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"Tear away the mask from Freemasonry, Pope Leo XIII

Leo XIII - Humanum Genus




To  the  Patriarchs,  Primates,  Archbishops, and
Bishops  of  the  Catholic  World  in  Grace  and
Communion with the Apostolic See.

The  race  of  man, after its miserable fall from
God, the Creator and the Giver of heavenly gifts,
"through  the  envy of the devil," separated into
two diverse and opposite parts, of which the  one
steadfastly  contends  for  truth and virtue, the
other of  those  things  which  are  contrary  to
virtue  and  to  truth. The one is the kingdom of
God on earth, namely, the true  Church  of  Jesus
Christ;  and those who desire from their heart to
be united with it, so as to gain salvation,  must
of  necessity serve God and His only-begotten Son
with their whole mind and with  an  entire  will.
The  other  is  the  kingdom  of  Satan, in whose
possession and control are all  whosoever  follow
the  fatal  example  of  their  leader and of our
first parents,  those  who  refuse  to  obey  the
divine and eternal law, and who have many aims of
their own in contempt of God, and many aims  also
against God.

2.  This  twofold  kingdom  St.  Augustine keenly
discerned and described after the manner  of  two
cities,  contrary  in their laws because striving
for contrary objects; and with a  subtle  brevity
he expressed the efficient cause of each in these
words: "Two loves formed two cities: the love  of
self,  reaching  even  to  contempt  of  God,  an
earthly city; and the love of  God,  reaching  to
contempt  of  self,  a heavenly one."(1) At every
period of time each has been in conflict with the
other, with a variety and multiplicity of weapons
and of warfare, although not  always  with  equal
ardour  and assault. At this period, however, the
partisans of evil seems to be combining together,
and  to  be struggling with united vehemence, led
on or assisted by  that  strongly  organized  and
widespread  association called the Freemasons. No
longer making any secret of their purposes,  they
are  now  boldly  rising  up against God Himself.
They are planning the destruction of holy  Church
publicly  and  openly,  and  this  with  the  set
purpose of  utterly  despoiling  the  nations  of
Christendom,   if   it   were  possible,  of  the
blessings obtained for us  through  Jesus  Christ
our   Saviour.  Lamenting  these  evils,  We  are
constrained by the charity which urges Our  heart
to  cry  out  often  to God: "For lo, Thy enemies
have made a noise; and they that hate  Thee  have
lifted  up  the head. They have taken a malicious
counsel  against  Thy  people,  and   they   have
consulted  against  Thy  saints.  They have said,
`come, and let us destroy them, so that  they  be
not a nation.' (2)

3.  At  so urgent a crisis, when so fierce and so
pressing an onslaught is made upon the  Christian
name,  it  is Our office to point out the danger,
to mark who are the adversaries, and to the  best
of Our power to make head against their plans and
devices,  that  those  may   not   perish   whose
salvation  is  committed  to  Us,  and  that  the
kingdom of Jesus Christ entrusted to  Our  charge
may  not  stand  and  remain  whole,  but  may be
enlarged by an ever-increasing growth  throughout
the world.

4.  The Roman Pontiffs Our predecessors, in their
incessant watchfulness over  the  safety  of  the
Christian  people,  were  prompt in detecting the
presence and the purpose of  this  capital  enemy
immediately  it  sprang into the light instead of
hiding as a dark conspiracy; and , moreover, they
took  occasion with true foresight to give, as it
were on their guard, and not allow themselves  to
be  caught  by the devices and snares laid out to
deceive them.

5. The first warning of the danger was  given  by
Clement   XII   in  the  year  1738,(3)  and  his
constitution  was  confirmed   and   renewed   by
Benedict  XIV.(4)  Pius  VII  followed  the  same
path;(5)  and   Leo   XII,   by   his   apostolic
constitution,  Quo  Graviora,(6) put together the
acts and  decrees  of  former  Pontiffs  on  this
subject, and ratified and confirmed them forever.
In the same sense  spoke  Pius  VIII,(7)  Gregory
XVI,(8) and, many times over, Pius IX.(9)

6. For as soon as the constitution and the spirit
of the masonic sect were  clearly  discovered  by
manifest   signs   of   its   actions,   by   the
investigation of its causes,  by  publication  of
its laws, and of its rites and commentaries, with
the addition often of the personal  testimony  of
those  who were in the secret, this apostolic see
denounced  the  sect  of  the   Freemasons,   and
publicly  declared  its constitution, as contrary
to law and right, to be  pernicious  no  Less  to
Christiandom  than  to  the State; and it forbade
any one to enter the society, under the penalties
which   the   Church  is  wont  to  inflict  upon
exceptionally  guilty  persons.  The   sectaries,
indignant at this, thinking to elude or to weaken
the force of these decrees, partly by contempt of
them,   and   partly   by  calumny,  accused  the
sovereign Pontiffs who had passed them either  of
exceeding  the  bounds  of  moderation  in  their
decrees or of decreeing what was not  just.  This
was the manner in which they endeavoured to elude
the authority and the  weight  of  the  apostolic
constitutions of Clement XII and Benedict XIV, as
well as of Pius VII and Pius IX.(10) Yet, in  the
very  society  itself, there were to be found men
who  unwillingly  acknowledged  that  the   Roman
Pontiffs  had acted within their right, according
to the  Catholic  doctrine  and  discipline.  The
Pontiffs  received the same assent, and in strong
terms,   from   many   princes   and   heads   of
governments, who made it their business either to
delate the masonic society to the apostolic  see,
or  of  their own accord by special enactments to
brand it  as  pernicious,  as,  for  example,  in
Holland,  Austria,  Switzerland,  Spain, Bavaria,
Savoy, and other parts of Italy.

7. But, what is of highest importance, the course
of  events  has  demonstrated the prudence of Our
predecessors. For their  provident  and  paternal
solicitude  had  not  always  and every where the
result desired; and this, either because  of  the
simulation  and  cunning  of some who were active
agents  in  the  mischief,   or   else   of   the
thoughtless  levity  of  the  rest  who ought, in
their own interest, to have given to  the  matter
their  diligent  attention.  In  consequence, the
sect of Freemasons grew with  a  rapidity  beyond
conception in the course of a century and a half,
until it came to be able, by means of fraud or of
audacity,  to  gain such entrance into every rank
of the State as to seem to be almost  its  ruling
power.  This  swift  and  formidable  advance has
brought  upon  the  Church,  upon  the  power  of
princes,  upon  the  public well-being, precisely
that grievous harm  which  Our  predecessors  had
long  before  foreseen. Such a condition has been
reached  that  henceforth  there  will  be  grave
reason to fear, not indeed for the Church-for her
foundation is much too firm to be  overturned  by
the  effort  of men-but for those States in which
prevails the power, either of the sect  of  which
we  are speaking or of other sects not dissimilar
which lend themselves  to  it  as  disciples  and

8.  For  these  reasons  We no sooner came to the
helm of the Church than We clearly saw  and  felt
it  to  be  Our  duty to use Our authority to the
very utmost against so  vast  an  evil.  We  have
several   times   already,  as  occasion  served,
attacked certain chief points of  teaching  which
showed in a special manner the perverse influence
of Masonic  opinions.  Thus,  in  Our  encyclical
letter,  Quod  Apostolici Muneris, We endeavoured
to  refute  the  monstrous   doctrines   of   the
socialists and communists; afterwards, in another
beginning "Arcanum," We took pains to defend  and
explain  the  true  and  genuine idea of domestic
life, of which marriage is the spring and origin;
and again, in that which begins '`Diuturnum,"(11)
We described the ideal  of  political  government
conformed  to the principles of Christian wisdom,
which is marvellously  in  harmony,  on  the  one
hand,  with  the natural order of things, and, in
the other, with the well-being of both  sovereign
princes  and of nations. It is now Our intention,
following  the  example  of   Our   predecessors,
directly  to treat of the masonic society itself,
of its whole teaching, of its aims,  and  of  its
manner  of thinking and acting, in order to bring
more and more into the light its power for  evil,
and  to do what We can to arrest the contagion of
this fatal plague.

9. There  are  several  organized  bodies  which,
though  differing in name, in ceremonial, in form
and origin, are nevertheless so bound together by
community  of  purpose  and  by the similarity of
their main opinions, as to make in fact one thing
with  the sect of the Freemasons, which is a kind
of center whence they all go forth,  and  whither
they  all  return.  Now,  these  no longer show a
desire to remain concealed; for they  hold  their
meetings  in  the  daylight and before the public
eye, and publish their own newspaper organs;  and
yet,  when  thoroughly understood, they are found
still to retain the  nature  and  the  habits  of
secret  societies.  There  are  many  things like
mysteries which it is the fixed rule to hide with
extreme  care,  not only from strangers, but from
very many members, also; such as their secret and
final  designs,  the  names of the chief leaders,
and certain secret and inner meetings, as well as
their  decisions,  and  the  ways  and  means  of
carrying them out. This is, no doubt, the  object
of  the  manifold difference among the members as
to right, office, and privilege, of the  received
distinction  of  orders  and  grades, and of that
severe discipline which is maintained. Candidates
are  generally  commanded  to promise-nay, with a
special oath, to swear-that they will  never,  to
any person, at any time or in any way, make known
the  members,  the  passes,   or   the   subjects
discussed.   Thus,  with  a  fraudulent  external
appearance, and with a style of simulation  which
is  always  the  same,  the  Freemasons, like the
Manichees of old, strive, as far as possible,  to
conceal themselves, and to admit no witnesses but
their own members.  As  a  convenient  manner  of
concealment,   they   assume   the  character  of
literary men and scholars associated for purposes
of  learning. They speak of their zeal for a more
cultured refinement, and of their  love  for  the
poor;  and  they declare their one wish to be the
amelioration of the condition of the masses,  and
to share with the largest possible number all the
benefits of civil life. Were these purposes aimed
at  in real truth, they are by no means the whole
of their object. Moreover, to be enrolled, it  is
necessary   that   the   candidates  promise  and
undertake to be thenceforward  strictly  obedient
to  their  leaders  and  masters  with the utmost
submission and fidelity, and to be  in  readiness
to do their bidding upon the slightest expression
of their will; or, if disobedient, to  submit  to
the direst penalties and death itself. As a fact,
if any are judged to have betrayed the doings  of
the  sect  or  to  have  resisted commands given,
punishment is inflicted on them not infrequently,
and  with so much audacity and dexterity that the
assassin very often  escapes  the  detection  and
penalty of his crime.

10.  But to simulate and wish to lie hid; to bind
men like slaves in the very tightest  bonds,  and
without giving any sufficient reason; to make use
of men enslaved to the will of  another  for  any
arbitrary  act  ;  to  arm  men's right hands for
bloodshed  after  securing   impunity   for   the
crime-all  this  is an enormity from which nature
recoils. Wherefore, reason and truth itself  make
it  plain  that  the  society  of  which  we  are
speaking  is  in  antagonism  with  justice   and
natural   uprightness.  And  this  becomes  still
plainer, inasmuch as other arguments,  also,  and
those very manifest, prove that it is essentially
opposed to natural virtue.  For,  no  matter  how
great  may  be men's cleverness in concealing and
their experience in lying, it  is  impossible  to
prevent the effects of any cause from showing, in
some way,  the  intrinsic  nature  of  the  cause
whence they come. "A good tree cannot produce bad
fruit, nor a bad tree  produce  good  fruit."(12)
Now,  the  masonic  sect produces fruits that are
pernicious and of the bitterest savour. For, from
what We have above most clearly shown, that which
is their  ultimate  purpose  forces  itself  into
view-namely,  the  utter  overthrow of that whole
religious and political order of the world  which
the  Christian  teaching  has  produced,  and the
substitution  of  a  new  state  of   things   in
accordance   with   their  ideas,  of  which  the
foundations and laws shall  be  drawn  from  mere

11. What We have said, and are about to say, must
be understood of the sect of the Freemasons taken
generically,  and  in  so far as it comprises the
associations kindred to it and confederated  with
it,  but  not  of the individual members of them.
There may be persons amongst these, and not a few
who,  although  not free from the guilt of having
entangled themselves in  such  associations,  yet
are neither themselves partners in their criminal
acts nor aware of the ultimate object which  they
are  endeavoring to attain. In the same way, some
of the affiliated societies, perhaps, by no means
approve  of  the  extreme  conclusions which they
would,  if  consistent,  embrace  as  necessarily
following  from  their common principles, did not
their very foulness strike them with horror. Some
of  these,  again,  are  led  by circumstances of
times and places either to aim at smaller  things
than  the  others  usually  attempt  or than they
themselves would wish to attempt. They  are  not,
however, for this reason, to be reckoned as alien
to  the  masonic  federation;  for  the   masonic
federation  is  to  be  judged not so much by the
things  which  it  has  done,   or   brought   to
completion,  as  by  the  sum  of  its pronounced

12.  Now,  the  fundamental   doctrine   of   the
naturalists,  which  they sufficiently make known
by their very name,  is  that  human  nature  and
human  reason  ought in all things to be mistress
and guide. Laying this down, they care little for
duties  to  God, or pervert them by erroneous and
vague opinions. For they deny that  anything  has
been  taught  by  God;  they  allow  no  dogma of
religion or truth which cannot be  understood  by
the human intelligence, nor any teacher who ought
to be believed by reason of  his  authority.  And
since it is the special and exclusive duty of the
Catholic Church  fully  to  set  forth  in  words
truths divinely received, to teach, besides other
divine helps to salvation, the authority  of  its
office,  and  to  defend  the  same  with perfect
purity, it is against the Church  that  the  rage
and   atack   of   the  enemies  are  principally

13. In those matters which regard religion let it
be  seen  how  the  sect  of the Freemasons acts,
especially where it is more free to  act  without
restraint,  and then let any one judge whether in
fact it does not wish to carry out the policy  of
the naturalists. By a long and persevering labor,
they endeavor to bring about this  result-namely,
that  the  teaching  office  and authority of the
Church may become of  no  account  in  the  civil
State;  and  for this same reason they declare to
the people and  contend  that  Church  and  State
ought  to  be altogether disunited. By this means
they  reject  from  the   laws   and   from   the
commonwealth   thewholesome   influence   of  the
Catholic religion; and they consequently  imagine
that  States  ought to be constituted without any
regard for the laws and precepts of the Church.

14. Nor do they think it enough to disregard  the
Church-the best of guides-unless they also injure
it by their hostility. Indeed, with  them  it  is
lawful   to   attack   with   impunity  the  very
foundations of the Catholic religion, in  speech,
in  writing, and in teaching; and even the rights
of the Church are not  spared,  and  the  offices
with  which it is divinely invested are not safe.
The least possible liberty to manage  affairs  is
left  to the Church; and this is done by laws not
apparently very hostile, but  in  reality  framed
and fitted to hinder freedom of action. Moreover,
We see exceptional and onerous laws imposed  upon
the   clergy,   to  the  end  that  they  may  be
continually diminished in number and in necessary
means.   We   see   also   the  remnants  of  the
possessions  of  the  Church  fettered   by   the
strictest  conditions, and subjected to the power
and arbitrary will of the administrators  of  the
State,  and  the  religious  orders rooted up and

15. But against the apostolic see and  the  Roman
Pontiff  the contention of these enemies has been
for a long time directed. The Pontiff was  first,
for specious reasons, thrust out from the bulwark
of his  liberty  and  of  his  right,  the  civil
princedom;  soon,  he  was unjustly driven into a
condition which was  unbearable  because  of  the
difficulties  raised  on  all  sides; and now the
time has come when the  partisans  of  the  sects
openly  declare,  what in secret among themselves
they have for  a  long  time  plotted,  that  the
sacred  power  of the Pontiffs must be abolished,
and that the papacy  itself,  founded  by  divine
right, must be utterly destroyed. If other proofs
were wanting, this  fact  would  be  sufficiently
disclosed  by the testimony of men well informed,
of whom some at other  times,  and  others  again
recently,  have  declared  it  to  be true of the
Freemasons that they especially desire to  assail
the  Church  with  irreconcilable  hostility, and
that  they  will  never  rest  until  they   have
destroyed  whatever  the  supreme  Pontiffs  have
established for the sake of religion.

16. If those who are admitted as members are  not
commanded  to  abjure  by  any  form of words the
Catholic doctrines, this omission,  so  far  from
being  adverse  to the designs of the Freemasons,
is more useful for their purposes. First, in this
way they easily deceive the simple-minded and the
heedless, and can induce a far greater number  to
become   members.   Again,   as   all  who  offer
themselves are received  whatever  may  be  their
form  of  religion,  they thereby teach the great
error of this  age-that  a  regard  for  religion
should be held as an indifferent matter, and that
all religions are alike. This manner of reasoning
is  calculated  to  bring  about  the ruin of all
forms of religion, and especially of the Catholic
religion,  which,  as  it is the only one that is
true,  cannot,  without   great   injustice,   be
regarded as merely equal to other religions.

17.  But  the  naturalists  go much further; for,
having, in the highest  things,  entered  upon  a
wholly   erroneous   course,   they  are  carried
headlong to extremes, either  by  reason  of  the
weakness of human nature, or because God inflicts
upon them the just  punishment  of  their  pride.
Hence  it happens that they no longer consider as
certain and  permanent  those  things  which  are
fully  understood by the natural light of reason,
such as certainly are-the existence of  God,  the
immaterial  nature  of  the  human  soul, and its
immortality. The sect of  the  Freemasons,  by  a
similar course of error, is exposed to these same
dangers; for, although in a general way they  may
profess the existence of God, they themselves are
witnesses that they  do  not  all  maintain  this
truth  with the full assent of the mind or with a
firm conviction. Neither  do  they  conceal  that
this  question  about  God is the greatest source
and cause of discords among them; in fact, it  is
certain that a considerable contention about this
same subject has existed among them very  lately.
But, indeed, the sect allows great liberty to its
votaries, so that to each side is given the right
to defend its own opinion, either that there is a
God,  or  that  there  is  none;  and  those  who
obstinately  contend  that there is no God are as
easily initiated as those who  contend  that  God
exists,  though,  like  the pantheists, they have
false  notions  concerning  Him:  all  which   is
nothing  else than taking away the reality, while
retaining  some  absurd  representation  of   the
divine nature.

18. When this greatest fundamental truth has been
overturned or weakened,  it  follows  that  those
truths,  also, which are known by the teaching of
nature must begin to fall-namely, that all things
were  made  by  the free will of God the Creator;
that the world is governed  by  Providence;  that
souls  do  not die; that to this life of men upon
the earth  there  will  succeed  another  and  an
everlasting life.

19.  When  these truths are done away with, which
are as the principles of nature and important for
knowledge  and  for  practical use, it is easy to
see what will become of both public  and  private
morality.  We  say nothing of those more heavenly
virtues,  which  no  one  can  exercise  or  even
acquire  without a special gift and grace of God;
of which necessarily no trace  can  be  found  in
those  who  reject  as  unknown the redemption of
mankind, the grace of God,  the  sacraments,  and
the  happiness to be obtained in heaven. We speak
now of the duties  which  have  their  origin  in
natural  probity.  That God is the Creator of the
world and its provident Ruler; that  the  eternal
law  commands the natural order to be maintained,
and forbids that it be disturbed; that  the  last
end  of  men  is a destiny far above human things
and beyond this sojourning upon the earth:  these
are  the  sources and these the principles of all
justice and morality. If these be taken away,  as
the naturalists and Freemasons desire, there will
immediately  be   no   knowledge   as   to   what
constitutes  justice  and injustice, or upon what
principle morality is founded. And, in truth, the
teaching of morality which alone finds favor with
the sect of Freemasons, and in which they contend
that  youth  should  be instructed, is that which
they call "civil," and "independent," and "free,"
namely, that which does not contain any religious
belief. But, how insufficient such  teaching  is,
how wanting in soundness, and how easily moved by
every impulse of passion, is sufficiently  proved
by  its  sad  fruits, which have already begun to
appear.  For,  wherever,  by  removing  Christian
education,   this   teaching   has   begun   more
completely to rule, there goodness and  integrity
of morals have begun quickly to perish, monstrous
and shameful opinions  have  grown  up,  and  the
audacity  of  evil  deeds  has  risen  to  a high
degree. All this is commonly  complained  of  and
deplored;  and not a few of those who by no means
wish to do so are compelled by abundant  evidence
to give not infrequently the same testimony.

20.   Moreover,   human  nature  was  stained  by
original sin, and is therefore more  disposed  to
vice  than  to  virtue. For a virtuous life it is
absolutely necessary to restrain  the  disorderly
movements  of  the soul, and to make the passions
obedient to reason. In this conflict human things
must  very  often  be  despised, and the greatest
labors and hardships must be undergone, in  order
that  reason  may  always  hold its sway. But the
naturalists and Freemasons, having  no  faith  in
those   things  which  we  have  learned  by  the
revelation of God, deny that  our  first  parents
sinned,  and consequently think that free will is
not at all weakened and inclined to evil.(13)  On
the  contrary,  exaggerating rather the power and
the excellence of  nature,  and  placing  therein
alone  the  principle  and  rule of justice, they
cannot even imagine that there is any need at all
of    a   constant   struggle   and   a   perfect
steadfastness to overcome the violence  and  rule
of  our  passions.  Wherefore we see that men are
publicly  tempted  by  the  many  allurements  of
pleasure;  that  there are journals and pamphlets
with   neither   moderation   nor   shame;   that
stage-plays  are  remarkable  for  license;  that
designs for works of art are  shamelessly  sought
in  the  laws  of  a  so  called verism; that the
contrivances of a soft and delicate life are most
carefully devised; and that all the blandishments
of pleasure are diligently sought  out  by  which
virtue  may  be  lulled to sleep. Wickedly, also,
but at the same time quite consistently, do those
act  who do away with the expectation of the joys
of heaven, and bring down all  happiness  to  the
level  of  mortality, and, as it were, sink it in
the earth. Of what We  have  said  the  following
fact, astonishing not so much in itself as in its
open expression, may  serve  as  a  confirmation.
For, since generally no one is accustomed to obey
crafty and clever men so  submissively  as  those
whose  soul  is  weakened  and broken down by the
domination of the passions, there  have  been  in
the  sect of the Freemasons some who have plainly
determined and proposed that, artfully and of set
purpose,  the multitude should be satiated with a
boundless license of vice, as, when this had been
done,  it would easily come under their power and
authority for any acts of daring.

21. What refers to domestic life in the  teaching
of the naturalists is almost all contained in the
following declarations: that marriage belongs  to
the  genus  of  commercial  contracts,  which can
rightly be revoked by the will of those who  made
them, and that the civil rulers of the State have
power over the  matrimonial  bond;  that  in  the
education of youth nothing is to be taught in the
matter  of  religion  as  of  certain  and  fixed
opinion;  and each one must be left at liberty to
follow, when he comes of  age,  whatever  he  may
prefer.  To  these  things  the  Freemasons fully
assent;  and  not  only  assent,  but  have  long
endeavoured   to   make   them  into  a  law  and
institution. For in  many  countries,  and  those
nominally   Catholic,   it  is  enacted  that  no
marriages shall be considered lawful except those
contracted by the civil rite; in other places the
law permits divorce; and in others  every  effort
is  used  to  make  it  lawful as soon as may be.
Thus, the time is quickly coming  when  marriages
will be turned into another kind of contract-that
is into changeable  and  uncertain  unions  which
fancy  may join together, and which the same when
changed may disunite. With the greatest unanimity
the  sect  of  the  Freemasons also endeavours to
take to itself the education of youth. They think
that  they can easily mold to their opinions that
soft and pliant age, and  bend  it  whither  they
will;  and  that  nothing can be more fitted than
this to enable them to bring up the youth of  the
State  after  their  own  plan. Therefore, in the
education and instruction of children they  allow
no share, either of teaching or of discipline, to
the ministers of the Church; and in  many  places
they  have  procured  that the education of youth
shall be exclusively in the hands of laymen,  and
that  nothing  which treats of the most important
and most holy duties  of  men  to  God  shall  be
introduced into the instructions on morals.

22.  Then  come  their  doctrines of politics, in
which the naturalists lay down that all men  have
the same right, and are in every respect of equal
and like condition; that each  one  is  naturally
free;  that  no  one  has  the  right  to command
another; that it is an act of violence to require
men  to  obey any authority other than that which
is obtained from themselves. According  to  this,
therefore,  all things belong to the free people;
power is held by the command or permission of the
people,  so  that, when the popular will changes,
rulers may lawfully be deposed and the source  of
all  rights  and  civil  duties  is either in the
multitude or in the governing authority when this
is constituted according to the latest doctrines.
It is held also that the State should be  without
God;  that in the various forms of religion there
is no reason why one should  have  precedence  of
another; and that they are all to occupy the same

23. That these doctrines are  equally  acceptable
to  the  Freemasons,  and that they would wish to
constitute States according to this  example  and
model,  is  too  well known to require proof. For
some time past they have  openly  endeavoured  to
bring  this  about  with  all  their strength and
resources; and in this they prepare the  way  for
not  a few bolder men who are hurrying on even to
worse  things,  in  their  endeavor   to   obtain
equality  and  community  of  all  goods  by  the
destruction of  every  distinction  of  rank  and

24.  What,  therefore, sect of the Freemasons is,
and what course it pursues, appears  sufficiently
from  the  summary  We  have briefly given. Their
chief dogmas are so  greatly  and  manifestly  at
variance  with  reason  that  nothing can be more
perverse. To wish to destroy the religion and the
Church  which  God  Himself  has established, and
whose perpetuity He insures  by  His  protection,
and  to  bring  back  after  a  lapse of eighteen
centuries the manners and customs of the  pagans,
is signal folly and audacious impiety. Neither is
it less horrible nor  more  tolerable  that  they
should  repudiate the benefits which Jesus Christ
so mercifully obtained, not only for individuals,
but  also  for  the family and for civil society,
benefits which, even according  to  the  judgment
and  testimony  of  enemies  of Christianity, are
very great. In this insane and wicked endeavor we
may  almost  see the implacable hatred and spirit
of revenge with which Satan himself  is  inflamed
against   Jesus   Christ.-So  also  the  studious
endeavour of the Freemasons to destroy the  chief
foundations   of  justice  and  honesty,  and  to
co-operate with those who would wish, as if  they
were  mere animals, to do what they please, tends
only to the ignominious and disgraceful  ruin  of
the  human  race.  The evil, too, is increased by
the dangers  which  threaten  both  domestic  and
civil society. As We have elsewhere shown,(14) in
marriage, according to the belief of almost every
nation,  there is something sacred and religious;
and the law of God has determined that  marriages
shall  not  be dissolved. If they are deprived of
their  sacred  character,  and  made  dissoluble,
trouble  and  confusion in the family will be the
result, the wife being deprived  of  her  dignity
and  the  children  left without protection as to
their interests and well being.-To have in public
matters   no   care  for  religion,  and  in  the
arrangement and administration of  civil  affairs
to have no more regard for God than if He did not
exist, is a rashness unknown to the very  pagans;
for  in  their  heart  and  soul  the notion of a
divinity and the need of public religion were  so
firmly  fixed  that  they  would  have thought it
easier to have city  without  foundation  than  a
city without God. Human society, indeed for which
by nature we are formed, has been constituted  by
God  the  Author of nature; and from Him, as from
their principle and source,  flow  in  all  their
strength  and  permanence  the countless benefits
with which society abounds. As we are each of  us
admonished by the very voice of nature to worship
God in piety and holiness, as the Giver  unto  us
of  life and of all that is good therein, so also
and for the same reason, nations and  States  are
bound  to  worship Him; and therefore it is clear
that those who would  absolve  society  from  all
religious  duty  act  not  only unjustly but also
with ignorance and folly.

25. As men are by the will of God born for  civil
union and society, and as the power to rule is so
necessary a bond of society that, if it be  taken
away,  society  must  at  once  be  broken up, it
follows that  from  Him  who  is  the  Author  of
society  has  come also the authority to rule; so
that whosoever rules, he is the minister of  God.
Wherefore, as the end and nature of human society
so  requires,  it  is  right  to  obey  the  just
commands  of  lawful authority, as it is right to
obey God who ruleth all things; and  it  is  most
untrue  that the people have it in their power to
cast  aside  their  obedience   whensoever   they

26.  In  like  manner, no one doubts that all men
are equal one to another, so far as regards their
common  origin  and nature, or the last end which
each one has to attain, or the rights and  duties
which  are  thence derived. But, as the abilities
of all are not equal, as one differs from another
in  the  powers of mind or body, and as there are
very many dissimilarities of manner, disposition,
and  character, it is most repugnant to reason to
endeavor to confine all within the same  measure,
and   to   extend   complete   equality   to  the
institutions of civic life.  Just  as  a  perfect
condition   of   the   body   results   from  the
conjunction  and  composition  of   its   various
members,  which,  though  differing  in  form and
purpose,   make,   by   their   union   and   the
distribution  of  each one to its proper place, a
combination  beautiful   to   behole,   firm   in
strength,  and  necessary  for  use;  so,  in the
commonwealth,  there  is   an   almost   infinite
dissimilarity  of  men, as parts of the whole. If
they are to be all equal, and each is  to  follow
his   own   will,  the  State  will  appear  most
deformed; but if, with a distinction  of  degrees
of  dignity,  of  pursuits  and  employments, all
aptly conspire for the  common  good,  they  will
present   the   image   of   a  State  both  well
constituted and conformable to nature.

27. Now, from the disturbing errors which We have
described  the  greatest dangers to States are to
be feared. For, the fear of God and reverence for
divine  laws  being  taken away, the authority of
rulers despised, sedition permitted and approved,
and the popular passions urged on to lawlessness,
with no restraint  save  that  of  punishment,  a
change   and   overthrow   of   all  things  will
necessarily  follow.   Yea,   this   change   and
overthrow is deliberately planned and put forward
by   many   associations   of   communists    and
socialists; and to their undertakings the sect of
Freemasons is not hostile,  but  greatly  favours
their  designs,  and  holds  in  common with them
their chief opinions. And if these men do not  at
once  and everywhere endeavour to carry out their
extreme views, it is  not  to  be  attributed  to
their  teaching and their will, but to the virtue
of  that  divine   religion   which   cannot   be
destroyed;  and  also because the sounder part of
men, refusing to be enslaved to secret societies,
vigorously resist their insane attempts.

28. Would that all men would judge of the tree by
its fruit, and would  acknowledge  the  seed  and
origin  of  the evils which press upon us, and of
the dangers that are impending! We have  to  deal
with   a   deceitful   and   crafty  enemy,  who,
gratifying the ears of people and of princes, has
ensnared   them   by   smooth   speeches  and  by
adulation. Ingratiating  themselves  with  rulers
under  a  pretense  of friendship, the Freemasons
have endeavoured to make them  their  allies  and
powerful  helpers  for  the  destruction  of  the
Christian name; and that they might more strongly
urge them on, they have, with determined calumny,
accused the Church of invidiously contending with
rulers in matters that affect their authority and
sovereign  power.  Having,  by  these  artifices,
insured  their own safety and audacity, they have
begun to exercise great weight in the  government
of  States; but nevertheless they are prepared to
shake the foundations of empires, to  harass  the
rulers  of the State, to accuse, and to cast them
out, as often as they appear to govern  otherwise
than  they  themselves could have wished. In like
manner, they have by flattery deluded the people.
Proclaiming  with a loud voice liberty and public
prosperity, and saying that it was owing  to  the
Church  and  to sovereigns that the mutitude were
not drawn  out  of  their  unjust  servitude  and
poverty,  they have imposed upon the people, and,
exciting them by a thirst for novelty, they  have
urged  them  to  assail  both  the Church and the
civil power. Nevertheless, the expectation of the
benefits  which was hoped for is greater than the
reality;  indeed,   the   common   people,   more
oppressed  than they were before, are deprived in
their misery of that solace which, if things  had
been  arranged  in a Christian manner, they would
have had with ease and in abundance. But, whoever
strive  against the order which Divine Providence
has constituted pay usually the penalty of  their
pride,  and meet with affliction and misery where
they rashly hoped to find all  things  prosperous
and in conformity with their desires.

29.  The  Church,  if  she  directs men to render
obedience  chiefly  and  above  all  to  God  the
sovereign  Lord,  is wrongly and falsely believed
either to be envious of the  civil  power  or  to
arrogate  to  herself  something of the rights of
sovereigns. On the  contrary,  she  teaches  that
what  is  rightly  due to the civil power must be
rendered   to   it   with   a   conviction    and
consciousness  of duty. In teaching that from God
Himself comes the right of  ruling,  she  adds  a
great  dignity  to  civil authority, and on small
help towards obtaining  the  obedience  and  good
will  of  the  citizens.  The friend of peace and
sustainer  of  concord,  she  embraces  all  with
maternal  love, and, intent only upon giving help
to mortal man, she teaches that to  justice  must
be  joined  clemency,  equity  to  authority, and
moderation to lawgiving; that no one's right must
be  violated;  that order and public tranquillity
are to be maintained; and  that  the  poverty  of
those  are  in need is, as far as possible, to be
relieved by public and private charity. "But  for
this  reason," to use the words of St. Augustine,
"men think,  or  would  have  it  believed,  that
Christian  teaching  is not suited to the good of
the State; for they wish the State to be  founded
not  on  solid  virtue,  but  on  the impunity of
vice."(15) Knowing these things, both princes and
people  would  act with political wisdom,(16) and
according to the needs  of  general  safety,  if,
instead of joining with Freemasons to destroy the
Church, they joined with the Church in  repelling
their attacks.

30 .Whatever the future may be, in this grave and
widespread  evil  it  is  Our   duty,   venerable
brethren,  to  endeavour  to  find  a remedy. And
because We know that Our best and firmest hope of
a  remedy is in the power of that divine religion
which the Freemasons hate in proportion to  their
fear of it, We think it to be of chief importance
to call that most saving power to Our aid against
the common enemy. Therefore, whatsoever the Roman
Pontiffs Our predecessors have  decreed  for  the
purpose   of   opposing   the   undertakings  and
endeavours of the masonic  sect,  and  whatsoever
they  have  enacted to enter or withdraw men from
societies of this kind, We ratify and confirm  it
all  by  our  apostolic  authority:  and trusting
greatly to the good will of Christians,  We  pray
and beseech each one, for the sake of his eternal
salvation, to be most conscientiously careful not
in  the  least  to depart from what the apostolic
see has commanded in this matter.

31. We pray and beseech you, venerable  brethren,
to  join your efforts with Ours, and earnestly to
strive for the extirpation of this  foul  plague,
which  is  creeping through the veins of the body
politic. You have to defend the glory of God  and
the  salvation  of  your  neighbour; and with the
object of your strife before you, neither courage
nor strength will be wanting. It will be for your
prudence to judge by  what  means  you  can  best
overcome  the difficulties and obstacles you meet
with. But, as it  befits  the  authority  of  Our
office  that  We  Ourselves should point out some
suitable way of proceeding, We wish it to be your
rule  first  of  all  to  tear away the mask from
Freemasonry, and to let it be seen as  it  really
is;  and  by  sermons  and  pastoral  letters  to
instruct the people as to the artifices  used  by
societies  of  this  kind  in  seducing  men  and
enticing them into their ranks,  and  as  to  the
depravity of their opinions and the wickedness of
their acts. As Our predecessors have  many  times
repeated,  let  no  man think that he may for any
reason whatsoever join the masonic  sect,  if  he
values   his   Catholic   name  and  his  eternal
salvation as he ought to value them. Let  no  one
be deceived by a pretense of honesty. It may seem
to some that Freemasons demand  nothing  that  is
openly contrary to religion and morality; but, as
the whole principle and object of the  sect  lies
in  what  is  vicious  and criminal, to join with
these men or in any way to help  them  cannot  be

32.    Further,   by   assiduous   teaching   and
exhortation, the multitude must be drawn to learn
diligently  the  precepts  of religion; for which
purpose we earnestly  advise  that  by  opportune
writings  and sermons they be taught the elements
of  those  sacred  truths  in   which   Christian
philosophy  is contained. The result of this will
be that the minds of men will be  made  sound  by
instruction,  and  will be protected against many
forms of error  and  inducements  to  wickedness,
especially  in  the  present unbounded freedom of
writing and insatiable eagerness for learning.

33. Great, indeed, is the work;  but  in  it  the
clergy  will share your labours, if, through your
care, they are fitted for it by  learning  and  a
well-turned   life.  This  good  and  great  work
requires to be helped also  by  the  industry  of
those  amongst  the  laity  in  whom  a  love  of
religion and of country is joined to learning and
goodness  of life. By uniting the efforts of both
clergy and laity, strive, venerable brethren,  to
make  men  thoroughly  know  and love the Church;
for, the greater their knowledge and love of  the
Church,  the  more  will they be turned away from
clandestine societies.

34. Wherefore, not without cause do We  use  this
occasion  to  state  again  what  We  have stated
elsewhere, namely, that the Third  Order  of  St.
Francis,  whose  discipline We a little while ago
prudently  mitigated,(16)  should  be  studiously
promoted  and  sustained; for the whole object of
this Order, as constituted by its founder, is  to
invite  men to an imitation of Jesus Christ, to a
love of the Church, and to the observance of  all
Christian  virtues;  and therefore it ought to be
of great influence in suppressing  the  contagion
of  wicked  societies.  Let, therefore, this holy
sodality be strengthened  by  a  daily  increase.
Amongst  the many benefits to be expected from it
will be the great benefit of drawing the minds of
men  to  liberty,  fraternity,  and  equality  of
right;  not  such  as  the  Freemasons   absurdly
imagine,  but  such  as Jesus Christ obtained for
the human race and St. Francis  aspired  to:  the
liberty,  We  mean, of sons of God, through which
we may be free from slavery to Satan  or  to  our
passions,  both  of them most wicked masters; the
fraternity whose origin is  in  God,  the  common
Creator  and  Father  of all; the equality which,
founded on justice and  charity,  does  not  take
away  all distinctions among men, but, out of the
varieties of life, of duties,  and  of  pursuits,
forms that union and that harmony which naturally
tend to the benefit and dignity of society.

35. In the third place, there is a matter  wisely
instituted  by  our forefathers, but in course of
time laid aside, which  may  now  be  used  as  a
pattern  and  form  of something similar. We mean
the associations of guilds of  workmen,  for  the
protection,  under the guidance of religion, both
of  their  temporal  interests   and   of   their
morality.  If  our  ancestors,  by  long  use and
experience, felt the benefit of these guilds, our
age  perhaps  will  feel it the more by reason of
the opportunity which they will give of  crushing
the   power  of  the  sects.  Those  who  support
themselves by the labour of their hands,  besides
being, by their very condition, most worthy above
all others of charity and consolation,  are  also
especially  exposed  to  the  allurements  of men
whose ways lie in fraud  and  deceit.  Therefore,
they   ought  to  be  helped  with  the  greatest
possible kindness, and  to  be  invited  to  join
associations  that  are  good, lest they be drawn
away to others that are evil. For this reason, We
greatly  wish,  for  the salvation of the people,
that, under the auspices  and  patronage  of  the
bishops, and at convenient times, these gilds may
be generally  restored.  To  Our  great  delight,
sodialities of this kind and also associations of
masters  have  in  many   places   already   been
established,  having,  each  class  of  them, for
their object  to  help  the  honest  workman,  to
protect and guard his children and family, and to
promote in them piety, Christian knowledge, and a
moral  life.  And  in  this matter We cannot omit
mentioning that exemplary  society,  named  after
its  founder,  St. Vincent, which has deserved so
well of the lower classes. Its acts and its  aims
are  well  known.  Its  whole  object  is to give
relief to the poor and miserable.  This  it  does
with  singular prudence and modesty; and the less
it wishes to be seen, the better is it fitted for
the  exercise  of  Christian charity, and for the
relief of suffering.

36. In the fourth place, in order more easily  to
attain   what  We  wish,  to  your  fidelity  and
watchfulness We commend in a special  manner  the
young, as being the hope of human society. Devote
the  greatest  part  of  your   care   to   their
instruction; and do not think that any precaution
can be great enough in keeping them from  masters
and  schools  whence  the pestilent breath of the
sects is to be feared. Under your  guidance,  let
parents,   religious   instructors,  and  priests
having the cure of souls use  every  opportunity,
in  their  Christian  teaching,  of warning their
children and pupils of  the  infamous  nature  of
these  societies,  so that they may learn in good
time to beware  of  the  various  and  fraudulent
artifices by which their promoters are accustomed
to ensnare people. And  those  who  instruct  the
young  in  religious knowledge will act wisely if
they  induce  all  of  them  to  resolve  and  to
undertake never to bind themselves to any society
without the knowledge of their  parents,  or  the
advice of their parish priest or director.

37.  We  well  know,  however,  that  our  united
labours will by no  means  suffice  to  pluck  up
these  pernicious  seeds  from  the Lord's Eield,
unless the Heavenly Master of the vineyard  shall
mercifully  help  us  in our endeavours. We must,
therefore, with great and anxious  care,  implore
of Him the help which the greatness of the danger
and  of  the  need  requires.  The  sect  of  the
Freemasons shows itself insolent and proud of its
success, and seems as if it would put  no  bounds
to   its   pertinacity.   Its  followers,  joined
together  by  a  wicked  compact  and  by  secret
counsels,  give  help  one to another, and excite
one another to an audacity for  evil  things.  So
vehement    an    attack    demands    an   equal
defence-namely, that all good men should form the
widest  possible  association  of  action  and of
prayer. We beseech them, therefore,  with  united
hearts, to stand together and unmoved against the
advancing force of the sects; and in mourning and
supplication  to  stretch out their hands to God,
praying that the Christian name may flourish  and
prosper,  that  the  Church  may enjoy its needed
liberty, that those  who  have  gone  astray  may
return  to a right mind, that error at length may
give place to truth, and vice to virtue.  Let  us
take  our helper and intercessor the Virgin Mary,
Mother of God, so that she, who from  the  moment
of  her  conception  overcame  Satan may show her
power over these evil sects, in which is  revived
the  contumacious  spirit  of the demon, together
with his unsubdued perfidy  and  deceit.  Let  us
beseech  Michael,  the  prince  of  the  heavenly
angels, who  drove  out  the  infernal  foe;  and
Joseph,  the  spouse of the most holy Virgin, and
heavenly patron of the Catholic Church;  and  the
great  Apostles,  Peter and Paul, the fathers and
victorious champions of the Christian  faith.  By
their  patronage,  and  by perseverance in united
prayer, we hope  that  God  will  mercifully  and
opportunely  succor  the  human  race,  which  is
encompassed by so many dangers.

38. As a pledge of  heavenly  gifts  and  of  Our
benevolence,  We  lovingly  grant in the Lord, to
you, venerable brethren, and to  the  clergy  and
all  the  people  commited to your watchful care,
Our apostolic benediction.

Given at St. Peter's in Rome, the  twentieth  day
of   April,   1884,   the   sixth   year  of  Our
pontificate.               LEO               XIII

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 


1. De civ. Dei, 14, 28 (PL 41, 436).

2. Ps.81:24.

3. Const. In Eminenti, April 24, 1738.

4. Const. Providas, May 18, 1751.

5.  Const.  Ecclesiam  a  Jesu Chrisro, Sept. 13,
1821. 6. Const. given March 13, 1825.

7. Encyc. Traditi, May 21, 1829.

8. Encyc. Mirari, Augusr 15, 1832.

9. Encyc. Qtsi Pluribus, Nov.  9,  1846;  address
Multiplices inter, Sept. 25, 1865, etc.

10.   Clement   XII   (1730-40);   Benedict   XIV
(1740-58); Pius VII (1800-23); Pius IX (1846-78).

11. See nos. 79, 81, 84.

12. Matt. 7:18.

13. Trid., sess. vi, De justif., c.  1.  Text  of
the  Council  of  Trent:  "tamecsi  in  eis  (sc.
]udaeis)  liberum  arbitrium   and   all   minime
extinctum  esset,  viribus  licet  attenuatum  et

14. See Arcanum, no. 81.

15. Epistola 137, ad Volusianum, c. v, n. 20  (PL
33 525).

16. The text here refers to the encyclical letter
Auspicato Concessum (Sept. 17,  1882),  in  which
Pope  Leo XIII had recently glorified St. Francis
of  Assisi  on  the  occasion  of   the   seventh
centenary  of  his birch. In this encyclical, the
Pope had presented the Third Order of St. Francis
as  a  Christian answer to the social problems of
the times. The constitution Misericors Dei Filius
(June  23,  1883)  expressly  recalled  that  the
neglect in which Christian virtues  are  held  is
the   main  cause  of  the  evils  that  threaten
societies. In confirming the rule  of  the  Third
Order  and  adapting  it  to  the needs of modern
times, Pope Leo XIII had intended to  bring  back
the  largest  possible  number  of  souls  to the
practice of these virtues.

Freemasonry must die, or liberty must die." -- Charles G. Finney


"Those who sin are slaves, and slaves have no rights." -- Jesus Christ, John 8:34

"Qabalah is the heart of the Western Hermetic tradition; it is the foundation upon which the art of Western magic rests." -- Sandra and Chic Cicero, the authors of "The Essencial Golden Dawn: An Introduction to High Magic", page 96. Llewlellyn Publications "For by thy sorceries were all nations decieved." Rev. 18:23
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"Join me in battle, little children, against the black beast, Masonry..." Mother Mary [source: Father Gobbi, Evolution & Freemasonry]
"Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye make to worship them; and I will carry you away beyond Babylon."
Acts 7:43 KJV
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.." (II Corinthians 6:18 KJV)


Joan of Arc on the Bohemians

Seal of Solomon and Freemasonry graphical text link to homesite.