The saint who founded a movement in response to Freemasonry

St Maximilian Kolbe witnessed celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Freemasonry

Following on from my blog on the revised CTS booklet on fertility and infertility by Dr Pia Matthews (in the CTS Explanations series), I have been reading Freemasonry and the Christian Faith by Fr Ashley Beck, first published in 2005 and revised this year. This has been prompted by a friend emailing me a couple of weeks ago to tell me she had discovered an out of print book detailing all the ways that Freemasons have been secretly and maliciously orchestrating world events, from the French Revolution to the overthrow of the late Shah of Persia.

I am suspicious of conspiracy theories, partly because I recognise how easily they can take hold of the imagination with their vast, compelling fictions, and partly because they fly in the face of salvation history. I have occasionally come across devout Catholics who speak sotto voce about masonic machinations and have privately concluded that, in this area at least, they are slightly unhinged.

This does not mean that I dismiss the diabolical and the way it tries to influence humans in an underhand way. Evil has been part of the human story from the very beginning. The good news is that Christ has conquered death and, as the children of Fatima showed so beautifully in their innocent trustfulness of Our Lady of Fatima’s directives, reciting the rosary daily as she appealed is always the surest way to defeat the Church’s enemies.

Fr Beck’s booklet shows conclusively that being a Freemason is completely incompatible with being a Catholic. Why Catholics (and to a greater extent Anglicans) should ever have been tempted to join them is a mystery to me. Although the English branch of masonry, known as the Grand Lodge, believes in “the Great Architect of the Universe”, this is simply a form of Deism – and a heresy. There is no Trinity, no Christ (and therefore no Incarnation and Redemption) and, to return to Our Lady of Fatima, no love or reverence for the Mother of God.

I was very interested to learn from Fr Beck that St Maximilian Kolbe was so horrified by the public celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the start of modern speculative Freemasonry in 1717 that he had witnessed on the streets of Rome as a seminarian there in 1917, that it led him to establish the Knights of the Immaculate – reminding Catholics yet again that so much of what is lovely and hopeful in the world comes to us from Christ through His Mother.

A further footnote from Fr Beck refers to “the controversy about the omission of any reference to God or the Christian faith in the draft Constitutional Treaty of the European Union agreed in 2004, about which the Catholic Church made strong representations: the convenor of the convention which drafted it, former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, was a mason.”

Fr Beck also points out that masonry, unlike Christianity, is patronising to women. When a man is initiated into “the Craft”, he has to remove his wedding ring if he has one – and women cannot be masons. But then, uniforms, codes, arcane knowledge, strange handshakes and secular hierarchies are more characteristic of men than of women.

Fr Beck quotes lines from Mozart’s The Magic Flute that are derogatory towards women. Much ink has been spilt on the subject of this opera and freemasonry. My own view is that Mozart was about as much interested in Freemasonry as Shakespeare was interested in paganism when he wrote his Roman plays.