The Catholic Church Is Still Beefing With the Freemasons, But at Least Trans People Can Be Baptized

This is some serious grudge-holding by an institution known for holding grudges for millennia.
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Back in 1738, Pope Clement XII got his vestments in a knot over the Freemasons. There was an investigation in Italy, and then a nasty wrangle with a French cardinal. So Clement XII issued In Eminenti, which forbade Catholics from joining the Freemasons. Clement's bill of particulars was a bit thin.

Now it has come to Our ears, and common gossip has made clear, that certain Societies, Companies, Assemblies, Meetings, Congregations or Conventicles called in the popular tongue Liberi Muratori or Francs Massons or by other names according to the various languages, are spreading far and wide and daily growing in strength; and men of any Religion or sect, satisfied with the appearance of natural probity, are joined together, according to their laws and the statutes laid down for them, by a strict and unbreakable bond which obliges them, both by an oath upon the Holy Bible and by a host of grievous punishment, to an inviolable silence about all that they do in secret together.

But it is in the nature of crime to betray itself and to show itself by its attendant clamor. Thus these aforesaid Societies or Conventicles have caused in the minds of the faithful the greatest suspicion, and all prudent and upright men have passed the same judgment on them as being depraved and perverted. For if they were not doing evil they would not have so great a hatred of the light. Indeed, this rumor has grown to such proportions that in several countries these societies have been forbidden by the civil authorities as being against the public security, and for some time past have appeared to be prudently eliminated.

Ironclad ecclesiastical innuendo. Also the beginning of a couple of centuries worth of weird conspiracy theories, as well as one banjaxed American national election in 1828. Subsequent popes renewed the ban 11 times. This weekend, Papa Francesco joined the parade.

"Active membership in Freemasonry by a member of the faithful is prohibited, because of the irreconcilability between Catholic doctrine and Freemasonry," the Vatican's doctrinal office said in a letter published by Vatican media on Wednesday. The department, known as the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith, issued its opinion, dated Nov. 13 and countersigned by Pope Francis, in response to a bishop from the Philippines alarmed by the growing number of Freemasons in his country.

I mean, come on. A decree from an 18th-century pope based on rumors and political disinformation, and one nervous Philippine bishop? This is some serious grudge-holding by an institution known for holding grudges for millennia. Masons stopped controlling the world when Dan Brown busted them a few years back in that whole Da Vinci scam. Let them up now.

More seriously, Papa Francesco has spent the last couple of weeks straightening out some people. The same office through which he renewed the prohibition on Masonry, he announced that trans people can be baptized, and that they can participate in some liturgies such as witnessing at weddings. Then he straightened out the Diocese of Tyler, Texas. He dismissed the diocese's bishop, Joseph Strickland, one of his more virulent conservative critics who refused to resign even after Vatican investigators asked him to do so.


Strickland is one serious piece of work. He is a staunch supporter of Fulton County (Ga.) Inmate No. P01135809, unquestionably the biggest outright heathen ever to be elected president. He has opposed all of this pope's outreach to LGBTQ+ Catholics, and he has done so publicly, all over social media, and in rhetoric that virtually condemns the pope a heretic. From ABC News:

“Regrettably, it may be that some will label as schismatics those who disagree with the changes being proposed,” Strickland said of the Pope’s meeting agenda. “Instead, those who would propose changes to that which cannot be changed seek to commandeer Christ’s Church, and they are indeed the true schismatics.”

Of course, Strickland was adored by the conservative MAGA faction of American Catholics, which has been the source of most of the mischief during the current papacy. However, one parishioner from Strickland's diocese took to the pages of the National Catholic Reporter to explain why he had to go.

Watching the bishop accuse the pope of doctrinal error without a lick of proof and then pour so much love into the eucharistic Lord confused me. My sense of unity, so nurtured in my journey into the church, was ripped away as my thoughts became flooded with confusion and my mind became divided on who to believe. I was scandalized from then on, filled with anxiety about who was telling the truth and who wasn't.

I started praying daily for God to show me the truth, and slowly I started to gain clarity. One of the first such moments for me was seeing Strickland openly and flippantly tell Catholics not to worry about racism. As an African American Catholic who works hard to overcome the barrier of racism, I was angered to see him casually dismiss the issue without any accountability. Further, to see him talk about how he loved Jesus one moment, then openly support people like Fr. James Altman the next — a man who believes that lynchings were justified — angered me even more.

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As time went on, the chasm only deepened. He increasingly made unsubstantiated claims against Pope Francis, pitting him against Jesus and accusing him of having a "program of undermining the Deposit of Faith." He even planted seeds of doubt about the faithfulness of the magisterium in the hearts of the lay faithful, publicly encouraging them in a pastoral letter to reject the ongoing synod on synodality. He also readily signed a document accusing the pope of teaching heresy in his 2022 apostolic letter Desiderio Desideravi. Most recently, at the Rome Life Forum, Strickland shared and supported a sedevacantist letter that stated Pope Francis is not the "true pope" and implied that the Holy Father promotes abortion and unrepentance — despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

Maintaining the ban on Freemasons is one thing. But openly rooting for a new Great Schism is a little too much Living History for my taste.

From: Esquire US

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About The Author
Charles P. Pierce
Charles P. Pierce, lead for Esquire Politics US, has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.
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