural religion" instead of a "revealed religion". The Masonic concept of Divinity also seems to resemble the Neoplatonic Divinity of Plotinus (204-270 CE) as in "The Enneads": "The One" or "The Good". Plotinus compared the One to "light", the Divine Nous (first will towards Good) to the "Sun", and lastly the Soul to the "Moon". The One of Plotinus is identified with the Good and the principle of Beauty. Plotinus values union with the One as the goal of Man's existense and isn't ultimately concerned with how that experience is interpreted (e.g. which specific religion one adheres to). Plotinus believed in an ecstatic union with The One that could not be adequately expressed with words. Therefore, it may be best to conclude that Plotinus's ideas are not religious (denominational) as such.
A Unitarian or strict monotheistic approach to looking at God as one became widespread in the Church of England in the 17th century. Primitive Christianity was being regarded as being corrupted by later corruptions of language and 'novitas verborum' in the Bible and changes in the original Christian doctrine (e.g. homoousia, teaching of the immortal soul, Vulgate, Comma Johanneum). This movement not only had to be condemned by the Roman Catholic Church, but also caused problems with the Anglican Church. The Blasphemy Act 1697 made it an offence to deny one of the persons of the Trinity to be God, punishable with loss of office and employment on the first occasion, further legal ramifications on the second occasion, and imprisonment without hope for bail on the third occasion. The Toleration Act (1689) gave some relief to Protestant dissenters, but specifically excluded Roman Catholics and antitrinitarians. Several people, who were close friends of Isaac Newton (1642-1727 CE) were involved in the Unitarian controversy. Besides a brilliant scientist, Isaac Newton was also a anti-Trinitarian heretic and alchemist This was put forward in Newton, the Man (1946) by John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946 CE). Newton probably became a Unitarian around 1672 and knew Christopher Sand's (1644-1680 CE) Arian Nucleus historiae ecclesiasticae (1669) and works of the Unitarian Socinians. His treatise An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture on the problem of the Trinity was published in 1754, 27 years after his death. The 45th statute the University of Cambridge forbade teaching anything contrary to Anglican doctrine. Isaac Newton acted as a Nicodemite and did not publish anything about his Unitarian beliefs during his lifetime because out of fear for prosecution. It is unclear how much his friends knew about Newton's Unitarian heresy, but his friends Hopton Haynes (1667-1749 CE) and William Whiston referred to it in public.
Isaac Newton's friend William Whiston (1667-1752 CE) and his successor as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, lost his professorship at Cambridge for his Arianism, millennialism and Whig politics in 1711. The accusations against him were made in 1710 by the two Tory M.P.'s for the University of Cambridge, which would lead to what is called Whiston's Affair. This happened during the reign of Queen Anne (1665-1714 CE), who favoured moderate Tory politicians and in 1710 dismissed many Whigs from office. Under political pressure the university moved against Whiston based on the 45th statute which forbade teaching anything contrary to Anglican doctrine. In the end however Whiston's Affair was a failure of the Tories to enforce orthodoxy within the Church of England and a Whig triumph as Whiston was not prosecuted in court based on the Blasphemy Act 1697 due to the Hanoverian succession of King George I (1660-1727 CE) in 1714, which marked the beginning of the Whig supremacy. The theologian and Newtonian Samuel Clarke (1675-1729 CE), a friend of Isaac Newton, wrote The Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity (1712) in which he argued that supreme honour should be given only to God, the Father. Samuel Clarke tried to return to a pre-Athanasian understanding of the trinity (see also Athanasian Creed or Quicumque vult and Athanasius of Alexandria (ca. 296/298-373 CE)), which was regarded by his opponents as anti-Trinitarian. He revised the Book of Common Prayer, removing the Trinitarian Nicene Creed and references to Jesus as God. The Trinitarian provision was only amended by the Doctrine of the Trinity Act 1813 (1813) to remove the penalties from Unitarians.
Isaac Newton and the Newtonian Synthesis between Natural Philosophy and Natural Theology had a profound influence on the development of early freemasonry. The same theological developments from which Isaac Newton derived his synthesis influenced people like the Presbyterian James Anderson (1680-1739 CE) and the Huguenot and Newtonian John Theophilus Desaguliers (1683-1744 CE) in drafting the Deistic (natural religion) and non-sacerdotal Constitutions of the Free-Masons containing the History, Charges, Regulations, & of that most Ancient and Right Worshipful Fraternity: For use of the Lodges (1723). The Deistic and non-sacerdotal religious views of freemasonry are not compatible with Roman Catholic doctrine. The Masonic Unitarian (strict monotheistic) concept is compatible with both Islam and Judaism, but not with the Trinitarian concept of post-Nicene Christianity. The Deistic concept of religion is also not compatible with Theistic Roman Catholic doctrine. Therefore Freemasonry was and is rightfully condemned by the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition from the viewpoint of Roman Catholicism, as the philosophical and religious views of both organizations are incommensurable. The relation with (liberal) Protestantism is less troublesome, due to the philosophical and religious similarities (Platonic Augustinianism versus Aristotelian Thomism), except the possible conflicts between Unitarianism and Trinitarianism. Freemasonry of the "Continental" or "irregular" type does not condemn atheism (except stupid atheism), which of course is not compatible with the principles of any religion. Atheism cannot be tolerated and has to be condemned by any religion.
Freemasons and Catholicism
Freemasonry - Catholic encyclopedia
Papacy and Freemasonry
The Miter and The Trowel - William G. Madison, MPS
Freemasons and the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church
How can you lead Masons away from the Masonic Lodge? - Ephesians 5:11
Secret Masonic Handshakes, Passwords, Grips
Canon Law regarding Freemasonry - 1917-1983
Clarification Concerning Status of Catholics Becoming Freemasons
In Eminenti - Pope Clement XII - April 28, 1738
Providas - Pope Benedict XIV - May 18, 1751
Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo - Pope Pius VII - 13 Sept. 1821
Quo Graviora - Pope Leo XII - 1825
Traditi Humilitati - Pope Pius VIII - 1829
Qui Pluribus - Pope Pius IX - 1846
Quanta Cura - Pope Pius IX - 1864
Syllabus of Errors - Pope Pius IX - 1864
Mirari Vos - Pope Gregory XVI - 1832
Quo Graviora - Pope Gregory XVI - 1833
Humanum Genus - Pope Leo XIII - 1884
Dall' Alto Dell' Opostolico Seggio - Pope Leo XIII - 1890
Inimica Vos - Pope Leo XIII - 1892
Custodi di quella Fede - Pope Leo XIII - 1892
Mortalium Animos - Pope Pius XI - 1928
Humani Generis - Pope Pius XII - 1950 (against modernism)
Quaesitum est - 1984
Declaration on Masonic Associations - Joseph Card. Ratzinger (26 November 1983) - Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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