Templar Baloney Every Bit

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I am obliged to follow up on my previous Templar posts (category), regarding the events surrounding the release of the Chinon Parchment. As it turns out, the reports released by the secular press, which included interviews with Templar pretenders, gave the impression that the absolution of the Templars, recorded in the Chinon document, was an effective rehabilitation, that is, an acknowledgment that the Templars were unjustly accused. This is in no way the case. The rough translation of the Chinon Parchment, which until now, remains unchallenged, makes it clear that the Templars were guilty of grave sin, confessed their sin and were mercifully absolved by the Church.

To briefly review, in my first post on the subject of October 8, 2007, I noted that something sounded fishy when the press claimed that the Chinon Parchment cleared the Templars of the charges of blasphemy, because the Church concluded that denouncing Christ and spitting on the Cross was not truly sinful (?!). Here is what the Telegraph had to say:

The Templars explained to Pope Clement that the initiation mimicked the humiliation that knights could suffer if they fell into the hands of the Saracens, while the kissing ceremony was a sign of their total obedience.

The Pope concluded that the entrance ritual was not truly blasphemous, as alleged by King Philip when he had the knights arrested. However, he was forced to dissolve the Order to keep peace with France and prevent a schism in the church.

A certain Professor Barbara Frale was the one who found the misfiled parchment in the Vatican Archives, and is the author of the book on the subject, published recently by the Vatican archives. She is quoted in the the Telegraph article:

“This is proof that the Templars were not heretics,” said Prof Frale. “The Pope was obliged to ask pardon from the knights.

“For 700 years we have believed that the Templars died as cursed men, and this absolves them.”

In the light of the rough translation, which, by the way, is commented on in a wikepedia entry, and remains unchallenged, Professor Frale’s conclusions are incomprehensible to me. The Chinon Parchment, in fact, finds the accused to be guilty of heresy and repentant of their sin. Furthermore, there is no apology of the Pope to the Templars expressed in the document.

I am willing to eat crow if I have gone down the wrong path, but I have to conclude that my original hunch was correct. This story is a baloney sandwich! A lot of garbage between two thin slices of facts.

The Times Online took the misinformation a step further by giving the preposterous story of the Acheson brothers a totally unwarranted level of credibility. Ben Acheson claims to be both a real Templar and as such the recipient of a letter from Pope Benedict XVI, promising a public apology for the unjust suppression of the Knights Templar.

As it turns out not only has the anticipated apology never been released (big surprise), but, again, the rough translation reveals that, in fact, the Templars confessed to heresy and were absolved. They were never found to be innocent of the charges leveled against them.

Futhermore, according to the Chinon Parchment, even the legendary hero of the Freemasons and all Templar pretenders, the Grandmaster himself, Jaques de Molay confessed to heresy and repented:

Concerning the way of his initiation into the Order, he said that having given him the cloak the receptor showed to him <the cross> and told him that he should denounce the God whose image was depicted on that cross, and that he should spit on the cross. Which he did, although he did not spit on the cross, by near it, according to his words. He also said that performed this denunciation in words, not in spirit. Regarding the sin of sodomy, the worshiped head and the practice of illicit kisses, he, diligently questioned, said that he knew nothing of that.

When he was asked whether he had confessed to these things due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not. When he was asked whether he, after being apprehended, was submitted to any questioning or torture, he replied that he did not.

After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Jaques de Molay, the grandmaster of the said order, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him to communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.

It also seems that the charges of sodomy against the Order were not entirely unfounded. Though most of the brothers in question denied knowledge of any such activity within the Order, Brother Hugo de Pérraud admitted having counseled initiates to abstain from relations with women, but in the event that they were unable to restrain their lusts, they were to “join themselves with the brothers of the Order.” He further claimed that he never engaged in sodomy, nor did he know of anyone else who did so, save three brothers who had been incarcerated for that behavior. Yet the document makes it clear that the Church did not just make up the charges out of thin air.

Of course, none of this answers the question as to what happened in 1314, whether Jaques de Molay and his brothers relapsed, or whether it was more political chicanery of Clement V. I am not a Templar hater. I am just sick of the anti-Catholic pseudo history, which Freemasons and other opportunists continually foist on the unsuspecting public.

 

82 thoughts on “Templar Baloney Every Bit

  1. My Brother,

    Thank you for your website and your posting. I throughly enjoy your point of view. I agree with your assessment of the Chinon Parchment…when I read through the English translation (reprinted by permission of the author at http://www.templarfellowship.com/article.cfm?id=283) I had the same thoughts as you–“this doesn’t say ANYTHING like what the popular press is relaying to us!” The points that you make are right on target.

    I would , however, offer one questioning observation and correct you on one statement. You state that “…the Grandmaster himself, Jaques de Molay confessed to heresy and repented…” The research that I have read on the subject demonstrates that this is true, but a variety of sources point out that just before his death de Molay anounced that he had been forced to confess under duress and recanted that he had committed any of the heresies he was accused of and held to his innocence. I think that this is pretty well documented.

    Finally I find objection with your statment “I am just sick of the anti-Catholic pseudo history, which Freemasons and other opportunists continually foist on the unsuspecting public.” I think that you paint the Freemasons with too broad a brush. Are their anti-catholic Masons? Sure. Are there bigotted, racist Masons? Sure. Are there Catholic Masons? I know of a few. Are there Jewish Masons? I know a few of those too. The point being, the statement “…which Freemasons and other opportunists continually foist on the unsuspecting public” is too broad a statement. The Freemasons as a corporate entity CERTAINLY do not fit this category of “all”, and most Freemasons that I know don’t either. Certainly there are exceptions to the good within every organization, but I think a better statement to conclude with would be “I am just sick of the anti-Catholic pseudo history continually foist on the unsuspecting public.”

    Thank you my brother.

  2. Chris,

    Thank you for your kind words.

    I have pointed out in other posts that for years many Catholic historians have questioned the ultimate justice of the proceedings against the Templars. The point of this post was, as you have already acknowledged, to show how the conclusions reached by the media and certain Templar organizations from the Chinon text are completely off the mark.

    It is not my purpose to pass judgment on any individual, or to disparage the charitable works of any organization, but Freemasonry, as such, is a secret society whose purpose is diametrically opposed to the Catholic Faith. Freemasonic organizations have long perpetuated the absurd conspiracy theory that the Templars were guardians of the ancient mysteries which the Church was out to suppress. Whether or not this or that Mason subscribes to such theories is immaterial to the orientation of the organization. See for example, one Mason who does not subscribe to the theory, but who defends Mythraism.

    As I have pointed out elsewhere, the real virtues and vices of the Templars have been lost in this capricious myth making.

    I print here in full the Declaration on Masonic Associations, promulgated by the Sacred Congregation for the doctrine of the faith in 1983:

    It has been asked whether there has been any change in the Church’s decision in regard to Masonic associations since the new Code of Canon Law does not mention them expressly, unlike the previous Code.

    This Sacred Congregation is in a position to reply that this circumstance in due to an editorial criterion which was followed also in the case of other associations likewise unmentioned inasmuch as they are contained in wider categories.

    Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.

    It is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations which would imply a derogation from what has been decided above, and this in line with the Declaration of this Sacred Congregation issued on 17 February 1981 (cf. AAS 73 1981 pp. 240-241; English language edition of L’Osservatore Romano, 9 March 1981).

    In an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II approved and ordered the publication of this Declaration which had been decided in an ordinary meeting of this Sacred Congregation.

    Rome, from the Office of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 26 November 1983.

    Joseph Card. RATZINGER Prefect

    + Fr. Jerome Hamer, O.P. Titular Archbishop of Lorium Secretary

  3. Fr. Angelo

    Yes, I agree that MANY of the “popular Templars” have “swung the pendulum” so far from the “historic Templar” brethren as to be 180 degrees from where they originated, or from the indended mission.

    I accept and understand your assertion that judgement is not the purpose of your reply and; I acknowledge the Catholic Church’s position on Freemasonry and certainly accept its right to take such a position. I believe I also understand the motivation resulting in such position statement.

    Further, I understand why most think that Freemasonry is a “secret organization”, and Freemasonry itself certainly has ONLY itself to blame for this misunderstanding. It is certainly NOT a secret organization in THIS era, but rather another corporation conducting private business among its members, much as all organizations do. But this is not to the point I wish to address in this reply.

    The statement “…whose purpose is diametrically opposed to the Catholic Faith” confuses me. I have heard this statement before and each time it causes me confusion. In ALL seriousness my brother, is it possible to explain in a simple manner to one who is ignorant of the answer, just what the “Catholic Faith” is? I seldom read that Freemasonry is a society “diametrically opposed to the Christian Faith”, because it is not, and can not be.

    You state that”Freemasonic organizations have long perpetuated the absurd conspiracy theory that the Templars were guardians of the ancient mysteries which the church was out to suppress.” So is it because of “absurd conspiracy theories”, or the perceived “promotion of ancient mysteries”, or the accusation of “church suppression” of an idea, or is it some other reason(s) for the Catholic Church to perceive Freemasonry as “diametrically opposed”?

    In exploring the meaining of “diametrically” I find that, as expected, it refers to something that is “completely opposite” and stems from 1387 Old French -*diametre*, which is from Latin *diametrus*, originally from Greek *diametros* meaning “diagonal of a circle,” from *dia-* “across, through” + *metron* “a measure”.

    I know that Freemasons, as an organization, are not opposed to the Catholic Church. It confuses me then that the Catholic Church percieves them as such.

    Perhaps it is “opposed to” that I am misunderstanding. I read that the meaning of the word is “contrary to”, and I find the word is from 1386, likewise from Old French *opposer*, and *poser* meaning “to place, lay down”, and blended with Latin *opponere* meaning “oppose, object to, set against”

    Am I misunderstanding the intent of the statement? When I read that “a purpose is diametrically opposed to” I tend to think “actively working against”. Is the intented idea rather “when compared with, is contrary to…”?

    I see that perhaps I may have answered my own question with my opening statement: “I agree that MANY of the “popular Templars” have “swung the pendulum” so far from the “historic Templar” brethren as to be 180 degrees from where they originated, or from the indended mission.” This could be stated “…many of the ‘populrar Templars’ have ‘swung the pendulum’ so far from the ‘historic Templar’ brethren as to be diametrically opposed from where they originated or from the intended mission.”

    As I’ve said, I can respect the authority of the Catholic Church and its opinion. I also understand that you certainly do not presume to “speak for” the Catholic Church, but I would like to come to better understand this perception. If such discussion needs to shift to a more private communication, you have my e-mail address. If such discussion is not desired I can respect that decision as well. I just wish to explore and undrestand.

    Chris

  4. Chris,

    Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this with you and clarify my answer. Bear with me please. Your comment can only be addressed at some length.

    In ALL seriousness my brother, is it possible to explain in a simple manner to one who is ignorant of the answer, just what the “Catholic Faith” is?

    I would be happy to do it.

    The Catholic Faith is the deposit of divine revelation, consisting in everything men need to know and do in order to save their souls and enter into heaven. This deposit was begun in the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament and fulfilled in the teaching of Jesus Christ. It was entrusted by him to the twelve apostles and their successors who preserved it through apostolic tradition and in the written Word of the New Testament. It was entrusted in a particular way, by Christ with the promise of His protection, to Peter and his successors, so that under a single visible head, the pope, the deposit of faith would be handed on, complete and unadulterated, until the end of time.

    That being answered, I should say that perhaps I would have stated myself better had I wrote: “Freemasonry, as such, is a secret society whose purpose is diametrically opposed to the Catholic Church.” In any case, Freemasonry is diametrically opposed to both the Catholic Faith and the Catholic Church.

    So what is the Church? It is the Mystical Body of Christ. Christ is the Head and the faithful are the Body, who are united to their Head and to one another by supernatural grace. In this sense the Church is a spiritual invisible reality. However, invisible grace is communicated to the faithful by means of visible temporal realities, just as the Divine Nature of Christ is made visible, so to speak, through His Human Nature. Thus the Church is the instrument of divine grace through its institution, established by Christ Himself: the visible head of the Church, Christ’s vicar is the Pope, and the bishops in union with him, whose office is to teach, govern and sanctify.

    Am I misunderstanding the intent of the statement? When I read that “a purpose is diametrically opposed to” I tend to think “actively working against”. Is the intented idea rather “when compared with, is contrary to…”?

    By saying that Freemasonary is “diametrically opposed” to the Catholic Faith, I mean both “radically incompatible with” and “actively at war with.”

    Radically Incompatible

    Freemasonry is a form of naturalism and syncretism. Freemasons claim that their fraternity is not a religion and, alternatively, require or do not require (depending on the sect) belief in the Universal Architect. In any case, Masonic literature is rife with theological, philosophical, ethical and religious beliefs from what they call the “Ancient Mysteries,” a veritable continuum of pagan and Judeo-Christian beliefs spanning all the ages of the world.

    On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that authentic divine revelation was given in the Old Testament by way of prophecy and prefigurement, and completed in the fulness of time through Jesus Christ and His gospel, that deposit of faith, being perfected and sealed with the death of the last Apostle. Ultimately the message of that teaching is that Jesus Christ is the one salvation of all, and without our incorporation into His sacrificial death and resurrection through the Church, we cannot be saved.

    The radical incompatibility arises from the fact that Freemasonic formation is a pursuit of hidden or mystical learning (Gnosticism), by means of the wisdom of all times and cultures, and denies the possibility of objective divine revelation and dogma. It should not be hard to see, then, why Freemasons would be opposed to the Church and papacy as to a widespread superstition, contrary to the ideals of modern man. As a Catholic expert on Freemasonr, Professor Zbigniew Suchecki, has said:

    Freemasonry denies the possibility of an objective knowledge of truth. The Freemason rejects all faith in dogmas; he does not admit any even in his own Lodge. He is required to be a free man without submission to dogma or passion. This concept is incompatible with the Catholic notion of truth in terms of both natural and revealed theology. The representation of a Universal Architect who dominates, remote from man, undermines the foundations of the Catholic idea of God who encounters man as a Father and Lord.

    Both Roman Catholics and Freemasons advocate a measure of tolerance. The difference is that Roman Catholics believe in respect for the human person, no matter what their beliefs, but not to the point of believing that the search for true wisdom is to be found in a synthesis of all ideas. Freemasons, on the other hand, believe in tolerance for ideas, no matter how radically incompatible they are with faith in Jesus Christ.

    Actively at War With

    Prescinding from the wild yarns of conspiracy theorists and hoaxers, I think it fair to say that the historical facts establishing the active opposition of Freemasonry to the Roman Catholic Church have been well documented. Let me summarize by quoting Paul Fisher. The Freemasons

    . . . have by their own admittance been behind virtually every revolution since the celebrated one in France in the late 18th century. Further, their constant attacks on the Roman Catholic Church have been quite successful. Virtually every issue of the New Age attacks the Church, and there is no question they have penetrated the Vatican. Indeed, the Scottish Rite Grand Commander boasted that masonry was in attendance at Vatican II. Indeed, even the staunch Catholic fraternal organization, the Knights of Columbus, works on friendly terms with the Masonic brotherhood. Indeed, the KOC received a copy of my first draft and printing of Behind The Lodge Door.

    On p. 14 of Albert Pike’s turgid tome, Morals and Dogma, we find the following: ‘The pavement, alternately black and white, symbolizes, whether so intended or not, the Good and Evil Principles of the Egyptian and Persian creeds. It is the warfare of Michael and Satan, of the Gods and Titans, of Balder and Lok; between light and shadow, which is darkness; Day and Night; Freedom and Despotism, Religious Liberty and the Arbitrary Dogmas of a Church that thinks for its votaries, and whose Pontiff claims to be infallible, and the decretals of its Councils to constitute a gospel.’ And so it goes through Pike’s grand opus, and the pages of the New Age.

    Roman Catholicism and Freemasonry are, in fact, diametrically opposed ideas, the former affirming the possibility, necessity and fact of objective divine revelation and the divine/human institution with the authority necessary to hand it on and preserve it. The latter, on the other hand, is inherently opposed to the idea of both dogma and religious authority, especially in terms of the influence they may have in the public square. Thus the historical enmity of Roman Catholicism and Freemasonry is a logical consequence of diametrically opposed “faiths.”

    While I will grant that not every Freemason, and perhaps not every lodge, subscribe to the same explicit anti-Catholicism, the naturalistic and syncretistic philosophy of Freemasonry remains the same wherever the lodge is found. I am, quite frankly, most sceptical that the standard claim that Freemasonry is not a religion, and therefore, should never be perceived to be inimical with any particular faith is really believed by a well educated Mason.

    You state that”Freemasonic organizations have long perpetuated the absurd conspiracy theory that the Templars were guardians of the ancient mysteries which the church was out to suppress.” So is it because of “absurd conspiracy theories”, or the perceived “promotion of ancient mysteries”, or the accusation of “church suppression” of an idea, or is it some other reason(s) for the Catholic Church to perceive Freemasonry as “diametrically opposed”?

    All of the above are certainly illustrations of that diametric opposition, but yes it is the “some other reason” of false doctrine (naturalism and religious syncretism) that is at the heart of the opposition.

    That I should take special exception to the way in which the Chinon Parchment has been used falsely to prop up the claims, legitimate or otherwise, of the Freemasons and Templar societies, is because it betrays the kind of bad faith ploy that is typical of active opposition to the Church. Whether the historical Templars were innocent or not, is not the point here. The point is that Freemasonic ideas have been so well disseminated and assimilated that people will believe anything derogatory about the Church, no matter how baseless.

    I do not intend here, to minimize our own hand in the lack of confidence that is shown the Catholic Church in these days, as has been caused, for example, by the sex abuse scandal. On the other hand, neither would it be accurate to minimize the concerted effort on the part of Freemasonry to utilize the tactic of disinformation.

    One might say I go too far in attributing the bogus reporting on the Chinon Parchment to the Freemasons. At least I do not think it unreasonable to point out its consistency with the Freemasonic canon concerning the Templars and Jacques de Molay. In spite of the readily available translation of the document, which I see has been reposted on your site, I have seen no Templar related or Masonic organization to date denounce the use of the document to support their claims.

    Chris, Perhaps there is also here some question as to what might constitute words or actions that are anti-Christian or anti-Catholic. For example, much discussion went on in years past relative to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Many Templar and Masonic organizations have commented on the book. I am not suggesting that these organizations have taken the turgid novel as gospel, but neither did I ever see them acknowledge it as an anti-Catholic work, and certainly not an anti-Christian work. I would be interested in knowing your view of the matter.

    I hope my answer has been enlightening.

  5. Fr. Angelo,

    Sorry for the delay in responding, but life, illness, computer woes, and other “fun” stuff hindered my response. My response has become a “dissertation”. I will begin with what I perceive to be errors, or errors in perception regarding Freemasonry.

    ERRORS OF PERCEPTION

    I believe the current “conflict” under discussion stems from error in perception and miscommunication. In your responses you seem to promote that “Freemasonry” is a synonym for a specific “branch of philosophy”—as if it were pantheism, or agnosticism, or atheism, or any of the other number of “’isms” that permeate “that branch of science comprising logic, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology.” I don’t think that there is a “Freemasonryism” in Philosophy, and I don’t believe that such a broad categorization is accurate—Freemasonry is not that scientific. Certainly my perspective of Freemasonry is not that of a branch of (scientific) philosophy, but rather from a social group of men who are interested in (literal) philosophy—“the love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline.”

    You note that Freemasonry and the Catholic Faith is “radically incompatible” because “Freemasonry is a form of naturalism and syncretism.” I believe this erroneous. My dictionary defines naturalism as:

    “conformity to nature; factual or realistic representation, especially in art and literature; philosophy: the system of thought holding that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws, without attributing moral, spiritual, or supernatural significance to them; theology: the doctrine that all religious truths are derived from nature and natural causes and not from revelation.”

    I doubt that we are both referencing the “artistic” reference of the first section, but are more concerned with the philosophical and theologically related definitions. My dictionary points out that one of the definitions of philosophy is “in archaic and historical use, the investigation of natural phenomena and its systematization in theory and experiment, as in alchemy, astrology, or astronomy…” hence the reference to philosophy within the definition of “naturalism”. I would, however, point out the phrase “archaic and historical”. While naturalism may have been the “fashion” of bygone eras within society in which the men who identified themselves as Freemasons found themselves, I know of no “official” precept, tenet, or teaching within Freemasonry that espouses naturalism. Indeed, quite the opposite, it seems that Freemasonry encourages a moral, spiritual or supernatural significance to nature. Hence, from my perspective, Freemasonry is not, according to definition, a form of naturalism.

    Further, my dictionary defines syncretism as:

    The attempt or tendency to combine or reconcile differing beliefs, as in philosophy or religion.

    I will agree that attempts to combine beliefs in one’s philosophy or religion in order to create something new can lead to error and confusion. Using the definition of reconcile meaning: to re-establish friendship between, to settle or resolve, to make compatible or consistent, however, I certainly do not see a problem with reconciling differing beliefs. While some belief systems and religions will never be “settled” or “made compatible” TO one another (capable of orderly, efficient integration and operation with other elements in a system), I certainly believe that they may be “made compatible” WITH one another (capable of living or performing in harmonious agreeable or congenial combination with another or others).

    I use Paul as an illustration. We are commanded to “go and make disciples…” According to my dictionary a disciple ranges anywhere from “any active adherent; to a person who subscribes to the teachings of a master and assists in spreading them; culminating as one of the Companions of Christ.” I see this paraphrased as ranging from a “follower” to a “student of” to an “intimate of”. In Athens, Paul did not tell the Athenians why THEY were wrong; he taught them why HE was right. To briefly paraphrase him “I see that you are worshipers. Great. I see that you worship the unknown god. Let me tell you who he is and what he has done….” As a result of Paul’s approach in Athens many became disciples—some followed, some learned, and so forth. Sure, there was incompatibility of faiths. But Paul did not seek it as part of his teaching. It was caused by the dogma of others. “You said God is A, we say God is B”. It seems to me that Paul was saying “God is God, let me tell you what I know.” This, in my experience, has been the objective of those who participate in Freemasonry—“We ALL believe in God; HOW we believe in him is the business of each individual.” In this sense I see “syncretism” as an opportunity to testify as to one’s beliefs, and not as a plan to create “new beliefs”. Harmonizing the beliefs of other belief systems to one’s own belief system is not a negative—AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE ONE’S OWN BELIEF SYSTEM. Freemasonry seeks to illustrate, not alter, belief systems of individuals.

    You state “Freemasons claim that their fraternity is not a religion…Masonic literature is rife with theological, philosophical, ethical and religious beliefs from what they call the “Ancient Mysteries,” a veritable continuum of pagan and Judeo-Christian beliefs spanning all the ages of the world.” A religion, according to http://www.dictionary.com, is:

    1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
    2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects:
    3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices…
    4. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
    5. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.

    Freemasonry’s only “required set of beliefs” is “there is one God and I place my trust in him”. Freemasonry does not attempt to explain the cause, nature, creation, or purpose of the universe. It does not even denote moral code, though it exemplifies moral excellence through its various degrees. Says the Masonic Information Center in Vol 14, Issue 4, Dec 2007 issue of FOCUS “Masonic Degrees are concerned primarily with communicating the importance of honor and integrity, teaching that each person must take responsibility for his own life and actions.” Any beliefs promoted in “Masonic literature”, even that of the Masonic Information Center, are merely the opinion of the individual author. It is with the individual author one should take exception, not necessarily the organization of Freemasonry. Certainly Freemasonry is not the “practice of religious beliefs, or the ritual observance of faith” because Freemasonry espouses no statement of faith.

    Now I suppose that you might say that definition number 3 qualifies Freemasonry as a religion, but then so does every occupation, every civic group, and every group of every kind. BUT, I did find in my dictionary from 1976 this definition for “religion”:

    “The expression of man’s belief in and reverence for a superhuman power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe. Any particular integrated system of this expression; obsolete: sacred rites or practices.”

    Ah, OK. NOW I get it. Using a definition such as this, Freemasonry would fall under the definition of “religion”. In my mind, however, I tend to equate “Faith” or “Faith system” with “Religion”. A “Faith” is a confident belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing; Loyalty to a person or thing; a system of religious beliefs. Freemasonry has no SYSTEM of religious beliefs and is therefore not a “faith system”. This, I believe, is what most are intending when stating that “Freemasonry is not a religion.” This intention is corroborated by the current definitions of “religion.”

    Freemasonry has no integrated system of beliefs other than “there is one God and the Freemason places his trust in him”. There is no “how to”, or “what to” believe about God promoted by Freemasonry. Freemasonry merely starts where Paul found himself in the forum of Athens—“Gentlemen, I see that you are worshipers—good. I see that you believe in God—good.” It goes no further than that—the rest is left up to the individual Mason and his individual “faith tradition” while Freemasonry illustrates various fictional portrayals of history. And here is what makes Freemasonry confusing to others. Because each individual is free to write about HIS PERSONAL beliefs as stimulated by the Freemasonic experience, people assume that those PERSONAL beliefs are held as the dogma of Freemasonry. Even this dissertation on Freemasonry is but one man’s opinion and not condoned by any organization.

    DISAGREEMENTS AND AGREEMENTS

    I will disagree with your assertion that “Freemasonry…denies the possibility of objective divine revelation and dogma.” No Masonic degree that I have experienced contains such a denial. I will also disagree with the quote from Professor Zbigniew Suchecki: “The Freemason rejects all faith in dogmas… He is required to be a free man without submission to dogma or passion.” It is my experience that this interpretation is incorrect. The requirement to become a Freemason in our jurisdiction is to be “a man, freeborn….” There is absolutely nothing contained in the ritual of Freemasonry that suggests the rejection of dogma. In fact, the Professor’s own acknowledgment that Freemasonry “…does not admit any even in his own Lodge” bears this out, for the rejection of dogma (an assertion held as absolute truth) IS a dogma (an assertion of absolute truth) in itself!

    I do, however, wholeheartedly agree with the professor when he states “The representation of a Universal Architect who dominates, remote from man, undermines the foundations of the Catholic idea of God who encounters man as a Father and Lord.” Anyone’s perception of God as “some distant bearded entity controlling the planet by remote control from somewhere past Pluto” has an unhappy perception indeed. Freemasonry does NOT suggest within its presentations any specific interpretation of God. THIS IS WHY THE FREEMASON IS ENCOURAGED TO ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE WITHIN THE FAITH SYSTEM OF HIS CHOOSING.

    Regarding the statement “Both Roman Catholics and Freemasons advocate a measure of tolerance”—I can agree with this. “The difference is that Roman Catholics believe in respect for the human person, no matter what their beliefs…”—I will agree with this, “…but not to the point of believing that the search for true wisdom is to be found in a synthesis of all ideas.” This statement is in error, for neither does Freemasonry call for a synthesis of all beliefs, but rather toleration and respect for each individual, just as the church.

    “Freemasons, on the other hand, believe in tolerance for ideas, no matter how radically incompatible they are with faith in Jesus Christ.” This is correct only insofar as it is toleration for the holder of the idea. As a social/service/fraternal organization Freemasonry seeks to promote the toleration for the human person, AND their beliefs—even if the individual Freemason believes them to be wrong. Just as Paul did with the Athenians, the Freemasonic lodge is merely the forum. While Freemasonry does not allow dogmatic debate within the private confines of the meeting hall when all are gathered together, it does NOT preclude such “debate” during personal time when an individual is free to terminate such debate at their pleasure. In other words, dogmatic debate is not permitted within the Freemasonic meeting because anyone not wishing to partake in such debate would have to leave the meeting to escape it—which would infringe upon the rights of the individual member. But outside of the meeting hall one is free to discuss whatever one wills, AND one is free to reject, or avoid such discussion as well. The point is, it is not the toleration of ideas for the purpose of synthesis, rather it is toleration for the purpose of HARMONY within the meeting. Such a purpose IS suitable for a worldwide social/service/fraternal organization.

    To address the issue of Freemasonry being “actively at war” with the Catholic Church, from my perspective it seems rather to be that the Catholic Church is at war with Freemasonry. You state, “the historical enmity of Roman Catholicism and Freemasonry is a logical consequence of diametrically opposed ‘faiths.’” I would, instead, assert that it is not a consequence of diametrically opposed “faiths” that is causing the historical enmity, but rather miscommunication, semantics, and fear. The social/service/fraternal organization known has Freemasonry has nothing to fear from the Catholic Church. It is my assertion that the Catholic Church has nothing to fear from Freemasonry. I can’t speak for the actions of historical Masons. I can’t control the actions of other Freemasonic organizations outside of my own jurisdiction. I can only speak for my perceptions, my experience, and myself; and to some extent those people that I know. I hope that I have shared some of these perceptions well enough that, if not persuasive, they are at least illustrative that not all Freemasons are anti-catholic; not all Freemasonic organizations are anti-catholic; and that anti-Masonic sentiments made with a broad brush are as equally painful as anti-catholic sentiments made with a broad brush. Both are usually incorrect as most prejudice and bigotry is.

    THE CATHOLIC FAITH

    Thank you for the definition of the “Catholic Faith” (briefly recapsulated)— the deposit of divine revelation, consisting in everything men need to know and do in order to save their souls and enter into heaven; begun in the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament; fulfilled in the teaching of Jesus Christ; entrusted by him to the twelve apostles and their successors; preserved it through apostolic tradition and in the written Word of the New Testament; entrusted to Peter and his successors; so that under a single visible head, the pope, the deposit of faith would be handed on, complete and unadulterated, until the end of time. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. Christ is the Head and the faithful are the Body, who are united to their Head and to one another by supernatural grace; the instrument of divine grace through its institution, established by Christ Himself: the visible head of the Church, Christ’s vicar is the Pope, and the bishops in union with him, whose office is to teach, govern and sanctify, the message being that Jesus Christ is the salvation of all, and without our incorporation into His sacrificial death and resurrection through the Church, we cannot be saved.

    This does not differ significantly from my Faith (briefly excerpted here)—

    The Holy Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man. God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. With His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead. He now dwells in all believers as the living Holy Spirit. Each church operates under the Lordship of Christ, each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. The church is the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation. The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King.

    Christianity is the faith of enlightenment and intelligence. In Jesus Christ abide all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. All sound learning is, therefore, a part of our Christian heritage. The new birth opens all human faculties and creates a thirst for knowledge. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament. Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth. It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness. (The Baptist Faith and Message, of the Southern Baptist Convention)

    As a Christian, as a Freemason, as a member of a minority healing arts profession licensed by state and federal governments, even as merely an American, I am no stranger to prejudice and bigotry. Lest one thinks these words are too harsh, I use them with these meanings “Prejudice: An averse judgment or opinion formed beforehand without knowledge or examination of the facts” and “Bigotry: the attitude, state of mind, or behavior characteristic of a person of strong conviction or prejudice… who is intolerant of those who differ with him.” It seems, that it is human nature to prejudge because it takes less energy and effort than to fully analyze and make individual determinations. We come across it in everyday life, in professions, commerce, religion, schooling, ideas, philosophies, cultures and more. It is much easier to assume than to think—and we ALL do it; it is how our bodies and minds are “hardwired”.

    Statements such as “The point is that Freemasonic ideas have been so well disseminated and assimilated that people will believe anything derogatory about the Church, no matter how baseless” and “neither would it be accurate to minimize the concerted effort on the part of Freemasonry to utilize the tactic of disinformation” are indicators of prejudging an entire social/service/fraternal organization and expressing intolerance of that organization based upon bias. Am I saying that your arguments are baseless—NO! Am I saying that you are wrong to hold anti-Masonic ideas—NO, for you get to choose your beliefs. I am merely offering my perspective based upon my personal experience and knowledge.

    The Freemasonic jurisdiction in which I participate certainly is not anti-catholic. Not all Freemasons are anti-catholic. Not all Freemasons are pro-catholic either as there are (presumably) not many catholic Freemasons. Not all minority healing arts providers are “quacks”. Not all Christians are “mindless drones”. Not all evangelical Christians are “Holy rollers”. Not all Catholics are “papal puppets.” Part of the enlightenment that I believe that Christ was calling us to was to be AWARE of the needs around us. To WORK to meet, or address, those needs. To share with others WHY we do so. To help others to follow, to learn, and to become mature in that faith that Christ taught us. It is my hope that in “standing my ground” and in your “standing your ground” for our beliefs that we have been illustrative to others, and ourselves, that “awareness” is superior to “prejudice”.

    I’ll conclude with Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. You note “many Templar and Masonic organizations have commented on the book. I am not suggesting that these organizations have taken the turgid novel as gospel, but neither did I ever see them acknowledge it as an anti-Catholic work, and certainly not an anti-Christian work. I would be interested in knowing your view of the matter.”

    The reason why you will not usually see Freemasonry taking such a stand as a corporate entity is precisely what I have been working to illustrate—Freemasonry is not in the “business” of telling men what to think, or how to think it. Secondly, without the participation of Catholic men within the Freemasonic organization, resulting in ignorance of the Catholic Church organization, for what reason would Freemasonry comment on portrayals that Catholics would deem insensitive? Freemasons are ignorant of such perceptions because there are few, if any, Catholic participants to educate them as to the reality of the situation. And note, it is NOT by Freemasonry’s action that this circumstance has come about. I believe that at one point Catholics were very involved in Freemasonry. I seem to recall from my Texas history that in old Mexico the Catholic Church was very involved within Freemasonry, but I may be incorrect on this point and will leave that for another time.

    As for what I think of Dan Brown’s work, I did not read the book—I had heard of its “anti-Christian” and controversial nature and chose not to spend money on it. I DID, however, watch the movie from Netflix, and found it to be an entertaining piece of well-acted FICTION. I find the assertions made by this fictional story interesting to contemplate, but have seen no convincing evidence of their veracity—in fact I have found most evidence regarding Mr. Brown’s assertion of “fact” to be to the contrary. Hence I think the Da Vinci Code a “story” knitted together in a wholly fictional manner. I find it interesting to mentally cogitate on the “what ifs” suggested by the story, as mental exercise, but his beliefs finds no place in MY personal faith. And most of the Masons with whom I’ve conversed held similar views.

    I have MY faith I think it best described by Paul’s logical argument of Acts 17:22: There is ONE God. God created all things and is the authority over ALL things. He gives LIFE to the living. He is never far from us even though we feel we must go “looking” for him. We are WITHIN him. We ARE his offspring—he is our parent; and just as we should not think of our parents as an “object” so we should not view God. God wishes humans to return to his authority—to NEED him. At one point in time God will judge man by the standard of his exemplar—God’s spirit in human form—and remove everything that is not of the same Spirit.

    I also like, as a motto, 1 Peter 1:13 “So make your minds ready, and keep on the watch, hoping with all your power for the grace which is to come to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Or as our Masonic Knights Templar ritual puts it “hoping ever and praying always for the advent of that glorious day when ‘the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains’; when ‘swords shall be beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks’; when ‘nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more’; when the reign of the Blessed Emmanuel, the Prince of Peace, the Great Captain of Our Salvation, shall become universal and eternal.”

    My apologies if this “apology” and response is too lengthy. I have learned much from our discussion and have enjoyed them immensely!

    Chris

  6. I love to see knowledgeable individuals “waxing eloquent” with higher levels of intellectual thinking, reasoning and analysis.

    I am sure that it takes a tough skin to volley such important perspectives. But let me ask this — if it were given that throughout history up to this exact moment, each individual was completely accurate with the perceptions that contribute to their disposition, what would be the value if it exercised negative energy?

    Is the underlying value of one’s beliefs and faith that which would offer anything less than an effort to gain a higher spiritual understanding and to become more alike in one family of knowledge that creates an upward spiral rather than a downward one?

    From my less experienced perspective (not being Catholic or a Mason) — what is the value of a fixed position?

    There are times when I wonder what the role is of belief and faith? I am personally glad that, in what I perceive as a value of Templarism, I can appreciate all the fixed points of all religions. I enjoy an opportunity to seek undefined points in knowledge while respecting the commitment of another’s faith.

    Perhaps it is the opportunity to exercise the executive functions of brain processes whose role is to guide thought and behavior in accordance with internally generated goals or plans that are developed within rather than predetermined by anyone else under the physical and social constraints of any other time.

    It is easy to speak with authority of the Templars in the past — but the only true reality is that we are only capable of flexing our own limited perspective unless we are open to join, with an open spirit, and seek the perspectives of others. Just as we would be confident in our own perspective as we stand around any given physical object, we would only be fooling ourselves to think that it is the only perspective.
    The beauty of communication takes place when we share our perspectives in a productive way (as I see the above dialogue) — but we should remember that a firm stance from any fixed point contributes accuracy, but lacks completeness.

    I truly look to the fellowship that I have with Templars carrying the same light to sincerely interact in a productive and enlightening manner. Ironically, it is the fixed positions of any given religion that would make this difficult…

  7. Chris,

    Thanks for your thorough response. For the sake of brevity I will synthesize my response as much as possible.

    In your responses you seem to promote that “Freemasonry” is a synonym for a specific “branch of philosophy”—as if it were pantheism, or agnosticism, or atheism, or any of the other number of “‘isms” that permeate “that branch of science comprising logic, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology.”

    Perhaps I was not clear, but I really made no attempt to prove that Freemasonry is a religion in any formal sense. My point is that the religious implications of membership in the organization are far-reaching, whether Freemasonry is a religion or not.

    I see no problem with fraternal organizations that are open to all regardless of religious affiliation. But, quite honestly, to require belief in a higher power as a condition for membership and then leave the whole question as to who or what he/she/it is open to each individual is by definition syncretism and implies a very definite philosophical and religious orientation.

    It would seem logical to me for an organization whose purpose is not specifically religious to make no religious conditions on its membership. Why should it? Freemasonry, on the other hand, has a religious condition, namely belief in God–any god–because, I believe, it has a religious purpose, and a very definite religious orientation, which I described correctly as syncretism and naturalism.

    Syncretism

    There are entities within many religious denominations that are constituted to promote religious dialogue and I have no problem with them as long as they are plain spoken about both their respective common ground and their real objective differences. I believe the cliché “what unites us is more important than what divides us,” is a half truth. Making that cliché a guiding principle is like a renter arguing with a landlord over the rent and saying, “What unites us is more important than what divides us. We both agree that I owe you money. We just disagree on the amount. Lighten up and be happy with what I am giving you.”

    If Freemasonry were an organization formed for the purpose of religious dialogue and was frank about it, that would be one thing. But that is not the case. As the Masonic Information Center to which you refer states, Freemasonry

    requires of its members a belief in God as part of the obligation of every responsible adult, but advocates no sectarian faith or practice. . . Masonic ceremonies include prayers, both traditional and extempore, to reaffirm each individual’s dependence on God and to seek divine guidance. Freemasonry is open to men of any faith, but religion may not be discussed at Masonic meetings.

    And further:

    . . . Masons believe that there is one God and that people employ many different ways to seek, and to express what they know of God. . . In this way, persons of different faiths may join together in prayer, concentrating on God, rather than differences among themselves.

    . . . An open volume of the Sacred Law, “the rule and guide of life,” is an essential part of every Masonic meeting. The Volume of the Sacred Law in the Judeo/Christian tradition is the Bible; to Freemasons of other faiths, it is the book held holy by them.

    The net effect of reducing the essentials of religion to belief in a generic god, without defining who or what he/she or it is is religious indifferentism. Freemasonry is a fraternal organization with a religious dimension and content that is ostensibly generic. It may not be a religion or promote a specific creed, but it does promote a generic religion, call it what you like.

    This is repugnant to anyone who actually believes in the Hebrews Scriptures, the New Testament or the Koran. Jews do not believe the Messiah has yet come. Christians do, and also believe that after the death of the last apostle revelation is closed. Both Jewish and Christian belief imply that the “prophecy” of Mohamed did not come from God, an idea which, of course is blasphemous to devout Muslims. Authentic religious dialog will try to bring into focus common ground between these different faiths in order to promote harmony and cooperation among members of these religions; it will not promote indifferentism by minimizing essentially contradictory differences.

    But not only does Freemasonry minimize the differences of mainstream religion, Masonic traditions and literature encourage research into the “Ancient Mysteries,” which makes the corpus of Masonic literature look like a muddle of all things Judeo-Chrisitan, Islamic, pagan, esoteric, occult, gnostic and you name it. It is not only the beliefs of Judaism, Christianity and Islam that are within the conditions of Freemasonic membership, but also paganism and the occult. I am glad that some lodges have jettisoned most of this, if that is indeed the case, but no where have I ever seen this repudiated by Freemasonry as such. On the contrary, the traditions of Freemasonry are clear and continuous.

    Freemasonry insists on belief in God, insists that he/she/it remains undefined, insists that a Volume of the Sacred Law be used, that it be any Volume desired, insists on prayers, whatever they may be, but also insists that religious belief not be discussed at the meetings. So who is the Grand Architect of the Universe? As a Roman Catholic, I would be more at ease knowing that the Masonic Temple was a mosque than the temple of the “unknown God.”

    Which brings me to the Areopagus of Athens and the preaching of St. Paul. Some context would be helpful.

    The Athenian Epicureans and Stoics were pagans who had never heard the gospel because it had never been preached there before. St. Paul acted as an apologist and began with what they knew, and with what they knew generically through no fault of their own. Far from reducing the dialog to common ground, or forbidding anyone from talking religion, his whole point was to teach them about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which in no way was comprehensible on the basis of their generic understanding of God, nor was it provable by philosophy. In fact, their only response to St. Paul’s presentation was: “We will hear you again about this.” They blew him off.

    In fact, St. Paul did not try this again. Subsequently, to the Corinthians, a people of a similar background to the Athenians he wrote:

    When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Cor. 2:1-5).

    This is anything but the preaching of a generic religion or philosophy, nor is it a common ground exposure to the wisdom of all times and places.

    Naturalism

    According to the definition of theological naturalism which you supplied, we are to understand that it is “the doctrine that all religious truths are derived from nature and natural causes and not from revelation.” From a Catholic perspective this definition needs to be clarified by pointing out that “revelation” means “objective divine revelation.” “Objective,” meaning transcendent and supernatural, and not subjective, as matter of personal experience. By “divine” we are to understand that the cause is the one true God, personally active in history, and revealing Himself as He is. And “revelation,” meaning that the information contained is objectively true, that at least some of the information could not be known without it, and that it is accompanied by a cause of certainty.

    While you personally and this or that Freemason or lodge may reject theological naturalism, Freemasonry, as such, subscribes to it, even if it does not use the word or even if it rejects the word. Belief in the existence of God is a truth which can be arrived at by reason, the answer to who He is cannot. That requires objective divine revelation.

    If Freemasonry were engaged in apologetics for one of the “revealed” religions and began by asserting those things which all theistic religions hold in common, then I would admit that it might not be naturalistic. But that is not the case. Freemasonry, as you assure us, is not at all engaged in religious apologetics. In fact any religious belief at all is acceptable in Freemasonry, as long as one believes in a god. On the other hand, if there is a True God, and He has revealed Himself in a supernatural way, then in no way is that revelation merely ancillary to belief in His existence. On the contrary, it is at the heart of everything. For Catholics, divine revelation, which comes to us in the form of our creed, is not about a what, but about a Who.

    Of course, you have a right to believe what you do, and to argue any way you wish in defense of your beliefs and also to tell me that I have completely misrepresented what you believe. Fine by me. However, the Masonic tenets of belief in God with its open-endedness about everything else in the context of an organization which claims to be religious, but not a religion or an organization whose purpose is religious dialog, must either be muddled or disingenuous. I will not suggest the latter of yourself or of individuals I do not know, but I will assert it of the origin and history and traditions of Freemasonry.

    Finally, in regard to The Da Vinci Code, you state:

    The reason why you will not usually see Freemasonry taking such a stand as a corporate entity is precisely what I have been working to illustrate—Freemasonry is not in the “business” of telling men what to think, or how to think it.

    You seem to think that my question about TDVC and some of my other comments were posited to prove that Freemasonry represents a formally defined philosophy and set of rules. That is not at all the case, as I hope, my response thus far has illustrated.

    Specifically in regard to TDVC, I pointed out that while many Masonic organizations commented on the book, none of them pointed out its anti-Catholic content. I never said I expected a corporate condemnation, I just noted Masonic chatter about the book, largely favorable, and the simultaneous absence of any condemnation of TDVC’s anti-Catholicism.

    You have not read the book. The book is much worse than the movie. I will not burden you with an argument for my disgust with the book. The reasons for that have been well documented elsewhere for anyone to discover.

    I will say this: Dan Brown is not merely a writer of fiction, he is a producer of black propaganda, that is, propaganda that’s camouflaged as something other than propaganda. Brown blurs fact and fiction with his fictitious “fact page,” and with his frequent misrepresentations of historical persons, events, places, doctrines, etc. Furthermore, his focal historical misrepresentation of the Church as being responsible for obscuring the true doctrine of Christ is a blasphemy beyond comprehension. And I am not speaking principally about his Mary Magdalen marriage myth, bad enough in itself, but of even worse contentions which I would prefer not to mention here.

    I raised the question as to what you thought about TDVC and your own perspective on anti-Catholicism, because I perceive a parallel between the way Dan Brown represents The Da Vinci Code and the way Freemasonry represents its attitude toward religion, specifically Catholicism.

    So my question is: are the Ancient Mysteries, the preoccupation with the Templars and Jacques de Molay, the Chinon Parchment farce played along with, the religious ceremony rife with symbolism but void on religious dogma, the esoteric ambiance, the wink at Dan Brown and all the rest just part of the fictional fun, or is it something more serious?

  8. Thomas,

    Thank you for your comment. I will try to answer your question.

    From my less experienced perspective (not being Catholic or a Mason) — what is the value of a fixed position? . . .

    . . . . The beauty of communication takes place when we share our perspectives in a productive way (as I see the above dialogue) — but we should remember that a firm stance from any fixed point contributes accuracy, but lacks completeness.

    The value of a fixed position is, I think, the progress of having reached a goal, a conclusion, an “accuracy,” as you say, whether complete or not. I must say, though, that at least some fixed points of thought are complete, otherwise nothing would get done and no organization would be possible. If all conclusions are arbitrary, then nothing but anarchy is possible.

    And if it is possible to arrive at fixed points of thought, both accurate and complete, then why not fixed points of thought on the matters of the most consequence, such as immortality, the happiness for which we all yearn, morality and personal responsibility. Indeed, the value of a fixed position is the possibility and assurance that there are answers to these questions.

    I recommend reading G.K. Chesterton. Here is an excerpt from the last chapter of Heretics, entitled “Concluding Remarks on the Importance of Orthodoxy.”

    But if there be such a thing as mental growth, it must mean the growth into more and more definite convictions, into more and more dogmas. The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions; if it cannot come to conclusions it is rusty. When we hear of a man too clever to believe, we are hearing of something having almost the character of a contradiction in terms. It is like hearing of a nail that was too good to hold down a carpet; or a bolt that was too strong to keep a door shut. Man can hardly be defined, after the fashion of Carlyle, as an animal who makes tools; ants and beavers and many other animals make tools, in the sense that they make an apparatus. Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more human. When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined scepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality, when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding no form of creed but contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.

    If then, I repeat, there is to be mental advance, it must be mental advance in the construction of a definite philosophy of life. And that philosophy of life must be right and the other philosophies wrong.

  9. Fr. Angelo,

    I believe that you are incorrect in your assessment that “Freemasonry, on the other hand, has a religious condition, namely belief in God–any god–because, I believe, it has a religious purpose, and a very definite religious orientation…” As a participant WITHIN the organization rather than as a student ABOUT the organization, I disagree with this assessment and have tried to share my perspective. It is my belief that Freemasonry espouses no religious purposes, but is a society of like-minded individuals forming a society for the purposes of living out brotherly love and affection, relief of distress, and truth. My preferred definition of “Truth” in this instance is “conformity to reality or actuality” and rather than “the quality of being accurate and without error”, or “a fact that has been verified.” It is my assertion that this is what the religious faith systems are for–the assertion of Truth as “verified”, and “accurate without error.” Freemasonry allows for each individual choose their own Faith system and I see no problem with this.

    You assert that “I believe the cliché “what unites us is more important than what divides us,” is a half truth. Making that cliché a guiding principle is like a renter arguing with a landlord over the rent and saying, “What unites us is more important than what divides us. We both agree that I owe you money. We just disagree on the amount. Lighten up and be happy with what I am giving you.” This argument, however, presumes that the renter and the landlord are at odds to begin with–that there is inherent disagreement where there once was agreement. HOWEVER, if the cliché is modified from “more important” to “as important” one creates an atmosphere of toleration where men may focus for a time upon what unites them rather than what divides them–a refreshing oasis in this world of separation.

    The assertion that “the net effect of reducing the essentials of religion to belief in a generic god, without defining who or what he/she or it is is religious indifferentism” is erroneous. Freemasonry does NOT assert belief in a generic god, I assert that it promotes “believe in YOUR God” and let the other fellow believe in “HIS God” and look towards what you have in common–love for fellow man, relief of those in distress, and living one’s life truthfully.

    You note that “Masonic traditions and literature encourage research into the “Ancient Mysteries,” which makes the corpus of Masonic literature look like a muddle of all things Judeo-Chrisitan, Islamic, pagan, esoteric, occult, Gnostic and you name it.” I say “Good for it!” Research is “exploration, attempting to find something out, a search for knowledge, and systematic investigation to establish facts.” I see this as a positive rather than a negative. While a library full of books seems to have contradictory teachings as well–there are books on pantheism, agnosticism, new age, occult and other contradictory ideas and ideals; yet we don’t dismiss a library as a hodge-podge of ideas. I see Freemasonry in the same light–a place, like a library, where one may explore ideas from many times, many cultures, and beliefs in a quiet atmosphere of toleration. As in a library, it is for each individual to seek his own books, so in Freemasonry each individual is encouraged to seek his own studies. At the same time Freemasonry encourages each individual mason to LEARN about his own faith system within the “library” of his own religion and from his own teachers. I like libraries. I like learning. I like understanding what others believe so that I may better respect them and their beliefs, even if don’t hold to them.

    The statement “Freemasonry insists on belief in God, insists that he/she/it remains undefined” is false. Freemasonry insists on a belief in God, it allows the individual (within their own faith system) to define what, or who, that God is.

    “So who is the Grand Architect of the Universe?” God, YHWH, Lord, Majesty, Great Captain of our Salvation, Jesus….it is just another way of referring to “God” as the individual perceives him or her with a non-charged terminology. The objective being the harmonious interaction of men of monotheistic faiths whom hold the one God to be the creator, the architect, of the universe.

    You assert that “in fact, their only response to St. Paul’s presentation was: ‘We will hear you again about this.’ They blew him off. ” My reading of Acts 17:32 demonstrates that “some indeed mocked; and others said, We will hear you again concerning this….But certain men joined themselves to him and believed; among whom were (3 named individuals)…and others with them.” Paul certainly didn’t win “crowds” and perhaps at future times his efforts were spent elsewhere, but I doubt that Jesus would have counted the four or more disciples gained as wasted energy. Mostly I was referring to where Paul found his audience–the forum where the exploration of ideas took place. Paul took his message to where they explored ideas and he shared his ideas with them. As a result he gathered some who followed, learned, and became companions of Christ—he gathered disciples.

    You noted “However, the Masonic tenets of belief in God with its open-endedness about everything else …must either be muddled or disingenuous.” And this is why Freemasonry is not for EVERY man and why the private society chooses who will be a member within with its society. Quite a few just don’t “get it.”

    “So my question is: are the Ancient Mysteries, the preoccupation with the Templars and Jacques de Molay, the Chinon Parchment farce played along with, the religious ceremony rife with symbolism but void on religious dogma, the esoteric ambiance, the wink at Dan Brown and all the rest just part of the fictional fun, or is it something more serious?”

    Uh oh. My soapbox is being pulled out! People love conspiracies, THIS is what makes Dan Brown so popular right now–fear of the unknown. As long as people have no knowledge of a thing there will be fear about it and where there is fear there is the fear of conspiracy. Where there are those who have knowledge and those who don’t have knowledge about a particular thing—be it politics, law, healing, religion—there will be those who look upon them as conspirators. So let me address some of these unknowns from my perspective of some 20 years of study and participation.

    To answer your question “Are the following just part of the fictional fun, or is it something more serious”:

    Ancient Mysteries? I see these “mysteries” as library material available for individuals to explore if they wish. Pike, apparently, loved the stuff (but I dislike reading Pike). From an historical perspective I find it fascinating to see what others believed. Some of it I can comprehend, or understand from their perspective, some of it seems like foolishness.

    Preoccupation with the Templars and Jacques de Molay? The Scottish Rite of Freemasonry seems to lean more towards the “ancient mystery” stuff (I have not yet participated in the Scottish Rite, but only read about it) The York Rite—culminating with the order of the Knights Templar–is more Christian based. Indeed the Order of the Temple calls for the knight to “wield his sword in defense of defenseless widows, helpless orphans, and the Christian religion.” The preoccupation with the Templars from this perspective is as a place for Christian Masons to practice our particular belief system within the tenants of Freemasonry. And yes this causes consternation among anti-Christian masons. There are some who dogmatically hold that Freemasonry should not provide such a place as it is giving preference to a particular religion. I think, rather it serves to illustrate the Christian origins of this organization.

    The York Rite, or “Ancient Free and Accepted Masonry” is not known as “Ancient” for nothing. It dates back to 1348 – 1390. The earliest known Masonic document is dated to 1390, and according to the Masonic degree work one can “deduce” that Masonry “must” have been in existence prior to 1348. So it is documented that the concept of Freemasonry is as old as the mid 1300s and documented as an existent organization to the early 1700’s with Irish Masonic traditions going back, according to tradition, to the 1500-1600s. For myself, it is easy to speculate that between the dissolution of the Templars in 1307-1312 time period, and the 1348-1390 time period, the brotherhood enjoyed by the Templars may have been transformed into a new organization. I don’t claim it as fact, but it seems reasonable based upon circumstantial evidence and personal belief.

    Jacque de Molay? Most of the Masonic degrees are based upon an “exemplar” of some kind–that is, here is a story of an individual of good character. In some measure Jacque de Molay certainly falls into this category of an exemplar of good character. The man died for what he believed was the truth. He is merely another exemplar of “good character” as are the stories of “Hiram Abiff”, Zerabbubul, Athelstan, and nameless character examples of how one may live a life of character, choosing to die rather than yield one’s character. A knightly principle if there ever was one.

    Chinon parchment farce? I would attribute the public response to this document to ignorance. MOST Masons are not historians. A most miniscule percentage of Freemasons I would wager, are church or medieval historians, or even comprehend the legalistic language of the document. Hence, one can easily understand how the quote from the Chinon parchment which reads:

    “After this, we concluded to extend the mercy of absolution for these acts to brother Jaques de Molay, the grandmaster of the said order, who in the form and manner described above had denounced in our presence the described and any other heresy, and swore in person on the Lord’s Holy Gospel, and humbly asked for the mercy of absolution, restoring him to unity with the Church and reinstating him to communion of the faithful and sacraments of the Church.”

    The “less than legally minded” have misunderstood the history behind this event because they know more “ABOUT” it than they “KNOW” it. The popular press merely wishes a sound bite and “…absolution for these acts to brother Jacques de Molay, the grandmaster of the said order…restoring him to unity with the Church…” fits that bill. Only the serious Templar understands that De Molay “confessed” under duress and later recanted. I’ll wager most assume he was just found guilty and burned.

    Religious ceremony rife with symbolism but void on religious dogma? a morality play is merely a morality play. The “religious ceremonies” are merely morality plays catalogued in a way to illustrate that:
    1) one is initiated into “something”,
    2) one should learn as much about that “something” as one may,
    3) one should develop such strong beliefs that they are not to be compromised for any reason.
    4) In the York Rite the basic morality plays are illustrated with the Mason learning of the “key stone” of the Temple, its necessity, and that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first;
    5) leadership ability is directly associated with divine revelation;
    6) the Old Testament history of the completion of the Temple and the filling with the spirit of God;
    7) Old Testament history–Zerabubbel returning to build the second Temple, and fictional characterizations illustrating that the Old Testament Law and Prophets were a treasure.
    8) life leads to death and where one should store up one’s treasurers,
    9) fidelity to duty is vital,
    10) Loyalty to Faith is desired over compromise,
    11) An introduction to the history of the crusader knights,
    12) the journey of an individual to become a Knight Templar and the duties assumed.

    And all of these interpretations are but MY opinion and description of what I saw demonstrated by these morality plays. Others have different perspectives of the same performance.

    Esoteric ambiance? Esoteric is defined as “confined to and understandable by only an enlightened inner circle”. Well I see no difference here than what I see within the church–pick any church. Certainly the Catholic Church has its leadership group that believes it understands more than others, the protestant church likewise have similar groups–deacon bodies, councils of elders and the like who are perceived as “more understanding” than the rest. Or pick a profession. In health care, doctors certainly believe they are more enlightened than folk medicine. Why should men of like mind who study character in ways that others don’t be any different? “Confided to…only an enlightened inner circle” doesn’t apply to Freemasonry either. The lessons taught by Freemasonry are not reserved to “specialists” They are Bible history, Bible based fiction, historical fiction, and more often than not, pretty much readily available to anyone with the desire to find them. Major book stores sell books containing the entire plain language wording of the degrees.

    Now I understand that there are a lot of those who like to pretend that the “32 degree Mason is more knowledgeable than others….” or a “higher rank” than other Masons. BALONEY! He has just been exposed to more morality plays. The Scottish Rite has a catalog of some 32 degrees of which, it is my understanding, they portray some half dozen or so actual plays. The York Rite has nine plays between the 3rd degree and the Order of the Temple and exemplify all of them. The “coveted” 33 degree “ranking” is merely an award provided within the Scottish Rite by an individual leader to a limited number of individuals each year for any reason of their choosing. I have seen deserving men be awarded 33 degree and I have seen political plums dispensed.

    The REAL reason behind the esoteric feel is this: I can’t POSSIBLY DESCRIBE a play to you and generate the same feelings that experiencing the play does. And since describing a play to you might lessen the impact of the drama upon you, the Mason does not describe the degrees to non-masons. The old-timers wouldn’t even discuss about the degrees with anyone–hence the “secret” society tag. This is changing, as you can see with our postings.

    Dan Brown? I don’t think many think about him much other than he is generating publicity for the craft. Most that I know of have only watched the movie, and have not read the book. Most that I know of dismiss it as mere entertaining fiction. As for Brown’s portrayal of the Catholic Church, as most Freemasons are NOT Catholics, and it is well known amongst Freemasons that the Catholic Church discourages membership in the Freemasons, I presume that there is a large measure of ignorance and standoffishness, just as the stance the church has taken with Freemasonry. One cannot expect an ally of one whom one “attacks”. Just as you feel that Freemasonry has historically attacked the Church, so many within Freemasonry feel that the Church has historically attacked Freemasonry. Those who learn, KNOW and come to understand the difference–THAT WAS THEN AND THIS IS NOW.

    Freemasonry, as I have studied it, can’t possibly “take over the world” because there is no unified authority—only traditions and customs. The A. F. & A. M. Freemasonry alone has 51 separate authorities in the United States and recognizes some 120 other separate authorities in other countries. This does NOT take into account the “Freemasonic Lodges” NOT recognized as having a direct tie to the Ancient Lodge or the London Lodge from the early 1700s. There are hundreds more Prince Hall jurisdictions, and Lodges in countries all over the world, as well as people who have just appropriated the term Freemason, and make use of it for their own purposes. And none of these have direct authority over one another. The world conspiracies have nothing to fear. Except since they don’t know about the workings of Freemasonry because out of fear they don’t participate, so they MUST fear Freemasonry because they don’t know and understand. All I can do with anyone is share MY perspective and MY experience. The individual chooses to seek understanding and common ground or chooses to remain in fear. Dan Brown has made a fortune from exploiting this fear. Talk show hosts have made a fortune from exploiting this fear. Religions gain power and authority from exploiting this fear—and I am referencing the protestant as well as the liturgical religions. I was part of the Southern Baptist Convention debate over Freemasonry when they reached the conclusion “We understand why it can be confusing to some. We wish the terms used were more easily understood, but there is nothing inherently contrary with Freemasonry and Christianity.” [my paraphrase of the SBC conclusion].

    Still enjoying the exchange of ideas! 🙂

    Chris

  10. Chris,

    1. Your own words prove my point about syncretism and religious indifferentism:

    Freemasonry does NOT assert belief in a generic god, I assert that it promotes “believe in YOUR God” and let the other fellow believe in “HIS God” and look towards what you have in common–love for fellow man, relief of those in distress, and living one’s life truthfully.

    If Freemasonry were simply a philanthropic organization that would be one thing–common ground, fine by me. Its the first part of your statement that troubles me. Perhaps, it was just a slip of the keyboard; however, you state my point nicely. Freemasonry promotes “believe in YOUR God” and let the other fellow believe in “HIS God.” In fact this is what the vast majority of believers do already. They don’t need an separate organization to impose conditions on them to obtain this. Freemasonry promotes religious indifferentism, at least from a Catholic point of view, which is a dogmatic point of view. Please see my response to Thomas.

    2. You are engaged in historical revisionism:

    You reduce the historical controversy between Catholicism and Freemasonry to misunderstanding. The Church’s position on Masonry has been consistent and forthright. It is and always has been anti-Masonic, because its syncretism and naturalism is incompatible with Catholic doctrine, and because it has been actively engaged in undermining the dogmatism of the Catholic religion and has been anti-clerical from the outset.

    Historical Use of the Ancient Mysteries

    Specifically, relative to the question of the Ancient Mysteries you say:

    You note that “Masonic traditions and literature encourage research into the “Ancient Mysteries,” which makes the corpus of Masonic literature look like a muddle of all things Judeo-Chrisitan, Islamic, pagan, esoteric, occult, Gnostic and you name it.” I say “Good for it!” Research is “exploration, attempting to find something out, a search for knowledge, and systematic investigation to establish facts.”

    You leave one with the impression that Freemasons have been merely students of comparative religion, but that is clearly not the case. Masons like Albert Pike, Manly Palmer Hall and Albert G. Mackey are not the historical exception but the rule, as Hall himself clearly states in Rosicrucian and Masonic Origins:

    Preston, Gould, Mackey, Oliver, and Pike—in fact, nearly every great historian of Freemasonry-have all admitted the possibility of the modern society being connected, indirectly at least, with the ancient Mysteries, and their descriptions of the modern society are prefaced by excerpts from ancient writings descriptive of primitive ceremonials. These eminent Masonic scholars have all recognized in the legend of Hiram Abiff an adaptation of the Osiris myth; nor do they deny that the major part of the symbolism of the craft is derived from the pagan institutions of antiquity when the gods were venerated in secret places with strange figures and appropriate rituals. Though cognizant of the exalted origin of their order, these historians-either through fear or uncertainty-have failed, however, to drive home the one point necessary to establish the true purpose of Freemasonry: They did not realize that the Mysteries whose rituals Freemasonry perpetuates were the custodians of a secret philosophy of life of such transcendent nature that it can only be entrusted to an individual tested and proved beyond all peradventure of human frailty. The secret schools of Greece and Egypt were neither fraternal nor political fundamentally, nor were their ideals similar to those of the modern Craft. They were essentially philosophic and religious institutions, and all admitted into them were consecrated to the service of the sovereign good. Modern Freemasons, however, regard their Craft primarily as neither philosophic nor religious, but rather as ethical. Strange as it may seem, the majority openly ridicule the very supernatural powers and agencies for which their symbols stand.

    Further Mackey in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry makes it clear that contrary to your assertions, Freemasonry is a religious institution:

    I contend without any sort of hesitation, that Masonry is, in every sense of the word, except one, and that its least philosophical, an eminently religious institution. . . that without this religious element, it would scarcely be worthy of cultivation by the wise and good. . .Who can deny that it is eminently a religious institution?. . .But the religion of Masonry is not sectarian. . . It is not Judaism, though there is nothing in it to offend a Jew; it is not Christianity, but there is nothing in it repugnant to the faith of a Christian. Its religion is that general one of nature and primitive revelation—handed down to us from some ancient and patriarchal priesthood—in which all men may agree and in which no men can differ. It inculcates the practice of virtue, but supplies no scheme of redemption for sin. . . Masonry, then, is indeed a religious institution; and on this ground mainly, if not alone, should the religious Mason defend it.

    Again, just to clarify, so we don’t go over old ground again, I am not suggesting that Freemasonry is an organized religion or a systematic philosophy or a centralized organization with one government and a mandated creed; however, I am saying that your representation of historical Freemasonry as a philanthropic ethical organization compatible with Christianity and friendly in attitude toward it is historical revisionism.

    Historical Enmity with the Church

    I will quote Paul Fisher once again in regard to the well known historical fact of Freemasonic anti-Catholicism. Freemasons

    . . . have by their own admittance been behind virtually every revolution since the celebrated one in France in the late 18th century. Further, their constant attacks on the Roman Catholic Church have been quite successful. Virtually every issue of the New Age attacks the Church, and there is no question they have penetrated the Vatican. Indeed, the Scottish Rite Grand Commander boasted that masonry was in attendance at Vatican II. Indeed, even the staunch Catholic fraternal organization, the Knights of Columbus, works on friendly terms with the Masonic brotherhood. Indeed, the KOC received a copy of my first draft and printing of Behind The Lodge Door.

    On p. 14 of Albert Pike’s turgid tome, Morals and Dogma, we find the following: ‘The pavement, alternately black and white, symbolizes, whether so intended or not, the Good and Evil Principles of the Egyptian and Persian creeds. It is the warfare of Michael and Satan, of the Gods and Titans, of Balder and Lok; between light and shadow, which is darkness; Day and Night; Freedom and Despotism, Religious Liberty and the Arbitrary Dogmas of a Church that thinks for its votaries, and whose Pontiff claims to be infallible, and the decretals of its Councils to constitute a gospel.’ And so it goes through Pike’s grand opus, and the pages of the New Age.

    And Fr. William Saunders:

    The history of freemasonry has proven its anti-Catholic nature. In the United States, one of the leaders of freemasonry, Gen. Albert Pike (d. 1891), referred to the papacy as “a deadly, treacherous enemy,” and wrote, “The papacy has been for a thousand years the torturer and curse of Humanity, the most shameless imposture, in its pretense to spiritual power of all ages.” In France in 1877, and in Portugal in 1910, Freemasons took control of the government for a time and enacted laws to restrict the activities of the Church particularly in education. In Italy, the movement in the mid-1800s to unify the country was infiltrated by Freemasons who were intent on abolishing the papacy and restricting the rights of the Catholic Church. In Latin America, Freemasons have expressed anti-Church and anti-clerical sentiment. Without doubt, one reason why Western Europe suffers from its present secularism is because of the role of freemasonry since the 19th century.

    Furthermore, this anti-Catholic stance of the Masons is ongoing and significant. For instance, many “Catholic” Masons have chosen to be loyal to the Craft rather than the Faith. William A. Whalen points out the opposition of the Southern jurisdiction of the Scottish rite to the creation of Catholic parochial schools, and Tom Droleskey chronicles the flap in the Diocese of Lincoln Nebraska over the excommunication of “Catholic” Masons by Bishop Bruskewitz.

    One Last Painful Mention of Chinon

    The “less than legally minded” have misunderstood the history behind this event because they know more “ABOUT” it than they “KNOW” it. The popular press merely wishes a sound bite and “…absolution for these acts to brother Jacques de Molay, the grandmaster of the said order…restoring him to unity with the Church…” fits that bill. Only the serious Templar understands that De Molay “confessed” under duress and later recanted. I’ll wager most assume he was just found guilty and burned.

    I think you completely misread the Chinon controversy. The media presentation, eaten up by Templars and Masons, portrayed the document as proving that Church officials knew that the accused Templars were innocent of the charges and absolved them. This implies that subsequently, when they were arrested, charged and burned, Church officials acted with the knowledge that the Templars were falsely accused. The Chinon Parchment has been charged with proving this view, but any literate ninth grader could see that interpretation is false. How legally minded does one need to be to understand when someone has confessed to a crime they were accused of, and then mercifully absolved by the judges?

    Furthermore, both the media and the wishful descendants of Jacques de Molay have regarded the Chinon document as reliable, looking to it as an authoritative piece of evidence for their position. But if that document has any reliability at all, then the only thing to be concluded is that the accused parties were guilty of at least some of the charges and then absolved. The question remains what as to what happened in 1314? We know that J. de Molay retracted his confession. Most scholars, including the Catholic ones regard the condemnation as unjust. But that is beside the point when considering the way the Chinon Parchment has been used as “evidence.”

    With what evidence does the Chinon document provide us? The media hype has left the impression that the parchment is damning toward the Church, that it reveals duplicity, that it is a vindication of the Templars, and the modern Templars and Masons have eaten it up. Yet now you want to tell me that the confessions were obtained by torture? Then all those signatures of the judges on the Chinon Parchment are perjurious. The document is worthless. You can’t have it both ways.

    All it takes to correct the error is to read the document everyone is making all a fuss about. The reason no effort has been made to do this, I must surmise, is that ant-Catholicism is alive and well among Jacque de Molay’s esoteric admirers.

  11. Fr. Angelo,

    “…the first part of your statement that troubles me….Freemasonry promotes
    “believe in YOUR God” and let the other fellow believe in “HIS God.”

    Then, sir, I will agree to disagree with you. I see such a position in a social/service/fraternal society to be a positive rather than a negative. I see it as a cornerstone of human civilization—getting along with your neighbor.

    “They don’t need a separate organization to impose conditions on them to obtain this.”

    Fortunately that is up to the individual to decide. Some individuals DO like to fellowship with men of monotheistic mind and character, and find this organization a good way to do so.

    “You are engaged in historical revisionism”

    No sir. I am merely expressing MY perspective as I understand it, based upon MY experience and MY research and the drawing of MY conclusions. I was merely trying to share my perspective and learn of yours.

    Based upon experience and study I believe that my perspective is a fair one. Based upon study and other experts you believe that my perspective is not. I will state again, I am not arguing about the PAST, I am trying to share PRESENT perspectives as I have experienced them. Accept them or reject them, the choice is yours; my purpose was merely to share my perspective, and learn.

    “The Church’s position on Masonry has been consistent and forthright. It is and always has been anti-Masonic…”

    Very well then, I will no longer share my perspectives on the matter of Freemasonry. I will remain focused on my responses.

    “Masons like Albert Pike, Manly Palmer Hall and Albert G. Mackey are not the historical exception but the rule”

    The limited number of authors does NOT necessarily represent the views of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Freemasons worldwide. There are a number of “esoteric” CATHOLIC authors as well, but they are not taken as representative of the whole Church.

    “…I am saying that your representation of historical Freemasonry as a philanthropic ethical organization compatible with Christianity and friendly in attitude toward it is historical revisionism.”

    I would correct your statement to describe only “Catholic Christianity”. I KNOW many Christians who participate in this social/service/fraternal society; I KNOW protestant Christian denominations that, while not promoting the organization do not condemn it. I KNOW that the organization itself has Christian-based organizations within its structure. I KNOW that Freemasonry IS a philanthropic, ethical organization that is compatible with Christianity. I will, however, agree to disagree with you on this point.

    “I think you completely misread the Chinon controversy. The media presentation, eaten up by Templars and Masons, portrayed the document as proving that Church officials knew that the accused Templars were innocent of the charges and absolved them.”

    And I have agreed with you that the public media portraying the documents as being some new fresh revelation of new testimony is a gross exaggeration of the facts. It should come as no surprise, however that the Chinon document would serve as a fresh stimulus to the investigation of Templar history.

    “This implies that subsequently, when they were arrested, charged and burned, Church officials acted with the knowledge that the Templars were falsely accused….Yet now you want to tell me that the confessions were obtained by torture? Then all those signatures of the judges on the Chinon Parchment are perjurious. The document is worthless. You can’t have it both ways.”

    Well, sir, all of the research that I have read about the historical Knights Templar indicates that this IS the case. While it was King Philip who was the instigator of the dissolution of the Templars, the Catholic Church was a participant. The Pope initially stopped the investigation and protested the arrest of the Templars, but when Philip presented coerced witnesses before him, the Pope not only reinstated the inquiry, he expanded it. And while the guilt of the ORDER was never proven and it was recommended that the order be favorably maintained, the Pope chose to dissolve the order. Lest you think I make this up, which is implied by the statement that “Yet you now want to tell me that the confessions were obtained by torture?” This paraphrase of these events comes DIRECTLY from the CATHOLIC Encyclopedia at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14493a.htm.

    [Extended quote deleted.]

    FOR THE RECORD—Philip the Fair was the instigator and the administrator of the demise of the Templars. It was a POLITICAL enterprise—an enterprise exerted for power and control—by Philip. The Pope was NOT convinced of the Order’s guilt, and originally moved to stop the proceedings, but he was POLITICALLY pressured to reinstall the inquiry, and he even chose to expand it into other countries. THE INQUIRY, HOWEVER, WAS CARRIED OUT UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH, and to now assert that the church was merely an unknowing and innocent dupe of secular political authority seems disingenuous to me.

    As for the signatories to the document and whether or not they were perjurers, they never said that they did not torture the accused. They merely REPORTED that the VICTIM HAD SAID that he had not been tortured. There was no assertion of fact, merely the recording of events.

    The mention of “torture” in the Chinon document, in every instance that I see, is that people confessed that they did not confess “due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture…” YET it is the CATHOLIC Encyclopedia that notes “that to extort this confession, the use of torture was considered necessary and legitimate. Most of the accused declared themselves guilty of these secret crimes after being subjected to such ferocious torture that many of them succumbed. Some made similar confessions without the use of torture, it is true, but through fear of it…”

    It doesn’t take, as you note, a ninth-grade education to see that according to the times in which these events occurred 1) torture was seen as necessary for confession where there were no witnesses, 2) the victim of torture perceives that confession stops the torture, 3) the victim perceives that to admit that one was tortured, or afraid of torture, nullified the confession, whereby 4) the torture continued. Commonly the victim would choose to become a liar rather than a martyr.

    It is easy to see then that those who CHOSE to become martyrs are perceived as some type of hero—people of strong character and conviction who would die with their honor intact rather than live as a liar. This pattern of the torture and confession in the medieval histories that I have studied this was the standard method of operation. I am now to take it that the histories and the Catholic Encyclopedia are wrong? I think not. I’ll need evidence to overcome the research exhibited in the literature thus far.

    “The reason no effort has been made to do this, I must surmise, is that ant-Catholicism is alive and well among Jacque de Molay’s esoteric admirers.”

    IF this is true sir, it is only because anti-Templarism and anti-Masonry seems to be alive and well within the Catholic Church. One does NOT gain allies and friends by telling others that you “are against them”. It should come as no surprise, then, that there are comparatively few Freemasons or Templars (actual or fantasy) who wish to come to the defense of an organization that chooses to take such a position.

  12. Chris,

    I have been clear–very clear–with regard to Chinon. I have deleted your extended quote of from Catholic Encyclopedia (leaving the link) because I included a link to it in my “More Templar Baloney” post a long time ago, and have throughout this discussion freely admitted that most Catholic scholars agree that the condemnations and executions of the Templars were a travesty. In my last comment I wrote:

    We know that J. de Molay retracted his confession. Most scholars, including the Catholic ones regard the condemnation as unjust. But that is beside the point when considering the way the Chinon Parchment has been used as “evidence.”

    My argument is, and always has been, a very limited one. The Chinon Parchment tells you nothing in support of the claims made regularly by Templars against Clement’s damnable behavior. Either you accept it as a reliable document and admit that the signatures of the judges means that the Templars were guilty, or you admit that the parchment tells you nothing about the facts it claims to document. Either way the document itself does nothing directly to support the claims made against Clement.

    Say for the sake of argument one were to hold the Chinon Parchment to be reliable. The Templars confessed to an executable offense, and they were absolved. Lets say that the three notaries who signed the document were telling the truth when the signed their lives away to these words:

    When he was asked whether he wanted to maintain what he had said during the confession, whether it was done according to the truth, and whether he had added anything untruthful or withheld anything that is truthful, he replied that he wanted to maintain what he had previously said in his confession, that it was truthful and that he neither added anything that was untruthful nor omitted anything that was truthful. When he was asked whether he had confessed due to a request, reward, gratitude, favor, fear, hatred or persuasion by someone else, or the use of force, or fear of impending torture, he replied that he did not.

    So the Templars get absolved for a crime of which they were actually guilty. Lets further say that when de Molay retracted his confession he did so falsely denying the crime he actually committed, and then in good faith, his judges had him and the others executed according to law.

    That is the scenario the Chinon Parchment supports. You say the document is perjurious. Fine by me. The historical facts seem to support that interpretation. Then why do you Templars and Freemasons keep touting the act as having something to say in favor of the persecution? The authenticity of the document is not in dispute. None of the reports I have seen document any internal or external evidence to directly indicate that what the document claims is not true. So why the hullabaloo among the Templars, eating the whole thing up.

    It is not the innocence of the Templars I dispute, but the perpetuation of the whole Templar myth, which must include by hook or by crook a perpetual bad faith persecution by the Church of the custodians of the Ancient Mysteries/Grail or whatever. You and I both know that is what is at issue here.

    Go back and look at all my Templar posts in context with all I had to say about the reports and the claims made by the Achesons. What I had to say in those posts about the reporting and the enthusiasm from the Temple is true: Baloney, every bit of it.

    I am sorry, the act is not that hard to read and understand. It doesn’t seem to matter that the facts concerning the parchment have been completely misrepresented and misconstrued.

  13. sorry for the premature post…I’m having computer issues…

    You hold 1) Templars were guilty; 2) were absolved when they confessed; 3) some Templars recanted their confessions; 4) they were then justly executed.

    I hold, as taught by Catholic scholars: 1) Templars were made to (truthfully or untruthfully) confess under duress, or face continued torture; 2) some Templars perjured THEMSELVES in order to stop their torture; 3) some Templars recanted from their perjury and died “honorably”.

    Nowhere did I state, or intend to state, that the Chinon was a perjured document. I attempted to demonstrate that the statements signed by the judges were “truth” as they saw it. I identified nothing that I could label perjury, except perhaps for the confession of the accused who may have lied to stop their torture–as the scholars have taught me was the case.

    As I see it Chinon is merely consistent with what Catholic scholars, and others have been teaching us about medieval history. It tells us that Templars confessed. It tells us that the judges said “the Templars stated that they did not confess under duress.” It is the scholars, not Chinon, that tells us that torture to confession was viewed as necessary and that in the absence of witness the accused was often tortured into confession. Your arguement is with the scholars and the history. Please do not leave the implication that I am anti-Catholic, or have a “myth perpetuating agenda”. My only agenda is to stand my ground when I feel that I have been abused.

    “Then why do you Templars and Freemasons keep touting the act as having something to say in favor of the persecution?”

    Well, first of all I don’t, didn’t, haven’t and really don’t care about Chinon. My third sentence ever posted here was “I agree with your assessment on the Chinon parchment…” My fist paragraph ever posted makes the same point that you are making, yet now you claim that it is I that are making assertions otherwise. My view of Chinon is merely that it is a court “transcript”, and just about as exciting to read. BUT, if I had to draw a conclusion to answer your question, as it seems that I must, I would say that PEOPLE (and not just Templars or Freemasons–there go those broad generalizations again) find the document fascinating and “popular” because 1) it is consistent with what Catholic scholars have been teaching about history; 2) because it includes the absolution of Jaques de Molay, consistant with what history has told us; 3) BECAUSE it is a piece of history which just recently came to light — a fascinating story in itself. IN SHORT, BECAUSE IT IS NEWSWORTHY AND SUPPORTS, CONFIRMS, OR IS CONSISTENT WITH THE HISTORICAL TEACHINGS.

    Why do people “get it wrong?” Because the media is out to sell stories, and has YET to tell us the complete and acurate story on just about ANY subject that one can imagine. Sensationalism sells the media and the media sells sensationalism. Unfortunately the majority of the people in this country “learn” what they know from the media. It was the Vatican itself which released a press release that first came to my attention on October 8, 2007, that first created the sensationalism which included:

    “The document conatins the ABSOLUTION Pope Clement V gave to the Grand Master of the Temple, friar Jaques de Molay and to the other heads of the Order, after they had shown to be repented and asked to be forgiven by the church….The document, which belongs to the first phase of the trial against the Templars, when Pope Clement V was still convinced to be able to gurantee the survival of the military-relegious Order, MEETS THE APOSTOLIC NEED TO REMOVE THE SHAME OF EXCOMMUNICATION FROM THE WARRIOR FRIARS, caused by their previous denial of Jesus Christ WHEN TORTURED BY THE FRENCH INQUISITOR.” (emphasis added, source http://asv.vatican.va/en/doc/1308.htm#top)

    Anyone with a smattering of experience with the media will understand exactly which sensational statements in this press release will be “pull quoted” to write a story around. The very first story on Chinon that I saw was October 5, just three days before I saw the Vatican Secret Archives press release on the 8th. Hey, wait a minute! I thought that “secret societies” were a BAD thing! Why is it “ok” for the Catholic Church to have “Secret Archives” but NOT for other organizations? I know the answer–Secret as in private, not secret as in hidden. But it does SEEM to be hypocritical to condemn others while carrying making use of the same verbage. Perhaps you may comprehend what the Freemasons undergo everytime we are faced wtih the “secret” label.

    I am not persecuting the church. Neither have I acted in bad faith. MANY groups of people on this planet–governments, churches, warriors, and many more–have committed persecution of one group or another. I just point out that by your own statements that it is you who choose to be anti-Masonic. From MY perspective it is you who seem to be attempting to persecute ALL Templars, Templar “want-to-be’s”, and Freemasons with overly broad generalities. It is you and your organization who condemn “secret societies” while releasing public statements from “secret archives.”

    I seem to recall a story about a mote and a beam…

  14. Chris,

    You wrote:

    You hold 1) Templars were guilty; 2) were absolved when they confessed; 3) some Templars recanted their confessions; 4) they were then justly executed.

    That is precisely what I do not hold, nor have I ever held it or implied it. When I outlined the above scenario is said “say for the sake of argument,” and then concluded with the statement that the Chinon Parchment supports the above scenario, and no other.

    Neither did I claim that anyone, including yourself, suggested that the document is forged. I merely stated that the Chinon Parchment’s authenticity is unchallenged and offers NO EVIDENCE OF ANYTHING OTHER THAN WHAT IT STATES WHICH IN NO WAY SUPPORTS THE INNOCENCE OF THE TEMPLARS.

    And yet in the media coverage the claim was made explicitly and in an unqualified manner that the parchment bore witness to the vindication of the Templars. To my knowledge, no Templar organization covering the subject aside from yours made any attempt to correct the error. My specific critique was against the Achesons and their antics.

    In regard to my position on the Templars’ innocence, in my last comment I said the following:

    My argument is, and always has been, a very limited one. The Chinon Parchment tells you nothing in support of the claims made regularly by Templars against Clement’s damnable behavior.

    And

    That is the scenario the Chinon Parchment supports. You say the document is perjurious. Fine by me. The historical facts seem to support that interpretation.

    And

    It is not the innocence of the Templars I dispute, but the perpetuation of the whole Templar myth, which must include by hook or by crook a perpetual bad faith persecution by the Church of the custodians of the Ancient Mysteries/Grail or whatever. You and I both know that is what is at issue here. [Emphasis not in original.]

    Those are all statements I made just in the last comment, never mind the rest of my many posts and comments in the subject which are all, every one of them, consistent with the above statements.

    I do not dispute the good faith of individuals or denigrate anyone’s philanthropy, but I do hold that Freemasonry is incompatible with the Catholic faith. If it has been reinvented in one place or another to expunge its anti-Catholic and syncretistic roots, then fine; but I suspect the internal logic of purging what is otherwise naturalistic and syncretistic.

    We will have to agree to disagree, as you say. You suggest that my historical analysis of Freemasonry is either narrow or just plain wrong. From my reading the corpus of Masonic literature indicates otherwise, and I do not see the logic of the Templar, Grail, Ancient Mystery or ritual associations apart from an historical consistency with Freemasonry’s origins and the its commitment to its myths.

    THIS CHINON FLAP JUST CONFIRMS MY POSITION THAT UNDERLYING THE PREOCCUPATION WITH THE TEMPLARS IS A SERIOUS ADHERENCE TO THE ANTI-CATHOLIC TEMPLAR/HOLY GRAIL MYTH, in the same sense that it is the preoccupation of the neo-pagans and the votaries of the Ancient Mysteries. In other words, I am not buying the reinvention.

    In fact, the Templars were Benedictine monks and Knight Crusaders. As innocent men, they were faithful Roman Catholics, not the proto-bearers of the New Age flame. If they were innocent, as I believe they were, they were examples of Christian virtue and not protectors of a gnosis the Church was so adamantly bent upon suppressing. Their persecution was the result of political chicanery and human weakness, and if they were falsely accused of worshiping Baphomet, it is because the Templar myth is just that, and a myth in the worst sense of the word, a pure invention that in no way is connected to reality. Malcom Barber, one of the foremost Templar historians states the following in Slate:

    As myth has it, on that March evening in 1314, unique knowledge was supposedly handed down to the care of future generations, making the Templars and their mystery a particularly fertile resource for novelists and popular historians. Sir Walter Scott, whose eye for a gripping story made his books best sellers in their time, created the template for fiction and drama that many have since followed. In Ivanhoe, which he published in 1819, his villainous Templar, Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert, views with contempt the austerities of the first Templars, since whose time he and his fellows have adopted secret practices “dedicated to ends of which our pious founders little dreamed.” Today, as Casaubon says in Umberto Eco’s satire Foucault’s Pendulum, “The Templars have something to do with everything.”

    The Church is what it is, because it is what it was. You are telling me, it seems, that Freemasonry is what it is, because it is not what it was. For that reason, I do not believe that my anti-Masonry is a prejudice. There is no comparison, in my view, between the status of the Christian religion and Freemasonry.

    The 1985 study of Freemasonry by William J. Whalen, entitled The Pastoral Problem of Masonic Membership contains the following conclusion:

    My conclusion is the same as that of the German episcopal conference: “In-depth research on the ritual and on the Masonic mentality makes it clear that it is impossible to belong to the Catholic Church and to Freemasonry at the same time.”

    The false ecumenism which seeks to ignore basic differences between Masonic naturalism and Christianity, and the desire of a few Catholic men to find in the Lodge a fellowship, a better chance for promotion or a wider base of customers than they can find through other organizations are no reason to ignore the serious objections to Freemasonry raised by the Church.

    Perhaps some accommodations may be made for pastoral reasons in exceptional cases. Converts might be permitted to retain passive membership. Those Catholic men who joined the Lodge in good faith during the recent years of confusion might be offered the same option. Membership in Masonic-related organizations such as the Eastern Star should be discouraged, but does not carry the same penalty of exclusion from the Eucharist. Otherwise, the position of the Church remains what it has been for many years: Catholics in the United States and elsewhere may not be Freemasons.

    I am no expert on canon law, so I don’t know if “passive membership” as an exception would ever be acceptable to Rome. In any case “passive membership” means that membership by name might be retained if scandal were to be avoided, but one could not actively participate or otherwise adhere to or study its literature or teaching.

    I guess, after all this discussion, if you tell me that Freemasonry has had its guts removed, I don’t see the point its shell.

  15. frangelo,

    Greetings, and my hat is off to your dominant religious discourse.

    I am of no particular value to anyone unless I expose thoughtful consideration.

    You may want to set this email aside, because at some point I think you will see value in it.

    =================

    It seems my effort to stimulate higher level dialogue has it’s limitations.

    What does seem to be more visible is the old reference that if you have to try to explain something, then they are not likely to understand it. I apologize.

    For future consideration, when there is a better opportunity and open spirit of dialogue, there are fascinating concepts available to elevate ones true (pure) knowledge and processing.

    Why do I say this? Because your response to this (even in thought) is likely to be elementary in nature when it comes to higher processes of cognition and thought. Responses that are attached to experience are essence of logic as we understand it on a physical level using our greatest efforts with logic. Responses that are circular to a particular belief are self limiting and at best may be used as reference. Responses that are inflexible are likely to parallel the same intensity of belief and faith — which are clearly dependent states requiring the process of justification and self acceptance.

    I wish there was a way I could communicate the value of open course. Any response that wields elements of perceptual levels or even previous thoughts are similar to a human refluxing their bolus and chewing their cud — it may be possible, but it is functionally unnecessary and inappropriate to productive oral intake.

    When you can stand as a pure intellectual and philosophical being, without the dependence on religious elements of difference — then perhaps we could enlighten our lives — but I guess you already started transposing the paragraphs above into meaningful jargon that is perfect within the walls of religious perseveration.

    Simply loosen up the dependent religious posturing and consider the potential of looking through someone else’s eyes without reverting back to a dependent realm.

    You have so much more to offer than that which stands within your confidence. I would give anything to enjoy your mind at it’s greatest potential.

    Thanks for reading this far — but something tells me it wasn’t of much value without your reedification attached.

    In case you missed it — standing face to face in discourse holds limited potential compared to that which we can experience standing side by side.

    My Truest Respect,

    Tom

  16. Yea…I get to make a very short post! I agree with much in your last posting. I will agree to disagree where our beliefs and philosophies clash.

    I particularly agree with your statement “there is no comparison…between the status of the Christian religion and Freemasonry.” This is exactly part of what I have been trying to say: As I have experienced and studied it, neither does Freemasonry. Freemsonry, as I have experienced it and studied it, does not equate itself to any religion.

  17. Thomas,

    You wrote:

    I wish there was a way I could communicate the value of open course. Any response that wields elements of perceptual levels or even previous thoughts are similar to a human refluxing their bolus and chewing their cud — it may be possible, but it is functionally unnecessary and inappropriate to productive oral intake.

    When you can stand as a pure intellectual and philosophical being, without the dependence on religious elements of difference — then perhaps we could enlighten our lives — but I guess you already started transposing the paragraphs above into meaningful jargon that is perfect within the walls of religious perseveration.

    Where do I begin? In all honesty, it seems as though you ask me to surrender logic to dialectics. I thought this discussion has been an open course and a fairly civil and careful mutual communication. Perhaps you are a disciple of Hegel? or at least favorably influenced by him?

    Any response that wields elements of perceptual levels or even previous thoughts are similar to a human refluxing their bolus and chewing their cud . . .

    What does this mean? Are you suggesting that arriving at conclusions is an unwanted byproduct of thought? Or is it merely because my conclusions are the result of religious information? as you say:

    When you can stand as a pure intellectual and philosophical being, without the dependence on religious elements of difference — then perhaps we could enlighten our lives.

    I can see no real value to religious ideas whatever unless they are objectively true. If I thought otherwise, I certainly would not be a Catholic, perhaps a Buddhist or a pantheist, but not a Catholic, my goodness.

    You go on:

    . . . but I guess you already started transposing the paragraphs above into meaningful jargon that is perfect within the walls of religious perseveration.

    Well, yes. I am not a hegelian or any thing like one. It may be argued that there are some social benefits to constantly drifting from one opinion to another and synthesizing without ever reaching a proposition that may be built upon, but I happen to believe in truth. Pilate’s question to Christ is “What is truth.” Christ’s answer, “I am the truth.”

    In any case, while I acknowledged that you are not a Freemason, it seems you are sympathetic to the ideas that I have rejected in my posts and comments, and I think your position represents the danger of toying with a discipline of thought and fraternity that is essentially syncretistic.

    I appreciate the polite and fraternal exhortation. We equal courtesy I sincerely recommend you take me up on my reading suggestion and dive into some Chesterton. There is nothing new under the sun.

  18. My Dearest Friend,

    I am impressed with your reference to Hegel — but that would be what I would refer to as being just a tad off-target within certain potential, but incomplete. The same could be said of my view of Catholicism in it’s most pure form, or even it’s role in dialectics with consideration for speculative reasoning at it’s next level.

    The term surrendering logic to dialectics is interesting. But what would be a more appropriate volley would be idea of “surrendering to logic”, now that would tend to intrigue me…

    To what degree are we bound by what we know? Has logic restricted us to our own experience and reality as we know it? And, to what degree are we bound by what we choose based on or religious obligations?

    I once knew a Friar who could look at the Knights Templar and separate the dark energy from the light — he could find praise in a newer knighthood.

    Unfortunately, because he did not sustain the completeness of his potential for Templar insight, he created the possibility to be viewed wrongly, or should I say incompletely.

    Aggression without balance can be misleading — You certainly have a higher potential than that which you can accomplish within a religious venue.

    Bishop

  19. “You certainly have a higher potential than that which you can accomplish within a religious venue.”

    Excuse me for interrupting, but to what greater purpose would a ‘higher potential’ conceivably be used? We are made for God – if one’s potential is not used to recognize and advance the Kingdom of God, my opinion is that it is completely wasted. Would not even a knight (Templar) agree that one should hold values so dear that he would willingly fight, and if need be, die for them?

  20. Ahh — your looking down the path…

    You are simply missing the statements association with God, that is a higher level of spiritual connection with God.

    Reference to religion is not in a million years intended to belittle or disregard the slighted aspect of it. I guess the question would be, “Is God limited by the parameters of our logic or representation of religion?”

    Any perception that there are negative references are more an element of miscommunication or misunderstanding. If you can hold that thought dear and then ponder any statements you may start to pick up on the referent intended…

    Bishop

  21. “Is God limited by the parameters of our logic or representation of religion?”

    Of course God is not limited by us; it is rather He who defined the parameters of our knowledge of HImself, through the Law, the Prophets, and especially in His Incarnation. It is through Jesus Himself (“He who has seen me has seen the Father.”) and His teachings that He leads us into all truth and knowledge of Himself. These are mysteries which can be explored for a lifetime – and beyond – these are the truths that the Catholic church has preserved, has interpreted in the Apostolic tradition, and has taught. All personal “knowledge” is in vain if it does not spring from, and lead back to, the Truths that God has chosen to reveal to us. Is God “limited” to what has been revealed to humankind? Most certainly not. God is infinite, God is everything, God IS. Our minds are not capable of understanding it. And so we would be foolish to think that we could come to be better understanding on our own, or through our own logic, than through the way God Himself has chosen to teach us. And if one thinks that there is no room for thought or logic within the framework of religion, one has only to read the likes of Augustine, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Duns Scotus – to name but a very few.

  22. I truly appreciate your response, and your perspective of God. It’s not an intent to downplay the significant and essential importance of religion, but once we focus on God (rather than our particular religion, or our limited comprehension) we enter a level of thought that is unknown to us.

    Our religion, as with our logic, is based on our capability of understanding. To appreciate all religions allows for the possibility of an enhanced understanding of God, based on the logic, reasoning and experience of all humankind. But that would still fall embarassingly short from the slightest true understanding of God. We are limited by all that we know.

    The question would be: Can we seek a greater knowledge of God by thoughts that are not bound by the total sum of all human processing? If so, then we would need to expand past “religion” as we know it, and seek a pure spiritual level of thinking which is outside our capability. Spirituality allows for God in his completeness. that is why the conflict keeps coming up about the flexing of religion in deeply spiritual dialogue about God.

    BTW, with regard to spirituality, it is not the hocus pocus stuff but the respectful and holy descriptor that attempts to approximate the vastness of God and all the He IS.

    Thanks again for showing the oneness of our thinking in your last post.

    Bishop

  23. I truly appreciate your response, and your perspective of God. It’s not an intent to downplay the significant and essential importance of religion,

    Understood. Thank you.

    but once we focus on God (rather than our particular religion, or our limited comprehension) we enter a level of thought that is unknown to us

    I couldn’t agree more

    Our religion, as with our logic, is based on our capability of understanding

    I would add that FAITH is also a critical – actually the most important – component of religion. One can have knowledge and understanding and still reject God; understanding does not take away free will, or even imply that we will follow the dictates of our own logic. On the other hand, we can have limited “head” knowledge and yet, by the grace of God though faith, have a very experiential knowledge of God – that, yes, even surpasses the bounds of one’s religion, though no doubt colored by it in the experience.

    . To appreciate all religions allows for the possibility of an enhanced understanding of God

    I agree that there are some, if not complete, truths to be found in most religions; to appreciate them through the eyes of the believers of the different religions certainly can enhance one’s understanding of God. And not the least, to strive to appreciate the other person’s viewpoint is above all an act of charity, the greatest of the virtues to which all law must bow.

    But that would still fall embarassingly short from the slightest true understanding of God.

    I totally agree!

    We are limited by all that we know.

    And also limited in what/how much we know.

    The question would be: Can we seek a greater knowledge of God by thoughts that are not bound by the total sum of all human processing? If so, then we would need to expand past “religion” as we know it, and seek a pure spiritual level of thinking which is outside our capability

    And ummm… if it is outside our capability, how do you propose that we seek it….

    . Spirituality allows for God in his completeness. that is why the conflict keeps coming up about the flexing of religion in deeply spiritual dialogue about God.

    I see spirituality as one’s own relationship with God, which will necessarily grow and change over time, just as human relationships do, and will also be necessarily unique to each individual. I see religion as giving us the TOOLS do that with, as well as uniting us with a common bond of fellowship with other believers. (In light of the Sacred Scriptures, and in view of the Trinitarian Godhead, one can easily conclude that God is “family” oriented; that one’s relationship with Him is not JUST personal and private, but lived within the context of a familial group, often known as a church.) Relationships need be based on, above all, truth. I see “religion” or the church as the guardian of the Truth, and an aid to correctly interpreting the truth within the context that it was revealed.

    BTW, with regard to spirituality, it is not the hocus pocus stuff but the respectful and holy descriptor that attempts to approximate the vastness of God and all the He IS.

    Sorry, I’m not sure what you are referring to in regards to “hocus pocus stuff”…

    Thanks again for showing the oneness of our thinking in your last post.

    Communication and correct interpretation are the key to understanding and unity. I believe that is what organized religion seeks – the correct interpretation and communication of truth.

  24. Angela,

    It is a joy to read your words and my greatest respect for your commitment to your religious beliefs as a stronghold.

    I appreciate your tolerance for comments that have their difference — and I should point out that you have a wonderful way of finding the common spirit to draw each other into tune, rather than focusing on difference. It is that fellowship of spiritual interest that I hope to enjoy within the Templar fellows — drawing our greatest light potential together to grow spiritually with all efforts toward God.

    Everyone is different, but I tend to find my greatest appreciation for our religious interests after I seek spiritual growth. I guess with the openness of seeking God I see the value of the limitations of the world.

    Bishop

  25. All,

    A few points in the various posts catch my attention. I don’t wish to interrupt the train of thought that y’all have going at the moment, so if these need to be ignored just keep pressing forward. These are but my observations.

    >The term surrendering logic to dialectics is interesting. But what would be a more >appropriate volley would be idea of “surrendering to logic”, now that would tend to >intrigue me…

    In order to insure that I was understanding what I thought I knew, I looked up the meanings of dialectics [the exchange of arguments and counter-arguments advocating propositions and counter-propositions. Not necessarily simply for the refutation of one of the relevant points of view, but a synthesis or combination of the opposing assertions, or at least a qualitative transformation in the direction of the dialogue.], and logic [from Classical Greek λόγος logos; meaning word, thought, idea, argument, account, reason, or principle. The study of the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration.]

    So, surrendering thought to argument for the purpose of a qualitative transformation in the direction of the a reciprocal conversation between two or more entities. Not a bad idea, BUT I found Tom’s assertion surrendering “to logic” a very profound statement. the root for “logic” being logos, “surrendering to logos” MAY be interpreted “surrendering to God”–for in the beginning was the logos and the logos was with God….

    No point to make, I just found the concept stimulating.

    Chris

  26. Tom,

    In one of my previous posts I referenced Duns Scotus as proof there is room for reason and logic within the framework of religion. As chance would have it, as I opened today’s mail there was a newsletter with this small article pertaining to this very thought:

    “Duns Scotus firmly believed all that God revealed about Himself to us. But he also wished to know, through reason, in as far as that is possible, the truths of the faith in order to render them accessible, understandable and acceptable to human reason, even by those who were without faith: illustrations, deep study, dilutions on the intellectual level are nothing more than efforts of the mind of Scotus to demonstrate the noncontradictory nature of the truths of the faith through human reason, but also their perfect consistency with it, and so make them acceptable to all.

    “Here is the prayer he proposed: ‘Lord, our God, may You be proclaimed the first and the last; teach your servant the way to demonstrate through reason what he holds to be most certain by faith.'”

  27. “surrendering to logos” MAY be interpreted “surrendering to God”–for in the beginning was the logos and the logos was with God….

    YES!! May we all find joy in surrendering to THE Logos, Who is

    The Way
    The Truth
    The Life

  28. All,

    >Communication and correct interpretation are the key to understanding and unity. I >believe that is what organized religion seeks – the correct interpretation and >communication of truth.

    I whole heartedly agree.

    How then does one promote the civility, the social compatibility, of the various organized religions, each of which have belief and faith that they have the “correct interpretation and communication of the truth”? (For example: Hindi and Moslem (I just watched “Ghandi” last night), or Jew and Moslem, or Christian and Moslem, or Christian and Hindi, etc.)

    Communication is the exchange of an idea or ideas–a *logos*. What if the *logos* of the *logos* held by the organized religions are different? Is the *logos* that was “in the beginning” really “different” from organized religion to organized religion, or is it the perspective of each organized religion that is different? That would make learning about the “other guy’s” organized religion a smart thing to do.

    Again, not making an assertion, just investigating and exploring.

    Chris

  29. What if the *logos* of the *logos* held by the organized religions are different? Is the *logos* that was “in the beginning” really “different” from organized religion to organized religion, or is it the perspective of each organized religion that is different?

    That is something to ponder. It does call to mind the story of the three blind men and the elephant….

  30. “Here is the prayer he proposed: ‘Lord, our God, may You be proclaimed the first and the last; teach your servant the way to demonstrate through reason what he holds to be most certain by faith.’”

    AMEN!

  31. Thomas and all,

    Friar Contrarian here.

    I’ll just keep my finger on the trigger and it will be over quickly.

    My reference to the surrender of logic to dialectics contrasts Aristotle to Hegel. For Aristotelian logic the principle of non-contradition is essential, namely that principle which states something cannot be true and not true at one and the same time under the same respect, or exist and not exist at one in the same time under the same respect.

    In Catholic epistemology and metaphysics that principle is considered self-evident and necessary for any kind of reliable knowledge. The thesis–antithesis–synthesis of Hegel is essentially a rejection of the principle of non-contradiction. It is fraternal speculative soup. I say one thing, you say the opposite, we come together, and then shazam! a snythesis of contradictions, and a new illumination. And then, of course onto a new thesis–antithesis–synthesis ad infinitum. Swell.

    An example of my objection, Thomas, is the quaint figure you painted of two people either opposing each other face to face or standing side by side and coming to something in the ether. Try that next time someone short changes you at the checkout counter. Find a synthesis side by side. I am not talking about finding an amicable way of solving a disagreement. That should be presumed. Just try to synthesize an objective disagreement about what change is owed.

    It would seem that you, Thomas, subscribe to something along the lines of a Hegelian dialectic; however, I would not be so foolish as to think you would hold to any kind of system or wave the flag of any particular philosopher.

    I once knew a Friar who could look at the Knights Templar and separate the dark energy from the light — he could find praise in a newer knighthood.

    Unfortunately, because he did not sustain the completeness of his potential for Templar insight, he created the possibility to be viewed wrongly, or should I say incompletely.

    What do you bet that Friar is just as contrarian as I am, and wouldn’t be able to separate oranges from apples if he was not dogmatic and committed to firm conclusions?

    BTW, since, it seems, Chris is intrigued or even perhaps (?) sympathetic to your thought, perhaps you might tell us what “Templar insight” is. I thought the Templars were just plain old Roman Catholics and all that stuff about the Holy Grail and what not was just make believe. But then, I suppose I am being too definite, by presuming to have such a question answered clearly.

    The question would be: Can we seek a greater knowledge of God by thoughts that are not bound by the total sum of all human processing? If so, then we would need to expand past “religion” as we know it, and seek a pure spiritual level of thinking which is outside our capability. Spirituality allows for God in his completeness. that is why the conflict keeps coming up about the flexing of religion in deeply spiritual dialogue about God.

    No, we don’t need to “expand past ‘religion’ as we know it” in order to “seek a pure spiritual level of thinking which is outside our capability.” The Catholic mystical tradition, with St. Gertrude, St. Bernard, St. Francis, St. Bonaventure, Bl. John Duns Scotus, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Peter Alcantara, St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and on and on and on, were all committed Catholics who would have died for their faith, and were mystics of the first order. Contemplative knowledge is not supra religious “as we know it,” it is merely a different mode of knowledge that is the domain of sanctity, which by the way, presumes the principle of non-contradiction.

    BTW, with regard to spirituality, it is not the hocus pocus stuff but the respectful and holy descriptor that attempts to approximate the vastness of God and all the He IS.

    What in the universality of cosmic thought does that mean? With all due respect, Thomas, I am not following the esotericisms.

    Everyone is different, but I tend to find my greatest appreciation for our religious interests after I seek spiritual growth. I guess with the openness of seeking God I see the value of the limitations of the world.

    See paragraph above.

    I appreciate your tolerance for comments that have their difference — and I should point out that you have a wonderful way of finding the common spirit to draw each other into tune, rather than focusing on difference. It is that fellowship of spiritual interest that I hope to enjoy within the Templar fellows — drawing our greatest light potential together to grow spiritually with all efforts toward God.

    I am altogether a tolerant fellow. Really. I just don’t make a religion out of it. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ says and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice (John 18:37). (Remember the principle of non-contradiction.)

    “Here is the prayer he proposed: ‘Lord, our God, may You be proclaimed the first and the last; teach your servant the way to demonstrate through reason what he holds to be most certain by faith.'”

    Well of course I will agree with this. See, I am not so contrarian after all. Did you all know that Scotus was more dogmatic than I am, and an ardent defender of papal authority? He was once on the way to the University of Paris to defend his position on the Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Lady, and was preparing himself for a great deal of opposition. Imagine. He stopped at a wayside shrine of the Virgin and prayed these words: “Allow me to praise Thee, O Sacred Virgin, give me strength against Thine enemies.” Perhaps we could add this prayer to the other one. I suggest you pray to Our Lady and ask Her to show you the Truth, that Truth which alone will set you free.

    BTW, here are some more prayers I would be grateful if you would pray. We are planning a symposium later this year in England, not far from Scotus’ birthplace in Scotland to mark the 700th anniversary of his death. Perhaps we will see you there. I here Scotland is a Templar Disneyland.

  32. Friar Contrarian,

    Be cautious with your trigger finger, I wouldn’t want an unfortunate accident if it starts to cramp.

    I won’t presume to know you. I should say that I admire your enthusiasm, but don’t appreciate your awkward aggressiveness. Is it you, or do all good Catholics think the same way? I’m not sure, honestly.

    I think you exposed yourself when you postured with Aristotelian logic in the way you have. Perhaps someone else can communicate better than I can — but it seems something has a hold on the underlying willingness to expand thought.

    Your logic that something cannot be true and not true at the same time is quite interesting. I’m not sure if you are saying this in jest, or if you truly believe it.

    Please excuse me from not even responding to the majority of you writings since it would only tend to only degrade the quality of discussion we have had in the last few posts.

    If and when you have an interest in a friendly exchange of thought I am willing and waiting, but quite honestly, you will have to open up those blinds if you expect anyone to enjoy discourse with you. I’d also rethink your position on women being the weaker sex — these are all so basic and developed more fully

    BTW – here’s a little educational experience for you.

    1. Take a square box and write a number really big on each side.

    2. Set the box in the center of a small table.

    3. Sit four people around the table, each facing one side of the box where that is all that they see (oh, and the religion, educational level or sex can vary).

    4. Now, in your best game face, ask each person to TRUTHFULLY proclaim which number is on the box.

    5. If answers vary you may ask them again — you may even be condescending if they don’t give the right answer.

    6. NOW, you can either get wet under your Aristotelian umbrella, or you can seek the COMPLETE TRUTH.

    You cannot expect to involve yourself in a true discourse if you are not open to the perspectives and different answers of others. Even if you are willing do die or quash the exercise some piece of you has to value completely opposing reference being part of the same complete truth.

    Now repeat this three times:

    Accurate, but not complete
    Accurate, but not complete
    Accurate, but not complete

    (I won’t be as disrespectful as to suggest a prayer)

    Bishop

  33. Guys and Gal!

    I am laughing hysterically and loving EACH of these responses. I KNOW that while our discourse may be tense at times, NONE of us means to HARM the others. I KNOW, and have faith, that this is true of Fr. Angelo—it is in his religion. I know this of myself, and I trust that it is true of the others that I know as well. So I take all of these comments in good nature, and with the good intention of “no harm” on the part of the author. I hope everyone else will as well.

    “I say one thing, you say the opposite, we come together, and then shazam! a snythesis of contradictions, and a new illumination. And then, of course onto a new thesis–antithesis–synthesis ad infinitum. Swell.”

    I am laughing, and guffawing! Too funny! J This of course holds true IF one’s INTENTION is to attempt a synthesis of thesis and antithesis. BUT what if, as Tom points out with his square box illustration (which I LOVED) the purpose is “problem solving”, then the steps are 1) Communicating the existence of a problem; 2) reaching a consensus definition of the problem; 3) negotiating a solution, or proposed solutions; 4) implementing the solution. Without going into long discourse at this point, I see the “problem” as being along the lines of “how can the existing organized religions co-exist on this planet created by the God that each of the organized religions claims is THE God.”

    “…perhaps you might tell us what “Templar insight” is. I thought the Templars were just plain old Roman Catholics and all that stuff about the Holy Grail and what not was just make believe.”

    “Insight” is the capacity to discern the true nature of a situation”. I suppose then that “Templar insight” would be the ability of “a Templar” to discern the true nature of a situation.

    The historic Templars were “just plain old Roman Catholics…but then so was EVERY Christian. The reformation had not yet occurred, BUT it seems to me that the history surrounding the Templars played a significant role in that church Reformation. Now that there is multi-denominational Christianity, and NO historically based (church sanctioned) Templars, people are free to the make use of the historic Templars for historical research as well as whatever symbolism they may choose.

    There will now be Christian Templars, non-denominational Christian Templars, non-Christian Templars (talk about an out-reach opportunity), and even the “whacko” Templars (Spaceships behind comets? Anyone…anyone…). There will even be “Templars” who have no association with the historic Templars, but rather refer to themselves as such because they perceive “themselves to be the temple of God.”

    As such there will be various “Templar insights”, hence the need for the ability to share one’s perspective with another. e.g. “I see the number 3”, “well I don’t see 3, I see 1”. The sharing of perspectives may help to provide a better perspective of “the box”

    “BTW…I would be grateful if you would pray….to mark the 700th anniversary. I hear Scotland is a Templar Disneyland.” Laughing at the Disneyland reference! Yes, I think it is! I’ll be happy to add you guys to my prayer list.

    Chris

  34. Thomas,

    I won’t presume to know you. I should say that I admire your enthusiasm, but don’t appreciate your awkward aggressiveness. Is it you, or do all good Catholics think the same way? I’m not sure, honestly.

    I will moderate my sarcasm and let chivalry prevail. Some of the sarcasm was tongue in cheek, because, quite honestly, this exchange, in particular as it is manifested in your individual comments, has–I do not intend to be disrespectful–descended into something less than an argument.

    I don’t use the word argument in the sense of a fight, but in the sense of a reasoned discourse, and it seems to me that the very nature of a reasoned discourse might be something you judge to be beneath human dignity, unless there is an attempt to find commonality. It also seems to me that your conversation is itself an attack on reason; hence, I played the part I have been given, which is the stubborn dogmatist who refuses to see anything but the differences. It is not that I refuse to see commonality or devalue it, but I cannot reasonably brook an attack on reason.

    It seems to be that you expect fundamental points in reason to be conceded on behalf of fraternity, while I cannot do this in the interests of fraternity, because, on my part, that would not be honest. It is neither enthusiasm, nor aggressiveness that motivates me, but truth and charity–though I do not pretend to have accomplished my task perfectly.

    I think you exposed yourself when you postured with Aristotelian logic in the way you have. Perhaps someone else can communicate better than I can — but it seems something has a hold on the underlying willingness to expand thought.

    Your logic that something cannot be true and not true at the same time is quite interesting. I’m not sure if you are saying this in jest, or if you truly believe it.

    With all due respect–and here we are touching again upon the nature of argument–your gratuitous criticism of Aristotelian logic betrays a contempt for reason. You think someone might hold the principle of non-contradiction in “jest,” because no sensible person would otherwise hold it? Again, your implication is gratuitous. I would respectfully request that you give me even one validly observable case, in any common or technical experience you like, where the principle of non-contradiction is not verified. Before you do that, you might want to read the exact definition of the principle as I gave it in my last comment.

    Please excuse me from not even responding to the majority of you writings since it would only tend to only degrade the quality of discussion we have had in the last few posts.

    It was the quality of the last few posts which I parodied. I thought that would be obvious. I apologize.

    If and when you have an interest in a friendly exchange of thought I am willing and waiting, but quite honestly, you will have to open up those blinds if you expect anyone to enjoy discourse with you. I’d also rethink your position on women being the weaker sex — these are all so basic and developed more fully.

    Thomas, again, you illustrate my point. You use rhetoric like “open up the blinds” to suggest gratuitously that I am closed minded, when you have presented no argument in favor of that whatsoever. It is though I am not being nice, therefore, I prove myself wrong. The nature of language and human discourse itself shows reason and principled thought, indeed the principle of non-contradiction, to be self-evident. This whole string is meaningless unless you are willing to accept fixed definitions and the possibility of arriving at a conclusion that is true.

    Regarding your box exercise, I will presume that you were not trying to refute the principle of non-contradiction, though it seems you may have been. If you submit that we are all just looking at different “sides of the box” then you need to establish the validity of the use of this analogy relative to regard for religion or whatever topic of you choose. So far, it seems to me that again your suggestion that our views are just from different sides of the box is, again, gratuitous.

    On the contrary, I submit that we are looking at the same side of the box and drawing different conclusions. If in fact you put your four people on the side of the box with the 4, say on a box that you wrote the numbers 1-4, and each one gave a different number, then, I think you would admit there is a problem. We are arguing about the same thing, not different things. To say we are all looking at a box but from different sides is to obfuscate the matter. We are looking at the same side of the box, and we cannot all be right if we do not agree on the number.

    You cannot expect to involve yourself in a true discourse if you are not open to the perspectives and different answers of others. Even if you are willing do die or quash the exercise some piece of you has to value completely opposing reference being part of the same complete truth.

    This is a blog, and I have welcomed the dialog and have invested considerable time, and for the most part I have been cordial, though I have not rolled over. I have quashed nothing. I just disagree with you. On the contrary your method of discourse is a kind of congenial brow beating. I am a bad boy, because I have the presumption to suggest through argument that I might be right and you might be wrong. I respect you, Thomas, enough to be perfectly honest with you.

    I will go a step further in the context of this string and the original posting. After all, I presume if anyone wants to discuss this topic then they are prepared for a rigorous debate. That is both the nature of a blog and the tenor of this post. Christopher and I disagreed wholeheartedly on the nature of Freemasonry and its danger to Catholic belief. I submit again, that your way of thinking is altogether an excellent example of the danger of Freemasonic syncretism. It not only undermines belief in this or that particular creed, but undermines clear thinking. I say that in all charity. The surrender of the mind to sentimentalism is the confusion of thought with emotion. This is a very dangerous thing and when confronted with it, I will be an honorable enemy of it till the bitter end. Nothing else would correspond to the demands of chivalry.

  35. Christopher,

    Guys and Gal!

    Angela, I did not mean to be discourteous and ignore you. Welcome to the discussion. Your reference to the three blind men and the elephant trough me off. I am aware of the story, just not sure why you were using it or what your position, if you have one, is.

    Without going into long discourse at this point, I see the “problem” as being along the lines of “how can the existing organized religions co-exist on this planet created by the God that each of the organized religions claims is THE God.”

    Fair enough. But I don’t think there is any compelling reason to mix, synthesize, or otherwise respect ideas that one has thoughtfully concluded are abhorrent. Quite frankly, in spite the faults of its leader and members, the Catholic Church has been the champion of the dignity of each individual human person, and I am prepared to argue that. I further believe frank disagreements are far better than the abandonment of reason, or the disregard for the differences between religions.

    It seems to me that both the moral bankruptcy of secularism and the travesties of religious fanaticism are the result of abandoning, not only true faith, but reason itself. The inability to make clear reasonable distinctions and to arrive at a moral and metaphysical ground is real cause of our inability of reaching solid common ground.

    Regarding Templar insight, my question really was “what is the essential characteristic of Templar insight”? Are you suggesting that the fact that the Templars were persecuted makes them sort of proto-Protestants or are perhaps perceived that way? If that is the case then Templarism and Freemasonry’s use of the Templar motif is, in fact, a form of protest against the Church. I submit that without the Holy Grail/Ancient Mystery myth the association of Freemasonry and the notions represented by Thomas would make no sense at all. But we have been through all this before. My question implied the assertion that apart from historical Freemasonry “Templar Insight” seems rather vacuous to me.

  36. “Are you suggesting that the fact that the Templars were persecuted makes them sort of proto-protestants…”

    Actually this IS a theory that I am thinking about at the moment. Only its not their persecution so much, as it was the dissolution of their Order. Perhaps instead of proto-protestants, I might describe them as proto-proto-protestants. 😉 Did the Templars CAUSE it…I doubt it, but might they have been a catalyst for change?

    The point being: Catholic monks and lay brothers are arrested in France; through the politics of it all the investigation spreads “world wide” resulting in the dissolution of the Order. Some Templars are absorbed into other Orders, some Templar houses remain the same with merely a name change, some are dispersed to Ireland/Scotland etc. at a time where Scotland is fighting for independence. All Templar posessions are confiscated and disperssed to a rival Order. I can see (and this is speculation) where men who might percieve that they had been abandoned by the church might serve as a catalyst for change. Is this a fact? I HAVE NO CLUE, but it seems a worthwhile scenario to investigate.

    As for it being a form of protest against the church to have Masonic and other Templars. Not so for those who are non-Catholic Christians in the first place, as are the Masonic Templars. Because one chooses to exemplify the chivalric characteristics of the Catholic Templars does NOT make one anti-catholic. I assure you that the Order of the Temple of the KT USA, doesn’t even address the suppression of the Order. It portrays the pilgrimage of a knight on his way to Jerusalem to worship in the Holy Sepluchure and who, along the way, undergoes pilgrimage, warfare, penance, and acceptance into the order. The history of the Order is merely presented AS history during the presentation of an order prior to the representation of the Order of the Temple.

    BUT I will acknowledge that Catholics will find the exemplification of an Order that was dissolved by the Church to be suspect. I will acknowledge that this exemplification being presented by a society that the Church has chosen to “shun” (or whatever more techincal word is appropriate) will be suspect to Catholics. But remember, because Catholics are not participating in Freemasonry there is no one there to teach them about any other perspective.

    SHOULD Catholics be participating in the Freemasons? That’s an individual’s choice and between himself, his church, and his conscience. No interference from me on THAT point. COULD Catholics participate in the Freemasons? (in the absence of the Church’s proclaimations)? Absolutely. WOULD it do good to have Catholics participate as Freemasons. I believe wholeheartedly that it would be beneficial to ALL in numerous ways.

    I AM NOT SUGGESTING, NOR ENCOURAGING, THAT CATHOLICS VIOLATE THEIR TEACHINGS OR BELIEFS. I am merely sharing my perspective of the positives that could come of it. But then again, as a friend says of me, sometimes I am such a Pollyanna. I do try to see the good in all things, perhaps too much at times.

    Chris

  37. Angela, I did not mean to be discourteous and ignore you.

    Not to worry; I am not feeling slighted in the least.

    Welcome to the discussion. Your reference to the three blind men and the elephant trough me off. I am aware of the story, just not sure why you were using it or what your position, if you have one, is.

    I was simply acknowledging Chris’ statement about the different perspectives. I was raised Prootestant and wholeheartedly and energetically practiced my faith, believing it to be THE faith. As a young adult I was drawn into the Catholic faith, moved, I believe, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and having the local Poor Clares as a concrete witness to that faith; in the Catholic faith I believe I have found the fulness of truth. I know many people of good faith and good will who firmly believe likewise of their religion. Coming from this background and perspective, my point was that I can understand how Christians from different backgrounds can be at different ends of the same elephant, so to speak. (As to non-Christians who worship God in good faith, I leave that in the hands of God; it is not in my power to either condone their religion or to condemn them.) I was not specifically trying to make a statement, just giving a nod to Chris’ comment.

  38. Chris,

    I laughed at your reference to being called a Pollyanna; having read the book many times (and firmly believing that it should be “required reading”), I’ve never been sure why that is used as a put-down. I especially love the passage where she recounts that her father, a minister, was feeling so “down” that he went through the Bible and actually counted up the “rejoicing texts” – coming to the conclusion that “if God told took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it!” The world could use more “rejoicing Christians”! How can we expect to be witnesses of the Good News if we don’t live as if we believe it?!? Keep looking for the good, and rejoicing in it!

  39. ========
    No, we don’t need to “expand past ‘religion’ as we know it” in order to “seek a pure spiritual level of thinking which is outside our capability.” The Catholic mystical tradition, with St. Gertrude, St. Bernard, St. Francis, St. Bonaventure, Bl. John Duns Scotus, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Peter Alcantara, St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and on and on and on, were all committed Catholics who would have died for their faith, and were mystics of the first order.
    ========

    Not to reference a comment made too far back, but it seems a failure point in this discussion repeatedly goes back to Catholicism (religion), Freemasonry (not religious venue) and Templarism (not religious) and not to mention “a priori” concepts and beyond that are completely impossible as long as we are bound by any reference to religion or percepts or thoughts within our realm as we can comprehend it.

    In my mind, as long as you flex religion in this dialogue it is meaningful and reflects extremely essential elements of our stability in this world — but defeatist.

    I see strong presentations regarding Freemasonry which I don’t think are intended to oppose religion, but dwell beyond it because it does not have the structural binds since it is not a religion. The same with Templar thoughts and any higher level philosophy. The whole point is to seek knowledge, enlightenment, experience — largely as thought, as an effort to gain a higher spiritual awareness and closeness with God, as well as others.

    Any comment that references reasoning or logic or any other process that we can relate to simply shows it’s limitations because they are based on the mixing, merging, sifting and sorting of concepts, perceptions and experience — but we’re talking past that.

    Religion is wonderful, if you think that it is the be all, end all parameters for thought, reason, logic and our existence — good for you — you have found your high point and can bathe in your world to it’s fullest the rest of your life. I not only respect that, but I am almost jealous that you found the end of the rainbow.

    But I am different (not wrong) in that one day I felt that I must answer to a higher power (however defined) and explain why I did or did not ask, seek, study, think, and grow to the GREATEST OF MY POTENTIAL. We are all different, so an effort to learn with sincere motivation toward God (rather than a man-made religion) is an adventitious opportunity toward a more complete spiritual existence.

  40. Ummm…Tom? You do realize you’re on a Catholic blog here? Hosted by a Catholic friar? OF COURSE the discussion will repeatedly go back to Catholicism. You might as well stop banging your head against the wall, and trying the good friar’s patience in the process. It is HIS blog, set up, I presume, to promote HIS viewpoint. The rest of us are visitors here, and are here to learn from his point of view.

  41. Thomas,

    I can do nothing other than be frank with you. I cannot begin to imagine why you would trouble yourself to post here if you are not going to engage in a real exchange of ideas. I am flabbergasted that you continually suggest that I am unwilling to engage in real dialog, when you continue to talk in generalities and make assertions which you are unwilling to substantiate.

    I have read what you have written and tried to comment on what you have actually said, yet when you respond to me, you either dismiss what I have said out of hand, or you just ignore my comments and questions altogether.

    Not to reference a comment made too far back, but it seems a failure point in this discussion repeatedly goes back to Catholicism (religion), Freemasonry (not religious venue) and Templarism (not religious) and not to mention “a priori” concepts and beyond that are completely impossible as long as we are bound by any reference to religion or percepts or thoughts within our realm as we can comprehend it.

    In my mind, as long as you flex religion in this dialogue it is meaningful and reflects extremely essential elements of our stability in this world — but defeatist.

    I have asked you several times what statements such as this one mean. This is absolutely obscurantist unless you are willing to explain yourself.

    Any comment that references reasoning or logic or any other process that we can relate to simply shows it’s limitations because they are based on the mixing, merging, sifting and sorting of concepts, perceptions and experience — but we’re talking past that.

    I really don’t see why you would bother to discuss anything with anyone if you so flippantly disregard reason and logic. Talking past reason and logic? Are you talking about faith? If so, then what you believe in or are searching in is merely your form of religion.

    Religion is wonderful, if you think that it is the be all, end all parameters for thought, reason, logic and our existence — good for you — you have found your high point and can bathe in your world to it’s fullest the rest of your life. I not only respect that, but I am almost jealous that you found the end of the rainbow.

    But I am different (not wrong) in that one day I felt that I must answer to a higher power (however defined) and explain why I did or did not ask, seek, study, think, and grow to the GREATEST OF MY POTENTIAL. We are all different, so an effort to learn with sincere motivation toward God (rather than a man-made religion) is an adventitious opportunity toward a more complete spiritual existence.

    You assume too much when you imply that anyone who has arrived at religious certitude has not sufficiently sought, studied thought and grown. You have not offered one shred of evidence for the value of your skepticism.

  42. My greatest respect to religion and Catholicism — this may sound brash because the point of it is what I want to share. My apologies if it is taken too strongly…

    Yes — but by mere exchange with the world (it is a blog, not a personal diary) you must be capable of thinking outside yourself — but again, that’s why it is defeatist.

    It is a shame that anyone would not welcome anything that is not self serving.

    All it means is that the Friar should not take on issues that extend beyond his faith because it leaves him in a dysfunctional state if he can’t step outside.

    But your right Catholic, Catholic, Catholic — there is no reason to go beyond… then why even mention Freemasonry, Templarism or anything like them. What is the point — it’s my blog, I’ll throw at jab and then cry foul when they are not playing by my rules…

    Just keep in mind that this blog is entitled TEMPLAR BALONEY EVERY BIT. What is that — either a challenge or a terribly offensive jab. I took it as someone that was willing to play with the big dogs — not someone who would whine about hurting his religious feelings.

    Again, my intent is not to be offensive — just to share candid thoughts.

  43. Thomas,

    I am fine with letting you post and say what you want. Your words speak for themselves. I am not afraid of having the readers of this blog make up their own minds.

    If at some point you wish to do something other than engage in emotional blackmail I will be happy to continue the discussion.

    Again, my intent is not to be offensive — just to share candid thoughts.

    Ditto.

  44. Thanks for letting — your words speak for themselves.

    I won’t bother to confuse the issue.

    Feel free to delete this note if you wish.

    Tom

  45. All,

    I will point out this is a religious blog. I would expect a defense and assertion of the religion of the blog. If we wish to

    have a discussion that excludes religion we should move to a different group. I wish to explore and learn more about the perspectives of Fr. Angelo’s group. And perhaps debate some of the ideas along the way not for the purpose of winning, but for the purposes of exploring perspectives. I don’t care if the “other guy” changes his mind…I just want to

    see what’s in it.

    My perspective that religion is the PRACTICE of faith, with faith being deeply held beliefs owned as Truth. From this

    perspective the “flexing of the practice of faith” may be defeating to the purposes of exploring faith.

    For example (not based on any event in reality) I want to learn about the faith of the Mongolian Mountain Men’s Monestary.

    (No, I am not picking on the Catholics–I just like the alliteration of the MMMM….it’s MMMM good. Sorry…). I want to

    know what their faith is–what they hold to be “Truth”. I am told “we stand on our heads and meditate 26 hours a day. This

    is how we find God.” I find this confusing and “out of touch with reality” as I know it. How can they do this, there aren’t 26 hours IN a day. This has told me much about their practices, but little about the faith that their practice exercises.

    In this way focusing on the PRACTICE of faith can be a stumbling block to learning ABOUT the faith of another. This is

    precisely why I asked Fr. Angelo to define “Catholic Faith” for me, for I was completely in the dark about it. In turn I

    provided excerpts from the Southern Baptist Faith and Message. These are things that we each hold as truth. Each of these

    “faiths” is held to be truth by the individual holding it.

    I believe where a lot of the confusion comes to play is when people hold in mind “THE faith” What is the “ultimately simple

    absolute truth.” It is my belief that this was best answered when Jesus replied to a similar question with 1) Love GOD with

    EVERYTHING that you have; 2) Love your neighbor as you love yourself [Aside–I like to type this as 2a) Love yourself,

    2b) love others. I like to list Love self first because without love of self it is most difficult to love others]; and in

    all things FIRST seek the kingdom–the ruling authority–of God. It seems to me that Jesus taught these as the basic FAITH

    and that everything else that we add to this–the SBC Faith, the Catholic faith, the Mongolian Mountain Men’s Monestary

    faith 😉 SOMETIMES gets in the way of the basics–Love God, Love Self, Love Others, FIRST seek the authority of God. Other

    religions teach similar, if not the same, basics. It is in the details of HOW to practice the basics, I believe, where we most differ.

    Just for the fun of it, since this is a chivalrous group as well as religious, lets look at it this way. IF we were to want to learn the art of sword fighting to better prepare us for war, which is THE true way of sword fighting? Is it European fencing? Is it Japanese Kendo? Is it Celtic Claymore fighting? Is it Greek Hoplite style? Roman Gladius style? Is it perhaps a style which I am unaware of…say the Mongolian Mountin Men Monastic style? 😉 Which is the true way of sword fighting for the purposes of winning at war? I think the answer is that the different styles suit different people in different ways at different times and under different circumstances. Does that make any style less purposeful than another? As long as the purpose is fulfilled–in this case the art of sword fighting to better prepare us for war.

    Now, lets substitute purposes. 1) Love God, 2) Love self, Love others; Seek FIRST the kingdom of God. If one is going about those purposes with sincere heart, mind, soul, and being; which style is the TRUE way of going about this? I think that the answer is similar, if not the same. Hence, I seek to tolerate each individual’s walk on the path of Loving God, Loving self, Loving others, and seeking God. I will offer what help that I may.

    Regarding “finding the end of the rainbow”: Love God. Seek God. Knock and the Door shall be opened unto you. God will help take care of the rest. There is no “end of the rainbow”. In fact, I believe it has been scientfically demonstrted that the rainbow is ACTUALLy a circle. When one is high enough in the sky to be well above the horizon, the rainbow becomes a circle of colored light. Since it doesn’t end, keep on loving, seeking and asking and you will keep learning more, and more.

    ===================================================
    We are all different, so an effort to learn with sincere motivation toward God (rather than a man-made religion) is an

    adventitious opportunity toward a more complete spiritual existence.
    ===================================================

    Agreed.

    Chris

  46. All,

    I apologize, Thomas, for being irritable.

    All of this is just an illustration why Catholic faith is incompatible with the line of thinking represented here in opposition to mine. I will not be so bold as to suggest that both of you, Christopher and Thomas, have the same positions, but you do hold a common ground that is irreconcilable to what I have represented.

    I know there are plenty of Catholics who are Masons or who would otherwise say that I only speak for myself; there are also plenty of Catholics who completely disregard the Church’s prohibition against Masonic membership and who also reject the Church’s teaching on faith and morals.

    I agree there is speculative common ground if we attempt to reduce the faith to an absolute simplicity such as

    I believe where a lot of the confusion comes to play is when people hold in mind “THE faith” What is the “ultimately simple

    absolute truth.” It is my belief that this was best answered when Jesus replied to a similar question with 1) Love GOD with

    EVERYTHING that you have; 2) Love your neighbor as you love yourself [Aside–I like to type this as 2a) Love yourself,

    2b) love others. I like to list Love self first because without love of self it is most difficult to love others]; and in

    all things FIRST seek the kingdom–the ruling authority–of God. It seems to me that Jesus taught these as the basic FAITH

    In the end, however, without any definitions, such as who God is, who my neighbor is and what love is, the common ground might establish a dialog, as it has here, but it does not really answer the fundamental questions.

    What we really disagree about the the value of having an answer to those fundamental questions. At least in Thomas’ case, raising the question as to the nature of truth and its attainability or the question of the possibility of certitude and conclusions appears to be essentially defeatist.

    If this were really the case, I could not even begin to imagine why someone would want to be a Catholic, let alone a friar.

    In all sincerity, it is not the communication of a challenge to my faith that gets my hackles up, but the syncretistic refusal to define anything or to commit oneself to any position.

    This touches not so much on the truth of the Catholic faith, but on the possibility of having any meaningful discourse on any level, ever.

    Perhaps later today I will start a new thread on the nature of truth and the possibility of attaining it.

  47. Pingback: A Breath of Fresh Common Sense from Chesterton « Mary Victrix

  48. Pingback: Templar Baloney Revisited « Mary Victrix

  49. Your interpretation of the facts are at best based on lack of qualified information. Yes, a few Templars did confess under great torture. And yes, the almighty Catholic Church did murder these men for their confessions.

    However; it should be also noted that the same so called ‘church’ benefacted the entire order into the Hospitalers, and transferred the entire order; members, land, and wealth into thier own order. So, it seems the so called ‘church’ wasn’t above forgiveness as long as the gold kept flowing.

    I suggest you read ‘Born in Blood’ which outlines these facts quite factually. It is not great secret and frankly i’m suprised that you would address the issue without being aware that it has already been examined to its end by those who are actually qualified and studied on the matter.

    Again, the title is ‘Born in Blood’. $27 at Amazon books.

  50. Jonathan,

    Thanks for dropping in from the Masonic Matrix.

    You present an argument based on a logical fallacy known as the appeal to authority. I am sorry but I do not subscribe to it.

    In any case, I think it would be in the interests of full disclosure to advise my readers that the author of the book you recommend is a propagandist for Freemasonry. I don’t believe this of itself disqualifies his opinions, but just as I think the readers of this blog have a right to know that its author is a Catholic priest, so I think those who take your suggestion under consideration should know that the author you recommend is the founder of the Masonic Information Center.

    Might I suggest a more neutral author, whose scholarly credentials and lack of agenda is unquestionable: Malcolm Barber? I must admit that I admire his work because somehow he has manage not to be possessed by the spirits of the literary Templars.

    I am not even sure why you object to anything I have said. I am not even sure you read what I had to say.

    In any case, I am not an enemy of the historical Templars, only the fictionalized ones.

    Finally, why should the Church not have transferred the properties of the Templars to Hospitalers? The Order of the Temple was a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church. All property of religious orders belong to the Church. It’s always been that way.

    No Jonathon, I don’t believe the Templars were the guardians of the ancient mysteries nor that the Freemasons are their rightful descendants; neither do qualified historians.

  51. I will address each point individually.

    The Ancient Templars were not enemies of ‘The Church’ the only recognized church at the time – until they were persecuted by a false and corrupt Pope at the decree of the King of France. – This is a common known fact.

    After the ‘Church’ began to falsely persecute the Templars, the members fled to England and Scotland where they could live in virtual protection of those crowns as those crowns were all to happy to leave the corrupt Church behind. Many of the Templars integrated into the Hospitalers Order after this event.

    The Templars were an order of the Church but autonymous in authority of their kingdom answering to the Pope himself. To understand why their property shouldnt have been taken one need only understand that the corrupt pope placed into power by a college of cardinals appointed by the King of France was a false pope who violating his authority and his oath. Hence, any bulls he issued were without holy authority. And that is how they saw it as well.

    2. The author of said book is neither a Freemason nor does he claim to be. He also does not propogandize as a figurehead of our order. He is merely a scholor who has taken it upon his acedemic duty to denounce many falacies written by anti-masonic authors who clearly haven’t a clue about what they are writing about. One of his primary victims of ignorance is the author of ‘The Davinci Code’. Many anti-masonic authors enjoy the quick dollar earned at the expense of the ignorant and enchantised.

    I do believe by your statement that you have mistaken the author of the book I recommended for the man you claim to be the so called catholic priest. You got it backwards. *** Re-Read that last sentence before you go off the deep end.

    3. What many do not understand by the lack of the public knowledge of the connection of Ancient Templars and the modern order of Freemasonry is that the lack of public information on the matter is no accident at all. It was a neccessary tool to those men then, and even moreso as recently as the 1940’s. Even today many Freemasons are citizens of governments where their very membership could cost their lives.

    4. As far as ancient mysteries. I do not understand how someone who is neither a Freemason, a Templar, or even a Hospitalar; no matter who they are or what PHD they consider qualifies them… can remotely begin to speak on the topic at all.

    My basic postion is that unless said person is a qualified member, and if said person was; they certainly wouldnt be sharing the said ‘secrets’ for the low price of $19.95 at Amazon Books for all the bloogers on the internet to be satisfied as if they were deserving of the answers by some devine right.

    The common know fact of the case is as such; hence never was a secret nor is it now. Templars manifested into the Hospitaler Order to escape the Papal Bull Warrant for their execution based on greed and false charges. The Templars as well as the Hospitalers exist today without any more or less fanfare than they did long ago.

    Aside from Masonic History; any first year college student can learn of the peasants revolt of 1281; which was in fact organized by the Templars/Freemasons/Hospitalers to escape Catholic persecutions.

    The facts of this couln’t be any less easy to understand by studying basic history books that have absolutely nothing to do with Freemasons or their oportunistic enemies seeking to make a quick buck off a paperback novel taken by some as the secret truths of the society.

    Plainly; I find it laughably rediculous to consider any of these paper-back scholars as an informed authority on the subject. If you want to learn the mysteries of Freemasonry or the Templars, simply become a member. Theres isnt a ring of fire to stop anyone, nor is their a temple of doom to survive using a treasure map.

    Isn’t it funny how a belief is the only enemy of truth and fact. 1+1 is always 2 and nothing including beliefs can change that. The same answer applies to anyone who is uniformed yet refuses to acknowledge a truth when given it.

    1+1 = 2 and The templars became freemasons (1281) as well as Hospitalers.

    One more masonic secret for the road… The Earth isn’t flat.

    Aside from my reply above; i’m very concerned that you would wrongly identify the author I noted in my forst post. This leads me to believe you have read neither of the works mentioned. If that is true then you should indeed read both to have a basic understanding of the merits of this discussion.

    My goal here was simply to correct fact from misconception. Fact is fact and lip-service is only lip-service. I hope my information causes at least one knowledge seeker to obtain material from qualified sources rather than skim blogs alone for their source of information. No offense to blogs of course.

  52. Jonathan,

    I really don’t have time to go tit for tat with you on this subject which I have already spoken of at length. If you had actually read my posts and comments on “Templar Baloney” you would know that I agree that the Templars were treated unjustly by Clement V and Philip IV.

    The whole string of posts and comments have had to do with the Chinon Parchment and the way in which the press jumped on the attempts of certain Templar pretenders to sensationalize and misinterpret the parchment to further their ends and bad mouth the Church.

    I will address your points briefly, but perhaps then we can agree to disagree and let our readers decide for themselves. Neither one of us are experts on the matter, we both rely on the opinions of those who claim to be. So far you have not offered any real evidence for your assertions so why should I be worried that you don’t think I am qualified? Quod gratis affirmatur, gratis negatur. What is gratuitously affirmed may be gratuitously denied.

    1. I invite the readers to find out if any serious historian considers Clement V to be an invalid pope, regardless of his relationship with Philip IV or any unjust deeds he may have committed. The property of the Templars belonged to the Church, it remained with the Church.

    It is a bit anachronistic to say that the Templars received protection from princes who were “happy to leave the corrupt church behind.” At the time, even in Scotland, there was no Christian religion except the Catholic one, unless you assert that the Catholic religion was itself a corruption of the true religion of Jesus Christ and the Templars were the guardians of the lost truth about Christianity. But that begs the question.

    2. The author of the book you recommended, John J. Robinson, was the founder of the Masonic Information Center and at the end of his life became a Mason. This fact is not hidden knowledge.

    I am the Catholic priest, “the author of this blog” of which I spoke. Please read my comments before you comment.

    3. Your assertion that “the lack of public knowledge of the connection of Ancient Templars with the modern order of Freemasonsry” actually proves something is by definition the logical fallacy of “conspiracy theory.” The only thing that a lack of knowledge proves is that a conclusion reached on that basis is irrational. Again, for the sake of our readers, I suggest they read any serious secular historian on the subject who has no axe to grind. The claims of the Freemasons in this regard are laughable.

    4. My admittedly limited knowledge of the ancient mysteries does not come from any pot boiler or paper back. You assume too much. And why should I not speak of what I know? or should that only be reserved for the initiates of your gnosis?

    The Knights Hospitaler or the Knights of Malta, exist to today because they have continuity with the ancient order. In other words the ancient order and the modern order are one and the same Catholic institution. As the Order of Knights Templar received its juridical existence from the Roman Catholic Church it ceased to exist when it was suppressed by the same Church. That is the unfortunate but inescapable fact.

    No college student is going to learn that the Peasants Revolt of 1381 was organized by the Templars, Freemasons and Hosptitalers unless the professor is using Born in Blood, by John J. Robinson. And this is precisely my point. You assert as common scholarly knowledge something which is not held by the body of professional academics, but by a single person, or a handful of persons, who have been committed to the promotion of Freemasonry.

    These claims are unique to Robinson and are warily received by professional scholars of the period.

    .

  53. I dont get it why are you so interested in templars?
    Anyway Angela said :
    ““Is God limited by the parameters of our logic or representation of religion?”

    Of course God is not limited by us; it is rather He who defined the parameters of our knowledge of HImself, through the Law, the Prophets, and especially in His Incarnation. It is through Jesus Himself (”He who has seen me has seen the Father.”) and His teachings that He leads us into all truth and knowledge of Himself.” etc etc
    I wonder why people always start by thinking that what they were told is true…” Hey god exists and all the stuff on the book is righteous and was real !”.i still do not understand why with so much things written about faith and reasons no one tries to understand that they are just being delusional in bielieving upon faith…with no doubts….oh yeah ” FAITH IS GOOD” ….and about truth…
    “All personal “knowledge” is in vain if it does not spring from, and lead back to, the Truths that God has chosen to reveal to us.” <- what is that suppposed to mean…???Ok stay ignorant just follow what the bible say and dont try to acquire a methodology to acquire more knowledge , if you really tought we are limited being you should have long ago understood that having a firm “faith” is the worst thing ever….

  54. IIz0,

    You seem to think you have religious people figured out–that we are mindless–robots. The problem is that I don’t detect an argument in your last comment.

  55. IIz0,

    I am interested in the Templars because I am interested in chivalry. I post on the modern Templar inanity, because it is contrary to fact and harmful to people’s spiritual welfare.

  56. “You seem to think you have religious people figured out–that we are mindless–robots. The problem is that I don’t detect an argument in your last comment.” No but it seems you think i think i have religious people figured out the argument is that you do not doubt your faith (from what i know from people here at least ) while doutbt ,observation experimentation and complete honesty is what reason tend to why cant you just say “i dont know” when u know you dont ?Ok this is simple trust i know i know one cant live without trust…

  57. Being that I am no longer a Catholic (which has absolutely nothing to do with my Masonic Membership); I must ask a few basic questions:

    1. Why does the church continue to label a secular religion to the word ‘Faith’ rather than the word ‘religion’. Faith is spiritual and Religion is a man made concept.

    2. What answer does the Catholic Church give to the atrocities it has committed against the Templars, Masons, and innocent human beings throughout its existance? If the numbers were tallied it would be easy to see more humans have died at the Churches edicts than all of WWII.

    3. Why does the Catholic Church continue to ignorantly slander the Freemasons by making outlandish remarks and informing its followers that Freemasonry is eveil, worships a false god (we worship the same God you do), and is anti-catholic? It appears that centuries later not much has changed with the Church in this regard.

    What is most strange to me on the question is the fact that many Catholic Cardinals and Bishops have been throughout history and are currently now members of the Freemasons, Templars, and appendant bodies of our order. Freemasonry is not a religion and does not practice religion in our lodge or elsewhere. So i do not understand why the Church states otherwise. History and facts have answered my question before; but i’m curious why it continues today in 2008.

    Would the catholic church condone my murder for the ‘sake of my or anothers spiritual welfare’? If the answer is no then why did the church assist in the persecution of freemasons in 1940 (Germany).

    I do not make this post for the sake of an argument. I’m asking these questions speficially for the official answer that I may then use when asked myself by others.

    Sidenote – Freemasonry isn’t promoted. Honestly the best thing for Freemasonry would be that the Catholic Church forget it exist.

  58. IIz0,

    You seem to think that a lack of certitude is a virtue of reason, as though a state of mental flux is the desired result of the process of reason. When evidence is lacking, doubt has its place, but as Chesterton said:

    When we hear of a man too clever to believe, we are hearing of something having almost the character of a contradiction in terms. It is like hearing of a nail that was too good to hold down a carpet; or a bolt that was too strong to keep a door shut.

  59. “When we hear of a man too clever to believe, we are hearing of something having almost the character of a contradiction in terms. It is like hearing of a nail that was too good to hold down a carpet; or a bolt that was too strong to keep a door shut.” Wait What ?
    “You seem to think that a lack of certitude is a virtue of reason, as though a state of mental flux is the desired result of the process of reason.” What????? You need to reformulate that because with my poor english i cant understand that my point was clear .When you dont know say you dont… When you know all you have is no certain dont claim is truth….where is the need for big words there? x_x

  60. Oh by the way the thing called “common sense” is a relative matter ,its just what the majority of the population thinks as “normal” and it passed on by cultural interactions and is not as complex as ethics ,sciences etc etc it was common sense to think that the earth was plane on the middle age or that the women are less intelligent than men a few years ago…

  61. IIz0v3,

    Chesterton puts it this way: The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions; if it cannot come to conclusions it is rusty.

    Also common sense is not relative. That’s what makes it common. Flat earth theory has nothing to do with common sense. It was merely a common opinion.

    It is common sense to believe that certitude is possible; that something can’t be true and false at one and the same time and under the same respect; that good is to be done and evil is to be avoided; that the ordinary manners of decency and courtesy are not wholly arbitrary, but truly human. Stuff like that.

  62. Jonathan,

    I really don’t mean to be disrespectful or cantankerous. I will try to engage in an honorable debate.

    I find it odd that you should argue that I am not qualified to have an opinion on these matters and then make all kinds of gratuitous statements that you expect me to assume are true, without you having provided any evidence for your position.

    In regard to the supposed Church perpetrated atrocities and persecutions of the Masons, you again posit a logical fallacy called the double question. Its like walking into an office and asking someone you don’t like: How often do you beat your wife?” No matter what the person answers, you have already sowed the seed of doubt, without offering any evidence. In this case your method is particularly effective and nefarious because anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice.

    No human institution has perdured as long as the Catholic Church nor done as much good throughout the world. That is a fact. Not even the Shriners can hold a candle to the charitable work the Church has done and continues to do throughout the world.

    Nor has any human institution, no matter how honorable, that has lasted even half as long as the Catholic Church has, been pristine always in its fidelity to its ideals. In fact, the higher the ideals the more likely human frailty has been to show itself. It is the particular vice of religious people to be hypocrites, precisely because the aspire to a very high standard of morality. We are judged more severely. So be it.

    But its always the evils the Church has done. Never the good. Anti-Catholicism is alive and well.

    Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong alone did more evil during the twentieth century in the name of atheism than the whole Catholic Church did in the whole of its history in the name of God. We still hear all the myths about the Crusades and the Inquisition. Not that wrong was not done, but that the story is so exaggerated in the popular bigoted legend, that people just assume that anything horrible stated about the Church must be true.

    If the numbers were tallied it would be easy to see more humans have died at the Churches edicts than all of WWII.

    Can you substantiate that? Do you even feel any responsibility to do so when you make a statement like that?

    In regard to the Cardinals, bishops and priests who are enrolled in the brotherhood, that only lends itself to the interpretation that the Lodge is truly dedicated to the destruction of the Church. The Church has undergone more turmoil, suffered more defection and lost more faith and devotion in the last 40 years than in any other period since probably the Arian Heresy.

    I have been through the “Masonry is not a religion” thing before ad nauseum (comments above). I don’t buy it. Catholics who have joined the Lodge have lost their faith. Generic religion, call it “faith” if you like, is incompatible with Catholicism. BTW, your rejection of religion for faith is really very characteristic of Freemasonry. “Lets just sift out the spirituality from all religions and savor the essence of the divine.” That, my friend, is just your brand of religion, even if you don’t like calling it by its proper name. So no, I don’t buy the non-religious character of Freemasonry.

    I do not make this post for the sake of an argument. I’m asking these questions speficially for the official answer that I may then use when asked myself by others.

    PALEASE!

  63. hhm Frangelo you are mistaken common sense and common opionion is the exact same thing you are just trying to make it as deep as a real reflexion but its not common sense is merely scratching the surface of reason by saying “we are many to bieleve that so it may be true” but oh well watever

    “Chesterton puts it this way: The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions; if it cannot come to conclusions it is rusty.” Again you are making conclusion without thinking of the very limitation of the mind and sense while saying this as if the so called conclusions would be realitiy itself and sometimes the only conclusion you can make is “i dont know” if you think you know everything then….you are being delusional , or maybe simply lack humility.And the human brain have many other vegetative functions too~. And yeah something cant be true and false at the same time , but “common sense” is still just opinion shared by the many without the need of further reflexion , you should change expression because “common sense” is not what you want to express. You have like a “universal truth all applies” on your mind but you should already know that the diversity of cultures make that very relative , at least even while doing what we think of as bad they are still coherent organised societies.

  64. Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong alone did more evil during the twentieth century in the name of atheism than the whole Catholic Church did in the whole of its history in the name of God. <– “in the name of atheism” lol no in the name of their whole ideology but it seems that what you can only see is the “atheist” part of it thats sad to see only what you want to and hum u cant compare our tiny twentieth century and the hundred years of church domination europe wide , if you added the kills the church would win the titlte of the most killed you know?

  65. 1. I did not lose my faith . I certainly did give up the teachings of the Catholic Church for many reasons, none of which have a thing to do with Masonry.

    2. My statement concerning ‘tallied’ is the general sum total of 1500 years of said atrocities – i.e. Crusades, Torture, Imprisonment, Inquisitions, Hollocaust culpability etc. I don’t need to drone out the requested facts in this post lest it would be a mile long. I simply refer anyone to Google for a quick skim of History.

    3. You have proven my thoughts that it is fact the Church not Masonry that is the inciter of the fued concerning ‘Masonry is or is not a religion’. Frankly, i find it laughable and really can make no comment that would convince you. In that regard I will not defend the obvious.

    4. My brand of religion? Frankly its opinions born of the religion you practice that drove me from your ‘religion’ in the first place. I am not now nor ever was required to kneel to any human on this earth for salvation including the pope. So says Jesus the Christ. Honestly, I can do without any religion that oppresses humans no matter the reason up to and including the person who simply denounces and or leaves your religion. That said, please do not insult me by assuming that I am a fool that would follow any man made secular religion. I practice faith, i read my bible, and I do not kneel or kiss the hand of any man on this earth, no matter if his considers himself king of a religion or not.

    5. I’m not anti-catholic. I’m just a guy that avoids organized religious zealots at all cost. Frankly I see no difference between the Catholic Churches history and Hezzbolla. Both claim to offfer benevolence, both have killed many people, both claim the knowledge or salvation beyond the teachings of the bible.

    Freemasons are not anti-catholic. We aren’t pro-catholic either. Nor are we pro- any religion. I know its hard when your stubborn to understand something but I cant say it any clearer. We dont care what ‘religion’ a man practices. It doesnt involve anything we do. Freemasonry isnt a church, a religion, or a cult. It isnt remotely conected in any way shape or form to anything that even the thickest brain could call a religion or any form. I’m only a 32 degree, so perhaps the pope knows more than I about the order I belong to. Perhaps you do also. Perhaps, just perhaps you read a paperback expose that exposed every single Masonic Secret we have and somehow I did not get a copy. (laughs loudly)

    As far as Catholic Charities – You are probably near correct. With the billions collected each year I wouldnt doubt that the charities are well supported. The irony in that is the Masonic Order currently has less than 8 million members and built and funds our many shriners hospitals with our own money and ZERO outside donations or funding. I won’t waste space speaking of the nursing homes, learning centers etc. All completely paid for, all continuously funded by the order alone.

    6. I do not believe the world is flat. I also do not waste my time debating religions that I do not follow. I simply corrected you on a few facts concerning Masonry.

    In closing, I have completed my input and have no desire to discuss religion. I leave you with a smile and a sincere desire that you examine how you interact with people who do not agree with your ‘understandings’. I dont care to care what you believe or do not believe in regards to what religion you practice, however I hope you refresh yourself on a bit of History 101. My statements would be no different if you were a Baptist, Muslim, or Geeche’.

    Best Regards

  66. Pingback: The Truth « Mary Victrix

  67. The American splinter neo-group ex-OSMTH called themselves “Supreme”(started in 1995) but instead they mistakenly registered themselves in the UN as Sovereign, they then later realised their mistake but couldn’t go back on it and now hide behind statements like “Our official name is Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani, Latin for “The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem”, and often shortened to the initials OSMTH or SMOTJ.” Which is just an erroneous translation which does not recognise they are translating the Belgian / French SMOTJ …not the latin OSMTH…and also shows they have never been admitted or affiliated to the SMOTJ. They don’t seem to know what it stands for.
    So they still utilise the group they broke away from (OSMTH) name “ Sovereign” instead of their own OSMTH USA’s “Supreme”
    as shown here.
    http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/ngo/ to get the name of Portuguese Order they split from in print as a ngo in the UN….as their own name was easily proven to be a false neo-group.
    In their own internal literature they correct this, but the UN still believes they are dealing with the ancient Order and not masons. I am not sure why they do this as I am confident the United Nations would be only too happy to deal with them as any group as long as healthy sponsorship was involved.

  68. sorry Jonathon you seem to be very confused.

    firstly….. masons are not the historical Knight Templars and can never be….as per the numerous still active Papal bulls….

    They all state that Freemasonry is incompatible with Christianity…just a plain simple truth…ecumenical or not. Besides they didn’t exist as anything but a guild until the mid 1700’s.
    The Masons have trademarked the term though… and are Knight Templars of Masonry…nothing to do with the Christian historical links.

    Second this is further proven by the writing of (the then Freemason head of Scotland) Albert Mackey in chapter x and xxix of his published history of Scottish masonry in Scotland….he admits it’s a false claim…and uses the information he has found on real Templars to invent the York rite …based upon this found information…..about 1870 odd he published it.

    Thirdly the Masons are not bad or evil people just because they are masons…

    They just they do not have and can never can have true Templar links, they are very generous in charity and worthy of praise for these deeds though and have used a name they erroneously thought defunct to start a new group within their ranks.
    Since Freemasonry became more than a guild in the 1700’s the Catholic Church has set to separate itself from these misguided souls, http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Clem12/c15inemengl.htm since the eight Popes have specifically proclaimed freemasonry is incompatible with Christianity.

    Benedict XIV, Providas, May 18, 1751, Pius VII, Ecclesiam, Sept. 13, 1821, Leo XIII [XII], Quo graviora, March 13, 1825, Pius VIII, May 21, 1829, Gregory XVI, Mirari, Aug. 15, 1832, Pius IX, Qui pluribus, Nov. 9, 1846, Quibus quantisque malis, April 20, 1849, Quanta cura, Dec. 8, 1864, Multiplices inter, Sept. 25, 1865, Apostolicae Sedis, Oct. 12, 1869, Esti multa, Nov. 21, 1873, Leo XIII, Esti nos, Feb. 15, 1882, Humanum genus, April 20, 1884 , Ab Apostolici, Oct. 15, 1890, Praeclara, June 20, 1894, Annum ingressi, March 18, 1902 and so on ..right up to todays Pope on the On 26th of November 1983 the now Pope Benedict XV1 issued a Declaration on Masonic Associations (cf AAS LXXVI (1984),300.Page 3

    As published in The Evening Times (P15, 9/12/1996) Vatican direction from 1979 (via the Vatican’s Canon Johanes Becker) till today demands that any Templar Order be free of Masons.

    The Vatican’s Cardinal Ratzinger (Now the Pope) also specifically mentions neo-orders such as OSMTHU and the USA Masonic led OSMTH as never to be recognized in a 2007 edict.

    But this makes it very clear…

    On 26th of November 1983 the now Pope Benedict XV1 issued a Declaration on Masonic Associations (cf AAS LXXVI (1984),300.Page 3


    Quaesitum est
    English Translation of a Latin Document from the Sacred Congregation
    for the Doctrine of the Faith November 26, 1983

    It has been asked whether there has been any change in the Church’s decision in regard to Masonic associations since the new Code of Canon Law does not mention them expressly, unlike the previous code.
    This sacred congregation is in a position to reply that this circumstance is due to an editorial criterion which was followed also in the case of other associations likewise unmentioned inasmuch as they are contained in wider categories.
    Therefore, the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic associations remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and, therefore, membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful, who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.
    It is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations which would imply a derogation from what has been decided above, and this in line with the declaration of this sacred congregation issued Feb. 17,1981
    In an audience granted to the undersigned cardinal prefect, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II approved and ordered the publication of this declaration which had been decided in an ordinary meeting of this sacred congregation.
    Rome, from the Office of the Sacred Congregation
    for the Doctrine of the Faith, Nov. 26, 1983
    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect
    Father Jerome Hamer, O.P., Titular Archbishop of Lorium, Secretary
    1. Cf. AAS 73 (1981) pp. 240-241. “

    Or
    Clarification Concerning
    Status of
    Catholics Becoming Freemasons
    Issued by the Office of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, February 17, 1981.
    ________________________________________
    On 19 July 1974 this Congregation wrote to some Episcopal Conferences a private letter concerning the interpretation of can 2335 of the Code of Canon Law which forbids Catholics, under the penalty of excommunication, to enroll in Masonic or other similar associations.
    Since the said letter has become public and has given rise to erroneous and tendentious interpretations, this Congregation, without prejudice to the eventual norms of the new Code, issues the following confirmation and clarification:
    1. the present canonical discipline remains in full force and has not been modified in any way;
    2. consequently, neither the excommunication nor the other penalties envisaged have been abrogated;
    3. what was said in the aforesaid letter as regards the interpretation to be given to the canon in question should be understood-as the Congregation intended-mere]y as a reminder of the general principles of interpretation of penal laws for the solution of the cases of individual persons which may be submitted to the judgment of ordinaries. 1t was not, however, the intention of the Congregation to permit Episcopal Conferences to issue public pronouncements by way of a judgment of a general character on the nature of Masonic associations, which would imply a derogation from the aforesaid norms.
    Rome, from the Office of the S. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 17 February 1981.
    PRESENT LEGISLATION
    The present legislation of the Church is contained in canon 1374:
    Can. 1374 A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; one who promotes or takes office in such an association is to be punished with an interdict.
    In the previous Code (can 2335), Masonry is explicitly mentioned. As the declaration of 26 November 1983 explains, the omission of the name “Mason” in the present Church law is due to an “editorial criterion.” Masonic associations are thus included under a more general heading which could include any other association conspiring against the Church (e.g. a specific communist party).
    Some Documents of the Popes on Masonry:
    CLEMNE XII In Eminenti, const. 24 Apr. 1738
    BENEDICT XIV Providas, const. 18 May 1751
    PIUS VII Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo, const. 13 Sept. 1821
    LEO XII Quo Graviora, const. 13 Mar. 1825
    PIUS VIII Traditi Humilitati, ency. 24 May 1829
    GREGORY XVI Mirari Vos, encyc. 15 Aug. 1832
    PIUS IX Qui Pluribus, encyc. 9 Nov. 1846
    LEO XIII Humanum Genus, encyc. 20 Apr. 1884
    LEO XIII Dall’ Alto Dell’ Opostolico, Seggio, encyc.
    LEO XIII Inimica Vos, encyc. 8 Dec. 1892,.
    LEO XIII Custodi Di Quella Fede, encyc. 8 Dec. 1892
    You can see this is not a topic for discussion, but a fact!
    PS. Cardinal Ratzinger from the 1983 document…. is now the Pope.
    The Declaration of the Sacred Congregation; affirms that membership in Masonic Associations remain forbidden by the Church and the Faithful who enrol in them are in a state of grave sin, and may not receive Holy Communion or the Sacraments. it confirms to the faithful that membership in a Masonic Lodge is unlawful. It warns them such membership is incompatible with the Catholic Faith

  69. Its amazing that the Catholic Church still thinks their Papal edicts are worth the ink they are written with. Frankly, I consider the Catholic Church as evil as Hezbollah.

    Aside from that point, this is the ONLY website on the internet including that of the actual Scholars that have reviewed the document, that declares the Templars guilty of anything accept helping a weak drunkard who happened to be the Pope and the lackey of the King of France at the same time.

  70. I forgot the most important point of all. Your entire point of view regarding masons and templar connections are based on material that is authorized for public dissemenation by our order.

    That doesnt automatically mean its what ‘we’ know. It only means its what ‘we’ want ‘you’ to know.

  71. Texas Matrix,

    Please don’t presume to assume the Grand Master’s name. Jacques de Molay was indeed treated unjustly, but that was because he suffered as a good Catholic, not as a good Freemason.

    The context of my remarks regarding the Chinon Parchment and regarding those of you who pretend to speak for the Knights Templar is that the Freemasons and modern pretenders to the title of Knights Templar have used the discovery of the parchment as an opportunity to grandstand and to make demands of an apology from the Church as if they were the offended parties. So in a like manner you address me, a cleric of the Roman Church, under the pseudonym of “Ja[c]ques de Molay.” This is a ridiculous pretense.

    As I have stated in my other posts on this subject and in the comments above most Catholic scholars have long believed that the suppression of the Knights Templar was unjust. My point was simply to say that the Chinon Parchment was not a complete vindication of the charges made against the Templars, it just became a useful instrument in the hands of individuals like yourself to spew anti-Catholic bigotry.

    But in regard to whether any of the actual scholars who have studied the parchment believe that the Templars were guilty of any of the charges made against them, read the following from the scholar who discovered the parchment and who is the foremost expert on the subject, Barbara Frale:

    The Templars’ legal situation had been gravely compromised. Although it was clear that they were not heretics, it was equally clear that under church doctrine thy were guilty, albeit of a much lesser offense. According to canon law, anyone who commits an act of refection of the faith, even if he does so without conviction, removes himself from the Catholic community, effectively excommunicating himself. The excommunicant can be absolved of his guilt but cannot be acquitted. The circumstances very clearly paralleled the the case of apostates, those who had renounced their faith during periods of martyrdom. Even though their renunciation was a form of self-defense, those apostate Christians was nevertheless guilty and estranged from the community of believers. The fathers of the church sanctioned a severe sentence: those who committed the sin of apostasy could be absolved, but only if they solemnly requested forgiveness and accepted the penance imposed on them. The Templars ad to do the same (184-185).

    Many of the Templars were guilty of this charge because during their initiation ceremony, at the command of their leaders, they denied Christ and desecrated a cross—a very bizarre and sacrilegious initiation rite for a Roman Catholic Order. For this they were absolved, and the Chinon parchment testifies to this.

    There is no serious scholar, but only conspiracy theorists and practitioners of the craft who have an axe to grind who claim that the Freemasons and modern Templars are in any way connected the historical Knights Templar. Your second comment is typical of fallacious conspiratorial thinking: the lack of evidence for the connection between the real Templars and the Freemasons proves that there is one because the Freemasons are a secret society.

    Do you seriously believe that the evidence of the real origins of the Templars has been suppressed by some secret society since the 14th century, when every serious scholar on the subject says that such a proposal is ludicrous?

    No one worth their salt as a scholar on the subject, such as Barbara Frale, Malcom Barber or Regine Pernoud, upholds as historically reliable any of the rubbish asserting an esoteric origin of the Templars, or the descent of the Freemason from the Templars. These names I have listed, and there are others, are universally acknowledged experts in their fields and are neither spokesmen for the Church or shills for the Freemasons. I urge you to take a look at the scholarship.

  72. Please keep two things in mind: 1) Freemasonary was founded to keep good Christians and Jews so busy that they would have no time for their own religion. Being a “worshipful master” in the lodge conotes religous leadership. Rituals substitute for dogma and doctrine.
    The length of the lodge, the northside (the devil’s place) is kept empty. (Or is it?) 2)Most masons, 32nd degree and below are totally unaware of the ocultism and one world order domination goals. They are in it for career and job security; and for the fraternal aspects.

  73. In regards to your arrogant statement: …’grandstand and to make demands of an apology from the Church as if they were the offended parties.’

    No one in Masonry regards the Catholic Church. Frankly, The Catholic Church once again has many other dastardly crimes to address such as child molestation.

    My only issue with the cult of the Catholic Church is that the church arrogantly thinks everyone on earth digest its propaganda without question, and moreover that said propaganda is of any value to anyone other than a Catholic.

    The world is not made of ignorant people as you would like to think. Mankind does not wait with baited breath for the Church to issue its opinions. We think for ourselves. And Masonry’s demands for an apology did not begin with the sudden location of this hidden document.

    Our demands for an apology began during the peasants revolt of 1381. The Archbishop of Canterbury paid for the sins of the Catholic Church and ever since mankind has done nicely without the Churches oppression and cult like demands of subjugation.

    You have it backwards. The victors never make demands for apologies. Victors simply remind the vanquished to behave.

  74. As far as these so called ‘scholars’. Its as absurd as an auto mechanic telling a brain surgeon he is wrong. I am a Freemason. I am not a scholar who is neither a Freemason nor a Templar.

    So and so told me something. Is this the basis of your intelligence? Once again you have proven my point; The Catholic Church does not allow you to think for yourself. Once again you have proven my point that the Church is a cult.

    Also, I will not address the questions above about the inner workings of the lodge room other than to say that youre so far offbase that it caused me to lose respect for your intelligence on the matter. Now I can clearly see that you have absolutely no idea what youre speaking on.

    Im embarrassed that I have commented here now that I realize that you havent a clue about Masonry or the Templars history.

  75. I will leave the two comments above intact, as they are a monument to Masonic anti-Catholic bigotry and the ignorance or perhaps maliciousness behind it. However, the pretended Grand Master is hereby banished from the realm.

    No one in Masonry regards the Catholic Church.

    Really? Allot of Freemasons have been commenting here, including yourself. If you are so embarrassed about appearing here why comment again?

    You accuse the Catholic Church of not letting anyone think for themselves and yet you make all kinds of contentions for which you offer not a shred of evidence.

    Adieu.

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