TIA’s smear job continues…
Pope Pius IX and Freemasonry:
A Second Rebuttal to Tradition in Action
On November 3, 2016, we published a hard-hitting response to a post by Tradition in Action that sought to implicate Pope Pius IX in Freemasonry. Under the cover of offering a “contribution to the historical-theological-canonical debate”, Tradition in Action (TIA) published as “evidence” the claims of Freemasons (!) that before ascending to the Papacy, Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti (the future Pius IX) had been a member of the Lodge. We rebutted the outrageous accusation here:
This calumny against Pope Pius IX is not new and apparently only emerged, as our refutation shows, as an act of simple revenge against the Pope after he had issued a blistering condemnation of Masonry in September of 1865. More on that further below.
There is little doubt that this false accusation against Pius IX will gain in popularity in the coming months because it will come in handy for all those who are looking for a reason to say that although it is clear that Jorge Bergoglio (“Pope Francis”) is a public heretic, he is nevertheless a valid Pope of the Catholic Church.
Make no mistake about it: The only reason — or at least the main reason — why TIA is trying to smear Pius IX is to establish historical precedent for the idea that a public heretic or apostate can nevertheless be (or become) a true Pope. This is the motivation here, which also explains the curious timing. (For the same reason, “Bishop” Athanasius Schneider recently repeated the widespread falsehood that Pope Liberius once excommunicated St. Athanasius and sided with the Arians, something we have refuted here. We can expect to see a lot more of this very soon.)
After our initital rebuttal on the Pius IX controversy, TIA responded with two follow-up posts, which we will now address:
- Explosion of Hatred from Sede-Vacantists (Nov. 8, 2016)
- Recent Study on Pius IX by a Mason (Nov. 19, 2016)
As far as that “explosion of hatred” mentioned in the title of the first post is concerned, notice that the editors of TIA are not ashamed to lower themselves to using the lingo of the pagan left, who try to deflect any type of criticism a priori by immediately labeling it as “hate” or “hatred”. If you look at the sedevacantist emails TIA has published on that page, you will see that they are indeed full of vehement criticism and scathing rebukes — perhaps even anger, which would be justified — but “hatred”, in the proper sense of the term, is nowhere to be found. In fact, hatred is a passion, not an action. It can serve as a motive for an action, but the mere fact that someone issues a rebuke or becomes angry does not mean that he does so out of a motive of hate (see, for example, our Lord’s severe reprimand of the pharisees in Mt 23:13-33). Hatred is a very strong word, and to accuse another of it merely for rebuking you is not right (cf. Mt 7:1-2). Using the term in the way TIA (and the secular left) does, however, serves their goal of predisposing their readers to side against sedevacantists from the outset.
In response to these two posts by TIA, we shall proceed as follows: We will first comment on the more recent one, dated Nov. 19, and then on the one with that “explosion of hatred”:
(1) TIA Doubles Down: “Recent Study on Pius IX by a Mason”
Instead of abandoning their campaign against Pope Pius IX and apologizing, TIA saw fit to double down on their efforts and release a second study on Pius IX that was likewise written by a member of the Masonic Lodge, one Mr. James A. Marples. The study is roughly six pages in length and not dated. It is entitled “The Likelihood of Pope Pius IX being a Freemason.”
TIA prefaces the study with the following disclaimer:
Today we continue our series investigating whether the great and holy Pius IX was a member of Freemasonry in his earlier years. This analysis is similar to one that could be undertaken asking whether St. Paul, before his conversion, was a member of the sect of the Pharisees – responsible for the crime of Deicide. It is a historical question seeking objective data that does not tarnish the glory of the Apostle.
These precedents offer hope to those who have entered on the progressivist or masonic paths that they can change with correspondence to grace and devotion to Our Lady, which Pius IX had. In fact, they can even become great combatants against those evils, as Pius IX did.
Before presenting studies from Catholic sources, we offer another document of a Mason, James A. Marpels, who studied the topic extensively and reached the conclusion that Giovanni Mastai-Ferreti was a Mason. Some of his affirmations confirm while others contradict the previous document we posted from other Masons.
We neither endorse nor deny these affirmations. As we stated before, we are still in the phase of collecting data from different sources so that we might know the objective reality.
(“Recent Study on Pius IX by a Mason”, Tradition in Action, Nov. 19, 2016)
The TIA editor here attempts to draw a parallel between Pope Pius IX’s early years and the persecution of the Church by Saul of Tarsus, the anti-Christian Jew who later became St. Paul the Apostle. There is just one little difference: St. Paul had a conversion on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9:1-20), a conversion that is publicly known and that followed a persecution of the Church which St. Paul never ceased to lament.
But where is Pope Pius IX’s public repudiation of his alleged membership in the Masonic Sect? Of course there can be no repudiation of Masonic membership if he never was a Mason, so this explains his silence very well. But how does this silence fit into TIA’s position? Do they not realize that their accusation — pardon, investigation — has consequences into the pontificate of Pius IX as well? How can they hail him as a “great and holy” Pope if he never repudiated the membership in the Lodge they believe he may very well have possessed as a Catholic priest and/or bishop? Would a great and holy Pope not be happy to announce to the world that by the miracle of God’s grace, he found the strength to turn his back on the diabolical work of the Freemasons?
One cannot help but wonder if TIA considers membership in the Masonic Sect to be a trifling offense, a peccadillo. Let us recall that the goal of Freemasonry is to wipe Catholicism from the face of the earth. True, their efforts are also directed at all organized religion, but especially at the Catholic Church. No greater opposition exists between God and the devil than exists between Catholicism and Freemasonry:
The opposition of all the brances of Freemasonry … to the Catholic Church is essential and ineradicable, for it is the opposition of naturalism to the Supernatural Life of the Mystical Body of Christ and to the organisation of society based on the infinite dignity of that Life. In other words, it is the opposition of Anti-Christ to Christ.
(Mgr. George E. Dillon, Grand Orient Freemasonry Unmasked [Palmdale, CA: Christian Book Club of America, 1999], p. 19; reprint of original 1950 edition.)
Nor is this something that a young Father or Bishop Mastai-Ferretti (the future Pius IX) could have been ignorant of, because the papal condemnations of Freemasonry were already well-known in the days before Pius IX ascended to the Roman Pontificate. Mastai-Ferretti would have had to deliberately spit Christ in the Face to join the Masons against the severest ecclesiastical prohibitions.
Consider, for example, the encyclical Quo Graviora of Pope Leo XII, issued on March 13, 1826, which summarizes the papal legislation that had been enacted up until this point, and which was being confirmed by Pope Leo — including automatic excommunication for all taking part in Masonic assemblies (whether they be members or not) or aiding or abetting the Masons in any way, an excommunication reserved to the Holy See, meaning that only the Roman Pontiff himself can absolve from it. This severest possible penalty was first enacted by Pope Clement XII in 1738:
Wherefore We command most strictly and in virtue of holy obedience, all the faithful of whatever state, grade, condition, order, dignity or pre-eminence, whether clerical or lay, secular or regular, even those who are entitled to specific and individual mention, that none, under any pretext or for any reason, shall dare or presume to enter, propagate or support these aforesaid societies of Liberi Muratori or Francs Massons [Freemasons], or however else they are called, or to receive them in their houses or dwellings or to hide them, be enrolled among them, joined to them, be present with them, give power or permission for them to meet elsewhere, to help them in any way, to give them in any way advice, encouragement or support either openly or in secret, directly or indirectly, on their own or through others; nor are they to urge others or tell them, incite or persuade them to be enrolled in such societies or to be counted among their number, or to be present or to assist them in any way; but they must stay completely clear of such Societies, Companies, Assemblies, Meetings, Congregations or Conventicles, under pain of excommunication for all the above mentioned people, which is incurred by the very deed without any declaration being required, and from which no one can obtain the benefit of absolution, other than at the hour of death, except through Ourselves or the Roman Pontiff of the time.
(Pope Clement XII, Bull In Eminenti; underlining added.)
An automatic excommunication reserved to the Holy See is the most severe penalty the Catholic Church can impose (although this reservation itself is subdivided further into three degrees). In other words, joining the Freemasons is among the most serious crimes that can be envisioned, and it is easy to see why! Yet, TIA openly speculates about whether the good Pope Pius IX had completely disregarded these most serious warnings and incurred this excommunication before ascending the Papacy, without ever so much as making a public renunciation of the membership he is alleged to have held!
TIA’s disclaimer that they “neither endorse nor deny these affirmations” against Pius IX is not enough, for they are publishing their findings to the world. They claim they are “still in the phase of collecting data from different sources so that we might know the objective reality”, but in the meantime, they are bewildering and confusing Catholics around the globe, not to mention besmirching the good name of one of the most glorious Pontiffs ever to reign in the history of the Church.
If the editors of TIA would like to engage in objective historical research that takes into consideration even the testimony of Freemasons, they are perhaps entitled to do so — but only in private. Publishing documents by Freemasons that accuse a Pope of having joined the sworn enemies of Christ, is a monstrous scandal. To add the caveat that, basically, “we don’t know if this is true”, makes the matter even more reprehensible in a sense, because now you have accusations of the most serious sort being hurled at a Pontiff by people who admit that they might be totally baseless.
(2) TIA’s Attempt at Justification, and that Sedevacantist “Explosion of Hatred”
TIA’s other post, that entitled “Explosion of Hatred from Sede-Vacantists” and likewise linked above, is preceded by a substantial “Note from the Editor”, which seeks to justify the smear campaign against Pope Pius IX on the grounds that we must “not deny historical evidence” even when such evidence puts a Pope in a bad light. That is certainly true, but it is beside the point, because our whole contention is that this “evidence” is fraudulent — not necessarily because it comes to us from Freemasons but because it has been shown to have been made up by Masons. That is what is so reprehensible: TIA is using as “evidence” lies promoted by the avowed enemies of Christ. We have yet to see a single piece of “evidence” against Pius IX that does not ultimately stem from the Freemasons themselves.
To add insult to injury, in the “Explosion of Hatred” post, TIA claims that we sedevacantists “dishonestly manipulate the historical facts to fit [our] theories.” Do we really? In our first rebuttal we already cited evidence that exposed the charges against Pius IX as calumnious, and we will now add another one, to which we were kindly pointed by one of our readers. Have a look:
Freemasonry, as the chief secret society of the world, and the type of all others, had been constantly condemned by the Holy See. In the Consistory of September 25, 1865, Pius IX. condemned it in the most explicit terms, to remove all doubts and call back any Catholics who in good faith had been allured within those societies. The gentlemen who boast of being always on the square resorted to a strange argument. To counteract the teaching of the Pope they pretended that he had himself been a mason. The story started in Germany, and they thought that by putting the scene in America they would escape detection. They declared positively that Pius IX. had been received into a masonic lodge in Philadelphia, cited his discourses, and declared that a number of his autographs were preserved in the lodge. Unfortunately for the story Philadelphia is in the civilized world. People there could read and write. They examined and found that there was no masonic lodge in that city of the name given; they found that no lodge in Philadelphia had ever received John Mary Mastai; they could find no trace of his ever having been there, as in fact he never was; that no lodge had any of his autograph letters; masons themselves attested that the whole was a pure invention. The slander thus refuted has been revived from time to time, but in later versions care is taken not to specify the lodge or city too distinctly.
(John Gilmary Shea, The Life of Pope Pius IX [New York: Thomas Kelly, 1878], pp. 290-292; underlining added.)
So who is distorting the historical evidence? Who is the one who “care[s] little about the historical reality”?
Just as it is wrong to deny genuine historical evidence, so it is wrong to give credence to fabricated historical pseudo-evidence, used to discredit the Catholic Church and the Vicar of Christ. Looking at whom TIA is quoting for their “evidence”, what do we find? Credible historians with access to independent, objective sources? No, only the say-so of the declared enemies of Christ, the Masons themselves! This is what makes it so disgraceful.
Certainly, TIA says they have read about Pius IX’s alleged Freemasonry “in many books written by good historians”, but so far they have quoted only the Masons. Could it be that the “good historians” they are alluding to here are all basing their claims on the testimony of the Masons? It doesn’t matter how many historians make claims about a matter if the foundation for all these claims is ultimately the same biased and untrustworthy source.
Commenting on the justified sedevacantist outrage at their quoting of Masonic sources against the Vicar of Christ, TIA asserts further:
This in itself is contradictory since the same sede-vacantists, who offend at their will all the Popes they deem invalid, now are overcome by a sudden horror when we raise an honest historical question about the early life of Pius IX. We find them dramatically pulling out their hair and shouting furiously against “calumniating” Pius IX; a position not so different from that of Muslims when they find someone criticizing Mahomet or the Koran.
(A. S. Guimaraes, “Note from the Editor”, in “Explosion of Hatred from Sede-Vacantists”, Nov. 8, 2016)
There is not the least bit of a contradiction here. As we explained in our first rebuttal, “Similar accusations against the Novus Ordo ‘popes’, on the other hand, are not at all baseless, for they (1) act like Masons; (2) speak like Masons; (3) embrace Masonic doctrine, something that cannot at all be said of Pius IX,” neither before nor after his election to the Papacy. In addition, we clarified our position as follows:
It ultimately doesn’t matter whether any of the Vatican II “popes” were Masons or not. What matters is that they publicly behaved like Masons and not like Catholics — openly professing the doctrines of Freemasonry about human dignity, freedom, equality, indifferentism, etc. — for it is that which essentially makes one unable to be a legitimate Pope or even a member of the Catholic Church.
(Novus Ordo Watch, “Tradition in Action uses Masonic Source to implicate Pope Pius IX in Freemasonry”, Nov. 3, 2016)
We fail to see a contradiction between our position on the false Novus Ordo popes and our position on true Roman Catholic Popes. Trying to draw a parallel between our stance and that of “Muslims when they find someone criticizing Mahomet or the Koran”, is nothing more than a rhetorical cheap shot that relies on the “guilt by association” fallacy, aimed at gratuitously causing suspicion against Sedevacantism.
Regarding our contention that TIA is trying to smear Pius IX in order to support the notion that Francis is a legitimate Pope, TIA claims that “[t]he unusual and childish character of this … allegation, as well as the timing of the e-mails that all flowed in at [the] same time seem to reveal that the messages were requested by the same person: the editor of Novus Ordo Watch….”
Really now? First, there is nothing unusual or childish about the idea that they’re bringing this up in order to sustain their position of Francis being a true Pope. In fact, they did a similar thing with Pope Benedict XV shortly after the election of Fr. Joseph Ratzinger as “Pope” Benedict XVI in 2005. Secondly, the editor of Novus Ordo Watch did not request anyone to email TIA. The fact that TIA received a number of messages from sedevacantists upset about their Masonic libel against Pius IX is presumably simply the natural result of people reading Novus Ordo Watch and then going to the TIA web site’s contact form to send them feedback via email. Is this scenario really so implausible that the editors of TIA cannot fathom anyone doing it? Our readers are not stupid; they are not “obedient fellow travelers”, nor would we want them to be. They are intelligent people who can think and act for themselves.
Then comes an accusation that is directed at the editor of Novus Ordo Watch but can probably be extended to any sedevacantist, namely, that he “decides who is pope and who is not and who is a true traditionalist or not….” Obviously, who is and isn’t Pope has nothing to do with any sedevacantist deciding anything, but who can resist such a rhetorically effective straw man?
What the sedevacantist does, as anyone must, is put two and two together. Just as it is possible to determine, objectively, who is a Catholic, so it is possible to determine who is not a Catholic, for the one logically implies the other. But since, as Pope Leo XIII taught, “it is absurd to imagine that he who is outside can command in the Church” (Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 15), it follows necessarily that Francis is not the Pope of the Catholic Church. That Francis is not a Catholic is being shouted from the rooftops all over the semi-traditionalist world, especially at the TIA web site. It cannot be denied. But a non-Catholic Pope makes as much sense as a married bachelor, and hence to admit that Francis is not a Catholic is to admit that he is not the Pope. You cannot have the former without the latter.
It is ironic that the people at TIA and their theological brethren, who apparently do not consider themselves “competent” enough to “decide” that Francis isn’t the Pope, nevertheless have no qualms about deciding everything else: They decide all the time what is and isn’t genuine Catholic doctrine, what is and isn’t traditional, what liturgical rite is and isn’t acceptable, what Church law does and doesn’t have to be followed, what is and isn’t scandalous, what is and isn’t magisterial, what does and doesn’t need to be “resisted”, etc., ad nauseam. Yet somehow, when it comes to the one question on which hinges the entire legitimacy of any and all resistance to what purports to be papal and magisterial — the question of whether the authority behind the systematic destruction of Catholicism is that of the Vicar of Christ or the devil himself — all of a sudden they do not think themselves competent enough to decide!
It’s amazing how that works. Who is competent, according to them? Francis? Why, then, is he not competent to decide anything else for them?
The tragic fact is that, when all is said and done, the folks at Tradition in Action simply do not believe in the Papacy. That’s why they can accuse legitimate Roman Pontiffs of heresy or membership in Freemasonry without batting an eye.
For those who are tired of reading, we present the following video as a quick introduction to what consequences follow from affirming that a particular individual is Pope:
Not really understanding or adhering to the true Catholic teaching on the Papacy is not something confined to TIA alone. It is a symptom common to recognize-and-resist traditionalists in general, and probably found nowhere more pronounced than among the contributors to the semi-trad flagship publication The Remnant.
Let’s have a look at just one example: In a recent edition of their Remnant Forum broadcast, the editor, Michael Matt, asked his colleague Christopher Ferrara whether Francis is “an Antipope in the making”. Ferrara’s stunning response reveals precisely everything that is wrong with the recognize-and-resist position. He said: “I really don’t care what label you apply to him at this point…” (source; see 6:45-6:57 min mark)!
And there you have the disaster that is anti-sedevacantist recognize-and-resist theology in all its glory: To them, the Papacy is nothing but a label, an empty shell, enjoying a primacy of honor at best, something that one can equally predicate of an individual or not, with absolutely no difference in practical consequences. Whether someone be the Vicar of Christ or the Vicar of the Devil, or anything in between, it is all the same to them. It just doesn’t matter to Ferrara & Co.
This is heresy.
What did Pope Pius IX teach about this?
Nor can we pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that “without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church’s general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals.” But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church.
(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Quanta Cura, n. 5)
If anyone thus speaks, that the Roman Pontiff has only the office of inspection or direction, but not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world; or, that he possesses only the more important parts, but not the whole plenitude of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate, or over the churches altogether and individually, and over the pastors and the faithful altogether and individually: let him be anathema.
(Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch. 3; Denz. 1831)
It is not difficult to see that it matters a great deal whether Francis is an Antipope or not. For Mr. Ferrara to declare that he doesn’t care whether Francis is Pope or Antipope, shows that he has not understood — or simply does not adhere to — the Church’s doctrine on the Papacy. In either case, he has no business advising countless viewers and subscribers about what is and isn’t the Catholic thing to do, think, or say.
By the way, for those who may have lost sight of the fact that the Catholic Church teaches submission to the Pope is necessary for salvation, here is a little reminder from the fourteenth century:
This authority, however, (though it has been given to man and is exercised by man), is not human but rather divine, granted to Peter by a divine word and reaffirmed to him (Peter) and his successors by the One Whom Peter confessed, the Lord saying to Peter himself, “Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven” etc., [Mt 16:19]. Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God [Rom 13:2], unless he invent like Manicheus two beginnings, which is false and judged by us heretical, since according to the testimony of Moses, it is not in the beginnings but in the beginning that God created heaven and earth [Gen 1:1]. Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.
(Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam; Denz. 469; underlining added.)
That no one in the recognize-and-resist camp actually submits to Francis is as plain as day. John Vennari wouldn’t even let the guy teach his children catechism.
Of course, this position of indifference — that it doesn’t matter whether Francis is Pope — is a stance the semi-traditionalist finds himself forced into, as it were, because it is the politically-correct, semi-face-saving synthesis of (1) the undeniable reality that Francis is an anti-Catholic, on the one hand, and (2) the semi-trad’s stubborn refusal to accept the truth of Sedevacantism, on the other. Ferrara may perhaps consider himself awfully magnanimous in ostensibly conceding that perhaps Francis isn’t Pope after all, but the truth is that to say it doesn’t matter whether Jorge Bergoglio is the Vicar of Christ or not, as Ferrara now does, is even worse than claiming that he is. We’ve argued the issue at length before:
- Is Francis a Valid Pope? Why it Does Matter
- Comedy Hour at The Remnant: Response to Hilary White
- Those “Pitfalls of False Logic”: Response to Mundabor on the Papacy
- Have the Gates of Hell prevailed?
Whether you hold that Francis is or isn’t Pope, for Heaven’s sake, don’t say it doesn’t matter! The Papacy has consequences.
All Catholics are called to love and be devoted to the Pope, not simply as a ceremonial head but as what he truly is, the Vicar of Jesus Christ:
This was underscored in particular by Pope St. Pius X, certainly a model Pope and cleric in every respect:
When one loves the pope one does not stop to debate about what he advises or demands, to ask how far the rigorous duty of obedience extends and to mark the limit of this obligation. When one loves the pope, one does not object that he has not spoken clearly enough, as if he were obliged to repeat into the ear of each individual his will, so often clearly expressed, not only viva voce, but also by letters and other public documents; one does not call his orders into doubt on the pretext – easily advanced by whoever does not wish to obey – that they emanate not directly from him, but from his entourage; one does not limit the field in which he can and should exercise his will; one does not oppose to the authority of the pope that of other persons, however learned, who differ in opinion from the pope. Besides, however great their knowledge, their holiness is wanting, for there can be no holiness where there is disagreement with the pope.
(Pope St. Pius X, Address to the Priests of the Apostolic Union, Nov. 18, 1912; in Acta Apostolicae Sedis 4 , p. 695)
The folks at TIA may wish to begin their devotion to the Pope by at least refraining from publishing anti-papal agitprop authored by the avowed minions of Antichrist.
Just an idea.