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Bugnini, Bernadin & Basil: Modernist Masons or Masonic Modernists?

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November 2000


In its 1 June 2000 edition, the liberal French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur featured a lengthy, shocking report on French Freemasonry, citing case after case of direct Masonic involvement in the most notorious criminal acts of the past twelve years. From mafia-like penetration of big business and the magistracy to assassination to public health catastrophes, it seems that virtually no aspect of contemporary Gallic life - whether political, judicial, military, commercial, civil administrative or law enforcement - is untouched by the corrupting hand of les francs-macons. While the report seeks to exonerate the majority of the 80,000 active French Masons from the criminal proclivities of a minority, nonetheless, it is forced to admit that "most of the recent scandals of the Republic have implicated, to various degrees, French masons." And the magazine states this fact even while admitting the complicity of its own kind: "… the press rarely speaks - except in veiled terms - of the role of French masons in business and politics, even though their presence is often a key to decoding affairs." Indeed, the French media itself is implicated in specific scandals, involving disinformation spread by a "masonic network at the heart of the magistracy and the press." Furthermore, the closed-shop environment created wherever the Brotherhood gains a foothold is a constant source of acrimony and division in both public and private sectors. A former Cabinet Minister recalled that he had once made discrete application for the presidency of a major French Foundation: "They explained to me on all sides that my career profile was right for the post, but that I had no chance: it was reserved for a Brother."(1)

English Lodge Under Fire

None of this should be news to the British populace. Apart from those whose own careers have been routinely stymied by the curse of Masonic patronage and preferment, the long held concerns of the public at large have been afforded unprecedented publicity in recent years as the local Lodge, much to the chagrin of its 340,000 English and Welsh brethren, has endured a government enquiry into its activities and influence, concentrating on the police force and judiciary. While the sort of detailed and frank media expose related above is still a rarity on this side of the Channel, anyone who viewed the fiery televised exchanges in February 1998 between dogged left-wing Labour MP Chris Mullin, who chaired the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, and the likes of Commander Michael Higham, the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge, will have perceived a sea change in attitude towards Freemasonry in this country. As Martin Short, author of Inside the Brotherhood, commented at the time about the peremptory way in which a parliamentary committee was calling the Masons to account: "If you go back thirty, twenty or even ten years it is inconceivable this would have happened."

The sort of demands which the Grand Lodge contemptuously resisted, to the point of effectively challenging the powers of the Select Committee, included requests that it supply the names of its members among the judiciary, the police, government lawyers and prison and probation staff, and that it identify which of 161 people involved in a series of notorious police inquiries - including the Birmingham pub bombings - were Masons. Mr Mullin said that 96 of the 161 names on the police list were former members of the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad, which was disbanded in 1989 for corruption. The committee had been told by police officers - including Masons - that Freemasons had operated within the squad as "firms within firms." Allegedly reneging on a previous assurance that he would be prepared to release the names on a strictly confidential basis, a furious Grand Secretary Higham accused the MPs of conducting a "fishing expedition", complained that there had not been any specific allegations (prompting Mr Mullin to retort: "They were holding plastic bags over people's heads in order to get confessions") and merely claimed that only ten possible Masons had been identified among the 96 Serious Crime Squad names. Since that time there has been strong resistance among police officers to the Government's survey of Masonic membership, with the Home Secretary now considering whether to force them to register membership after only 36 per cent of officers in England and Wales responded to the study. Of these respondents, only one per cent said they were Masons, 89 per cent said they were not members and nine per cent refused to answer.

More successful was a similar survey of the courts, also resulting from the Select Committee's report, which drew a response from 96 per cent of judges and 87 per cent of magistrates. Five per cent of judges and magistrates said they were Masons while 89 per cent of judges and 80 per cent of magistrates said they had no links with the organisation. In the meantime, after months of struggle between the Government and the Freemasons and among Ministers themselves, the Home Secretary recently triumphed in his bid to shore up public confidence in the justice system by introducing a register of the Masonic links of judges, the first to cover any group of civil servants or other state employees, as well as making the declaration of Masonic status compulsory for newly-appointed judges. Needless to say, those Masons, lawyers and judges who have subsequently cried "discrimination" or defended Masonry in the judiciary on the grounds that privacy must be protected against unjustifiable interference, all conveniently ignore the conflict of interest which Freemasonry imposes on its members. In other words, although so far only five per cent of over 5,000 judges admit they are Masons (64 have declined to answer), that translates into no less than 247 judges who are known to have taken an oath demanding a higher degree of observance than their own judicial oath i.e. to support their brother Freemasons to the detriment of others. And one can only speculate about the extent of Masonic influence on the arrogantly liberal outlook of so many British judges which has drawn heavy criticism from all quarters in recent years as the courts of this country, according to Dr John Casey, Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, have set about imposing their "utilitarian, secular dogma" (especially in family and life issues) while "casually setting aside the Judaeo-Christian tradition of two millennia" [Daily Mail, 5/9/00] (2). As a Welsh barrister wrote to The Times [23/11/98]: "After 30 years at the Bar, it is my view that the influence of Freemasonry in the law is insidious and overwhelming. By contrast my own 'religious beliefs, political views or sexual preferences' are manifest for all to see. The liberty of the ordinary individual is too important to be left to a judiciary with secrets to hide."

Philosophic Victory

All of this information is interesting, sobering, necessary and useful. We do well to remind ourselves and others of the destabilising presence of Freemasonry and to encourage any efforts to expose it to scrutiny and limit its danger to the State. At the same time, such data is undoubtedly peripheral. Which means that listing acts of Masonic criminality and enforcing public officials to declare their Lodge membership are more about symptoms and band-aid treatments than cause-and-effect and lasting remedies. Ultimately, they are no more important than discovering whether or not, say, Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, chief architect of the Novus Ordo liturgical revolution, was a card-carrying Lodge member. While the circumstantial evidence including his sudden banishment from the curia by Pope Paul in 1975 strongly suggests that he was, and many reputable Catholics (including Fr. Crane) have been convinced of it, no less a committed and outstanding traditionalist than Cardinal Silvio Oddi, who knew Bugnini very well, begs to differ. "I can swear to you that he was not a Freemason," Oddi told the Italian Vaticanist Lucio Brunelli during a book length interview published in 1996. "I remain convinced that these accusations were made up by someone in his office, the Congregation for Divine Worship, who wanted to eliminate him." In a letter to Paul VI of 22 October 1975, Bugnini himself refuted the charge: "I have never had any interest in Freemasonry. I do not know what it is, what it does, or what its purposes are."

I introduce this perennial controversy only to emphasise that it doesn't really matter. Regardless of whether he was actually initiated or not, Bugnini, charming and personable but fiercely ambitious and power-hungry, had embraced the Masonic worldview: "Secularisation was, for him," stated Abbot Boniface Luykx, O. Praem., who worked with and liked Bugnini, "a necessary process, something the Church needed to accept and embrace….because he said it was reality, and it was necessary to accept reality. He held to the modern philosophical view that man is made without God, and does not need God… He may never have used those words exactly, but that was his meaning, as his repeated answers to Bishop Malula [of Zaire] revealed" [Inside the Vatican, May 1996]. In that sense, the New Mass - adapted to modern Western man and Western culture - was Bugnini's last will and testament; the Catholic conduit par excellence for the secularism he professed.

This is all to say that while the criminal activities of secret Masonic groups like the infamous Italian Lodge "P2" (discovered in 1981 plotting against the State (3)) and individual Masons of the type referred to in the Nouvel Observateur report may have periodically grabbed the headlines, it is in the private realm of ideas that Freemasonry has comprehensively stolen men's hearts. Le Nouvel Observateur only hinted at this more sinister triumph when it acknowledged in passing that, "sometimes decades before their promulgation," debates on all manner of supposedly 'enlightened' laws including legalised abortion and contraception had been debated, and effectively settled, in the Lodges of France. (Are contemporary cries for the legalisation of so-called "soft drugs," cloning etc. being fuelled by the same hidden forums?). Thus have Masonic ideas taken on a life of their own in deforming erstwhile Christian societies - both East and West. Steeped in godless naturalism, they have so saturated the air we breathe that the modern world, as both victim and willing adherent to secularism, is incapable of assessing the Masonic roots of its own demise.

Episcopal Complicity

Yet just as disoriented and enfeebled, it seems, is the Catholic hierarchy. For it appears that the majority of bishops, while ever protesting their Catholic faith and love for the Church like Annibale Bugnini, remain as blind to their own Masonic leanings as the late Archbishop and the rest of the secularised West. This charge is self-evident not only in the bishops' routine toleration and promotion of secularising tendencies in moral, doctrinal, liturgical and catechetical affairs over thirty years, but also in their near universal rejection of Leo XIII's urgent call "to tear away the mask from Freemasonry, and to let it be seen as it really is" [Humanum Genus, no. 31]. Thus we find a studied episcopal refusal to enforce Church law prohibiting Lodge membership or even simply to correct the widely held false belief that the Church has softened its stance on Freemasonry (which view sprang from "erroneous and tendentious interpretations" of a strangely diluted 1974 communique on Lodge membership from Cardinal Seper, then Prefect of the Holy Office. It has persisted ever since despite unequivocal Vatican correctives in 1981 and 1983 restating the prohibition of Catholic membership of Masonic associations under pain of grave sin and automatic denial of Holy Communion).

To underscore the sort of workaday complicity being pointed to here, one need only consider the complacent and even cavalier attitude of postconciliar prelates to the Lodge. Questions of propriety and pastoral example in this regard, for instance, apparently escaped Cardinal Hume who, as reported in a Times feature of 16 January 1999, was a celebrated member the Worshipful Company of Skinners, a charitable group and one of London's "great City Livery Companies that today are dominated by Freemasonry" [The Keys of Peter, Sept/Oct 1986]. Nor did Archbishop Kelly of Liverpool regard it as the least incongruous, misleading or scandalous that the social welfare arm of his archdiocese, the Nugent Care Society, accepted substantial donations from two Masonic Lodges in early 1999, eliciting public praise for the Brotherhood from the Society's Director who, bizarrely, regarded the donation as cementing "the ecumenical nature of the work we carry out across Merseyside". Refusing a plea from one of his flock to publicise the Vatican's 1983 re-statement on Freemasonry to avoid any confusion caused by this affair, Archbishop Kelly himself responded blithely: "…in no way does the receiving of funds imply the endorsement of views held by any donor." Which rather misses the point made by Leo XIII in Humanum Genus that "…as the whole principle and object of the sect lies in what is vicious and criminal, to join with these men or in any way to help them cannot be lawful."

Like Archbishop Kelly and other British prelates, Cardinal Hume also routinely refused requests from concerned laity to re-state and clarify the Church's teaching on Freemasonry. Instead, the Cardinal persisted in holding fast to the false interpretation triggered in 1974 by Cardinal Seper's aforementioned gaffe, which had duped Cardinal Heenan like so many others: "I have followed the line agreed by my predecessor and the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 1974," was his standard response to complainants, altogether ignoring the crystal-clear 1983 Vatican corrective to the "erroneous and tendentious" interpretations of the mid-70s. While many Catholics still speculate about the possible nexus between Hume's renowned Modernism and this striking ambivalence towards the Lodge (4), still many more compare the attitude of British bishops in general to the genuine pastoral solicitude of Nebraska's Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, who in 1996 issued a list of "forbidden" groups, including Freemasons, to be avoided by his flock. Anyone "attaining or retaining membership" in any of these groups after 15 April 1996, wrote the Archbishop, are "by that fact (ipso facto-latae sententiae] under interdict and are absolutely forbidden to receive Holy Communion. Contumacious persistence in such membership for one month following the interdict on the part of any such Catholics will by that very fact (ipso facto-latae sententiae] cause them to be excommunicated". Nor was the Bishop deterred by the scale of the operation, his declaration affecting no less than 83,000 Catholics, most of whom were members of 12 Masonic Lodges (perhaps including many of those who joined up in recent decades amid the aforementioned confusion over the Church's stance).

Masonic Progeny

If the above comparison highlights the difference between a true Shepherd and mere hirelings, it also reveals that what British prelates have in common with the likes of Archbishop Bugnini and Cardinal Bernadin is not necessarily a Masonic apron - though that would explain much about certain mitred crooks - but, rather, a de-supernaturalised purview; a Masonic outlook. Cardinal Hume may have been spared the Masonic "guard of honour" that flanked the coffin of Cardinal Bernadin; he may have eluded the "Masonic Order of Galileo Galilei Award" which Bernadin accepted and posthumously received from the Brotherhood for building "bridges of understanding and tolerance;" he may have avoided descent to quite the same infernal depths to which Cardinal Bernadin lowered himself, his Chicago archdiocese and much of the American Church. Yet Basil Hume remained a great friend and admirer of Joseph Bernadin and enthusiastically promoted, right to his last breath, Bernadin's faustian Common Ground Project which encapsulates that secular pseudo-tolerance which is at once the hallmark of Masonry and the essence of Hume's wretched "middle-way." It is in this meeting of illiberal-liberal minds, not dodgy handshakes, that we see the lengthening shadow of the Lodge within the Church and the flowering fruit of the Alta Vendita - the Brotherhood's strategic blueprint for producing, as John Vennari explains in this edition: "a hierarchy marching under the banner of the Enlightenment all the while thinking they are marching under the banner of the Apostolic keys."

Any local readers still unable to accept the notion of contemporary prelates as progeny of the Alta Vendita; anyone still uneasy about this charge of ecclesiastical secularisation by bishops who, though professing fidelity to Church and Pope, foster the Masonic agenda; anyone, that is, still unwilling to admit the evidence of their own eyes, should ask themselves a few blunt questions - such as:

How it transpires that the Bishops of England and Wales could collectively examine, approve and laud ICONS, the latest RE scheme for Senior Catholic Schools, when the introductory year of that programme, which lays the foundation for the rest of the course, omits any mention of the Fall, Original Sin, Sanctifying Grace, Concupiscence, Redemption or the Soul?

How we have reached the point where, last August, Bishop Ambrose Griffiths of Hexham and Newcastle could boldly and vigorously extol the virtues of Martin Luther during a Sunday homily at St Wilfrid's parish, Gateshead, and glory in the fact that Luther was "a man of foresight" who saw clearly where the Church was going?

How we reconcile the wicked pastoral neglect of Archbishop Patrick Kelly in glibly rejecting detailed evidence of the fraudulent and occult origins of the Enneagram, while insisting that his unsuspecting flock have been "greatly blessed… and truly grown in their fidelity to our Lord" through it?

How it transpires that Bishop Peter Smith could describe the shameless, self-professed heretic Fr. Rafael Estaban as "a first class priest and in good standing with the Church"?

How we account for Bishop David Konstant?

How we explain the critical shortage of vocations being continually rationalised and reduced to purely secular solutions like parish closures and lay pastoral assistants, while obvious remedies proposing a return to orthodox Catholic faith, practice and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament are spurned when they are not mocked by mere lip-service?

How it could possibly happen that Cardinal Hume refused even to discipline, let alone defrock, heretical North London priest Jude Bullock for his repeated public declarations of unbelief in God or an afterlife, despite pleas to act by his orthodox clergy?

How one squares the Catholic faith with Cardinal Hume's secular manifesto of 20 September 1986 at All Hallows College, Dublin, where he publicly reduced the crucial restoration of Christendom called for by St. Pius X to a "nostalgic temptation"; stated that the Church does not "as yet, possess the whole truth"; claimed that "dialogue is not aimed at conversion to the true faith"; lauded "the maturity" of modern man since, "his secular education has enabled him to think and speak and conduct a dialogue with dignity"; and, in the face of a spiritually and morally anarchic world, categorically stated that "there is no reason to believe that over the last 25 years the human race has significantly regressed"?

Supernatural Shield

One could go on ad nauseam about the secularising proclivities of clerical hirelings. But the point is made: to focus, as many do, on the clandestine formal attachment to the Brotherhood of a small minority of clerics, merely distracts from the less exciting de-facto attachment of the majority. After all, in essence, Mainstream Modernism is just Masonic naturalism in religious garb; ecclesiastical Freemasonry more a philosophic subset than a scheming club (although it is that too). Annibale Bugnini, Joseph Bernadin and Basil Hume all embodied that 'subset', just as they mirrored the contradiction between professions of faith and faithless actions - between Catholic posture and Secular response - which reflects the present pyscho-spiritual schizophrenia of bishops and the clergy in general. And that being the case, whether they actually joined the 'club', though endlessly debated, remains largely irrelevant to the spiritual collapse they helped facilitate through their loss of faith. It is an important dichotomy and one which underlies these cautionary words from Bugnini's former colleague, Abbot Boniface, who referred to the dreadful reality of formal ecclesiastical Freemasonry while alluding to that less specific but ultimately more corrosive Masonic purview which presently holds churchmen, as laymen, in thrall:

"We must be very, very prudent before accusing him [Bugnini] of Freemasonry. I personally have no evidence whatsoever of that. But there was a large group of Freemasons in the Curia in those days, so it is possible that he was one of them. There have always been Freemasons among the high-ranking prelates of the Church, since the time of Pius IX in the 19th century, and even under Pius X, the great opponent of Modernism….. You must not underestimate the scope of Freemasonry. I have come to understand that Freemasonry is a power that is much bigger than we think. It seeks to change the nature of the Church, and in this way, to destroy her. And, from a human perspective, from a natural perspective, the Church cannot win. The Church cannot survive. The Church only endures because the power of the Holy Spirit is protecting the Church. The Church is not a natural institution. She is a mystical reality, the Bride of Christ. And because she is not a natural reality, but a supernatural one, she cannot be destroyed by natural means, and Christ has promised to protect and preserve her by supernatural means. And that is what I see in history."

* * * * * *


"But how, I ask, does it happen that the saints, who live only for God, resist their ordination through a sense of their unworthiness, and that some run blindly to the priesthood, and rest not until they attain it by lawful or unlawful means? Ah. Unhappy men! Says St. Bernard, to be registered among the priests of God shall be for them the same as to be enrolled on the catalogue of the damned. And why? Because such persons are generally called to the priesthood, not by God, but by relatives, by interest, or ambition. Thus they enter the house of God, not through the motive a priest should have, but through worldly motives. Behold why the faithful are abandoned, the Church dishonoured, so many souls perish, and with them such priests are also damned."

St. Alphonsus Ligouri


(1) Though not germane to the report, the magazine could well have added a further section on the poisonous Masonic legacy bequeathed to Africa. As Mgr Hyacinthe Thiandoum, Archbishop of Dakar, recounted in an interview with Jeune Afrique of 9 March 1999, la franc-maconnerie now pervades every level of political and economic life in the former French colonies.

(2) This grim judicial mentality was again on public show only last September as the High Court overruled parental objections to the killing of Siamese twin Mary in order to save her sister Jodie. "What is the benefit of a compromised life - compromised by nature and by unhappy circumstances," pondered the spiritually bereft (Christian Brothers-educated) Lord Justice Ward. "What is this creature in the eyes of the law", asked Lord Justice Brooke to the anguish of the Catholic parents who spoke in contrast of "our two beautiful daughters." "Continued life would hold nothing for Mary except possible pain and discomfort," decreed (Downside-educated) Lord Justice Walker laying out the parameters of this humanistic judgement. The American parallel springs immediately to mind, where Freemasons dominated the U.S. Supreme Court from 1941-1971 in ratios 5-4 and 8-1. As Paul A. Fisher, author of the meticulously documented Behind the Lodge Door, wrote in 1998: "It was the masonically-dominated [Supreme] Court which outlawed Christianity in public life, outlawed prayer and Bible, established the 'theory of evolution' as the only account of Creation which could be taught in America [in the public schools]." Many other ills such as abortion on demand and the "separation of Church and State," which have all led to the entrenchment of secular humanism as the de-facto religion of America, are also directly attributable to that same Masonic Court.

(3) Directed by Grand Master Licio Gelli, Propaganda Two (or P2) consisted of 953 people, including the heads of Italy's intelligence agencies, generals, cabinet ministers, judges, bankers and industrialists. Gelli had persuaded a number of individuals, such as ill-fated financier Roberto Calvi of Vatican Bank scandal fame, that the Church now permitted Lodge membership.

(4) As a measure of episcopal wariness of such well-founded lay suspicions, one need only consider the small but telling alteration to the printed text of the address given by Bishop John Crowley of Middlesbrough at Cardinal Hume's requiem. During a eulogy in which the word "truth" was mentioned just once in passing and which portrayed His Eminence as under siege from "extremists - right and left" as he pursued his quest for "the middle ground," Bishop Crowley quoted verbatim a small impromptu commentary by the dying Cardinal in which he spoke of "the Gospel values of Jesus, the New World Order of Justice, Peace and Love." In the printed text reproduced in a special July 1999 edition of Briefing, the official journal of the Bishops' Conference, the renowned Masonic phrase "New World Order" has been struck out and the Cardinal's words sanitised to read: "the gospel values of Jesus - justice, love and peace". Nothing else from the eulogy was omitted and Bishop Crowley is said to have edited the text himself. Readers should note that Bishop Crowley, Cardinal Hume's former private secretary, was the un-named Bishop who sent his emissary to instruct RE teacher Pat McKeever to teach "the middle way" at a Sixth Form College in his diocese ("Truth has its Own Power", CO, October 2000).

Further Reading:

Freemasonry in the Vatican