Bishop Celebrates Opening of Masonic Lodge with Freemasons
The Bishop of Terni (left) helps open the new Masonic house in his episcopal city.
(Rome) Official efforts for a rapprochement between Church and Lodge have existed since the Second Vatican Council . For some, they don't go far enough, others see the border to immorality long since crossed. An example of this transgression was provided by Monsignor Francesco Soddu, Bishop of Termi, who attended the inauguration of the Masonic House of the Grand Orient of Italy on September 27th.
Soddu, who comes from Sardinia, was ordained a priest in 1985 for the Archdiocese of Sassari. He became regent of the archdiocesan seminary, diocesan director of Caritas and finally director of Caritas Italy in 2012 .
On October 29, 2021, Msgr. Soddu was appointed Bishop of Terni-Narni-Amelia by Pope Francis and received episcopal ordination on January 5.
Freemasonry is divided into two major streams, regular or English Freemasonry and irregular or Romanesque Freemasonry. The latter came about in 1773 with the creation of the Grand Orient of France. Formally, the essential difference is that English Freemasonry still presupposes a Christian confession in its constitutions (which, however, was weakened in 1929 to a theistic confession and in 1989 only to a deistic confession), while Romanesque Freemasonry rejects any form of reference to God.
Concretely, this meant that the Romanesque Freemasonry that arose in the Catholic states was radically anti-church. Her struggle to oust the church from public life is a common thread running through her story to this day. English Freemasonry also gives a nobler impression, as it seems to be lacking in anti-clerical leadership. But that is only because the Catholic Church in Britain had already been abolished in the 16th century, so there was no longer any need for an anti-clerical leadership. From this, it follows that in reality there are not two or more Freemasons, but only one, which corresponds to the same thinking that contradicts that of the Church.
Is it all just a misunderstanding?
On September 27th, in Via Roma di Terni, the new Masonic House of the Grand Orient of Italy was inaugurated. On this occasion, an open house was held, at which, in addition to the Freemasons of the city, Grand Master Stefano Bisi also came to cut the ribbon that marked the opening. Bisi was welcomed in Terni by the highest officials, the mayor, as the first citizen of the city, the prefect, as the highest representative of the state, and... by the bishop, representing the Church. The Bishop of Terni, Monsignor Francesco Soddu, was undoubtedly the most important of the guests of honour. In his words of welcome, he thanked profusely for the invitation and expressed his best wishes that initiatives such as these,
All attempts at rapprochement between Church and Lodge since the end of the 1960s can be summarized in the justification that the Church's condemnation of Freemasonry since its foundation in 1717 was only the result of misunderstandings. The historian and Franciscan Father Paolo Maria Siano, one of the best experts on Freemasonry, on the other hand, tirelessly provides evidence of the incompatibility of Church and Lodge, relying exclusively on Masonic sources. Freemasonry became a haven for an old enemy of the Church, Gnosticism. From the beginning, there are strong elements of esotericism and also of satanism. And it has not changed until today.
The satisfaction of the lodge brothers was correspondingly great at being able to welcome Bishop Soddu in the new Masonic house.
This approach is supported by the highest church authority. It was Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who addressed the “Dear Brothers Freemasons” in an open letter on February 14, 2016. The letter was, generously, reprinted in its entirety by Italy's leading business newspaper, Il Sole 24Ore. There was no clarification from the Vatican, no reference to the specification of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1983 under its then prefect Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger that Catholics are forbidden to join a lodge. Anyone who does so will be subject to excommunication.
Even more: In 1981, Pope John Paul II had the then Prefect of Faith Franjo Cardinal Šeper and then his successor Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger answer the question of whether the excommunication by the Second Vatican Council and the new Code of Canon Law had become obsolete:
Cardinal Ravasi ignored these statements of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in his open letter, while referring to the Second Vatican Council and the Code of Canon Law. In doing so, he followed those pro-Freemason church circles that undauntedly claim that there is no ban on becoming a member of a lodge, and that membership does not entail excommunication. A well-known representative of this direction is the Viennese cathedral priest Toni Faber.
In 1983 Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Faith with the authority of John Paul II, stated:
"The negative judgment of the Church on the Masonic associations thus remains unchanged, because their principles have always been considered incompatible with the teaching of the Church and therefore joining them remains forbidden. The faithful belonging to Masonic associations are therefore in a state of grave sin and cannot receive Holy Communion.
After in the first post-conciliar period, churchmen who were friendly to the Freemasons on the one hand and Freemasons on the other had already raised hopes that the epochal difference could soon be overcome, an abrupt change followed with the election of Pope John Paul II and the appointment of Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the Faith turning point that ruined those plans.
The Terni incident, while not the first of its kind, represents a new taboo breach. A similar incident occurred in 2011 when the Grand Lodge of France was building a new lodge house in Lyon, to the delight of Freemasons and to the dismay of Catholics Episcopal Vicar Emmanuel Payen took part - on behalf of Philippe Cardinal Barbarin, then Archbishop of Lyon.
Alain-Noël Dubard, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of France, first praised Lyon as a “non-dogmatic, open city”, only to exploit Monsignor Payen's presence to claim that it refutes “the myth of distrust existing between Freemasonry and Church law."
In Italy, Cardinal Ravasi's open letter was the initial spark for an escalation of rapprochement, after a few days before the publication of the Ravasi letter, La Croix, the daily newspaper of the French bishops, had demanded that there should be no more excommunication for Freemasons.
On November 12, 2017, on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of Freemasonry in Syracuse, a conference organized by the Grand Orient of Italy, "Church and Freemasonry - so close, so far?" took place. The main speaker was Monsignor Antonio Staglianò, Bishop of Noto. The question of why this conference took place with the appreciative participation of a bishop remained unanswered beyond general appeals for dialogue.
On May 18, 2019, Lodge No. 119 "Benedetto Cairoli" of the Grand Orient of Italy celebrated its 150th anniversary. The surprising guest of honor was Archbishop Riccardo Fontana of Arezzo. The image of Masonic Grand Master Stefano Bisi and the Archbishop embracing each other inspired lodge circles.
Terni means the last stage of increase for the time being: For the first time, a diocesan bishop was present at the opening of a Masonic temple, if only at the external celebration. The opening of the two lodge temples housed in the Masonic house is carried out by the Freemasons with their own ritual behind closed doors, in that the grand lodge "brings in the light" that indicates the beginning of the "ritual work" of the lodge wheels.
The Apostasy of the Bishops
In relation to Terni, the historian Roberto de Mattei, writing for Radio Roma Libera ( Radio Free Rome), recalled Jean Madiran's 1968 book, “L' hérésie du XXe siècle” ( “The Heresy of the 20th Century”). Madiran meant the bishops, namely the heretical or hereticizing positions held by bishops, especially the French, after Vatican II were represented. They gave in to the thinking of the world because, according to Madiran, they were convinced that they had to open up to modernity and leave traditional belief behind because social development also made it necessary to change the understanding of the salvation brought by Christ.
According to de Mattei, Madiran's analysis has lost none of its validity after more than half a century. However, today it is no longer so much a question of heresy, but of an apostasy by the bishops, a comprehensive denial of the Catholic faith. This is shown not only in the heresies and errors common among bishops, but also in a fundamental attitude of gestures and words of strong symbolic meaning.
"One of the first acts of the new bishop of Terni was therefore to visit a seat of Freemasonry, a secret organization condemned in countless documents by the Church, which represents a worldview diametrically opposed to that of the Church."
De Mattei clarifies the contradiction:
"The Masonic House of Terni, just opened, will be a place where the candidate Mason will abandon the Catholic Church to be assimilated into an anti-Christian sect in which he will lose his soul."
All men are "brothers", even "children of God", because it "doesn't matter" what religion one belongs to, because after all, even the condemnation of Freemasonry is just a historical misunderstanding made clear by the Second Vatican Council and the new code of the Canon law was overcome. Or not? It is this relativism that runs through the current pontificate that makes events like that in Terni possible. This attitude is not far removed from the first constitutionsFreemaurerei of 1717, which from its origin presents itself as an ideology that excludes any religious and moral truth, reducing traditional religions to subjective opinions.
What the brothers in the lodge wanted, they put down on paper in the instruction of the Alta Vendita written in 1818:
“We do not intend to win over the popes to our cause, to make them new initiates of our principles, propagators of our ideas. That would be a ridiculous dream (…). What we ask for, what we must seek and expect, as the Jews expect the Messiah, is a Pope according to our needs.”
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image : MiL/Il Sussidiario (Screenshots)