In 1983, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, who was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, now Pope Benedict XVI, issued a document under the name of the Declaration on Masonic Associations. The link is on the name.
In that document, the long history of the condemnation of Freemasonry by the Church, since 1738, was reiterated and clearly defined. The original condemnation of Clement XII, In eminenti apostolatus specula was upheld.
Since that time, I have had many Catholics, in the United States and in Europe claim that the Church had removed the automatic excommunication on a Catholic who joined the Masons. This is not and has never been so. One has to understand that the Church's condemnation of Masonry is based not merely on the fact that it is a secret organization, but that it upholds several Modernist heresies. Firstly, Cardinal Ratizinger wrote that:
Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.
He went on to state that no bishop had any right to change this. It is interesting that the SSPX press, Angelus Press, has one of the best books on the evils and pitfalls of Masonry. One can find it here. However, I want to concentrate on a few of the Modernist heresies found in Freemasonry.
Indifferentism leads to a relativism about religion, stating that all are either the same, or so subjective as to mean only what a person sincerely believes. This pluralism leads to another aspect that because all religions are relative and the same, these beliefs have no role in the public life, cannot affect politics, or governmental decisions. Of course, as the Catholic Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, this heresy is condemned as contrary to both Revelation and Tradition. Indifferentism leads to a denial of the supernatural, as if all beliefs are equal or subjective, there is no hierarchy, no Revelation from God. Also denied in this heresy would be dogma, for the same reasons. It is interesting that in the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1907, itself peppered with some Modernist heresies, that this statement from Newman is quoted in the section on indifferentism:
No truth, however sacred, can stand against it (the Catholic Church) in the long run; and hence it is that in the Pagan world, when our Lord came, the last traces of the religious knowledge of former times were all but disappearing from those portions of the world in which the intellect had been active and had a career" (Apologia, chap. v).
The second heresy of many in Masonry is eirenism.This is what I call the forgotten heresy.
The condemnation of eirenism is found in Pope Pius XII's encyclical, Humani Generis. This great work condemns existentialism, historicism (Gramsci watch), immanentism and other isms. The point of eirenism is, in the words of the Pope: setting aside the questions which divide men, they aim not only at joining forces to repel the attacks of atheism, but also at reconciling things opposed to one another in the field of dogma. And as in former times some questioned whether the traditional apologetics That branch of the science of theology which explains the reasons for the Church's existence and doctrine of the Church did not constitute an obstacle rather than a help to the winning of souls for Christ, so today some are presumptuous enough to question seriously whether theology and theological methods, such as with the approval of ecclesiastical authority are found in our schools, should not only be perfected, but also completely reformed, in order to promote the more efficacious propagation throughout the world among men of every culture and religious opinion.
This heresy clearly seeks after a type of syncretism, a religion of unity, wherein divisions vanish and people come together to worship some sort of agreed upon god. I would venture to say that eirenism leads directly to Worship of the State.
This is the atmosphere of religion and philosophy in the United States at this very moment. The State declares that there is no religious right to conscience, thereby setting up its own standards for so-called moral or ethical behavior. To use an example, abortion is ok because a Supreme Court decision determined it was so, and because further legislation supports it. The State has substituted itself for the Church in matters of conscience.
Wake up, American Catholics. So, the heresies sleeping in Masonry have awakened and taken over the mind-set of the nation's leaders. Simple and neat.
What is happening and has happened in Catholic education, wherein schools are rebelling against the Teaching Magisterium (look here in California today, this minute) is a direct result of the concepts of eirenism. Schools and other facilities play down differences for the sake of community unity to the detriment of Catholic Teaching.
It is too late to change this huge momentum, hidden in Masonry by choice, and held in some minds by lethargy and laziness. To take the easiest way out, to placate, to be politically correct is eirenism.
As Catholics, we do not have much time to read all of these documents, but what is happening today in America, with the attack on the Church from the present administration concerning freedom of religion and freedom on conscience is an attack prophesied by all the documents above. If Church leaders knew their own teaching, they would have seen this coming, or even better, stopped these idealistic heresies from fomenting in the people in the pews. And, as laymen, we only have ourselves to blame if we find ourselves marginalize, persecuted, imprisoned, martyred. See my post below on the stages of persecution and the ideologies which push these heresies. The one I have left for this posting is Freemasonry, which seems to hold many of the Modernist heresies and is able to produce these in the market place as goods.
As one can tell, I taught a history of ideas, history of encyclicals, history of heresies. Nothing has changed in 2012 which was not there in 1732 or earlier. Sadly, the revisionist historians within the Catholic Church look like they have won the day. I honestly feel that we are in the times of Arianism, the greatest heresy which rocked and split the Church. However, the Church prevailed, and will, as Christ promised until the end of time. But, the Lord did not assure us it would be a large, powerful, or influential Church. Perhaps the words of one of the Desert Fathers are applicable. I think, but I am not sure, it was Abba Pambo.
"When asked by a young monk if they were of the greatest generation because they saw and cast out devils, and prayed, fasted, and converted and healed people, the Abba answered. 'No, we are not the greatest generation. We have obvious power. The next generation will see Christ establish His Kingdom among the Nations, and there will be unity for awhile. But, the greatest generation is the one, which under great persecution, will survive. They are the greatest and the last.'"