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The Masons Themselves Make The Church's Case Against Them

Freemasonry singles out the Most Rev. Fabian W. Bruskewitz, Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska for Excommunications

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The Wanderer

The Masons Themselves Make The Church's Case Against Them

July 11, 1996

by Thomas A. Droleskey

Pope Leo XIII wrote in Humanum Genus that Freemasonry is dedicated to the elimination of the influence of Catholicism in the life of nations. "Their god is the Devil," he wrote. Well, the Devil's minions are quite agitated these days, and they have singled out the Most Rev. Fabian W. Bruskewitz, bishop of Lincoln, Neb., for particular opprobrium.

Wanderer reader Gregory Morrow provided me with a copy of Scottish Rite, the journal of Freemasonry in what is called the "Southern District, U.S.A." The June, 1996 issue is replete with articles and letters attacking Bishop Bruskewitz for taking the action he did in April which resulted in the formal excommunication of any Catholics in the Lincoln Diocese who retained membership in 12 organizations, several of which are Masonic. What is most revealing about the articles is their disclosure that a number of high-ranking Masons believe that they have all manner of friends within the Catholic Church in this country.

Sovereign Grand Commander C. Fred Kleinknecht, a 33rd-degree Mason, rues the fact that Bishop Bruskewitz's actions might harm "the decades-long growth of understanding and mutual appreciation between the Roman Catholic Church and the Craft.... No other American bishop in recent history has issued a similar blanket call for excommunication. No doubt the 'medicinal situation' was triggered by widespread unrest in the Church and the attempts by many Catholics to construct a broader view of their faith than is provided by the Vatican and strict canon law."

Kleinknecht is attempting to give encouragement to those Catholics who dissent from the unchanging teaching of Jesus Christ. His references to the Catholic organizations which are included in the extra synodal legislation of the Diocese of Lincoln note that such groups "wish to promote a dialog on matters such as clerical celibacy, women in the priesthood, planned parenthood, and physicians helping terminally ill patients die." In other words, Kleinknecht is proving Bishop Bruskewitz's very point: that Masonry is dedicated to the undermining of the hierarchical nature of the Church of the immutable truths received from Christ Himself which the Church, founded upon the Rock of St. Peter, the Pope, has always taught infallibly.

Kleinknecht notes that Shriners and the Knights of Columbus hold an annual spring dinner together, and he goes on to point out that the Church of Rome's "former" hostility to the "Craft" was based in her efforts to stop "nation-building" in such places as Italy, where the Mason Giuseppe Garibaldi fought the Church with all his power. "These antagonisms, however, are long past, and throughout the world there is greater understanding and appreciation between Roman Catholics and Freemasons," he asserts.

What the grand commander misses is the simple fact that the Church was correct in her opposition to the development of nation-states which rejected the authority of the Successors of St. Peter to govern men in matters of faith and morals, and that membership in any Masonic organization is still forbidden, as the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith pointed out in 1983, regardless of what the de facto practice might be in many dioceses in this country.

Another 33rd-degree Mason, Warren D. Lichty, grand sword bearer in Lincoln, Neb., tries to rebut the argument made by Pope Leo XIII that Freemasonry is incompatible with Christianity, denying that Masonry is a religion or that it promotes relativism. But Lichty's own article proves that Masonry is relativistic, for it contends that one religious profession is as good as another. "I may sit in lodge with a Muslim Mason on one side, a Jewish Mason on the other side, and a Catholic Mason in front of me. Nevertheless, my religious faith is just as strong and firm as it has ever been. Lodge associations outside the Church do not affect one's faith other than to enhance it. There is nothing 'relativistic' about my faith."

Lichty betrays his own line of reasoning when he tries to explain why Masons direct their prayers to the "Great Architect of the Universe." "This is seen as being deistic or theistic. It is neither," he writes. "It is common politeness. Some of those Masons sitting around me call God by a different name. Does it make more sense not to pray and not to ask God's blessings on our work than to find a name to which we can all address our prayers without offense to any of us?" That, of course, begs the fundamental fact that Jesus Christ has professed Himself to be the Way, the truth, and the Life. What can be more relativistic than to assert that we can call God by a name other than that which He revealed to us while He walked the earth?

Lichty then tries to fit a square peg into a round hole, claiming that Catholic apologists have misinterpreted a book by Albert Pike, that Masonry is not a religion. What this Albert Pike meant to say, according to Lichty, was that Masonry is a religion of "a secular matter, a religion of toil, of doing one's job with integrity, of working with friends, and of having sympathy with those who suffer and mourn, relief for those in want, etc." But Masonry have its own rites, its own form of worship. It is dedicated to the very goals outlined by Pope Leo XIII in

In a twist of logic so convoluted as to defy complete comprehension, Lichty goes on to use the "authority" of the very author, William Whalen, whose critique of Pike so enraged him. Referring to Whalen, Lichty asserts that Bishop Bruskewitz did something which not even a Catholic authority on Masonry had recommended. The bishop of Lincoln, in Lichty's mind, is bound to observe the opinions of a lay author, not to exercise the apostolic mandate that was given to him by Pope John Paul II at the time of his appointment. That certainly proves Kleinknecht's point that there is an increased level of understanding between Catholics and Freemasons, doesn't it?

Of special interest, however, is an article authored by an Old Catholic Church priest named Charles Maier. He tried to join the Roman Catholic Church in 1980 when the Vatican permitted priests of the Anglican Church and the Old Catholic Church to apply for reception as Catholics. "After interviews and investigation, a call was received from a prominent archbishop who was going to send our papers to Rome. He mentioned that there was only one matter to be resolved, and he reminded me of the canon covering Freemasonry and the Catholic clergy. He said, 'Fr. Maier, I will not ask you to resign from Masonry. If it were possible, I would probably be a Mason myself.' Then came an emotional story of how, as a child, his legs had been misformed. His father, an Army officer, took him to a Shrine hospital. There, he received the use of his legs. He suggested that we pray about this decision, my remaining in or leaving Freemasonry, and he promised he would pray for us. We called the next day, and as a true pastor, "

Assuming that this is true, which I have no reason to doubt, then those in the Holy See who understand the dangers of the influence of Freemasonry upon the hierarchy in this country need to conduct a thorough investigation. For psychologist Joseph Wicker, who screens candidates for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, was until 1991 a worshipful master of Mt. Washington Masonic Lodge 642. Ray George, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, told on May 8th, 1991 that he did not think that Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk was aware of this fact, but "personally I don't see where that would be a conflict." George told The Wanderer that Dr. Wicker stopped his adherence to Masonry in 1991 and is now a practicing Catholic. That Dr. Wicker's association with Masonry did not end until after it was disclosed publicly five years ago is troubling. And there are many instances of high-ranking, well-known Masons being buried as Catholics in good standing.

Fr. Maier's attempt to defend Masonry has given those who fully support Bishop Bruskewitz's action much ammunition to use in pursuit of the many ways in which the relativism and indifferentism of Masonry have influenced the destruction of the faith from within the ranks of the Church in the United States.

This is a serious situation. Letters against Bishop Bruskewitz from no less than nine Masons who claim to be Catholics appeared in the June issue of Scottish Rite. Five of the writers were identified as 33rd-degree Masons, two were of the 32nd degree, and two were identified as wives of Masons. The existence of such confusion over the incompatibility between being a Catholic and being a Mason should be the subject of serious public discussion at the November meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Consider several excerpts from these letters:

James E. Vanderberry, a 33rd-degree Mason, writes: "Given the situation in Lincoln, Neb., I discussed the matter again with a monsignor I have known for many years. He advised me that I had taken the proper course in my original inquiry. He has the highest regard for Masons and their charitable works, and in his judgment, the case of Bishop Bruskewitz is an isolated conflict. He also advised me to make a profound, bold statement of my belief that there is no conflict between my religious convictions as a Roman Catholic and the Masonic Fraternity. In this response, I have."

Ellen Kleinknecht, the wife of 32nd-degree Mason Scott Kleinknecht (possibly the son of Fred?), writes: "The Catholic Church has lost a lot of young women because of its intolerant attitude toward many groups such as Planned Parenthood and, in this most recent case, Freemasonry. I personally have several female friends who have left the Church and several others who remain but ignore the Church's more dogmatic decrees. The bishop in Lincoln, Neb., appears to me to be the equivalent of Pat Buchanan and the GOP. Neither the bishop nor Buchanan represent their larger organizations but only a small and loud right wing within the Church or party. Neither one is the leader most Catholics or Republicans look to as their representative. Most of all, I resent the attitude that 'If you don't go along with me, then you're not a good Catholic.' Or, in Buchanan's case not a good Republican. The bishop, in my opinion, does not truly represent the attitude of mainstream American Catholics."

What Mrs. Kleinknecht and the other apologists for Masonry quoted in the June issue of Scottish Rite fail to comprehend is that the Catholic Church is not an organization. She is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ who teaches only what she has received from Him. She has no power, much less authority, to change one jot or tittle of His unchanging truths— truths which must be proclaimed, as St. Paul reminded St. Timothy, whether welcome or unwelcome, whether convenient or inconvenient, whether in season or out of season.

This is what Bishop Bruskewitz has done. And it is well past time for his brother bishops to follow his lead, to say nothing of being well past time for the Holy See to rid us of the influence of Masons within the hierarchy and its bureaucratic apparatus in this country.

This article was taken from the July 11, 1996 issue of "The Wanderer," 201 Ohio Street, St. Paul, MN 55107, 612-224-5733.

Resource: The Clearlight Catholic Homepage

Further Reading:

Anti-Masonry: Points of View