Zenit - 'The World Seen From Rome'
Masonry, Atheism and Catholicism
Interview With Author of "The Masonic Plot"
ZE07060306 - 2007-06-03
BURGOS, Spain, JUNE 3, 2007 (Zenit.org).- What's true and what's not about the Masons is the topic of a recent book by an expert in the history of religions.
Father Manuel Guerra Gómez, who is an author of 25 books on sects and other topics, recently released "La trama masónica" (The Masonic Plot), published in Spanish by Styria.
Father Guerra is a diocesan priest of Burgos, and a retired professor of the Burgos headquarters of the Faculty of Theology of Northern Spain.
In this interview with ZENIT he says that "the Masonic method, atheistic in nature, reflects historical relativism and leads to the socio-cultural relativism that it promotes."
Q: Is the famous Masonic conspiracy a myth?
Father Guerra: It is necessary to distinguish between Masonry and the Masons. Masonry, as such, does not aspire to power or at least to having it serve its own principles and interests.
Nevertheless, Masons are in fact present in every international organization in which decisions are made and in the multinational corporations that have an influence on economic and political power.
It is logical to think that they try to pass on their ideological principles -- relativism, atheism, gnosticism -- wherever they are and to irradiate them beyond their own context.
On the other hand, in the English-speaking world and in the northern countries, in Turkey, etc., it is not that they seek to gain power, they are the power.
Thus, for example, the sovereign of the United Kingdom is also the grand master of the United Grand Lodge of England, and of the more than 150 grand lodges -- one for every country, and in the United States one for every state. In 1995, in the United Grand Lodge of England there were 750,000 members belonging to 8,000 lodges throughout the world.
Besides this, because of the rule of secrecy, there is no way of knowing for certain where they are active and how far their direct influence extends, and much less do we know the extent of their indirect influence.
Tony Blair's government sought to institute the obligation that Masons declare their membership in the group, especially if they were functionaries of the state, and above all if they worked in the area of justice or in the police. The response of 1,400 English judges who voluntarily declared their membership in the Masons is commendable. Evidently there are many more.
Following the scandals of the secret Propaganda Due Lodge of Licio Gelli in Italy, functionaries in certain areas of Italian public administration must declare whether that they are Masons at the risk of losing their post.
Q: Is it true that 60% of the members of the European Parliament are Masons?
Father Guerra: This and a similar claim were made by Josep Corominas, grand master of the Grand Lodge of Spain up until March 2006. On Feb. 9, 2007, he left the Grand Lodge of Spain, but affirmed that he would continue to be a Mason and wanted to be considered such.
Is this a new division which has given place to a new Masonic obedience, or is it an incorporation into one already existing?
Indeed, all the proposals pertaining to family and bioethics issues, dissenting from the teaching of the Church and even the natural law, have been approved by the European Parliament. There is also the case of the Italian Rocco Buttiglione who was rejected as a European commissioner by an atheist majority of the Parliament.
Q: In Rome a conference has just ended in which the incompatibility of Catholicism and Masonry was recalled. A call for dialogue with Masons on socio-cultural questions was made. How can this happen?
Father Guerra: Despite the objective incompatibility between Masonry and Catholicism, Catholics can dialogue with Masons at different levels, except for those things that the Holy See, aware of the risks, has reserved for its exclusive competence.
In the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's declaration on Freemasonry it is stated that 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 Feb. 17, 1981."
It is likewise necessary to consider the reality and consequences of Masonic secrecy. How can you dialogue with someone who wears a mask? Despite this, it is still possible to dialogue about socio-cultural questions. Even if religions and ideologies end up forming and conforming the respective cultures to themselves, there always exists some common ground.
Unlike that which is specifically religious and ideological, the cultural ambit is still a sector about which it is possible to dialogue, at least in theory. It is easier to undertake dialogue on intercultural issues -- like poverty, literacy, the environment, health, globalization, etc. -- than on interreligious issues.
Nevertheless, even on this terrain, dialogue with the Masons encounters serious difficulties, insofar as Masonic atheism, open or hidden, tends to relegate to the margins religious particularities, that which is not common to all religions and moral codes, and tends to enclose it -- like someone under "house arrest" -- in the forum of personal conscience and behind Church walls.
In this sense Masonry works to eliminate the socio-cultural trappings of Christianity in traditionally Christian countries -- such as for example Nativity scenes or representations of symbols of the Christmas mystery -- the star of Bethlehem, the Three Kings, etc.
Q: Does Masonry substitute itself for religion?
Father Guerra: Masonry, in line with one of its products, the New Age, prefers to use the term "spirituality," which has a more subjective resonance than the term "religion."
Some Masons say that they are Christians and deny that Masonry is a religion. They should rather recognize that they belong to two religions: the Catholic one and the Masonic one.
But in fact, at least for many, above all for the Masons who are agnostics and deists, Masonry is a substitute for religion. Indeed, Masonry is called a "religion" and sometimes "the religion" in Masonic writings and those of Masons.
Q: How were you able to get up close to this world if it is so secretive?
Father Guerra: I dedicated many hours of study to the constitutions, rules and rituals of the different federations of Masonic lodges, spoke with Masons and ex-Masons in Spain and Mexico, and read books on Masonry by Masons and non-Masons.
About 10 years ago in Mexico I spent two summers speaking daily with Masonic and non-Masonic university professors. I spent the afternoons visiting the centers of different sects, some of them para-Masonic, that are on the outskirts of the cities.
Q: Does Masonry have more to do with a method than a content?
Father Guerra: Man, besides thinking, also feels and imagines. Sentiments and imagination can interfere with and disturb mental lucidity. But despite this, ideas and beliefs orient man; principles create and orient human institutions. But to achieve the objective it is necessary to use the right "method."
The Greek word "odos" means "way," and "met" means the "goal" at which we want to arrive. In Masonry the method aims at the highest categories and the maximum effectiveness since it in fact constitutes one of the "principles," perhaps the most fundamental, the one that is at the basis of all the others.
It is precisely because of its method that Masonry ends up being incompatible with Christian doctrine.
The Masonic method, atheistic in nature, reflects historical relativism and leads to the socio-cultural relativism that it promotes.
Alain Gérard, one of the directors of the Grand Orient of France, says that "Masonry is only a method." According to him, a Mason can have "opinions" or the beliefs of a particular religion, but the Masonic method obliges him to "call into question" his opinions and to accept the possibility that they will be declared false or surpassed by a more solid rational system and with the support of the majority.
"You cannot have a real discussion if, whatever be the outcome of the discussion, there will always be some points about which you are convinced you are right," Gérard says.
With this the Masonic allergy to dogmas and to dogmatic and revealed religion, especially to Christianity, comes to light.
This also explains why Masons tend to consider democracy as an achievement of Masonry and the democratic method -- approval by majority vote -- as something connatural to Masonry. This democratic method they extend to every reality, including the truth itself, the good, etc.
The present grand master of the Grand Orient of France, Jean Michel Quilardet, in a statement to the Spanish newspaper La Voz de Asturias on Jan. 29, 2007, said that "you can think that a non-atheistic democracy exists -- and non-atheistic means non-Masonic -- but to my way of seeing things and to my way of thinking atheism is an accomplishment of democracy." Thus, those democrats who are not atheists or Masons, if they are democrats, would be second-class democrats.
Q: Are the Masons a creative minority? Are Christians as well?
Father Guerra: Masons obviously do not have a monopoly on creativity. Even if it is of a different nature, creativity also belongs to Christians with the help of divine grace and the influence of the Holy Spirit. And Christian creativity is not of a lesser sort.
To demonstrate this all we need to do is look at the history of the Church and at its adaptation of evangelization to quite variable social and cultural circumstances in the 2000 years of its existence. "The hand of the Lord is not too short" -- Isaiah 59:1 -- in our day.
When, a few years ago, Pope John Paul II called the ecclesial movements "the new springtime of the Spirit," "the renewed Pentecost," "a special gift that the Spirit offers to the Church in our historical moment," I initially attributed it to his incredible goodness.
The good and holy person only sees good in everything, like the greedy man sees lucre and the lustful man sees sexual pleasure.
When, however, I worked on a piece called "The Ecclesial Movements in Spain," and I was able to see the reality for myself, it left a deep impression. What creativity the sons and daughters of the Church, moved and inspired by the Holy Spirit, have today!
How could the Church or the world survive if the ecclesial movements -- the educational projects, the aid work, etc. -- disappeared, leaving a kind of large "black hole" in the ecclesial and socio-cultural galaxies?
Freemasonry in Mexico