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Stephen Knight The Brotherhood The Secret World Of The Freemasons

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  • #46
    PART THREE Powers Temporal and Spiritual
    CHAPTER TWENTY TWO Government
    Almost every local authority in the country has its own Freemasonic Lodge, the temple often situated actually within the Town or County Hall. These local government Lodges are known variously as 'A Borough Lodge', 'B County Lodge, 'C Town Hall Lodge' or'DCouncil Lodge', depending where they are. In London alone there are no fewer than twenty-four Lodges which from their names in the Masonic Year Book can be identified as being based on local authorities. * There are at least as many again in Greater London whose identity is cloaked under a classical or other obscuring title like 'Harmony'.

    In addition to these there are the Lodges based upon the City of London Corporation, with which I deal in Chapter 24, and the Greater London Council Lodge No 2603 for officers and members of the GLC, originally consecrated as the London County Council Lodge in 1896.

    cloaked under a classical or other obscuring title like 'Harmony'.

    In addition to these there are the Lodges based upon the City of London Corporation, with which I deal in Chapter 24, and the Greater London Council Lodge No 2603 for officers and members of the GLC, originally consecrated as the London County Council Lodge in 1896.

    In the provinces, most County Councils and district councils and many parish councils have their own Lodge.

    :The boroughs of Acton, Bethnal Green, Camberwell, Finchley, Finsbury, Greenwich, Hackney, Islington, Newham, St Pancras, Shoreditch, Stepney, Woolwich; Barnet London Borough Council; City of London; City of Westminster; Greater London Council; Guildhall; Holborn Boro' Council; Lambeth Boro' Council; St Marylebone Borough Council; Tower Hamlets; Wandsworth Borough Council; Westminster City Council.

    One thing is clean the vast majority of councillors and officials join these Lodges, rather than a Lodge based on a geographical area or on an institution or profession, because they believe it increases their influence over local affairs.

    How realistic is this belief, strongly denied by some but generally acknowledged by the more honest of local authority Masons, especially after one or two whiskies?

    The basis for what criticism there has been of the concept of local authority Lodges is that they undermine the process of democracy.

    For democracy to work at its best there has to be a party system, preferably with at least two strong parties politically at odds. The British system of democracy avoids widespread corruption in government by a series of checks and balances. One of the most important of these is an official Opposition party. The Opposition has a duty to oppose the majority party that forms the government. Only by the criticism and constant watchfulness of an Opposition can a government be kept up to the mark. The bad points of the ruling party are by this means constantly shown to the public, and if its strengths do not outweigh its weaknesses the government will eventually, in theory, fall.

    This efficient system of keeping government inefficiency and corruption to a minimum can scarcely be threatened when it comes to central government, where there are so many checks and balances and where both Press and public are vigilant in the extreme. But on a local level journalists are usually in their teens or early twenties and do not have the experience or wherewithal to keep such a critical eye on the processes of democracy, and the majority of residents do not take much interest in their local authority beyond its decisions about the annual rate increase.

    The parliamentary system works as well in the local council chamber as it does in the Commons - except, say the critics, where Freemasonry rears its head in the shape of a Town Hall Lodge.

    Within the Lodge three things which are generally considered undesirable can happen:

    1. There is fraternization between council officers and elected members, who in the public interest should keep each other at arm's length.

    2. Party differences are broken down and men who have a duty fiercely to oppose each other in the council chamber and in all their actions on behalf of the electorate are brought together in intimate harmony.

    3. There is undesirable contact with local businessmen - builders, architects, etc. - who often join such Lodges blatantly to curry favour and exploit the masonic bond to canvass for local authority contracts.

    None of these objections would be valid, perhaps, if all Freemasons scrupulously avoided discussing business, politics or religion with each other within the Temple. But of course Freemasons are human, and no matter what claims are made that such talk never goes on at masonic gatherings, there is ample evidence that it does. Additionally, there is no bar against talking business, religion or politics at the customary drinking session which follows the ceremonies in the Temple.

    The critics say that Lodges where leading members of the majority party swear an oath of allegiance to leading members of the Opposition party, and vice versa, destroy the two-party system. From there on, especially when council officers belong to the Lodge as well, democracy is finished. Whatever debate occurs in public is a facade that covers the disturbing truth that everything has been decided in advance.

    Are the critics right? In 1974 Prime Minister Harold Wilson presented to Parliament the findings of his committee on local government rules of conduct. The committee had been set up in the wake of the Poulson scandal and amid growing public concern about corruption in local government. Under the chairmanship of Lord Redcliffe-Maud, the committee had produced a seventy-two-page report that analysed the problems and ended by recommending a National Code of Local Government Conduct.

    On the question of fraternization between council officers and elected members, the code had this advice for councillors:

    (i) Both councillors and officers are servants of the public, and they are indispensable to one another. But their responsibilities are distinct. Councillors are responsible to the electorate and
    serve only so long as their term of office lasts. Officers are responsible to the council and are permanently appointed. An officer's job is to give advice to councillors and to carry out the
    council's work under the direction and control of councillors.

    (ii) Mutual respect between councillors and officers is essential to good local government. Close personal familiarity between individual councillor and officer can damage this relationship and prove embarrassing to other councillors and officers. [My italics.]

    (iii) If you are called upon to take part in appointing an officer, the only question you should consider is which candidate would best serve the whole council. You should not let your personal or political preferences influence your judgement. You should notcanvass the support of colleagues for any candidate and you should resist any attempt by others to canvass yours.

    Elsewhere the report deals with proper declaration of interests by councillors. Numerous minor cases of failure to declare pecuniary interests can be cited: where, for instance, a councillor discussed and voted on the arrears of rent by Council tenants without admitting that he was himself a Council tenant in arrears with his rent; or where a councillor voted on the question of his own expenses.

    Failure to declare pecuniary interest is illegal. But failure to declare non-pecuniary interest is not against the law and is therefore hard to combat. Even so, a councillor can be influenced in his decisions by his connection with an organization or a person just as strongly as he can by financial considerations.

    A councillor should never take part in debate or voting on such matters as a relative or friend seeking planning permission, rehousing, or employment with the council or where any other conflict of interest exists.

    Comment


    • #47
      The report goes on:
      There are other interests which are less easily defined but where the same principles of disclosure, and usually, of non-participation, should apply. Trusteeship in a charitable body, membership of a religious denomination, a trade union, a professional association ora society such as Freemasonry [my italics], or even ordinary friendship, can all create situations where it is to the member's credit, and for the health of local government, if he is quite open about them.

      The committee did not think that these matters needed to be covered by standing orders because what was involved was a principle rather than a procedure. And the principle should be for councillors to treat non-pecuniary interests on the same lines as pecuniary interests - which means very seriously indeed.

      In its final recommendations, the committee again refers to kinship, friendship, membership of an association or society (Freemasonry, etc.) and other bodies and states where such membership 'can sometimes influence your judgement or give the impression [it] might do so'.

      So it is acknowledged that the dangers are real enough.

      But has Freemasonry ever actually undermined local democracy to any extent worth worrying about?

      One does not have to look too far for the strongest evidence that it has.

      In its report to the Royal Commission on Standards of Conduct in Public Life, chaired by the Rt Hon Lord Salmon between 1974 and 1976, the Society of Labour Lawyers makes this statement:

      We regret the timidity of the Redcliffe-Maud Committee in their recommendations relating to the disclosure of interest. We think it essential that there should no loopholes; oral and public disclosure of all direct and indirect interests, financial and otherwise, must be made (for example) by local councillors at every meeting of council or committee in addition to a comprehensive written record; this obligation should not be avoided by a councillor absenting himself from a meeting. In case of absence his interest must be declared at the meeting at the instance of the councillor concerned by the chairman or clerk. We say 'financial or otherwise' because it is well within the experience of our members that secret decisions or understandings are reached in places which would not exist if generally known. In particular, we refer to 'town hall Lodges' which, we know, existed at each and every one of the local authorities concerned in recent criminal proceedings and almost all of the defendants were members. These Lodges take into membership leading councillors across the political divide together with a limited number of senior officers, to the prejudice of the justification of the two-party system - that of public dispute and decision - and to the prejudice of the proper relationship between councillor and officer. It is no part of our message to decry the traditions and charitable good work of the masonic movement; we imagine that the national leaders would be as distressed as anyone if they knew of the extent to which the town hall Lodges were used, at the very least, to ease communication of matters which would never have been communicated at all in the full glare of publicity. Membership of such groups as these must be subject to disclosure and if this should offend the rules and practices of an organization of the nature of Freemasons, the remedy is to dissolve Lodges based upon restricted membership of those in a local field of public life. If those concerned complain that it limits their opportunity to engage in the honourable and altruistic activities of their movement, their desires can, no doubt, fructify in the company of like-minded persons elsewhere than in or about the town hall.

      The authorities referred to as being involved in criminal proceedings and all having a masonic thread running through the corruption were, among others, Bradford, Birmingham, Newcastle and Wandsworth.

      The town hall Lodge at Wandsworth in south-west London was consecrated in 1903 as Wandsworth Borough -Council Lodge No 2979. Its members are not only current officers and members of the council (now the London Borough of Wandsworth) but also past members and officers and others associated with local government. A number of builders, architects, civil engineers and such like belonged to the Lodge in the 1960s when masonic corruption starting there spread outwards until it engulfed and ruined national figures like former Home Secretary Reginald Maudling, himself a Freemason. As former Wandsworth Town Clerk Barry Payton told me: 'The real seriousness of the Wandsworth affair was the incestuous relationship between the two opposing leaders, Sidney Sporle and Ronald Ash. Sporle was the Labour leader. He had no visible means of support, he didn't have a job, but he nevertheless lived at a fair old rate, always having rolls of five-pound notes in his pocket. Although his home life was not in any great style, he really enjoyed entertaining and going out and being the grandiose host. He got his income through his association with certain dubious activities. Ash, the Conservative leader, was the proprietor of Lewis of Balham, a builders' merchants.'

      One example of the oddity of the relationship between Sporle and Ash was in relation to an organization called the South London Housing Consortium. This had been formed by a group of south London local authorities who were engaged in a lot of building work at that time. The object of forming the consortium was to enable the authorities to buy building materials in bulk direct from the manufacturers, thus making big savings and also being sure of obtaining materials when they were required. For a reason that has never been discovered the consortium employed Lewis of Balham as an intermediary. This negated the reason for forming a consortium in the first place: there is small point in a consortium if a middle man is used. It is interesting to speculate that if Lewis of Balham earned only one per cent for acting as intermediary, which is an improbably low rate of commission, this previously modest business would, on a turnover of £10 million, have made £100,000. And that sort of money in the late sixties was a very great sum indeed.

      Comment


      • #48
        In the municipal election in 1968 Labour was defeated in Wandsworth and Ash became the Leader of the Council. Shortly afterwards, the new Tory controllers of the council had their first meetings to appoint committees and nominate members to outside bodies. The Conservatives' first group meeting was to consider whom to nominate as the council's representatives on the South London Housing Consortium. Ash fought tooth and nail to nominate the Labour leader, Sidney Sporle. Finally, Ash forced the issue by threatening to resign if he didn't get his way, and his members reluctantly voted for Sporle. It was not known to them that the two 'opponents' were close friends, and that their friendship had sprung from the deep ties of being Brother Masons in the same Lodge.

        Sporle, now dead, was a corrupt man who used the Lodge at Wandsworth unashamedly for setting up crooked deals. Among seven charges of corruption for which he was later jailed for six years, Sporle was found guilty of taking a job from ‘I. Dan Smith, PR man and fellow conspirator of architect John Poulson. It is generally thought that Smith, who did so much to further the interests of Poulson (himself known to have exploited his masonic membership at every opportunity), was also a member of the Brotherhood. According to what he told me, and I have no reason to disbelieve him, he is not and never has been a Freemason, however. This is what he said when we met for a cup of tea at the Charing Cross Hotel: 'People have always assumed that I am a Mason, so gradually I found the way they shook hands and the way they made the next move - and because I virtually detested them (for no reason other than that I hate that kind of organization) I always used to give them the handshake back. Still do. I met a journalist last week from theDaily Mirror. He gave me a Freemasonic handshake and I gave him one, and he said, "Oh, you're on the Square." He said, "As you're on the Square, why didn't you pass the money to Ted Short*" that way?"

        'I said, "Well, how do you do it that way?" He said, "Very simply. You just pass it through the organization."

        There are clues that there is a well-established system within Freemasonry for passing money untraceably from one Mason to another. No fewer than seven informants within the Brotherhood as well as ‘I. Dan Smith on the outside have told me of the system. If such a system does exist, it is probably connected with the method by which the vast sums of money collected in charity by individual Lodges each year is transmitted to Grand Lodge.

        *Edward Short, MP for Newcastle Central, was an old friend of Smith's and a Freemason. He accepted £500 from Smith 'for the work you have done on behalf of the firm'. The DPP later considered prosecuting Short for accepting a bribe but decided there was no case to answer. Eleven years after the event, when it all came out, Short, by then deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the House, astonished Parliament by not resigning despite dissatisfaction with his explanation.

        Until further clues come to light, however, I am unable to say more than this. It seems highly unlikely that the officers at Great Queen Street are in on the secret - unless, of course, they have some legitimate purpose for operating such a system, and this can be used by corrupt members without the knowledge of the hierarchy or the Charity trustees.

        At any one time there seems to be only about thirty to sixty Freemasons in Parliament, and there is no real discernible influence by Freemasonry on voting in the Commons: even if there were a large number of masonic MPs, debates so rarely touch issues masonic that any kind of cross-party collusion by members of the Brotherhood is inconceivable. There are far greater and more important vested interests than Freemasonry at Westminster.

        The majority of MPs who are Masons - witness Cecil Parkinson, Paymaster General and Chairman of the Conservative Party* - have no time to attend Lodge meetings. Those who do have the time tend to pursue their Masonry on a local level with no connection with Parliament. So far as I have been able to discover there is no House of Commons or parliamentary Lodge. Members of Margaret Thatcher's post-Falklands Cabinet* who have told me they are not members of the Brotherhood include Lord Hailsham (see pp 153-4 above), the Lord Chancellor; Sir Geoffrey Howe, Chancellor of the Exchequer; James Prior, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; John Nott, Secretary of State for Defence; George Younger, Secretary of State for Scotland; John Biffen, Secretary of State for Trade; David Howell, Secretary of State for Transport; Leon Brittan, Chief Secretary to the Treasury; and

        *Again reshuffled by Thatcher in June 1983.

        Norman Tebbit, Secretary of State for Employment. Lord Carrington, Foreign Secretary before the Falklands crisis, told me he is not and never has been a Freemason. Those who ignored my letters include Home Secretary William Whitelaw, almost certainly a Mason, Sir Keith Joseph, Francis Pym, Peter Walker and Michael Heseltine. Neither Humphrey Atkins, Lord Privy Seal, nor Patrick Jenkin, Industry Secretary, wished to comment.

        In the Labour, Liberal and Social Democratic parties, no senior member owns to being a Freemason now or in the past. And even Tony Benn, whom one would expect to make political capital from anything getting close to masonic influence in Parliament, has 'never heard Freemasonry mentioned'. None of the main parties has any particular policy on Freemasonry, although a Labour Party assistant information officer did say the party regarded the Brotherhood 'as a secret and select club and object to the way it undermines the National Health Service by providing private hospital beds', a reference to the Royal Masonic Hospital at Hammersmith, West London. The officer then took the sting out of her bold accusation by saying, 'The problem is that we do not know enough about it to be critical.' Even the Communist Party can muster insufficient enthusiasm to talk about the subject, and simply dislike it because in their view it reinforces the class structure.

        Comment


        • #49
          Two men in particular seemed to have achieved high office in the Labour Party directly through membership of the Brotherhood: Attlee, Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951, and Arthur Greenwood, Deputy Leader of the party from 1935. On 22 November 1935 a masonic Lodge whose members included Transport House officials and several Labour MPs held one of its regular meetings. The party meeting to select a new Leader was fixed for 26 November. Three men were in the running. Even though Attlee was a Mason, it was Greenwood, a member of the Transport House Lodge, who was, according to Hugh Dalton, Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1945 and 1947, 'the Masons' Candidate'. In his book The Fateful Years Dalton wrote:

          Most members of the Lodge were closer friends of Greenwood than they were of the other two candidates, Attlee and Morrison. On the first ballot the result was Attlee 58, Morrison 44, Greenwood 33. As had been decided in advance, the bottom candidate, Greenwood, dropped out. On the second ballot, all but four of Greenwood's supporters voted for Attlee, giving him a victory over Morrison of 88 to 48.

          First, of course, this is not an example of Freemasonry at work in Parliament but inside an individual party, which is quite different. Secondly, considering the facts coolly, it is hard to see much that is sinister in them. Freemasons getting together in secret to decide whom they as a group want to have as leader seems no different from the Tribunites, the Manifesto Group or any other sub group within a party doing the same thing. Were there a secret non-party band of Freemasons influencing matters behind the scenes and manipulating this Mason into power in this party and that Mason into power in that party, the matter would be somewhat different.

          There have been several attempts in Parliament to initiate official enquiries into the effects of Freemasonry on society. Every one of them has failed.

          On 11 April 1951, Fred Longden, MP for the Small Heath district of Birmingham, stood up in the Commons and asked Prime Minister Clement Attlee whether 'in the interests of all sides' he would move for the appointment of a Royal Commission to enquire into the effects of Freemasonry on the political, religious, social and administrative life of the country.

          Foreign Secretary Herbert Morrison, a non-Mason, said, ‘I have been asked to reply. No, sir. This is not a matter for which the government are responsible, and my right honourable Friend the Prime Minister does not think that an enquiry of this kind would be appropriate.'

          To this, Longden said, 'As I have received a large number of letters on this question might it not be good for Freemasons themselves if, apart altogether from their rites and ceremonies, the suspicions and accusations concerning their influence on personal appointments and interference with our constitutional institutions were brought to the light of day?'

          ‘I understand the point made by my honourable friend,' said Morrison, 'but I really think we have enough troubles without starting any more.'

          Masonic MP for Kidderminster Gerald (later Sir Gerald) Nabarro sprang to his feet and said, 'Would not such an enquiry be an infringement of human liberties?', and the House passed on to the car mileage allowance of threepence-ha'penny per mile for army chaplains, the cheese ration, and to a question about a speech given in South Shields by the Home Secretary in which he had said, 'We cannot control General MacArthur because we do not pay him.'

          Whitehall and the Civil Service generally is the side of central government where Freemasonry plays a part. Membership of the Brotherhood can be an important factor in promotion, especially to the ranks of the powerful Permanent Secretaries. In some ministries, Defence for example, it can be a distinct disadvantage not to be a Mason. Several people have recounted how when they were interviewed for senior positions at the Ministry of Defence, they were suddenly, in the middle, asked how they interpreted a certain biblical quotation. One of my informants, a non-Mason, could not remember the exact quotation. Both the others, one a Mason, did remember. The two quotations were not quite accurate, but amended as Masons amend them for use in their ceremonies. The Mason identified himself as such and was appointed. The two non-Masons, not knowing what to make of a request to interpret a biblical reference, were not. This might all, of course, be coincidence. We do not know how able the individuals were and how well or ill they suited the posts for which they were applying. What is certain is that the Civil Service has real and continuing power in the administration of this country, in that it remains while governments come and go; and that power is largely in the hands of members of the Brotherhood. This area of masonic influence warrants a book in itself, and will, I hope, command an entire section in future editions, when more detailed research is completed

          Comment


          • #50
            CHAPTER TWENTY THREE The Highest in the Land
            On 5 December 1952 His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, consort of the new Queen Elizabeth II, as yet uncrowned, was initiated into the secrets of Freemasonry by the Worshipful Master of Navy Lodge No 2612. He joined against his will. His uncle, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, was - in the words of an impeccable source close to the Royal Family - 'fiercely opposed' to Freemasonry, and had strongly advised Philip to have nothing to do with it. But in 1947 when Philip became engaged to Princess Elizabeth, his future father-in-law King George VI had made it plain that he expected any husband of his daughter to maintain the tradition of royal patronage of Freemasonry. George was an ardent Mason and finally extracted a promise from Philip to join the Brotherhood. George died before Philip was able to fulfil the promise, but despite his own reservations (he regarded the whole thing as a silly joke) and his uncle's hostility, he felt bound to honour his promise to the dead King.

            But having been initiated to Freemasonry as an Entered Apprentice, Philip felt honour was satisfied and he was free to act as he chose - which was to forget the whole business as quickly as possible, and while still nominally a member of the Brotherhood, the Duke has taken no active part for thirty years and has refused all invitations to climb the masonic ladder and achieve grand rank.

            His determination to rise no higher in the masonic hierarchy has meant that, in masonic terms, Philip is inferior in rank to thousands of commoners. This has caused much irritation in the sealed rooms of Great Queen Street, and annoyed the masonic elders considerably in the 1960s when a successor to the Earl of Scarborough, who had taken office as Grand Master the year before Philip was initiated, was being discussed. The monarch's husband, the Freemason of the highest standing in the non-masonic world, was considered the natural successor. But Philip would not have it.

            Finally, in 1966, after much speculation both within Masonry and outside, the new Grand Master was named -in the William Hickey column of the Daily Express. He was to be the thirty-year-old Duke of Kent, the Queen's cousin, who was a major in the Royal Scots Greys stationed at Hounslow. The Duke, who was initiated into Masonry in 1964, would be following in the footsteps of his father who had been Grand Master between 1939 and 1942, when he was killed in action. Hickey's prediction came to pass and the Duke was installed as Grand Master by the Earl of Scarborough at the greatest masonic spectacular of all time - the 250th anniversary celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall in June 1967 when Masons from all over the world attended in full regalia and Arab Mason walked with Israeli Mason only ten days after the Six Day War.

            Philip's apathy and Mountbatten's antipathy have had their effect on Prince Charles, the heir to the throne. Mountbatten, as Charles' favourite uncle, made a lasting impression on the future King and Charles remains adamant, despite rumours to the contrary, that he does not wish to become a Freemason. A greater influence in this direction than either his father or his uncle, however, has been his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who had much of the responsibility for Charles' upbringing when his parents were travelling. The Queen Mother, despite - perhaps because of - being the wife of a devoted Freemason, does not approve of the Brotherhood. She is a committed Bible-believing Christian and, largely due to her influence, Prince Charles too is a committed (as opposed to nominal) Christian.

            Great pressure was brought to bear on Charles when he was in his early and mid-twenties to follow family tradition and become a Freemason. It was assumed by high Masons that when Charles reached his twenty-first birthday in 1969, he would be initiated and take over from the Duke of Kent. He refused to be pressed into doing so, and when approached he gave an emphatic 'No', adding, 'I do not want to join any secret society.' When he was twenty-five the Sunday Mirror published an article by Audrey Whiting, described in her byline as 'an authoritative writer on Royal affairs'. She said that the pressure brought to bear on Charles to become a Mason had been 'considerable'. She continued:

            If he persists [in refusing] he will become in due time the first monarch in centuries who has not been the titular head of Freemasonry in Britain . . . Freemasonry will survive and flourish, as it does today, without a monarch as its titular head - but the Prince's refusal to adopt the traditional role in [the] ranks of Masonry as heir to the Throne was and is a great blow to a body of men who are above all traditionalists.

            But by this time there was talk that Charles 'was not strictly against Freemasonry', but that he simply had no wish to become involved. According to Whiting, he wanted to prove himself as a man 'who can meet and beat all the tests which could face a fighting man and an adventurer'.

            A senior court official told me: 'The answer is that without benefit, if you can call it that, of wartime experience, Charles is determined to be as good as his father - and perhaps even better.'

            The question remains: Will Charles, in the end, conform to tradition?

            Despite rumours that the Prince had suggested that 'if he joined the Brotherhood, it would be as an initiate to the Royal Air Force Lodge No 7335, there is still no indication that Charles has changed his attitude.

            I failed miserably to ascertain more clearly Charles's current thinking on the subject. The Court is brimming with Freemasons and my own enquiries never got past Charles's masonic private secretary, the Hon Edward Adeane. Adeane, son of Lt-Col the Rt Hon Lord (Michael) Adeane, former private secretary to the Queen and Freemason of Grand Rank, refused to ask the Prince if he would be prepared to say why he had decided to go against tradition. He told me: 'The basis for the suggestion that His Royal Highness has any view on the matter at all depends purely on speculative statements in the press, and the Prince of Wales does not comment on other people's speculation.'

            The first part of this statement was really not true for anyone who had contacts within the Grand Lodge, the Palace or at Windsor. The suggestion that the Prince had views on the matter was not a matter of speculation. However, I wrote back asking if I might rephrase my question in the light of Adeane's statement: 'Rather than asking why the Prince has taken a stand, which I now realize to be in doubt, can I ask the Prince what his thinking is on the subject of Freemasonry, not necessarily whether he intends joining the movement or not, but simply his thoughts on the organization?' I received a two-line reply. The first line thanked me for my letter. The second said: 'I am afraid that I cannot assist you in this matter.'

            It is an interesting anomaly that the Queen, as a woman, is banned from entering a masonic temple - yet she is Grand Patroness of the movement. Her two younger sons are already marked down by the elders of Great Queen Street as possible future Grand Masters, should they not go the way of their brother Charles. Prince Michael of Kent is already a Brother of Grand Rank, having been Senior Grand Warden in 1979.

            Comment


            • #51
              CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR The City of London
              As darkness closed in on the City of London in the late afternoon of 16 February 1982, a number of influential men converged on the ancient Guildhall, seat of the City's medieval-style government. They came in taxis, in chauffeur-driven limousines, and on foot. They came from all parts of the City - and beyond. Between them they represented a wide spectrum of wealth and power. Their decisions, in the worlds of high finance, the law, industry, international trade and commerce and politics, affected the lives of thousands.

              Each of the men, beneath his outer garments, wore a dark lounge suit, and most of them carried small oblong cases, some inscribed in gold leaf with the owner's initials. These cases contained the regalia the men would put on when they reached their destination. The men came from different directions and entered the Guildhall by various entrances. Some came across Guildhall Yard, some along Aldermanbury, some by way of Masons Avenue. Once inside the Hall, each turned his steps towards the Crypt, which was cordoned off so that no intruder could make his way down the stair and report the goings-on to any 'Gentile'. A Tyler, or Outer Guard, was posted at the door to block the path of any stranger who might slip past the Guildhall commissionaire.

              At precisely 5.15 P.M. the participants in the drama which was to be acted out had gathered in the Crypt, which had been transformed into a Masonic Temple. The brethren of Guildhall Lodge No 3116 took their places. Outgoing Worshipful Master Brother Frank Nathaniel Steiner, MA, knocked once with his gavel. The sound echoed around the East Crypt with its low vaulted ceiling and clustered pillars of Purbeck marble. The coat of arms of Sir Bernard Waley-Cohen, a member and former Worshipful Master of the Lodge, had pride of place at one of the six intersections of the vaulting, because he had been Lord Mayor when the Crypt was restored in 1961. Other coats of arms included those of Edward the Confessor, Henry IV, in whose reign the Crypt was built, and Queen Elizabeth II. A masonic prince among royal princes.

              Two knocks, like echoes of the first, followed in quick succession from the Senior Warden and the Junior Warden.

              'Brethren,' said Worshipful Brother Steiner solemnly, 'assist me to open the Lodge .. .' Addressing the Junior Warden, Steiner continued, '. . . what is the first care of every Mason?'

              'To see that the Lodge is properly tyled.'

              'Direct that duty to be done.'

              The installation ceremony of Worshipful Brother Charles Richard Coward, JP, as Worshipful Master of the Lodge for 1982-3 had begun.

              The Guildhall Lodge was consecrated at the Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London, on Tuesday, 14 November 1905. Since then, no fewer than sixty-two Lord Mayors have been Masters of the Lodge, whose membership comprises both elected members of the Corporation of London and its salaried officers.

              The Worshipful Master of the Lodge both in 1981-2 and 1982-3 was not the Lord Mayor, because neither was a Freemason. So Steiner, Common Councilman for Bread Street Ward and Deputy Grand Registrar of the United Grand Lodge, was elected in place of Col Sir Ronald Gardner-Thorpe, and Coward in what would have been the natural place of the Lord Mayor, the Rt Hon Sir Christopher Leaver, had he been of the Brotherhood.

              The Lodge was opened in the First Degree. The ritual dismissal of the Entered Apprentices was intoned. The Lodge was opened in the Second Degree. Worshipful Brother Coward, Senior Grand Deacon of the United Grand Lodge, stood waiting to be presented to the Installing Master. He wore a lambskin apron lined with garter-blue, ornamented with gold and blue strings and bearing the emblem of his rank. A four-inch-wide band of garter-blue ribbon embroidered with a design combining an ear of corn and a sprig of acacia lay on his shoulders and formed a V on his breast.

              Among the brethren in the temple were Anthony Stuart Joliffe, Alderman and Sheriff of the City of London, director of numerous companies including SAS Catering Ltd, Nikko Hillier International Trading Co Ltd, Capital for Industry Ltd, Marlborough Property Holdings (Developments) Ltd, and Albany Commercial and Industrial Developments Ltd. Joliffe, Senior Warden of the Lodge for the current year, has been vice president of the European League for Economic Co-operation, Hon Treasurer of Britain in Europe Residual Fund, and a trustee of the Police Foundation, and he has held many other influential positions.

              Also in the Crypt that night was the Lodge Chaplain, Christopher Selwyn Priestley Rawson, chairman and managing director of Christopher Rawson Ltd, an underwriting Member of Lloyd's, and an honorary member of the Metal Exchange. As a Freemason of London Grand

              Rank, he wore a collar of garter-blue ribbon with narrow edging.

              Installing Master Steiner proceeded with the ceremonial listing of qualities which Worshipful Brother Coward would need as Master: to be of good report, well skilled in Masonry, exemplary in conduct, steady and firm in principle. The secretary of the Lodge then addressed the Master Elect and recited a fifteen-point summary of the Ancient Charges and Regulations.

              Steiner then asked Coward, 'Do you submit to and promise to support these Charges and Regulations as Masters have done in all ages?' Coward replied by placing his right hand on his left breast with the thumb squared upwards. This, the 'sign of fidelity', meant 'I do', and the ceremony continued as he swore on the Bible faithfully to discharge the duties of Master and to abide by Masonry's 'Landmarks'.

              The ritual went on and on. When all but Installed Masters had been dismissed from the Crypt, the 'secrets of the Chair' were communicated to Worshipful Brother Coward. Bent on both knees, he took a second oath, with his hands resting on the Bible. There had been no penalty attached to the first obligation. But now Coward faced having his 'right hand struck off and slung over my left shoulder, there to wither and decay', if he betrayed his oath. After more ceremony he was told the secret sign of the Installed Master (a beckoning movement made three times with the right hand); the secret grip (whereby two Installed Masters place their left hands on each other's left shoulder while keeping their arms straight); the secret word (Giblum, meaning Excellent Mason); and finally the sign of Salutation ('Bowing and saluting with the right hand from the forehead three times, stepping backwards with the right foot').

              At the end of this long ceremony, with all those of lower degree recalled from the Crypt, Worshipful Brother Coward, now Master of the Lodge, invested the officers of the Lodge for 1982-3 as follows:

              IMMEDIATE PAST MASTER: W. Bro. Frank N. Steiner, MA, Deputy Grand Registrar of the United Grand Lodge 1981-2; Common Councilman, Bread Street Ward.

              SENIOR WARDEN: Bro. Alderman and Sheriff Anthony S. Joliffe, Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants; Justice of the Peace; Alderman for Candlewick Ward.

              JUNIOR WARDEN: Bro. Rev Basil A. Watson, OBE, MA, RN.

              CHAPLAIN: W. Bro. Alderman Christopher Rawson, Former City Sheriff; Common Councilman (Bread Street) 1963-72; Alderman (Lime Street); Associate of Textile Industries; Associate of the Institute of Marine Engineers.

              TREASURER: W. Bro. Frank N. Steiner, MA.

              SECRETARY: W. Bro. Deputy H. Derek Balls, Justice of the Peace; Deputy (Cripplegate Without).

              DIRECTOR OF CEREMONIES: W. Bro. Sir John Newson-Smith, Bt, MA, former Lord Mayor of London; Deputy Lieutenant, City of London, 1947; Member of HM Commission of Lieutenancy for the City of London; Deputy Chairman, London United Investments Ltd.

              SENIOR DEACON: W. Bro. Michael H. Hinton.

              JUNIOR DEACON: Bro. David M. Shalit, Common Councilman (Farringdon Within).

              CHARITY STEWARD: W. Bro. Richard Theodore Beck, Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects; Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts; Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute; Deputy (Farringdon Within); Sheriff of the City of London 1969-70; Prestonian Lecturer (The annual masonic lecture delivered at Freemasons Hall, London), 1975.

              ALMONER: W. Bro. Matthew Henry Oram, TD, MA,

              Common Councilman (Cordwainer).

              ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF CEREMONIES: W. Bro. Colin Frederick Walter Dyer, ERD, Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies and Past Junior Grand Deacon of the United Grand Lodge; Common Councilman (Aldgate); Prestonian Lecturer 1973.

              INNER GUARD: W. Bro. Gerald Maurice Stitcher, CBE; Past Grand Standard Bearer of the United Grand Lodge; Common Councilman (Farringdon Without).

              STEWARD: Bro. Deputy Arthur Brian Wilson; Deputy (Aldersgate).

              Between them, these men play vital roles in all aspects of the running of the City - including police, housing, education, social services, town planning and the courts of law.

              Comment


              • #52
                As Senior Warden of the Guildhall Lodge, Anthony Joliffe was the front runner for Master of the Lodge in 1983-4. This was no accident as he was to be and became Lord Mayor during the same period.

                Ancient institutions survive and hold sway in the City of London more than anywhere else in Britain. Although the City is one of the most important financial and business centres in the world, medieval custom and tradition are apparent everywhere. Even the Bank of England, the nationalized central bank which holds our gold reserves, conducts the government's monetary policy, regulates lending and finances the national debt, retains its 'Old Lady of Threadneedle Street' image, its messengers or waiters wearing pink waistcoats and top hats as they go about their time-honoured business. Once a year the Worshipful Company of Butchers presents the Lord Mayor with a boar's head on a silver platter, exactly as it did in the fourteenth century. The Port of London Authority's garden in Seething Lane is leased to the Corporation as a public amenity for an annual rent of a nosegay. Every October at the Royal Courts of Justice the Corporation's legal officer - the Comptroller and City Solicitor - pays the Queen's Remembrancer a hatchet, a bill hook, six horses and sixty-one nails - the so-called Quit Rents for two of the City's holdings, the Forge in St Clement Danes and the Moors in Shropshire. 'The City's institutions are as varied as they are ancient,' wrote the late Blake Ehrlich.

                Five 'wise men' set the world price of bullion in the opulent Gold Room of N. M. Rothschild and Sons,* St Swithin's Lane, at 10.30 each morning, but, before these gentlemen are out of bed, the gentlemen from the Fishmongers Guild, their boots silvered with fish scales, are exercising their immemorial functions down by the river at Billingsgate, London's fish market. On the other side of the City, predawn buyers eye hook-hung carcasses at Smithfield, the world's largest dressed-meat market. Nearby nurses begin to prepare patients for surgery at St Bartholomew's ('Bart's), London's first hospital (founded 1123) and the place where, in the 17th century, William Harvey first demonstrated the circulation of the blood. Closer to St Paul's Cathedral, the vans begin to deliver prisoners whose cases will be heard that day at Old Bailey, as the Central Criminal Court is known, where most of Britain's sensational murder trials have been held.

                These daily occurrences, the mundane modern mingled inextricably with the flavour of the Middle Ages, are what lend the City its unique life.

                Only the sovereign takes precedence over the Lord Mayor within the City's square mile.

                *The Rothschilds have been Freemasons for generations.

                Even the Prime Minister - even Margaret Thatcher - will walk behind the Mayor in official processions through the City.

                The City is not entirely an island in the river of time. It is rather a place where two historical clocks are running: one which for the past thousand years has been going so slowly that its hands have picked up the ceremonial dust of the centuries, of which very little has been lost; the other which operates with the impeccable efficiency of quartz crystal. It is the continuing belief in the importance of ancient tradition which is largely responsible for the undying strength of Freemasonry: for Freemasonry underpins all the great and influential institutions of the Square Mile. According to confidential statistics from Great Queen Street, there are 1,677 Lodges in London. Hundreds of these are in the City. Between the hours of eight in the morning and six at night when the City's residential population of about 4,000 swells to 345,000 with the influx of commuters, the Square Mile has the highest density of Freemasons anywhere in Britain.

                The Royal Exchange, the Corn Exchange, the Baltic Exchange, the Metal Exchange, the Bank of England, the merchant banks, the insurance companies, the mercantile houses, the Old Bailey, the Inns of Court, the Guildhall, the schools and colleges, the ancient markets, all of them have Freemasons in significant positions. Among the institutions with their own Lodges are the Baltic Exchange (Baltic Lodge No 3006 which has its own temple actually in the Exchange in St Mary Axe); the Bank of England (Bank of England Lodge No 263); and Lloyd's (Black Horse of Lombard Street Lodge No 4155).

                Like any local authority - and like central government itself - the City Corporation is formed of a council of elected representatives (the Aldermen, Deputies and Common Council) and of salaried permanent officers whose job it is to advise the council and execute its decisions. For administrative purposes the City is divided into twenty-five wards. Ten of these wards have their own Lodges.* Five of the six Common Councilmen representing Aldersgate Ward - Arthur Brian Wilson (Deputy), Hyman Liss, Edwin Stephen Wilson, and Peter George Robert Sayles -are Freemasons. Only Michael John Cassidy is, at the time of writing, not a member of the Brotherhood. Every ward, without exception, has at least one Freemason among its representatives.

                *Aldgate Ward Lodge No 3939; Billingsgate Lodge No 3443 (mainly for those associated with Billingsgate Fish Market); Bishopsgate Lodge No 2396; Cordwainer Ward Lodge No 2241; Cornhill Lodge No 1803; Cripplegate Lodge No 1613; Farringdon Without Lodge No 1745; Langbourn Lodge No 6795; Portsoken Lodge No 5088; and Tower Lodge No 5159.

                One Common Councilman who openly admits he is a Freemason spoke to me about the commonly held belief that there is an immense Freemasonic influence on affairs in the City. He asked me not to identify him as it would put him in 'bad odour' with his brethren.

                'I have never noticed any direct masonic influence. It's always there, one accepts that, always just beneath the surface as it were, but I would say the City is run more on an Old Boys network than on a Freemasonry network, just as somewhere you meet people and get to know them and presumably get chummy with them. I wouldn't have thought there's much influence. You see, we read about that scandal in Italy - P2 wasn't it? -1 can't believe it's true. I don't think Freemasonry had anything to do with it.' (See Chapter 26, below.)

                I asked if he knew how many of his fellow Common Councilmen were Freemasons.

                'No, but I'd have thought the majority. Certainly if you count out the Roman Catholics and the women I should think the great majority. Probably some of the younger ones aren't. It's rather an old man's game, let's face it. Youngsters don't really want to get involved in these sort of things. They've got more interesting things to do. I should have thought two-thirds of the older ones are Masons. By older, I mean those past fifty. I certainly know personally a lot who are. A lot in the Lodge I'm in are on the Common Council.'

                '

                Comment


                • #53
                  Do all Freemasons vote together?'

                  'If the strength of the vote I've often got when I've put up is any indication, I'd have thought that none of them voted for me. I don't think there's anything in that suggestion. I've had some very bad votes when I've put up for things and I'm quite a prominent member, and if Freemasonry had done me any good I'd certainly have got a great many more votes than I got.'

                  Frederick Clearey, CBE, Deputy of Coleman Street Ward, told me, 'I have been a member of only one Lodge, Old Owens No 4440, my school Lodge, but I think Freemasonry engenders a very fine spirit, cementing members of the Lodge with the school. I believe too many people feel that Freemasonry is some secret society where members rush about making signs and getting business from each other which, of course, is utterly untrue. In my experience it has generated an enormous amount of friendship, goodwill and charity, which is what Freemasonry is about.'

                  All the main salaried officers of the Corporation are Masons. Indeed, it is virtually impossible to reach a high position in Guildhall without being an active Brother, as three senior officers currently serving and two past officers have informed me. The subject of Masonry is spoken about openly in interviews for high posts. At the time of writing, the Town Clerk, the Chamberlain, the City Marshal, the Hall Keeper, the City Solicitor, the City Architect and the City Engineer are all members of the Brotherhood.

                  One of the first steps I took in looking into the extent of Freemasonry within the Corporation of London was to write to every male member of the Common Council including all Deputies, Aldermen and Sheriffs, setting out the purpose of my book and asking each recipient if he would be prepared to tell me if he was, or ever had been, a Freemason. I telephoned the general enquiry office at the Guildhall and explained I was writing to each member in connection with a book which included a section on the City - studiously avoiding any reference to Masonry. I asked if I might deliver the letters by hand, rather than separately post 153 letters to the same address. The lady I spoke to assured me I could, that it would cause no problems whatever, and, after checking with her superior, she said that when I arrived at the Guildhall I should ask for a particular official. I followed these instructions and later that day a commissionaire showed me into the appropriate office.

                  The official remained seated, looked up as if irritated that I should have disturbed the sanctity of his glass-sided booth overlooking Guildhall Yard, and said nothing.

                  'Hello,' I said, in my friendly way.

                  'Yes?' he said curtly. 'What is it?' Even then I thought he might ask me to take a seat, but I was disappointed.

                  ‘I wonder if you'll help,' I began. 'I'm writing a book which will have a section devoted to the City of London and a lady in your enquiry office said I could deliver these letters to the members of the Common Council by hand to you.'

                  'Oh, no,' he said, looking dismissively back at the papers on his desk. 'We can't accept them.' It was apparent that he regarded that as the final word in the matter and that he expected me to withdraw.

                  I sat down and, hail-fellow-well-met, asked him how one went about writing to the members. 'I can't help you,' he said.

                  'Presumably, if I posted all these to the Guildhall, they would arrive in a bundle like this and be distributed to the people concerned?'

                  'Presumably.' Still he didn't look up.

                  'I can't see the difference between the GPO delivering them in a bundle and me delivering them in a bundle. Do you have a Post Room to which I could deliver them . . . ?'

                  'That's impossible. If I accept your letters, I'll have to accept everyone's.'

                  'But the Post Room . . . ?' No, I knew I was flogging a dead horse. On impulse, as I rose to leave, I thrust my hand into his and gave him the handshake of the Master Mason, applying distinct pressure with my thumb between his second and third joints.

                  His attitude changed completely.

                  Now he was giving me all his attention. 'I'm sorry,' he said, with a sheepish sort of grin, and got up from his chair. He came round to my side of the desk and said, 'I think the best thing you can do is go upstairs to the enquiry office, tell them I sent you and say you'd like a list of the addresses of all members of the Council. That will be much the quickest way of contacting them all.'

                  Now very solicitous and quite the genial host, he accompanied me to the door, repeated the directions, shook my hand again and wished me well. I followed his advice and it proved sound.

                  Brother official had helped another member of the Brotherhood - or thought he had.

                  The influential Livery Companies are almost entirely peopled by Freemasons. Like the Brotherhood, the Livery Companies - the name derives from the ceremonial dress of members - have developed from the medieval craftsmen's guilds and from religious or social fraternities. Some companies are involved in education and some are influential in the operation of their trade. There are close links between the guilds and livery companies and the Corporation: the City and Guilds of London Institute, set up in 1878 to promote education in technical subjects and set examinations, is a joint venture. And the Lord Mayor of London is selected each year from two of the city's twenty-six aldermen who are nominated by the 15,000 liverymen. To qualify for membership of one of the livery companies, a man must be a Freeman of the City, an honour generally awarded by Freemasons to Freemasons, although there are many notable exceptions. A number of Livery Companies have their own Lodges* and the City Livery Club has its own temple. A masonic alderman told me: 'There are so many competing bodies, especially in the City. What with Livery Companies, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Ward clubs, there are so many competing clubs. I would have thought that most people in the City attach much more importance to their Livery than they do to their Freemasonry - although of course the majority of Livery Club members are Freemasons as well.'

                  The Corporation of the City of London is so strongly masonic that many connected with it, some Masons included, think of it as virtually an arm of Grand Lodge. But it must not be forgotten that the City is first and foremost a financial centre. And money to a successful financier - Freemason or not - speaks louder than anything. When it comes to a choice between serving

                  *Basketmakers Lodge No 5639; Blacksmiths Lodge No 7175; Cutlers Lodge No 2730; Farriers Lodge No 6305; Feltmakers Lodge No 3839; Paviors Lodge No 5646; Plaisterers Lodge No 7390; Needlemakers Lodge No 4343, etc, etc.

                  Mammon and serving the Brotherhood, all but a few Freemasons in the City act upon the masonic principle enshrined in the fifth paragraph of The Universal Book of Craft Masonry, which declares, 'Freemasonry distinctly teaches that a man's first duty is to himself. . .'

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE The Devil in Disguise?
                    Enemies of the Brotherhood have been denouncing its rituals as devil worship for more than 250 years. One of my purposes was to discover if these denunciations were true or false. Another was to try to resolve, by taking an entirely new approach, the continuing problem of whether or not Masonry was compatible with Christianity.

                    For the average reader, the difficulty of overcoming any religious objections to Freemasonry is increased rather than lessened by the very abundance of printed matter on the subject. Much of the vast literature of Masonry is devoted to religious issues. The problem is further aggravated by the extreme unreliability of a large portion of this bibliography, wherein scurrilous tirade frequently masquerades as learned treatise.

                    Almost everything written so far on Freemasonry and religion has fallen into one of two categories: arguments attacking Masonry by non- or anti-Masons, and arguments defending Masonry by committed Masons. There is virtually nothing from neutral outsiders. This, then, would be my approach: as a neutral investigator holding no brief for Christianity and no automatic aversion to devil worship. For the purposes of the investigation, I would suspend moral judgement, admit no good, bad, right or wrong because these could only confuse the issue further. The questions were: Is Freemasonry compatible with

                    Christianity? and, Is masonic ritual, or any element of it, diabolism? By sticking to these and looking unemotionally at facts, both questions were surely capable of a yes or no answer. The reader could then make his or her own moral judgements.

                    Another part of my 'new approach' was to avoid the sophisticated theological arguments which have inevitably entered - in fact dominated - the debate. In fact the answers can be arrived at simply and on strictly logical grounds. One does not have to be a theologian - nor even a Freemason or a Christian - to recognize that Christians and Freemasons would have to worship the same God for the two to be compatible. The question simply, then, is do they? If Freemasonry were found, despite its protestations to the contrary, to be a quasi-religion and to have a different god from the Christian god, then the two would naturally be incompatible.

                    It has been said that these issues are of no concern to Freemasons, but hundreds of members of the Brotherhood have spoken to me of the turmoil they experience in attempting to reconcile their religious views with the demands of masonic ritual. It is of obvious importance to a section of those interested in Freemasonry, whether they be initiates or among the ranks of the 'profane', to attempt to find some answers which can be understood without profound religious knowledge.

                    First, then, is Freemasonry a religion?

                    The Rev Saul Amias takes the official masonic line in saying that Freemasonry is neither a religion nor a substitute for religion.

                    'There are Christians, there are Moslems, there are members of every religion in Freemasonry,' he told me. 'Catholics are not allowed by their own church to become Masons, although some do come in. There's nothing incompatible with my religion as a Jew, as an orthodox

                    Jew, in Freemasonry, nothing at all. It is not a religion.'

                    Other Masons told me that Freemasonry is no more a religion than are Rotary Clubs or tennis clubs. Amias agreed with this.

                    'But,' I objected, 'the Rotary Club and the tennis club do not meet in such solemn environs. You have a masonic temple. You have an altar. You kneel before your deity, the Great Architect. You swear oaths on your Volume of Sacred Law - the Bible, the Koran, whatever is deemed most appropriate. All these are surely religious trappings?'

                    He replied, 'Agreed. But these are to enhance the individual Mason's belief in his God. Vouchsafe Thine Aid, Almighty Father, Supreme Governor of the Universe, to our present convention, and grant that this candidate for Freemasonry may so he endowed. . . and so on. This is a prayer to the Almighty that is said by the chaplain, in the case of my Lodge, by myself. A prayer to Almighty God in whom Jews and Christians believe. This is to enhance it, to encourage it. But we do not pray and worship to a masonic God. There is no idol.'

                    A former Freemason, City of London merchant banker Andrew Arbuthnot, was also able to speak on the question with the knowledge of an initiate. He told me: 'If you take a purely objective view of religions in the plural, one has to accept that Freemasonry is a religion. It induces a sense of brotherhood and togetherness by means of a secret society, which always gives that sense, but it leads people towards the thought of a Supreme Being, to the transcendental. It is at least as much a religion as the average, dry Church of England conventional matins service.'

                    When Walton Hannah's Darkness Visible appeared in 1952, it caused a sensation. This book alone deals conclusively with the matter of whether or not Masonry is a religion as well as reproducing word for word the entire ritual of Freemasonry in the three Craft degrees and concluding that Masonry and Christianity are not compatible. Following its publication, an Anglican vicar who, unlike Hannah, was a Freemason, wrote a book under the pseudonym Vindex, which was entitled Light Invisible. This was subtitled: The Freemason's Answer to Darkness Visible, and sought to disprove Hannah's assertion that Masonry and Christianity were incompatible. Where the book is valuable, however, is in confirming that Masonry does in fact regard itself as a religion, whatever it might tell outsiders:

                    We now come to the core of the matter. What is the religion of Freemasonry?

                    It is the oldest of all religious systems, dating from time immemorial [my italics]. It is not in itself a separate religion, and has never claimed to be one, but it embodies in itself the fundamental truths and ancient mysteries on which every religion is based. Taunts that it worships a 'common denominator' God are rather wide of the mark if the phrase indicates any inadequacy or limitation in nature or title of the God we worship, for we worship and believe as a first principle in the fullness of the Godhead of which other religions see only in part.

                    This 'Total God' which Freemasonry claims for itself is not presented to potential initiates as such. Thousands of practising Christians in Britain today worship the Freemasonic God believing it to be precisely the same as the Christian God, if they will it. This is perhaps the most prevalent misunderstanding by the average Freemason of his own Brotherhood.

                    Candidates for initiation are told that one of the basic qualifications for membership is belief in a Supreme Being of some kind - Jehovah, Allah, the Holy Trinity of Christianity, it does not matter. So long as this belief is present, then whichever divine creator an individual Freemason wishes to follow can be accommodated under the masonic umbrella term for all Supreme Beings (the impossibility of more than one Supreme Being is ignored), that of Great Architect of the Universe,* or sometimes the Grand Geometrician, who created everything with one sweep of His divine compasses. As Vindex puts it in his general downgrading of all the Faiths as mere parts of the Masonic Whole:

                    *Denoted in printed masonic rituals as TGAOTU.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      As Masons, we believe in God, the Father, Almighty. As Christian Masons we may believe in a symbolical triune essence, and that Jesus Christ is His Son, Our Lord. As Moslem Masons we are equally entitled to believe that Mahomet is His prophet. With these subsidiary and secondary beliefs Masonry has nothing to do, giving her members a perfect liberty to interpret the Godhead as they please.

                      This is what Freemasons are taught, and this is what the majority of Freemasons believe. Even if it were true, there is enough in this statement to show that Masonry and Christianity are mutually exclusive. Because in this official view propounded by Vindex for public digestion, the very essence of Christianity is obliterated. In Masonry, we learn, Christ is not God but man - in Vindex's estimation the man who showed 'more than any other man who ever lived' what God is like. He later adds: 'I for one can never understand how anyone who takes an exclusive view of Christ as the only complete revelation of God's truth can become a Freemason without suffering from spiritual schizophrenia.'

                      There are many people who would agree with this non-exclusivity of Christ's teaching. But Christianity does not agree with it. The definition of a Christian is one who believes in Christ's teachings. And Christ taught, rightly or wrongly, '. . . no one cometh unto the Father, but by me'.

                      Therefore Vindex, although an Anglican cleric, was not a Christian. And the Freemasonic God he describes is not a Christian one.

                      Earlier I used the words 'even if it were true' when referring to the statement made by Vindex and by Freemasonry of the nature of the Masonic God. I did this because the assurance given to candidates that the name Great Architect of the Universe can be applied to whatever Supreme Being they choose is worse than misleading: it is a blatant lie.

                      In fact the Masonic God - cloaked under the description Great Architect - has a specific name and a particular nature, which has nothing to do with Christ, Vishnu, Buddha, Mohammed or any other being recognized by the great faiths of the modern world.

                      Two-thirds of Freemasons never realize the untruth of the line they are fed as to the identity of the Great Architect, because it is deliberately kept hidden from them. It is no overstatement to say that most Freemasons, even those without strong religious convictions, would never have joined the Brotherhood if they had not been victims of this subtle trick.

                      The true name, although not the nature, of the Masonic God is revealed only to those Third Degree Masons who elect to be 'exalted' to the Holy Royal Arch. The Royal Arch is often thought of as the Fourth Degree (but as explained in Chapter 5, the Fourth Degree is that of Secret Master), by others as a 'side degree'. In fact the Royal Arch is an extension of the Third Degree, and represents the completion of the 'ordeal' of the Master Mason. Only about one-fifth of all Master Masons are exalted. But even these, who are taught the 'ineffable name' of the masonic God, do not appreciate its true nature. This is basically because of deliberate obfuscation of the truth by some of those who know, and a general acceptance that everything is as they are told by most members of the Brotherhood.

                      In the ritual of exaltation, the name of the Great Architect of the Universe is revealed as JAH-BUL-ON -not a general umbrella term open to any interpretation an individual Freemason might choose, but a precise designation that describes a specific supernatural being - a compound deity composed of three separate personalities fused in one. Each syllable of the 'ineffable name' represents one personality of this Trinity:

                      JAH = Jahweh, the God of the Hebrews.

                      BUL = Baal, the ancient Canaanite fertility god associated

                      with 'licentious rites of imitative magic'.

                      ON = Osiris, the Ancient Egyptian god of the underworld.

                      Baal, of course, was the 'false god' with whom Jahweh competed for the allegiance of the Israelites in the Old Testament. But more recently, within a hundred years of the creation of the Freemason's God, the sixteenth-century demonologist John Weir identified Baal as a devil. This grotesque manifestation of evil had the body of a spider and three heads - those of a man, a toad and a cat. A description of Baal to be found in de Plancy's Dictionary of Witchcraft is particularly apposite when considered in the light of the secretive and deceptive nature of Freemasonry: his voice was raucous, and he taught his followers guile, cunning and , the ability to become invisible.

                      In 1873, the renowned masonic author and historian General Albert Pike, later to become Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Supreme Council (of the 33rd Degree) at Charleston, USA, wrote of his reaction on learning of Jah-Bul-On. He was disquieted and disgusted by the name, and went on: 'No man or body of men can make me accept as a sacred word, as a symbol of the infinite and eternal Godhead, a mongrel word, in part composed of the name of an accursed and beastly heathen god, whose name has been for more than two thousand years an appellation of the Devil.'

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        I have spoken to no less than fifty-seven long-standing Royal Arch Freemasons who have been happy to talk to me, to help me in my ambition to give Freemasonry 'a fair crack of the whip'. Most of them spoke quite freely, explaining without hesitation their views, reactions and answers to the criticisms and queries I raised. However, all but four lost their self-assurance and composure when I said, 'What about Jah-Bul-On?' Some, although they had previously told me they had been exalted to the Royal Arch, and therefore must have not only received the lecture on the name but also studied the passages and enacted the ritual relating to Jah-Bul-On, said they had never heard of it. In most cases the interviewees very rapidly brought the meeting to a close when I asked the question. Others laughed unconvincingly and extricated themselves from having to reply by jauntily saying such words as, 'Oh, that old chestnut', and passing quickly on to some other subject, normally going on the offensive with something like, 'Why are you so interested in Freemasonry in particular? Why don't you look into Christianity or something? Why do people always pick on Freemasonry?' -thereby diverting the conversation from the course I had plotted. If I insisted on returning to Jah-Bul-On, almost invariably the interview would be unceremoniously terminated. Others said that although they had heard of the word, they did not know what it meant. To them it meant God, and previously erudite Freemasons, with a precise knowledge of every other aspect of Masonry we had discussed, suddenly became vague and claimed ignorance of this most central of all Freemasonic subjects. While professing an almost total lack of knowledge of Jah-Bul-On, several dismissed it as of no real importance.

                        Charles Stratton, one Royal Arch Freemason for whom I have the utmost admiration, told me this of Jah-Bul-On: 'No one ever has time to think about its meaning, you're too busy trying to remember your words. As far as I know it's just another name for Jehovah.'

                        Acute silences, chiefly of embarrassment, followed my question on many occasions, as happened when I spoke to a most co-operative officer both of Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter.

                        We had been discussing whether or not Freemasonry was a religion, and I had run through my customary list of religious terms used in Freemasonry. Then I added, 'One comes across the phrase, "the sacred tenets of Freemasonry". This seems to imply that Masonry thinks of itself as a religion.'

                        The Grand Officer replied, 'No, I haven't said that. . . the sacred tenets?'

                        'Yes.'

                        'Well, the word sacred means holy.' 'Yes. Then there's the "Holy" Royal Arch.' -He paused. When he began to speak again it was much more slowly.

                        'Yes. The Holy Royal Arch. They are all expressions of . . . religion in its fullest sense, not in a masonic sense. I cannot stress too strongly the fact that there is no masonic religion, no masonic god, deity or someone or something to which a Freemason must swear loyalty. No.'

                        'What about Jah-Bul-On?'

                        He was obviously taken off-guard. He said nothing for nearly ten seconds and looked most discomfited. At length, proceeding with the extreme caution of a man feeling his way through a thicket of thorns, he said: 'These are . . . Hebrew words which are . . . murdered from their original. And Jah is the Hebrew word for God, so it's God again. You come back to God, the real God. But these - ha! [he chuckled] - these are ways in which we express our loyalty to God.'

                        'It's interesting you should choose only to define the first syllable, which is of course the most acceptable to those with religious convictions. But what about the other parts of that word which are, are they not, Baal and Osiris?'

                        Another long pause. 'I don't know them. That's the higher echelons of Freemasonry.'

                        'That's in the Royal Arch, isn't it?'

                        'I don't do Royal Arch. I do Chapter, but not Royal Arch.'

                        This was the first lie he had told me, and I could see it was unpleasant for him.*

                        *See Mackey's Revised Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, Volume I, p 191.

                        I continued: 'It is established that Jahbulon is a composite name for God, made up of Jah—'

                        'What's Bul-On?*.

                        'Bul is Baal and On is Osiris, the Ancient Egyptian god of the dead.' 'Well...'

                        'Pike was outraged when he heard that name for the first time and saw it associated with Freemasonry, which of course was so dear to him. He said that nothing would induce him to accept as the name of God a word which is in part the name of a pagan god and for more than two thousand years an appellation of the devil.'

                        'I agree on that, but I... I ... I don't know about it. It's not that I don't want to. I don't know about it so I really can't comment. You'll have to ask someone who knows.'

                        'Does it worry you?'

                        'In one of the higher degrees they use Jesus Christ.' 'Yes, there are several masonic orders which are exclusively Christian - the Knights Templar, the Ancient and Accepted Rite, the Societas Rosicruciana, the Knights of Malta, the Order of Eri. But does the name Jah-Bul-On worry you?'

                        'Many Masons wouldn't subscribe to those Christian degrees.'

                        The implication was clear: if Christ was an acceptable part of Freemasonry even to a non-Christian, why not the devil as well? Unacceptable though he might be to most initiates, he has his place.

                        The Church of England has been a stronghold of Freemasonry for more than two hundred years. Traditionally, joining the Brotherhood and advancing within it has always been the key to preferment in the Church. This situation has altered in the past twenty years and today there are fewer Masons within the Church than ever before. Even so, the Church is still rife with members of the Brotherhood. This is why, despite overwhelming evidence of Masonry's incompatibility with Christianity and the shattering revelation as to the nature of the Masonic God, no amount of pressure from inside or outside the Church has so far succeeded in forcing an enquiry into the subject.

                        Thirty years ago a thirty-eight-year-old Anglican clergyman, the Rev Walton Hannah, gave up his living in Sussex to devote himself to studying and writing about Freemasonry. In January 1951, Hannah launched his attack on clergymen Freemasons in an article in Theology. The article created a fissure through which poured the pent-up anxieties and suspicion of non-masonic Anglicans, which had been rumbling beneath the surface for years. The controversy spread far beyond the pages of theological journals as spin-off 'shock-horror-sensation' pieces appeared in the popular press. The furore led to a debate in the

                        Church Assembly and it began to look as if the whole subject of Freemasonry in the Church might be brought before the Convocation of Canterbury. But as the Archbishop of Canterbury himself (Fisher) was a powerful Freemason, the Brotherhood had little trouble in blocking the attempt, and it was ruled out of order on a technicality.

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Hannah later published his condemnation of Freemasonry and his arguments against its compatibility with Christianity in his book Darkness Visible, in which he pointed out that every Christian Church that had studied Freemasonry has declared that it was incompatible with Christianity. These condemnations ranged from the famous papal pronouncements, the first of which was in 1738, to an instruction of General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, that 'no language of mine could be too strong in condemning an Officer's affiliation with any Society which shuts Him outside its Temples'. The Greek Orthodox Church, pointing out that Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian communities had also declared Masonry incompatible with Christianity, condemned the movement formally in 1933 in part and significantly because 'it constitutes a mystagogical system which reminds us of the ancient heathen mystery-religions and cults - from which it descends and is their continuation and regeneration'.

                          Dr H. S. Box, author of The Nature of Freemasonry, attempted to raise the issue of Freemasonry in the Canterbury Convocation of the Church of England in 1951. 'Due largely,' Hannah says, 'to the persuasive influence of the Masonic Bishop of Reading, Dr A. Groom Parham, this was never debated.' There was, though, a debate in the Church Assembly in 1952. Hannah records that the 'critics of Masonry were frankly out-manoeuvred by the unexpectedness and speed with which Masons acted': the motion for an enquiry was overwhelmingly rejected. The Church of England has still never considered the matter officially.

                          Hannah's conclusion, echoed today by several deeply concerned Church of England clergy and bishops in private conversation, is that 'the Church . . . dares not offend or provoke thousands of influential and often financially substantial laymen by enquiring into the religious implications of Freemasonry'.

                          The present Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie, is not a Freemason and a recent survey suggests that many fewer bishops are Freemasons today than in the 1950s, when it would have been hard to find half a dozen bishops who were not Masons.

                          One great difficulty, today as in the 1950s, is for non-Masonic clergy and laity - and indeed the general reader -to obtain reliable information about the religious implications of Freemasonry. The vast - though often inaccessible - masonic literature is contradictory and full of gaps. It is all but impossible to know which books and what parts of them reflect the inmost beliefs of the masonic leadership.

                          To take one striking example: in the first three degrees -the 'blue' Craft Masonry conducted in Lodges - the initiate is introduced right away to 'The Great Architect of the Universe' as the masonic deity. He will doubtless assume according to his upbringing that this is merely a quaint way of referring to Jahweh, Allah, or the triune God of Christianity. If he should wonder why this title is a masonic secret and why masonic texts therefore cryptically refer to the 'GAOTU' instead of simply to God with a capital 'G', he will probably see no more than a little harmless clandestinity, maybe guessing (incorrectly) that it is a time-honoured vagary deriving from the days of 'operative' masons.

                          The average Christian man who has not studied the theological implications of the oaths, rituals and lectures usually experiences a certain initial moral and religious disquiet about what he has done in joining. Many have admitted to being somewhat ashamed by the initiation ceremony they have undergone. But all this is allayed by the reassurance that so many of the eminent and reputable have for centuries done the same and that the masonic system somehow enjoys an immunity in these matters sanctioned by tradition. As already stated, it is only when a Master Mason is 'exalted' to the Royal Arch and becomes a member of a Royal Arch Chapter, that the real name of the 'GAOTU' - Jahbulon - is communicated to him. Even then, carried so far by his experience of the first three Craft degrees, and being used by that time to the ambivalence surrounding all masonic ritual and symbolism arising from the fact that the one masonic dogma is that there are no immutable truths, most fail to appreciate that they have been deliberately misled into thinking 'GAOTU' is the one God of the great monotheistic religions. No one will enlighten the duped Royal Arch Masons for no one has the authority to do more than sketch his own personal interpretation of what the attributes of Jahbulon may be.

                          Those that have a feeling for the occult - the true adepts - recognize each other: they appreciate the real significance behind the deliberate masonic ambiguities. They develop a confidence in drawing their own deductions, making their own interpretations of symbolism and ritual. Such people come slowly to be accepted into the inner sanctum of the Brotherhood. But even among themselves - to judge by what senior masonic defectors have reported, and by the rare esoteric literature solely for advanced Masons - there is no mention of anything openly suggestive of satanism. There is no need: long practice of the masonic system ensures that the understanding is on another level. In just the same way, in worldly matters, all Masons at their initiation are required to 'declare on your honour that - uninfluenced by mercenary or other unworthy motive, you freely and voluntarily offer yourself. . . for the mysteries and privileges of Freemasonry'. Most candidates fully understand that this is humbug: they know full well that many join primarily or at least partly in the hope that membership will forward their worldly ambitions. But they give their word - and so, right from the beginning, they enter into the double-speak of Masonry. A doublespeak some learn to talk like a guided missile homing on its target. It is a double-speak the student of Masonry must learn to recognize and not allow to confuse him.

                          Against all this, the Church of England's Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK), for example, even today carries no literature examining Freemasonry and discussing whether a Christian should be a Mason. Hannah states that the SPCK issued a directive to their bookshops that his book Darkness Visible, probably still the most accurate and scholarly general work on the matter, should not be stocked. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the President of the SPCK. The Archbishop of Canterbury responsible for banning Hannah's book was Dr Geoffrey Fisher - a Freemason of long standing.

                          There is no doubt that Freemasonry is extremely anxious to have - or to appear to have - good relations with all Christian Churches and, knowing that no serious masonic scholar and no Christian theologian has been prepared to argue compatibility, the Movement remains silent. There is evidence of very considerable efforts being made by Masons - including pressures on publishers, distributors and libraries - to suppress works critical of the Brotherhood.* Hannah related how a mysterious gentleman invited him to the foyer of the Savoy Hotel where he offered the author £1,000 in notes for not publishing Darkness Visible or any other attack on Masonry. It should be stated that there is no evidence of this particular incident except Hannah's word.

                          Hannah ends his review of the attitudes of the Christian Churches towards Freemasonry by remarking: 'There is fear on both sides, hence the search for truth is stifled, and the religious bigamy continues. Only Rome can afford to smile at the situation, and continue to win converts.' For once, Hannah - who became a Roman Catholic after the Church of England had failed to examine Masonry and pronounce upon it - was wrong.

                          The Church of Rome, traditional arch-enemy of Freemasonry, is even more the object of masonic attention than the Church of England.

                          *This even extends to the Brotherhood's own publications. When the British Library applied in the normal way to Freemasons Hall for two copies of the Masonic Year Book for the Reading Room in 1981, it was informed that it would not be permitted to have copies of the directory then or in the future. No explanation was given. See also pp 9-12 on the prepubliction adventures of The Brotherhood.

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Roman Catholics of the older generation remember pamphlets published by the Catholic Truth Society (the Roman Church's equivalent of the SPCK) about the incompatibility of Freemasonry and Catholicism at every church bookstall. They understood that a long line of Popes had declared Freemasonry illicit and that Catholics who were Freemasons were automatically excommunicated by the mere fact of membership.

                            The situation today has mysteriously changed. Like the SPCK, the CTS has ceased publishing any guidance on Freemasonry. Priests, although perhaps better trained today than ever before, are commonly ignorant about the subject and are themselves unaware of their Church's present position.

                            I have discovered that there is a deliberate policy in operation within the English hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church to keep its members in ignorance of the true standing of the Church on the question of Freemasonry. This policy is intended to cover up a huge mistake made by the English Catholic Bishops in 1974 which led to Catholics in Britain being informed that after two hundred years of implacable opposition from Rome, the Holy See had changed its mind and that with the permission of their local Bishop Catholics could now become Freemasons. As well as covering up what I can now reveal as this blunder on the part of the English hierarchy, the wall-of-silence policy conceals, perhaps inadvertently, a more sinister situation in Rome, where I have evidence that the Vatican itself is infiltrated by Freemasons.

                            In 1982 I asked a trusted friend, a Roman Catholic and like myself an author and journalist, to raise the matter of the widespread ignorance of Catholics with the present Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume. The Archbishop's response was: 'I think it would be wise to wait for the publication of the new Canon Law before taking any public stance on the questions of Freemasons.' His General Secretary, Monsignor Norris, wrote in amplification: '.. . we have been informed that Freemasonry in this country has no connection with Freemasonry of an unpleasant kind on the Continent'. He went on to add that a Catholic's Bishop could give permission for a man to join the Brotherhood if 'convinced [membership] will have no bad effect on the person's Catholicity'.

                            Only now, after independent investigation by my Roman Catholic friend and myself, and contact with the Roman Church's hierarchy in Rome, can this statement be revealed as inaccurate. Norris's comment that '... we have been informed...' begs the question -who convinced the English hierarchy that English Freemasonry is fundamentally different? What happened to the Canon Law automatically excommunicating Freemasons? The story is a strange one.

                            By the 1880s eight Popes had already condemned Freemasonry when Freemasons urged that these condemnations had been based on erroneous information and were excessively severe. This led Pope Leo XIII to issue his famous encyclical Humanum Genus in 1884. Leo XIII classed Freemasonry as a grouping of secret societies in the 'kingdom of Satan' and, like the Greek Orthodox Church half a century later, stated that it wished 'to bring back after eighteen centuries the manners and customs of the pagans'. He qualified Masonry as subversive of Church and state, condemned it for its rejection of Christian revelation, and for its religious indifferentism -the idea that all religions are equally valid. He warned against the effectiveness of masonic organization, its use of figurehead leaders, and its subtle use of 'double-speak'. He urged the bishops to whom the Encyclical was addressed 'first of all to tear away the mask of Freemasonry, and let it be seen for what it really is'.

                            There were further condemnations in 1894 and 1902. Then the Canon Law promulgated in 1917 provided in Canon 2335 that 'ipso facto excommunication' is incurred by 'those who enrol in the masonic sect or in other associations of the same sort which plot against the Church or the legitimate civil authorities'. One reason for the unusual frequency of these papal condemnations is that Freemasonry has always had sympathizers, even members, clerical as well as lay, in the Roman Catholic Church.

                            From the 1920s Freemasons increasingly urged that British Freemasonry (and indeed other Freemasonry which did not accept the avowed atheism of the French and certain other 'Grand Orients' which had cost them recognition by the British Grand Lodges) was different from what the Popes had had in mind and so was unjustly condemned: they insisted that this British-type Freemasonry did not plot against either Church or state. The Vatican paid no attention, but three Jesuits with masonic contacts (Gruber, Bertheloot and Riquet) successively urged study of the possibility for a rapprochement.

                            Then came Vatican II and the great impetus this gave to the ecumenical movement - the reconciliation of all Christians. Senior members of the Brotherhood saw an opportunity to exploit this enthusiasm and used its ecclesiastical contacts to renew its call for an end to Catholic hostility. In America, France and Germany, notably, there were a number of small indications that the Catholic attitude to Masonry was softening. These were enough for Harry Carr,* one of those leading Freemasons who, like Dr Theophilus Desaguliers in the eighteenth century, exercise immense influence from a discreet position some rungs below the top of the Grand Lodge ladder. Carr spoke of the possibility of reconciliation to the London Grand Lodge Association in February 1968.

                            As related in his book The Freemason at Work, a questioner asked Carr how there could be any such move while 'defamatory and inaccurate' anti-masonic literature was on sale at Westminster Cathedral bookstall. Carr

                            *Past Junior Grand Deacon; Past Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076 and of four other Lodges - 2265, 2429, 6226 and 7464; Hon. Member of six Lodges - 236, 2429, 2911, 3931, 7998 and 8227; Hon. Member of eight Lodges in France, the USA and Canada. wrote to Cardinal Heenan, then Archbishop of Westminster, who undertook to have the offending literature, if indeed inaccurate, withdrawn. It was. Heenan saw Carr on 18 March 1968.

                            Carr stressed the old distinction between British and atheistic Continental Freemasonry and said that both as a Jew and a Mason he hoped the time had come for a reconciliation. According to Carr, this led Heenan to offer himself as 'intermediary' between English Freemasonry and the Vatican. Carr says he saw Heenan again on the eve of the Cardinal's departure for Rome. There was talk of a revision of Canon 2335 and of meetings between the Brotherhood and the Holy See.

                            On the surface nothing happened for nearly three years until the spring of 1971 when the Jesuit Father Giovanni Caprile, a leading and very hostile Catholic expert on Freemasonry, changed tack and wrote a number of conciliatory articles in the quasi-officialCivilta Cattolica. It was widely believed that Caprile's new line was backed by none other than Cardinal Villot, then Vatican Secretary of State. The story is that Villot, dubbed a 'progressive', used Father Caprile's articles to overcome the resistance to any change in the Church's teaching on Masonry by Cardinal Franjo Seper, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

                            Against this background Carr saw Heenan a third time on 26 April 1971 and Heenan related how the Holy See had granted dispensations to two English Masons to remain members of the Brotherhood after their reception into the Roman Catholic Church.

                            On 12 June 1973 Heenan felt able to warn his priests that a change in Rome's policy towards Masonry was imminent. He was right. After years of procrastination Cardinal Seper felt obliged on 19 July 1974 to authorize the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to write a confidential letter to certain Episcopal Conferences, the English among them, commenting on the interpretation to be given to Canon 2335.

                            Seper said no more than he had to: someone had pointed out that, as there was no comma in the definitive Latin text of Canon 2335, it was not clear whether all Freemasons were automatically excommunicated, or only those Freemasons whose particular group plots against Church or legitimate civil authorities. Wherever a Canon provides for penalties, Seper was obliged to point out, the most restrictive interpretation had to be given in the case of ambiguity. Therefore, the Canon reserved automatic excommunication only for the plotters.

                            Of itself the cautious letter signalled no change in the Church's attitude to the Brotherhood. But Caprile in Civilta Cattolica published what was allegedly an 'authorized commentary' suggesting that the Church now officially accepted that there were masonic associations which did not conspire against Church or state, that the Church now intended to leave it to local Episcopal Conferences to decide whether their local Masons were in this category - and if they were, there need be no ban on Masonry.

                            The English bishops accepted this view and issued a statement of general guidance which reads in part:

                            Times change. The Holy See has reviewed the Church's present relationship with Freemasonry . . . the Congregation has ruled that Canon 2335 no longer automatically bars a Catholic from membership of Masonic groups . . . And so a Catholic who joins the Freemasons is excommunicated only if the policy and actions of the Freemasons in his area are known to be hostile to the Church.

                            The Catholic News Service announced that the effect of this guidance 'is to move from a ban on Catholics belonging to the Masonic Movement to a cautious procedure whereby such membership may in some cases be sought'.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              For Carr and for Masonry this was the definitive breakthrough: the reconciliation so long sought by the Masons had been achieved. As Carr puts it, 'There must be hundreds of dedicated Masons all over the world who have played some part in the achievement of this long desired end. We have seen masonic history in the making ... the sad story which began in 1738 is happily ended.' Masons hastened to spread the word that Catholics could at last be Freemasons without incurring their Church's displeasure.

                              Inside sources have informed me that behind all this disarray in the Vatican there may well have been a small number of masonic prelates - specifically an Archbishop who in July 1975 was dismissed from his post when 'unquestionable proof of his being a Freemason was submitted to the Pope. Prima facie evidence of a few such cases does certainly exist, but as Paul VI, fearing scandal, ordered no enquiry to establish the truth, rumour has taken over and spurious lists of high-ranking 'masonic prelates' have been passed around, making the facts more than ever difficult to establish.

                              Everywhere there was confusion. In Brazil, on Christmas Day 1975, at the request of the Masonic Lodge Liberty, Cardinal Abelard Brandao Vilela, Primate of Brazil, celebrated Mass to commemorate the Lodge's fortieth anniversary. For his attitude towards the Brotherhood the Cardinal next year received the title 'Great Benefactor' of the Lodge.

                              All this happened under Pope Paul VI who, whatever his other virtues, is widely considered to have been a weak man unable to face scandal if need be to keep masonic influence out of the Vatican and national Episcopal conferences.

                              With the advent of Pope John Paul II it soon became clear that Harry Carr had been over-sanguine in suggesting that the story was at an end. On 17 February 1981 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a 'declaration' stating that the 1974 letter had given rise to 'erroneous and tendentious' interpretations. It insisted:'. .. canonical discipline regarding Freemasonry remains in force and has not been modified in any way, consequently neither excommunication nor the other penalties envisaged have been ..abrogated'.

                              The 1974 letter had merely drawn attention to the fact that the Church's penal laws must always be interpreted restrictively. In evident reproof of the English bishops, the Congregation declared that it had not intended Episcopal Conferences to issue public pronouncements of a general character on the nature of masonic associations 'which would change the position of the Church in regard to Freemasonry'.

                              The 1981 declaration pulls the rug from under the new understanding of the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and Masonry. Yet it has had virtually no publicity and the myth that canon law on the subject was changed in 1974 persists.

                              Roman Catholics seeking a true answer to the question of the Church's position on Freemasonry can find it only in the pages of this book. A high Vatican official, well qualified to explain the present position of the Holy See, said I should make four points:

                              First: the purpose of the Vatican letter of 19 July 1974 was simply to point out that only the restrictive interpretation of Canon 2335 should be applied: in other words only those Freemasons whose organization plots against the (Roman Catholic) Church, or the legitimate civil authorities are automatically excommunicated, a matter which it is of course extremely difficult to determine in the case of a secret society where the thinking of its clandestine leading members is not known to the ordinary membership.

                              Secondly: the Church wishes to reduce wherever possible the offences that incur automatic excommunication. Consequently the new Canon Law now before the Pope may very well end automatic excommunication for Freemasons even under the restrictive interpretation of the present Canon 2335.

                              Thirdly, and most important: it does not follow that because some action may no longer attract automatic excommunication it becomes licit. If something is contrary to Divine Law it is illicit even though the Church may apply no extraordinary sanctions. The Vatican draws particular attention to the findings of the German bishops as recently as May 1980. After prolonged study in co-operation with German Freemasonry of only the first three 'Craft' degrees, the German bishops concluded that 'Masonry has not changed' and can in no way be reconciled with Christianity. The position of the Catholic Church is thus that, as Freemasonry is essentially similar in Britain and Germany, the German bishops' conclusions that Freemasonry is contrary to Divine Law applies to British as much as to German Freemasonry.

                              Fourthly: there are moral as well as theological and political issues. It is unChristian to join any secret organization which systematically benefits its own members to the detriment of the legitimate interests of non-members. Insofar as Freemasonry is guilty of this, Roman Catholics obviously should not join it.

                              The Vatican's position is thus plain enough for anyone able to travel to Rome and obtain an audience with an eminent official. As most Catholic clergy and laity are not in a position to do this, it is curious that the English hierarchy have left English Catholics in ignorance. It is impossible to guess how long they would have remained ignorant had not New English Library decided to commission this investigation into Freemasonry.

                              An eminent prelate in Rome, who enthusiastically welcomed the prospect of this book and described the project as 'work of great importance', disclosed how the English Roman Catholic hierarchy, far from hastening to 'tear away the mask from Freemasonry' as urged by Pope Leo XIII, is in practice out on a limb in its toleration of Freemasonry and its unwillingness to give any guidance to Catholics, even to its own priests. He explained, 'The English bishops are anxious to give an English face to Catholicism. So, because Freemasonry is so English, they feel they must come to terms with it. The bishops wish for silence.'

                              Effectively, then, the true position of the Roman Catholic Church is not unlike that of the Church of England. Faced with the prestige, influence, and prevalence of Freemasonry in British society, both are similarly paralysed. The Vatican contact said, 'The Catholic hierarchy are well aware too of the pressures on the Roman Catholic laity in many walks of life to join Freemasonry if their worldly interests are not to be too gravely prejudiced in an increasingly masonic world. If the English Bishops do not consider they should demand that the faithful make the sacrifice required by the official Vatican position, it is hardly surprising that Freemasonry among Catholics is on the increase. It is certainly no longer safe to assume that Roman Catholic professional men are not Freemasons.'

                              The people and places in the following episode have been given obvious pseudonyms to make identification impossible and so to protect my informant, an Anglican vicar. For more than five months after I first heard of this man's plight, he was guarded about what was happening to him. Eventually, though, he decided that the disturbing events which took place in and around his parish during 1981 should be widely known - if only to warn other clergymen of the trouble in which they might become embroiled if they did not handle their local Freemasons skilfully. At this time the vicar requested that I did not disclose his name. Less than two days later, after much contemplation and soul-searching, he decided that he must stand up and be counted even if it meant placing himself in jeopardy again. But his fear overcame him once again and the pseudonyms were inserted into his story.

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                The Parish Church of Epsilon lies between the Berkshire villages of Zeta and Theta. From the porch there is a beautiful view of the Kappa valley and the highway beyond. For the Vicar of Epsilon, however, all beauty ends when he enters his church. He strongly suspects, from his experiences since taking up the living in 1980 and from his own observations and research, that the building called Epsilon Parish Church is not a church at all, but a pagan temple. It is full of masonic symbols. The Rev Lamda Mu says he came close to being driven out of his parish and his livelihood after opposing plans, on Christian grounds, for a service in the church for members of the two local masonic Lodges. When I met the Rev Mu he told me, 'In May 1981 I knew almost nothing about Freemasonry, but I have since come to understand the spiritual implications of this whole secret society, religion, or whatever you may care to call it.'

                                On 5 May 1982, before deciding finally that it would be too dangerous to be named, he wrote to me, 'Apart from my testimony, there are two principal reasons why I have decided to contribute to your work on Freemasonry.' He asked that I list these reasons in full in his own words:

                                1. A number of people for one reason or another in contributing to this book were unwilling to give their names and I am told that some of the evidence had to be disguised. This in fact would make it possible for people to criticize the book as sheer fabrication. I was impressed by the author's motives in preparing this book on Freemasonry as he wanted to examine the subject from all points of view so that the reader might be able to make his own judgement on Freemasonry. I have learned that Freemasonry is very big indeed and I am only describing my contact with Freemasonry.

                                2. I am contributing as a member of the established Church, that has had strong contacts with Masonry for a very long time. In this day and age it is fashionable to criticize the establishment, and my very real fear is that should anything vaguely comparable happen in this country with regard to Freemasonry as happened with the P2 Lodge in Italy [see Chapter 26], it could not only seriously undermine but possibly destroy confidence in authority and the use of authority in this land. I therefore wish to dissociate myself from ail those who desire to use criticism of Masonry for their own ends.

                                Mu wished it to be said that he bore Masons no animosity or ill-will. He said that in whatever contacts he had had over the events so far, the Freemasons themselves had been courteous and polite. ‘I must also add that there are a number of Masons in my parishes, some of them are very close friends of mine, and some of them played a very active part in saving one of my churches from certain closure.'

                                This is the Rev Mu's story.
                                ‘I remember as a small boy that my mother announced after seeing a postcard that somebody had gone to the "Grand Lodge Above". She then showed me my father's masonic apron. In 1967 at theological college, there was a discussion about Freemasonry among some of the students. I had no idea what Freemasonry was. I was given a book on heresies by one of the students which contained eight pages on Freemasonry. I read it and this in fact has coloured all my thinking on Masonry. I felt, as a Christian believing in Jesus Christ, I could not become a Mason as this would mean denying Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world.

                                'Before I became Vicar of [Epsilon] in Berkshire in 1980, I was told that the Freemasons had an annual service once a year in [Epsilon] Church. I raised this with the Bishop, who advised me to allow the Masons to have their service but ask to see the order of service beforehand and to insist on every prayer being said "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ". In May 1981, I received a letter from the [Theta] Lodge requesting a service in [Epsilon] Church. The letter gave no indication as to what exactly the Masons wanted and I was concerned that I would be involved in all sorts of bizarre rituals. I later discovered that they had only wanted Prayer Book Evensong. The surprise for me on the letter was a masonic symbol, which I recognized immediately as being like a sign in [Epsilon] Church. I had to reply to the letter fairly quickly, but I had no idea what to do. The one person I felt I could talk to about this was away on holiday. I did not know who were Masons and who were not. I did not know what the feelings of the local clergy were on Masonry, and I was not absolutely certain if even the Bishop was a Mason. (As it turned out he most certainly was not.) I remembered hearing something of a clergyman who was driven from this country to Canada or somewhere because he opposed Masonry. I later discovered that this was Walton Hannah. I had no wish to follow him but I was extremely reluctant to be involved in any way with a society that wanted a service in church but wanted the Founder of the church excluded. It took me four or five days to summon up enough courage to reply to the Masons. I said that all my knowledge of Masonry was second hand, I knew very little about Masonry, except that Masons had services which did not allow the name of Jesus Christ to be used, and for that reason I was not happy about them having a service. I did not flatly refuse to give them a service, but made the same conditions as those suggested by the Bishop, only adding that I should preach the sermon. Had I known then the kind of hymns Masons sing, I would have wanted to see those in advance as well.

                                'Over a period of time, I became aware of a gathering storm, and I began in desperation to search for books about Masonry. I found one which only confirmed my views and made me even more aware of the true nature of Freemasonry. Also I began to find out who were Masons in all three of my parishes, and this provided me with many surprises. I sensed a major storm was brewing and I felt totally ill equipped to face what was about to happen. I had become aware that a number of Popes had condemned Masonry and I discovered a number of books on the subject at Douai Abbey. I had practically no time to read them before I was given six days' notice that the only subject on the agenda for the next Parish Church Council meeting at [Epsilon] was the Annual Freemasons' Service. In that brief period of time I tried to prepare as convincing a case as possible as to why I knew a Christian could not be a Mason. I used some information from the recent Credo television programme, and I even quoted from the 39 Articles the relevant articles which should convince any Anglican that he cannot be an Anglican and a Mason. I was not allowed to explain anything about the rituals of Masonry as the meeting suddenly exploded in uproar. Some of the members were very angry with me and felt that I had insulted their relatives dead and living. In the end the PCC passed a resolution asking me to consider writing to the Masons inviting them back again. If I did not do this, I was told that they would all resign, and one person warned me that I might become "a Vicar without a Parish". They then decided to have a further meeting two weeks later.

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