Official Visit to Hudson Lodge No. 77
October 23, 2008
Past & Present Grand Lodge Officers,
popular media has, once more, provided a weeks worth of 'Revealed
Masonic Secrets' and 'The Truth Behind ... (you name it)'
This latest wave of excitement about Masonry has largely been caused by
Dan Brown and his extremely popular 'DaVinci Code' which had 60.5
million copies in print by May 2006. Although the DaVinci Code does not
directly concern itself with Masonry, it piqued the curiosity about all
kinds of so called 'Secret Societies.' and triggered an avalanche of
books, articles, talk-show topics, and well intended rebukes from our
We can, no doubt, look
forward to another wave when Dan Brown releases his next book 'The
Solomon Key' which will be specifically about Freemasonry. The release
date has not been announced yet, but you can already purchase the 'Guide
to Dan Brown's The Solomon Key' which promises an
exploration of the topics
likely to be included
in Brown''s upcoming bestseller.�
number of the presentations aired during the week were produced with the
close collaboration of Lodges and Masonic Grand Bodies. I'll leave it to
you to judge the wisdom of this.
Anybody who has ever
entered 'Freemasonry' into the Google search engine may have
noticed that the result is
about 2,150,000 found references.
These references can be divided into three basic
types: Information for and by Masons (careful; there are regular and
irregular bodies), Anti-Masonry, and pure fiction (like the DaVinci
Freemasonry, with it's aura of a 'Secret Society'
has been under scrutiny from it's very beginning in 1717. Our Ritual
warns us already in the charge of the first degree 'not to let
your zeal for the institution lead you into into argument with those,
who through ignorance, might ridicule it.' We should probably
add 'attack' as well.
This evening I want to highlight three events
which have influenced the public perception of Freemasonry.
The first is a book by Samuel Pritchard 'Masonry
Dissected' which was published in 1730, a mere 13 years after the
formation of the first Grand Lodge and eight years before our current
system of three degrees was adopted by that grand Lodge. In it we can
find the full text of a Masonic Ritual which, although subsequently
elaborated and refined, contained all elements of the Craft symbolism.
So, for the first time, the public had a tangible reference to Masonry.
It was a phenomenal success at the time and remained in print until the
1800's. Not only did it provide the curious with a look at the 'secret'
Ritual, but also that
longer had to learn ritual by oral transmission only but now could buy a
book and learn it in the comfort of their own homes.
Those who feared Freemasonry or found it
incompatible with their religious beliefs now had 'concrete evidence'
supporting their arguments.
Eight years after the publication of Prichard's
Masonry Dissected, in 1738, Pope Clement XII issued the first papal bull
condemning Freemasonry. There would be dozens to follow.
significant event is the papal bull issued on April 20, 1884, by POPE
LEO XIII, and entitled 'Humanum Genus', which was in it's entirety a
condemnation of the Craft.
This encyclical is lengthy and detailed in its
aggressive denunciation of all things Masonic. I'll just cite a few
lines to give you an idea of its forcefulness in its attack:
Now, the fundamental doctrine of the
naturalists, which they sufficiently make known by their very name, is
that human nature and human reason ought in all things to be mistress
and guide. Laying this down, they care little for duties to God, or
pervert them by erroneous and vague opinions. For they deny that
anything has been taught by God; they allow no dogma of religion or
truth which cannot be understood by the human intelligence, nor any
teacher who ought to be believed by reason of his authority.
In this insane and wicked endeavour we may
almost see the implacable hatred and spirit of revenge with which Satan
himself is inflamed against Jesus Christ.--So also the studious
endeavour of the Freemasons to destroy the chief foundations of justice
and honesty, and to co-operate with those who would wish, as if they
were mere animals, to do what they please, tends only to the ignominious
and disgraceful ruin of the human race.
After describing the evils of Masonry, the Pope
appeals to clergy and layman alike to take action; and I cite:
We pray and beseech you, venerable brethren, to
join your efforts with Ours, and earnestly to strive for the extirpation
of this foul plague, which is creeping through the veins of the body
We wish it to
be your rule first of all to tear away the mask from Freemasonry,
and to let it be seen as it really is.
This good and great work requires to be helped
also by the industry of those amongst the laity in whom a love of
religion and of country is joined to learning and goodness of life. By
uniting the efforts of both clergy and laity, strive, venerable
brethren, to make men thoroughly know and love the Church; for, the
greater their knowledge and love of the Church, the more will they be
turned away from clandestine societies.
This brings me to the third, and possibly the most
influential event in the long history of bogous and malicious
misinformation that ever came off a printing press.
In 1885 a gifted and prolific author, Gabriel
Jogand Pag�s saw in Leo XIII's 'Humanus genus' an open invitation by the
Church to mount the greatest hoax in history � and a field for both
revenue and the humiliation of the Roman Catholic Church, which he most
After years of bring the propagandist of the
'Anticlerical Society', he pretended conversion, suppressed his books
attacking the church. He was promptly absolved from a number of
excommunications which had been recorded against him by the Papal Nuncio
in Paris, Mgr. di Rende,.
Fired on by his desire for money and the ambition
to dupe the church, he produced, under the pseudonym of Leo Taxil, a
series of books called Complete Revelations of French Masonry, which
attracted great attention in Europe. They were translated into German,
Italian and Spanish, and read by hundreds of thousands of people.
In 1881 he had been made an Entered Apprentice,
but was soon after expelled from the fraternity because of indiscretions
of which he was guilty. With reckless disregard for facts, and
unrestrained by his ignorance of Masonry, he gave his extraordinary
imaginative powers full play, and with a richness of detail and
illustration which was truly remarkable, represented the rites of the
craft to be a hideous form of Devil-Worship.
One entire volume he devoted to Female Masons. On
this impossible foundation he constructed a shameful edifice of fiction,
full of shockingly scandalous and beastly fabrications that were
received with delight by the papal authorities, who saw in them perfect
justification for the attitude of their church toward Masonry.
Another one of his books, of which two hundred
thousand copies were sold at 24 francs a copy, he charged every Mason
with being a murderer, in spirit if not in fact. The following
translation of a passage from it explains the grounds upon which the
charge was made:
"Before a man is admitted to the higher degrees he is blindfolded &
taken into a room where a live sheep is lying on the floor. The animal's
mouth and feet are secured and it is clean shaven, so that its skin
feels to the touch like that of a human being.
"Next to the animal a man is placed, who breathes heavily, feigning to
struggle against imaginary enemies. The candidate is given to understand
that the sheep's body is that of a disloyal Mason who gave away the
secrets of the order and must die according to some ancient law, the
candidate being made executioner, as a warning to him.
"Then he is given a big knife, and after some ceremonial is persuaded to
'kill the traitor,' that is, plunge the knife repeatedly into the body
of the sheep, which he imagines to be that of an unknown human being,
"Thus every Mason is a murderer in spirit at least, if not actually, for
sometimes treacherous Masons take the place of the animal."
This story brought denials from such distinguished
Freemasons as Bismarck, the Prince of Wales, and Emperor William I �
which served greatly to stimulate the sale of the work.
Encouraged by the credulity of his victims, Taxil
added Spiritualism to his schedule of Masonic practises and beliefs and
told of tables floating in the air and turning into crocodiles at
Masonic meetings, and for his supposed revelations was honoured by Pope
Leo XIII with the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a distinguished mark of
the high favour of the Roman hierarchy.
A High Priestess of this Luciferan Masonry was
needed and cleverly contrived for the consternation of the Pope and the
Public, in the person of "Diana Vaughn." She was said to be the direct
descendant of a man to whose embraces the lascivious Venus-Astarte
submitted. As a girl she engaged herself to the Demon Asmodeus and
afterwards appeared before Satan in Charleston, and was by him
consecrated as his Masonic high priestess in the presence of Albert
Pike! She possessed supernatural powers, such as the ability to turn
herself into liquid and pass through a stone wall, and was a Very
Terrible Personage indeed
All these, and
scores of other absurdities were published month after month in Paris,
and read with avidity in the Vatican. When the Roman ecclesiastical
authorities had been sufficiently horrified by Diana Vaughn's deviltry,
Taxil caused her to be "converted" as he himself had been. This
astounding change in a heart familiar with wickedness was alleged to
have been caused by Albert Pike ordering her to Spit Upon & Stab a
Consecrated Host in one of the Masonic rites.
Largely as a result of Leo Taxil's voluminous
works, one of which has 2,000 pages, the Vatican and its priesthood
throughout Europe were aroused to a sense of impending dangers from the
fraternity, and an anti-Masonic Congress was called to meet at Trent in
September 1896, to which Leo XIII telegraphed his blessing. Its purpose
was "to make known to everybody the immense moral and material evil done
by Freemasonry to the Church and to society, and to seek a remedy by way
of a permanent, international organization against the craft." A
thousand delegates from European countries attended, among them being
thirty-six Roman Catholic bishops.
For twelve years, Taxil was able to exploit his hoax. With his writings
and accusations becoming more and more outrageous, even those who wanted
desperately to believe them, expressed doubt. The pressure
on Monsieur Jogand-Pag�s finally became so strong that he announced she
would appear in the hall of the Geographical Society in Paris on Easter
Monday, April 19, 1897.
On that date and at that place he took the
platform in the presence of a large audience that had assembled to see
and hear Diana Vaughn, formerly the intimate associate of the Devil, now
the repentant accuser of Masonry. He made a speech of superb audacity,
in which he told his shocked listeners that his conversion twelve years
before was a pretence, that Diana Vaughn was a Myth, and that his
revelations of Freemasonry were all deliberate Lies, put forth for the
sole purpose of playing upon the credulity of the Roman Catholic Church
and making its rulers ridiculous in the eyes of intelligent men.
But the damage was done. Contrary to the papal
encyclical, which addressed itself primarily to the clergy, Taxil's
publications were read by the whole of Europe and had been given
credibility by numerous endorsements by the Church and praise by the
clergy. Anti-Masonic authors and agitators have � for the last hundred
years � freely drawn from Taxil's cesspool.
His writings were maybe not intended to be
anti-Masonic and seen by him as a hoax to expose the bias of the Church.
It's a sad fact, though, that this kind of publicity always finds an
At an interview with the press, Taxil said:
"The public made me what I am, the arch-liar of
the period, for when I first commenced to write against the Masons my
object was amusement pure and simple. The crimes laid at their door were
so grotesque, so impossible, so widely exaggerated, I thought everybody
would see the joke and give me credit for originating a new line of
humour. But my readers wouldn't have it so; they accepted my fables as
gospel truth, and the more I lied for the purpose of showing that I
lied, the more convinced they became that I was a paragon of
This is indeed food for thought and I cannot help
myself but to wonder how effective our recent endeavours to popularize
our fraternity by opening our doors to the public and encouraging and
participate in the production of print, audio and video exposures
intended to give the inside view of a benign and noble fraternity?
In closing, I want to quote Leo Taxil when he explains how he convinced
Hacks to become a collaborator in his hoax and Dan Brown
may have had this quote in mind when he wrote the 'DaVinci Code':
The issue of rituals is far less interesting
than recounting adventures as a witness, especially unbelievable ones...
Besides, to move good souls best, the narrator must himself be a hero.
Now don't worry about denials... should some of them protest, their
denials would be without effect, since they would appear to have been
made in self-defence."
Current Official Position of the Catholic Church regarding Catholics
there has been no conflict between Freemasonry and the Catholic Church
in this country. Both organizations have existed in harmony.
apparent tolerance of Catholics toward Masonry is encouraging, the �
Vatican � and the Conference of Bishops have made determinative rulings
by which Catholics at large are expected to abide.
near term rapprochement between the Catholic Church and Freemasonry
appears to have been ruled out by a declaration published in the
official Vatican newspaper 'L'Osservatore � Romano' by Joseph Cardinal
Prefect of the 'Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith'
- now Pope Benedict XVI -
26 November 1983)
"The faithful who enroll in masonic associations are in a state of
grave sin and may not receive holy communion.�
In an audience
(27 November 1983), the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II approved and
ordered the publication of this declaration." Thus, the present pope is
on record opposing Masonic membership for Catholics.