Cardinals in Masons’ Aprons
I note with considerable gratification that Fr John Hunwicke has started quoting from Henry Sire’s book Phoenix from the Ashes. And with even more gratification that we got there first! Here Fr H. ruminates on Mr Sire’s theory about why all those Cardinals allegedly joined the Freemasons: (and there seems little doubt that quite a few did):
Archbishop Lefebvre died while still the victim of a latae sententiae excommunication. It would be one of Clio’s* more droll exercises of humour, wouldn’t it … go on, agree with me just this once … if the Cardinal Villot who so detested him, and who defamed him to Blessed Paul VI and poisoned the Pontiff’s mind against him, also died while … er … still the victim of a latae sententiae excommunication. But I never know what to think about these Freemasons. The English breed seems rather ridiculous than sinister. Can one really believe all the conspiracy-theory stuff? The stories about curial cardinals (in Masonic aprons) creeping around with phials of deadly poison on the night Papa Luciano died … well, I wouldn’t want to end up as a Bishop Williamson lookalike, explaining to people that the CIA blew up the twin towers. But, on the other hand, that banker chappie did end up pretty dead, didn’t he, dangling from Blackfriars Bridge. And they do say that the continental breed of Masons is deadlier than the English.
Why should a prelate, or even a priest, get kicks out of all that spurious history and daft adolescent ritual? Or did they simply believe that it might help one to get on? That is Mr Sire’s supposition: “one may suppose that the majority had joined the society from motives of self-advancement.” He surmises that “the disclosures seem to represent a leak of the confidential list of members that, under Italian law, secret societies are obliged to deposit with the government.” The list included Villot, Suenens, Poletti, Baggio, Casaroli, Macchi, Marcinkus and … Bugnini. And the man who purveyed the list to Pope John Paul I was himself murdered a few months after handing it over … but, on the other hand, a really efficient gang of ruthless conspirators would, surely, have murdered him before he went touting his list around. Yes? No? But stay: there is the sudden sacking of Bugnini and his reassignment to go and evangelise the Iranian Ayatollahs … that would be very well accounted for if B Paul VI had just been told of Hannibal’s naughty little secret … but then, there are other naughty little secrets as well as freemasonry … the world contains women … and boys … and money … or perhaps the Pontiff simply received proof of how Bugnini had duped him and manipulated the process of liturgical reform. Naughty, indeed.
You see how helpless a mass of indecision I am. Altogether useless. But read it all in Phoenix from the Ashes and see what you think.
*Fr Hunwicke’s readers, I suspect, tend to be more classically educated than those who follow this blog—some of whom may not be quite sure who Clio was. Well, Clio is the muse of history, responsible for making people famous. And yes, I did have to look it up.