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"Tear away the mask from Freemasonry, Pope Leo XIII

Concerning  New  Opinions,  Virtue,  Nature   and
Grace,  with Regard to Americanism

Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII

promulgated on  January 22, 1899.

To  Our  Beloved  Son,  James  Cardinal  Gibbons,
Cardinal Priest of the Title Sancta Maria, Beyond
the Tiber, Archbishop of Baltimore:

LEO XIII, Pope-Beloved Son, Health and  Apostolic
Blessing: We send to you by this letter a renewed
expression of that good will which  we  have  not
failed  during  the  course of our pontificate to
manifest frequently to you and to your colleagues
in  the  episcopate  and  to  the  whole American
people, availing ourselves of  every  opportunity
offered  us  by  the  progress  of your church or
whatever  you  have  done  for  safeguarding  and
promoting  Catholic  interests. Moreover, we have
often considered and admired the noble  gifts  of
your  nation  which enable the American people to
be alive to every good work  which  promotes  the
good    of   humanity   and   the   splendor   of
civilization.  Although  this   letter   is   not
intended,  as preceding ones, to repeat the words
of praise so often spoken,  but  rather  to  call
attention  to  some  things  to  be  avoided  and
corrected; still because it is conceived in  that
same   spirit  of  apostolic  charity  which  has
inspired all our letters, we  shall  expect  that
you  will  take  it as another proof of our love;
the more so because it is  intended  to  suppress
certain  contentions  which  have  arisen  lately
among you to the detriment of the peace  of  many

It  is  known  to  you,  beloved  son,  that  the
biography  of  Isaac  Thomas  Hecker,  especially
through  the  action  of  those who under took to
translate or interpret it in a foreign  language,
has  excited not a little controversy, on account
of certain opinions  brought  forward  concerning
the way of leading Christian life. We, therefore,
on account of our  apostolic  office,  having  to
guard the integrity of the faith and the security
of the faithful, are desirous of writing  to  you
more at length concerning this whole matter.

The underlying principle of these new opinions is
that, in order to more easily attract  those  who
differ  from  her,  the  Church  should shape her
teachings more in accord with the spirit  of  the
age  and  relax  some of her ancient severity and
make some concessions to new opinions. Many think
that these concessions should be made not only in
regard to ways of living, but even in  regard  to
doctrines  which  belong  to  the  deposit of the
faith. They contend that it would  be  opportune,
in  order  to  gain  those who differ from us, to
omit certain points of her teaching which are  of
lesser  importance,  and to tone down the meaning
which the Church has always attached to them.  It
does  not  need many words, beloved son, to prove
the falsity of these  ideas  if  the  nature  and
origin  of the doctrine which the Church proposes
are recalled to mind. The  Vatican  Council  says
concerning this point: "For the doctrine of faith
which God has revealed  has  not  been  proposed,
like a philosophical invention to be perfected by
human ingenuity, but  has  been  delivered  as  a
divine  deposit  to  the  Spouse  of Christ to be
faithfully kept and  infallibly  declared.  Hence
that  meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually
to be retained which our Holy Mother, the Church,
has once declared, nor is that meaning ever to be
departed from under the pretense or pretext of  a
deeper  comprehension  of  them." -Constitutio de
Fide Catholica, Chapter iv.

We cannot consider as  altogether  blameless  the
silence  which purposely leads to the omission or
neglect of some of the  principles  of  Christian
doctrine,  for  all  the principles come from the
same Author and Master, "the Only  Begotten  Son,
Who  is  in the bosom of the Father."-John i, I8.
They are adapted to all times and all nations, as
is clearly seen from the words of our Lord to His
apostles: "Going, therefore, teach  all  nations;
teaching  them to observe all things whatsoever I
have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all
days,  even  to  the  end  of  the  world."-Matt.
xxviii, 19. Concerning  this  point  the  Vatican
Council   says:  "All  those  things  are  to  be
believed with divine and catholic faith which are
contained  in  the Word of God, written or handed
down, and which the Church, either  by  a  solemn
judgment   or   by  her  ordinary  and  universal
magisterium, proposes for belief as  having  been
divinely revealed."-Const. de fide, Chapter iii.

Let  it be far from anyone's mind to suppress for
any reason any  doctrine  that  has  been  handed
down. Such a policy would tend rather to separate
Catholics from the Church than to bring in  those
who  differ. There is nothing closer to our heart
than to have those who  are  separated  from  the
fold  of Christ return to it, but in no other way
than the way pointed out by Christ.

The rule of life laid down for Catholics  is  not
of  such  a  nature  that  it  cannot accommodate
itself to the exigencies  of  various  times  and
places. (VOL. XXIV-13.) The Church has, guided by
her Divine Master, a kind  and  merciful  spirit,
for  which reason from the very beginning she has
been what St. Paul said of himself: "I became all
things to all men that I might save all."

History proves clearly that the Apostolic See, to
which has been entrusted the mission not only  of
teaching  but  of governing the whole Church, has
continued "in one and the same doctrine, one  and
the  same  sense, and one and the same judgment,"
-- Const. de fide, Chapter iv.

But in regard to ways  of  living  she  has  been
accustomed to so yield that, the divine principle
of  morals  being  kept  intact,  she  has  never
neglected to accommodate herself to the character
and genius of the nations which she embraces.

Who can doubt that she  will  act  in  this  same
spirit  again  if the salvation of souls requires
it? In this matter the Church must be the  judge,
not  private  men  who  are often deceived by the
appearance of right. In this,  all  who  wish  to
escape  the  blame  of  our predecessor, Pius the
Sixth, must concur. He condemned as injurious  to
the  Church  and the spirit of God who guides her
the doctrine contained in proposition lxxviii  of
the  Synod  of Pistoia, "that the discipline made
and approved by the Church should be submitted to
examination,  as if the Church could frame a code
of laws useless or heavier than human liberty can
bear."  But,  beloved son, in this present matter
of which we are speaking, there is even a greater
danger and a more manifest opposition to Catholic
doctrine and discipline in that  opinion  of  the
lovers  of  novelty, according to which they hold
such liberty should be  allowed  in  the  Church,
that  her  supervision  and watchfulness being in
some sense lessened,  allowance  be  granted  the
faithful,  each one to follow out more freely the
leading of his own mind and the trend of his  own
proper  activity.  They  are of opinion that such
liberty has its counterpart in  the  newly  given
civil  freedom  which  is  now  the right and the
foundation of almost every secular state.

In   the   apostolic   letters   concerning   the
constitution  of  states,  addressed by us to the
bishops of the whole Church,  we  discussed  this
point   at   length;  and  there  set  forth  the
difference existing between the Church, which  is
a  divine  society,  and  all  other social human
organizations which depend simply  on  free  will
and choice of men.

It   is   well,   then,  to  particularly  direct
attention to the  opinion  which  serves  as  the
argument in behalf of this greater liberty sought
for and recommended to Catholics.

It  is  alleged  that  now  the  Vatican   decree
concerning  the  infallible teaching authority of
the Roman Pontiff  having  been  proclaimed  that
nothing  further  on  that  score  can  give  any
solicitude, and accordingly, since that has  been
safeguarded  and  put beyond question a wider and
freer field both for thought and action lies open
to  each  one.  But  such  reasoning is evidently
faulty,  since,  if  we  are  to  come   to   any
conclusion from the infallible teaching authority
of the Church, it should rather be  that  no  one
should  wish to depart from it, and moreover that
the minds of  all  being  leavened  and  directed
thereby,  greater  security  from  private  error
would be enjoyed by all. And further,  those  who
avail  themselves of such a way of reasoning seem
to depart seriously from the  over-ruling  wisdom
of  the  Most  High-which  wisdom,  since  it was
pleased to set forth by most solemn decision  the
authority  and  supreme  teaching  rights of this
Apostolic See-willed that decision  precisely  in
order  to  safeguard  the  minds  of the Church's
children from the dangers of these present times.

These dangers, viz., the confounding  of  license
with  liberty,  the  passion  for  discussing and
pouring contempt upon any possible  subject,  the
assumed  right  to  hold  whatever  opinions  one
pleases upon any subject and to set them forth in
print  to  the  world,  have  so wrapped minds in
darkness that there is now a greater need of  the
Church's  teaching  office than ever before, lest
people become unmindful both of conscience and of

We,   indeed,   have   no  thought  of  rejecting
everything that modern  industry  and  study  has
produced;  so  far from it that we welcome to the
patrimony of truth and to an ever-widening  scope
of  public well-being whatsoever helps toward the
progress of learning and virtue. Yet all this, to
be  of  any  solid  benefit,  nay, to have a real
existence  and  growth,  can  only  be   on   the
condition of recognizing the wisdom and authority
of the Church.

Coming now to speak of the conclusions which have
been  deduced  from  the  above opinions, and for
them, we readily believe there was no thought  of
wrong   or   guile,  yet  the  things  themselves
certainly merit some degree of suspicion.  First,
all  external  guidance  is  set  aside for those
souls who are striving after Christian perfection
as being superfluous or indeed, not useful in any
sense -the contention being that the Holy  Spirit
pours   richer  and  more  abundant  graces  than
formerly upon the souls of the faithful, so  that
without  human intervention He teaches and guides
them by some hidden instinct of His own.  Yet  it
is the sign of no small over-confidence to desire
to measure and determine the mode of  the  Divine
communication to mankind, since it wholly depends
upon His own good pleasure,  and  He  is  a  most
generous dispenser 'of his own gifts. "The Spirit
breatheth whereso He listeth." -- John iii, 8.

"And to each one of us grace is  given  according
to  the measure of the giving of Christ." -- Eph.
iv, 7. And shall any one who recalls the  history
of the apostles, the faith of the nascent church,
the trials and deaths of the martyrs- and,  above
all,   those   olden   times,   so   fruitful  in
saints-dare to measure our  age  with  these,  or
affirm  that  they  received  less  of the divine
outpouring from the Spirit of  Holiness?  Not  to
dwell  upon this point, there is no one who calls
in question the truth that the Holy  Spirit  does
work  by  a  secret descent into the souls of the
just and that He stirs them alike by warnings and
impulses,  since  unless  this  were the case all
outward   defense   and   authority   would    be
unavailing. "For if any persuades himself that he
can give assent to saving,  that  is,  to  gospel
truth  when  proclaimed, without any illumination
of the Holy Spirit, who give's unto all sweetness
both  to  assent  and  to  hold,  such  an one is
deceived by a heretical spirit."-From the  Second
Council of Orange, Canon 7.

Moreover,  as  experience  shows, these monitions
and impulses of the Holy Spirit are for the  most
part felt through the medium of the aid and light
of an external teaching authority. To  quote  St.
Augustine.  "He  (the Holy Spirit) co-operates to
the fruit gathered from the good trees, since  He
externally  waters  and  cultivates  them  by the
outward ministry  of  men,  and  yet  of  Himself
bestows  the inward increase."-De Gratia Christi,
Chapter  xix.  This,  indeed,  belongs   to   the
ordinary  law  of God's loving providence that as
He has decreed that men for the most  part  shall
be  saved  by the ministry also of men, so has He
wished that those whom He  calls  to  the  higher
planes  of holiness should be led thereto by men;
hence St. Chrysostom declares we  are  taught  of
God  through the instrumentality of men.-Homily I
in Inscrib. Altar. Of this a striking example  is
given us in the very first days of the Church.

For though Saul, intent upon blood and slaughter,
had heard the voice of our Lord Himself  and  had
asked, "What dost Thou wish me to do?" yet he was
bidden to enter Damascus and search for  Ananias.
Acts  ix:  "Enter  the city and it shall be there
told to thee what thou must do."

Nor can we leave out of consideration  the  truth
that  those  who  are  striving after perfection,
since by that fact they  walk  in  no  beaten  or
well-known  path,  are  the most liable to stray,
and hence have greater  need  than  others  of  a
teacher   and   guide.  Such  guidance  has  ever
obtained in the Church; it has been the universal
teaching  of  those  who throughout the ages have
been eminent for wisdom and sanctity-and hence to
reject  it  would  be  to  commit one's self to a
belief at once rash and dangerous.

A thorough consideration of this  point,  in  the
supposition  that  no  exterior  guide is granted
such souls, will make us see  the  difficulty  of
locating   or   determining   the  direction  and
application of that more abundant influx  of  the
Holy  Spirit so greatly extolled by innovators To
practice virtue there is  absolute  need  of  the
assistance  of the Holy Spirit, yet we find those
who are fond of  novelty  giving  an  unwarranted
importance to the natural virtues, as though they
better responded to the customs  and  necessities
of  the times and that having these as his outfit
man becomes more ready to act and  more  strenous
in  action.  It  is  not  easy  to understand how
persons possessed of Christian wisdom can  either
prefer   natural   to   supernatural  virtues  or
attribute  to  them  a   greater   efficacy   and
fruifulness. Can it be that nature conjoined with
grace is weaker than when left to herself?

Can  it  be  that  those  men   illustrious   for
sanctity,   whom  the  Church  distinguishes  and
openly pays homage to, were deficient, came short
in  the  order  of  nature  and  its  endowments,
because they excelled in Christian strength?  And
although it be allowed at times to wonder at acts
worthy of admiration which  are  the  outcome  of
natural  virtue-is  there  anyone  at all endowed
simply with an outfit of natural virtue? Is there
any  one not tried by mental anxiety, and this in
no light degree? Yet ever to master such, as also
to  preserve  in  its  entirety  the  law  of the
natural order, requires  an  assistance  from  on
high  These  single notable acts to which we have
alluded   will   frequently   upon    a    closer
investigation  be found to exhibit the appearance
rather than the reality of virtue. Grant that  it
is  virtue,  unless we would "run in vain" and be
unmindful of that eternal bliss which a good  God
in  his  mercy has destined for us, of what avail
are natural virtues unless seconded by  the  gift
of  divine  grace? Hence St. Augustine well says:
"Wonderful is the strength, and swift the course,
but  outside the true path." For as the nature of
man, owing to the primal fault,  is  inclined  to
evil  and  dishonor,  yet by the help of grace is
raised up, is borne along with  a  new  greatness
and  strength,  so, too, virtue, which is not the
product of nature alone, but of  grace  also,  is
made  fruitful unto everlasting life and takes on
a more strong and abiding character.

This overesteem of natural virtue finds a  method
of  expression  in assuming to divide all virtues
in active and passive, and  it  is  alleged  that
whereas  passive  virtues  found  better place in
past times, our age is to be characterized by the
active.  That  such  a  division  and distinction
cannot be maintained is patent-for there is  not,
nor   can   there   be,  merely  passive  virtue.
"Virtue," says St.  Thomas  Aquinas,  "designates
the  perfection  of some faculty, but end of such
faculty is an act, and an act of virtue is naught
else  than  the  good  use of free will," acting,
that is to say, under the grace of God if the act
be one of supernatural virtue.

He  alone  could wish that some Christian virtues
be adapted to certain times  and  different  ones
for other times who is unmindful of the apostle's
words:  "That  those   whom   He   foreknew,   He
predestined  to  be made conformable to the image
of His Son."- Romans  viii,  29.  Christ  is  the
teacher  and the exemplar of all sanctity, and to
His standard must all those conform who wish  for
eternal  life. Nor does Christ know any change as
the ages pass, "for He is  yesterday  and  to-day
and  the  same  forever."-Hebrews xiii, 8. To the
men of all ages was the precept given: "Learn  of
Me, because I am meek and humble of heart."-Matt.
xi, 29.

To every age has He been made manifest to  us  as
obedient  even  unto  death;  in  every  age  the
apostle's dictum has its force:  "Those  who  are
Christ's  have  crucified  their  flesh  with its
vices and concupiscences." Would to God that more
nowadays practiced these virtues in the degree of
the  saints  of  past  times,  who  in  humility,
obedience  and  self-restraint  were powerful "in
word and in deed" -to  the  great  advantage  not
only of religion, but of the state and the public

From this disregard of the -  angelical  virtues,
erroneously  styled passive, the step was a short
one to a contempt of the religious life which has
in  some  degree taken hold of minds. That such a
value is generally held by the upholders  of  new
views,   we   infer   from   certain   statements
concerning the vows which religious orders  take.
They  say  vows  are  alien  to the spirit of our
times, in that they limit  the  bounds  of  human
liberty; that they are more suitable to weak than
9Bo strong minds; that so  far  from  making  for
human   perfection   and   the   good   of  human
organization, they are hurtful to both; but  that
this  is  as  false as possible from the practice
and the doctrine of the Church  is  clear,  since
she has always given the very highest approval to
the religious method of life;  nor  without  good
cause,  for  those who under the divine call have
freely  embraced  that  state  of  life  did  not
content   themselves   with   the  observance  of
precepts, but, going forward to  the  evangelical
counsels,  showed  themselves  ready  and valiant
soldiers of Christ. Shall we judge this to  be  a
characteristic  of  weak  minds,  or shall we say
that it is useless or hurtful to a  more  perfect
state of life?

Those  who  so  bind  themselves  by  the vows of
religion, far from  having  suffered  a  loss  of
liberty,  enjoy  that fuller and freer kind, that
liberty, namely, by which  Christ  hath  made  us
free.  And  this  further view of theirs, namely,
that  the  religious  life  is  either   entirely
useless  or  of  little  service  to  the Church,
besides being injurious to the  religious  orders
cannot  be the opinion of anyone who has read the
annals of the Church. Did not your  country,  the
United  States,  derive  the  beginnings  both of
faith and of culture from the children  of  these
religious  families?  to  one  of  whom  but very
lately, a thing greatly to your praise, you  have
decreed  that  a  statue be publicly erected. And
even at the present time wherever  the  religious
families  are  found,  how  speedy  and  yet  how
fruitful a harvest of  good  works  do  they  not
bring  forth!  How  very many leave home and seek
strange lands to impart the truth of  the  gospel
and to widen the bounds of civilization; and this
they  do  with  the  greatest  cheerfulness  amid
manifold  dangers!  Out of their number not less,
indeed, than from the rest  of  the  clergy,  the
Christian  world  finds  the  preachers  of God's
word, the directors of conscience,  the  teachers
of  youth  and  the Church itself the examples of
all sanctity.

Nor should  any  difference  of  praise  be  made
between those who follow the active state of life
and those others who, charmed with solitude, give
themselves  to  prayer  and bodily mortification.
And how much, indeed, of good report  these  have
merited, and do merit, is known surely to all who
do not forget that the "continual prayer  of  the
just man" avails to placate and to bring down the
blessings of heaven when to such  prayers  bodily
mortification is added.

But if there be those who prefer to form one body
without the  obligation  of  the  vows  let  them
pursue  such  a  course.  It  is  not  new in the
Church, nor in any wise censurable. Let  them  be
careful,  however,  not to set forth such a state
above that of religious orders. But rather, since
mankind  are more disposed at the present time to
indulge themselves in  pleasures,  let  those  be
held  in  greater  esteem  "who  having  left all
things have followed Christ."

Finally, not to delay too long, it is stated that
the   way   and  method  hitherto  in  use  among
Catholics for bringing back those who have fallen
away  from  the  Church  should be left aside and
another one  chosen,  in  which  matter  it  will
suffice  to  note  that  it  is  not  the part of
prudence to neglect that which antiquity  in  its
long  experience  has  approved and which is also
taught by  apostolic  authority.  The  scriptures
teach  us  that  it  is  the  duty  of  all to be
solicitous for the salvation of  one's  neighbor,
according  to the power and position of each. The
faithful do this by religiously  discharging  the
duties of their state of life, by the uprightness
of their conduct, by  their  works  of  Christian
charity  and  by earnest and continuous prayer to
God. On the other hand, those who belong  to  the
clergy   should   do   this   by  an  enlightened
fulfillment of their preaching ministry,  by  the
pomp  and  splendor  of  ceremonies especially by
setting forth that sound form of  doctrine  which
Saint Paul inculcated upon Titus and Timothy. But
if, among the different  ways  of  preaching  the
word  of  God  that  one  sometimes  seems  to be
preferable, which directed to non-Catholics,  not
in  churches, but in some suitable place, in such
wise that controversy is not sought, but friendly
conference,  such  a  method is certainly without
fault. But let those who undertake such  ministry
be  set apart by the authority of the bishops and
let them be men whose science and virtue has been
previously  ascertained.  For we think that there
are many in your country who are  separated  from
Catholic   truth   more   by  ignorance  than  by
ill-will, who  might  perchance  more  easily  be
drawn  to the one fold of Christ if this truth be
set forth to them in a friendly and familiar way.

From the foregoing it is manifest,  beloved  son,
that  we  are  not able to give approval to those
views  which,  in  their  collective  sense,  are
called by some "Americanism." But if by this name
are to be understood certain endowments  of  mind
which  belong  to  the  American  people, just as
other characteristics  belong  to  various  other
nations,  and  if,  moreover, by it is designated
your political condition and the laws and customs
by  which you are governed, there is no reason to
take exception to the name. But if this is to  be
so  understood that the doctrines which have been
adverted to above are  not  only  indicated,  but
exalted, there can be no manner of doubt that our
venerable brethren, the bishops of America, would
be the first to repudiate and condemn it as being
most  injurious  to  themselves  and   to   their
country.  For it would give rise to the suspicion
that there are among you some  who  conceive  and
would  have the Church in America to be different
from what it is in the rest of the world.

But the true  church  is  one,  as  by  unity  of
doctrine,  so  by unity of government, and she is
catholic also. Since God has  placed  the  center
and  foundation  of unity in the chair of Blessed
Peter, she is rightly called  the  Roman  Church,
for  "where  Peter  is,  there  is  the  church."
Wherefore, if anybody wishes to be  considered  a
real  Catholic,  he  ought to be able to say from
his  heart  the  selfsame  words   which   Jerome
addressed  to  Pope Damasus: "I, acknowledging no
other leader than Christ, am bound in  fellowship
with  Your  Holiness;  that is, with the chair of
Peter. I know that the church was built upon  him
as  its  rock,  and  that whosoever gathereth not
with you, scattereth."

We having thought it  fitting,  beloved  son,  in
view of your high office, that this letter should
be addressed specially to you. It  will  also  be
our  care  to  see  that  copies  are sent to the
bishops of the United  States,  testifying  again
that love by which we embrace your whole country,
a country which in past times has  done  so  much
for  the cause of religion, and which will by the
Divine assistance continue to  do  still  greater
things.  To  you,  and  to  all  the  faithful of
America, we grant most lovingly, as a  pledge  of
Divine assistance, our apostolic benediction.

Given  at Rome, from St. Peter's, the 22nd day of
January,  1899,  and  the  thirty-first  of   our


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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-- Thomas Penn

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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.