By Fr. V. PAUL BRASSELL, S.J.
Freemasonry and the Vatican by Leon de Poncins (Britons Publishing Co. 30s.) is at present in Catholic circles a constant, subtle and determined campaign in favour of Freemasonry. This campaign is directed by the progressive brigade, currently enjoying so great an influence in France, and is assisted by pressure groups among the Catholic priesthood and the Catholic press in that country. Here expressed is the theme of this book.
Leon de Poncins is a recognised authority on Freemasonry. He has studied his subject for over forty years. His authorities and the documents on which he bases his conclusions have never been challenged.
His conclusions, resulting front a close study of Freemasonry in its own documents, are that Freemasonry is a system fundamentally hostile to our whole civilisation, culture and way of life in Western Europe, based as this is upon Christianity, and until recently impregnated with Christian history and traditions.
The author asserts that because of the upheavals which began with the first World War, and preceded and followed the Second, Freemasonry has lost much of its prestige and preponderance in Europe. It has been unmasked and has lost a great deal of its influence.
It has been banned in many countries under various political regimes, its adversaries having discovered its subversive activities and techniques, its methods of infiltration and political penetration. It has lost its position as the intellectual leader of left-wing parties to the Communists, synarchist technocrats (a French secret society of leading engineers. industrialists and business men). Its modern technique is to burrow insidiously even into the Catholic Church herself.
This book reveals for the first time that it was the Grand Orient Freemason., Dr. Bene.s of Czechoslovakia, who influenced President Roosevelt, himself a Mason, to place a blind faith in Stalin with disastrous results to Christian civilisation. The most important part of the book, therefore, deals with Freemasonry's relationship with politics, with its often quite unconscious connection with Communism.
This role, peculiar and disturbing, 'is demonstrated by the author by quoting the highest Masonic authorities. He thus reveals the activity of Freemasonry in the French Revolution, in the Treaty of Versailles after the first World War, in the Cartel Des Gauches in France in 1924, and afterwards in the Spanish Civil War of 1936.
All this is most interesting in the light of what we have read recently in our Catholic Press, namely, that confusion about Freemasonry has reached its highest pitch within. the past few months. We heard of the reported ruling from Scandinavia that Freemasons could remain Catholics. A report from an international news agency stated that the Church was planning to jettison her ban on Catholic membership of the Freemasons. The Holy See, however, in a statement from Rome recently reaffirmed her intransigent attitude to Freemasonry and the membership of Cathdlics therein,. She does not, and will not. permit membership, and the excommunication of the Code of Canon Law still holds.
We know that Freemasonry was founded in London in 1717 by a group of Deists. After being in existence for some years, 'it was condemned absolutely by Pope Clement XII in 1738 and by subsequent Popes, too numerous to mention here. The motives for the condemnation of Freemasonry are clearly set forth in Pope Leo XIll's Encyclical Letter
It was condemned because it was anti-Christian, because its oaths, bloodcurdling in content, are immoral. No such oaths can be administered by any merely private authority. Freemasonry in its very constitution contains techniques of subversion, and the seeds of revolution and disruption, which .in the hands of the unscrupulous could be exploited even in our own country.
Hence, if any Catholic should consider there is any confusion about the Church's attitude to Freemasonry as such, let him dip into this book. I say advisedly "dip into," for 'it is not a book that is easy to read. The text is so broken up by quotations that one wonders who is writing the book, the author or his authorities. An excellent index, however, makes it easy to consult, Its publication in English is certainly timely.