Allocution of Pope Pius IX

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Multiplices Inter Machinationes (1865)

Allocution of His Holiness Pope Pius IX condemning Freemasonry,
given to Cardinals gathered in Consistory on Sep. 25, 1865

(Not to be confused with the encyclical Inter Multiplices of 1853)


Venerable Brethren: Amongst the numerous machinations and means by which the enemies of the Christian name have dared to attack the Church of God and have tried, though in vain, to beat it down and to destroy it, it is certainly necessary to include that perverse society of men, commonly called “Masonic,” which, first contained in darkness and obscurity, has since come to light for the common ruin of religion and human society.

Since Our predecessors the Roman Pontiffs, faithful to their pastoral office, discovered its snares and deceptions, they deemed there was not a moment to spare in reprimanding by their authority, striking with condemnation and exterminating as with a sword this sect breathing forth iniquity and attacking holy as well as public things. That is why Our predecessor Clement XII, by his apostolic letters, proscribed and condemned this sect, and turned away all the faithful not only from associating with it, but also from propagating and encouraging it in any manner whatsoever, under the pain of incurring excommunication ipso facto. Benedict XIV confirmed by his constitution this just and legitimate sentence of condemnation, and he did not fail to exhort Catholic sovereigns to devote all their strength and solicitude to suppressing this profoundly perverse sect and to defending society against common peril.

Would to Heaven that the monarchs had heeded the words of Our predecessor! Would to Heaven that in such a grave matter they had acted with less softness! Certainly We (and our fathers also) would never then have had to lament so many seditious movements, so many incendiary wars which have put all of Europe on fire, or so many bitter evils which have afflicted and still do afflict the Church. But the fury of the wicked having been far from appeased, Pius VII, Our predecessor, anathematized a sect of recent origins, the Carbonari, which especially propagated itself in Italy, where it gained a great number of followers; and, inflamed with the same zeal for souls, Leo XII condemned through his apostolic letters not only the secret societies We have just mentioned, but also all the others, by whatever name they be called, conspiring against the Church and civil authority, and he strictly forbade them to all the faithful under pain of excommunication.

However, these efforts of the Apostolic See did not have the success for which one had hoped. The Masonic sect of which We speak was neither defeated nor struck down: on the contrary, it grew so much that in these difficult days it shows itself everywhere with impunity, and lifts its head more boldly than ever before. We have therefore judged it necessary to return to this subject, considering that due to the ignorance one might have of the nefarious schemings which take place in these clandestine meetings, one might believe falsely that the nature of this society is inoffensive, that this institution has no other aim than to help men and to come to their aid in adversity, and that there is after all nothing to fear for the Church of God.

But who does not see how much such an idea is far removed from the truth? What is it then that this association of men of every religion and every belief claims? Why these clandestine meetings and why such a strict oath mandated for its initiates, who promise to disclose nothing of what might be relayed there? And why the alarming severity of punishments to which the initiates bind themselves, in case they should happen to break the oath? Certainly, it must be impious and criminal, a society that flees the day and the light in this way; for the one who does evil, says the Apostle, hates the light. How different from such an association the pious societies of the faithful which flourish in the Catholic Church! Among them, nothing is hidden, there are no secrets. The rules which govern them are before the eyes of all, and all can also see the works of charity practiced according to the teaching of the Gospel.

Also, it is not without sorrow that We have seen Catholic societies of this kind, so salutary, so well made for exciting piety and coming to the aid of the poor, attacked and even destroyed in certain places, while on the other hand the dark Masonic society is encouraged or at least tolerated, so inimical to God and to the Church, so dangerous even for the security of kingdoms.

We experience, Venerable Brethren, bitterness and pain in seeing that when it is a matter of condemning this sect according to the constitutions of Our predecessors, many of those whose duty and office’s responsibility ought to render them full of vigilance and ardor for so serious a matter, show themselves indifferent and, so to speak, asleep. If some think that the apostolic constitutions issued against the secret sects and their followers and abettors under pain of anathema have no force in the countries where these sects are tolerated by the civil authority, they are most certainly in very great error. As you know, Venerable Brethren, We have already reproved this false and evil doctrine, and today we again reprove and condemn it. This supreme authority to feed all of the Lord’s flock, which the Roman Pontiffs have received from Christ in the person of the blessed apostle Peter, and consequently the supreme magisterium they must exercise in the Church, are they dependent upon the civil authority and can they be stopped without reason and restrained by the latter?

In this situation, fearing that imprudent men, and especially the youth, allow themselves to be misled, and that Our silence occasion anyone to protect error, We have resolved, Venerable Brethren, to raise Our apostolic voice; and, confirming here, before you, the constitutions of Our predecessors, by Our apostolic authority, We reprove and condemn this Masonic society and the others of the same kind, which, while differing in appearance, gather every day for the same goal, and conspire either openly or clandestinely against the Church and the legitimate authorities; and We order under the same penalties as those specified in the preceding constitutions of Our predecessors all Christians of every condition, every rank, every dignity, and every country, to regard these same societies as proscribed and condemned by Us. Now there only remains for Us, in order to satisfy the desires and solicitude of Our paternal heart, to warn and exhort the faithful who would associate themselves with sects of this kind of the necessity to obey wiser inspirations and to abandon these baneful secret meetings, so that they not be led into the abyss of eternal ruin. As for all of the other faithful, full of solicitude for souls, We strongly exhort you to guard yourselves against the perfidious discourse of the sectarians who, beneath an apparent decency, are inflamed with an ardent hatred for the religion of Christ and for legitimate authority, and who have but one single thought as one single goal, namely to annihilate all divine and human laws. May they be well aware that the affiliates of these sects are as the wolves Christ Our Lord foretold must come, covered with sheepskin in order to devour the flock! May they know it is necessary to count them among those whom the Apostle so much forbade us their company and access, that he expressly prohibited even saying to them ave (greetings)! [cf. 2 Jn 10-11] May God, Who is rich in mercy, graciously hearing the prayers of us all, have, with the help of His grace, the senseless come back to reason and men who are astray return to the path of justice! May God rebuke the fury of depraved men who, with the help of the aforementioned societies, prepare impious and criminal acts, and may the Church and human society be able to rest a little from such numerous and inveterate evils! And so that our desires may be graciously heard, let us also pray to our advocate before the most clement God, the Most Holy Virgin, His Mother, immaculate from the beginning, to whom it was given to strike down the enemies of the Church and the monsters of error! Let us also implore the protection of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, by whose glorious blood this noble city was consecrated! We have confidence that with their help and assistance We shall more easily obtain what We ask the Divine Goodness.

[translated by Novus Ordo Watch from the French at http://www.virgo-maria.org/references/references_html/Pie_IX/1865-09-25_SS_PIUS_IX-MULTIPLICES-INTER.html]