32nd degree Mason responds to Bernardin column
August 30, 2006
Matt C. Abbott
I received the following (unedited) e-mail from Christopher Hodapp, author of Freemasons For Dummies, in response to my recent column on the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.
I have read many of your columns, and I appreciate your work in bringing stories of abuses — as well as victories — in the Church to light.
Your recent posting from August 18th, ""Remembering" Joseph Cardinal Bernardin" contained a line, however, that needs to be corrected. I realize it is not your own work, but that of Randy Engel. Nevertheless, your posting of it may give it greater exposure than the book itself.
The quote was:
The Diocese of Charleston has long been recognized as seat of doctrinal "Progressivism" since the days of Bishop John England, and the city of Charleston is the historic hub of the "New and Reformed Palladian Rite" created by Freemason Albert Pike in the 1870s — a rite which hails Lucifer as the Light Bearer.
The so-called "New and Reformed Palladian Rite" of Freemasonry has never existed. Albert Pike did not create it. "Palladianism" was an invention of notorious hoaxer Leo Taxil, a Paris pamphleteer who was both anti-Catholic and anti-Masonic. His increasingly outrageous claims about lurid Masonic practices and rituals were a part of an elaborate act of revenge against the Paris lodges that refused him membership, and the Church, whose Pope Leo XIII believed every word Taxil wrote. After several years and a lucrative business of book sales promising ever more spectacular revelations of dark Masonic secrets, Taxil admitted his hoax at an elaborately staged public confession in Paris in 1897.
Details can be found at http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/taxil_confession.html as well as many other sources. The Taxil hoax has taken on a life of its own over the last century, and his mangled misquotes of Albert Pike pop up all over the internet repeatedly. But, like quoting from bilge like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, it is perpetrating a lie to repeat them, and it is intellectually dishonest to resort to them to persuade an audience.
As for the claim of some sort of Luciferian doctrine promoted by Albert Pike within Freemasonry, it is complete rubbish, and always has been. Pike's lengthy book about philosophy, symbolism, history and customs throughout the ages and their possible influences on the Scottish Rite degrees of Freemasonry, "Morals and Dogma," contains one reference to Lucifer. It is in the context of its original Latin meaning as used in Isaiah 14:12. Lucifer was a word used to describe the Morning Star, the planet Venus, known since Babylonian times as the "light bearer" because it is the first star that rises before the sun. Any competent Bible scholar who is up on his Vulgate origins, his Latin derivatives and his Hebrew knows that Isaiah's reference has nothing to do with Satan or the devil, even though the term Lucifer has been corrupted by about sixteen centuries of misinterpretation and cultural custom (and Milton and Dante didn't help matters, either). But Lucifer is not Satan. And in fact, most modern translations of the Bible have removed the term entirely and replaced it with the proper context.
Pike's book was his own personal opinion and his own examination of the possible origins of religions, rituals and ceremonies. He was a devoutly religious man, who believed that knowing how religions developed over the millennia made him a better Christian. To represent his writings as "Luciferian" is a cheap slander that relies on the probability that most who read the comment won't bother to actually read what the man wrote. And as important as Pike may have been to the Scottish Rite's Southern Jurisdiction, he did not write as the spokesman for Freemasonry. Regular, recognized and legally constituted Freemasonry and its appendant organizations like the Scottish and York Rite have never contained anything that could be remotely interpreted as Satanic or "Luciferian." Unfortunately, when researchers do their work basing their conclusions solely on internet material, lies and hoaxes — like urban legends — get compounded. It's like saying that pretenders like "Pope Gregorio XVII" in Spain and "Pope Pius XIII" in Montana have a claim to the throne of Peter, or that Pope Paul VI was really replaced with an actor in 1972, or that the Church was a big Hitler supporter.
The completely gratuitous swipe at Freemasonry and Pike marred an otherwise important article. There is unfortunately a big difference between the anti-sectarian and anti-Catholic movements of certain Masonic organizations across Europe and even America a century ago, versus English and American Freemasonry as it is understood today. The largely unrecognized Grand Orient of France, for example, continues to march in the streets and take official political and religious stands to influence the French government. Mainstream Anglo-American Freemasonry does no such thing. Maybe someday, someone will actually do some new research and update the Catholic Encyclopedia entry from almost a hundred years ago.
The gulf between regular, recognized Freemasonry and the Church does not, in reality, exist, and there are tens of thousands of Catholic Freemasons who can attest to that fact. Mainstream Freemasonry is not a religion, has no services of worship, espouses no creed, and only encourages its members to become better men by improving their lives and the lives of the world around them. Mainstream Freemasonry does not deny membership to Catholics, and it encourages its members to increase their participation and growth in their own personal faith. Mainstream, regular, recognized Grand Lodges are silent on issues of personal faith. Freemasonry was, in fact, created in the wake of the many religious wars that tore Europe apart before 1700, and was designed so that men could find common ground and socialize without coming to blows over religious and political differences.
The Catholic Encyclopedia in its article on Freemasonry says, "Catholics since 1738 are, under penalty of excommunication, incurred ipso facto, and reserved to the pope, strictly forbidden to enter or promote in any way Masonic societies. The law now in force pronounces excommunication upon "those who enter Masonic or Carbonarian or other sects of the same kind, which, openly or secretly, plot against the Church or lawful authority and those who in any way favour these sects or do not denounce their leaders and principal members." Modern Catholic Freemasons know that mainstream Freemasonry does not plot against the Church, openly or secretly, and see no contradiction between their faith and their membership. Unfortunately, three centuries of misinformation exists on the subject, and there seems to be no interest on the part of the Church to make a distinction between the mainstream lodges and admittedly anti-sectarian Masonic groups like the Grand Orient of France. Catholic Freemasons are confused because the Church is itself confused on the subject.
It's great to see you on the same site with Dr. Keyes. I worked for his election campaign and had the honor of meeting him many years ago. Ah, what might have been...
The Catholic Encyclopedia's essay on Freemasonry can be found here.
For another essay on the subject, go here.
Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He is the former director of public affairs for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League and the former executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee. He was a contributor to The Wanderer Catholic newspaper and had numerous letters to the editor published in major newspapers, including the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright 2006 by Matt C. Abbott