I am including a chapter on anticlericalism in my revised The Church Impotent.
When I was a student at St. Matthew’s Grammar School in Baltimore in the mid 1950s, I remember being told by a nun that Leo XII had a vision of Freemasonry. He looked at all the grades from the lowest to the highest, and fainted when he reached the top because there was the Head Freemason: Satan!
I recently came across the inspiration of this interesting story: Leo Taxil. Her is a bookseller’s summary of the career of Leo Taxil and his role in anticlericalism:
Leo Taxil (ne Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pages), 1854-1907, was a piece of work. He was raised Catholic but turned against the Church at an early age and became a prolific author and publisher of scurrilous (and often semi-pornographic) attacks on the Catholic Church and the clergy. He attracted a considerable following in anti-clerical and Freethought circles throughout France. Thus, it was big news for his old following as well as for Catholics when, in 1885, he converted to Catholicism and renounced his past writings. His new main bugaboo was Freemasonry & he applied the same degree of venom and zealotry against Freemasonry that he had used against the church. Masons were corrupt, conspiratorial, followers of Satan, etc. Initially his conversion was accepted enthusiastically; he even had an audience with Pope Leo XIII. As time went on, however, his claims became increasingly grandiose. He announced that he had taken under his wing one Diana Vaughan, daughter of a prominent Freemason and descendant of the alchemist Thomas Vaughan, who had left the Order and denounced its Satanic orgies, etc. Diana’s stories became wilder and wilder and all but Taxil’s most fervent followers became increaingly uneasy Church officials began to ask for a public appearance with Diana telling her story herself. At one point Taxil revealed that Diana’s real father was Asmodeus and that, angered by a Freemason’s plot to kill his daughter, he turned the errant Mason into a crocodile who was forced to remain in his mansion playing the piano with the tip of his tail. The pressure became overwhelming and Taxil promised to produce the girl on April 19, 1897. The large crowd of Catholics and journalists was met with Taxil’s denunciation of their gullibility and the confession that the whole thing was a hoax. The Paris police got him out in one piece and he retired from the whole schmier.
Perhaps the piano playing aroused people’s suspicions. Of course it was entirely believable that a Freemason would be changed into a crocodile, but could a crocodile really play the piano with the tip of his tail? That seems a bit far-fetched.
Religious Fantasy Land……is always with us.
Personal experiences with the Freemasons in my own family……..
My paternal grandparents were members of the Lodge. When my father decided to become a Catholic he was told by his RCA bosses that he would get nowhere in the company if he did so.However he was promised a bright future if he joined the Lodge.he became a Catholic.
My husband,was an only child and both his parents belonged to the Freemasons. She, a grand pooba of the Eastern Star , his degree I never knew.my husband said his father brought home pornographic films from the Lodge for his personal entertainment and according to my husband’s grandfather ,his mother spent weekends in the Atlantic City hotels with brothers of the Lodge. They were furious their son married a Catholic, and even more angry when we had children. My husband was disinherited and his parents spent decades after an early retirement traveling and visiting Lodge friends all over the country.
however, they lived to ripe old ages. She in dementia and he basically crippled due to diabetes. Friends and family had passed and we were called to pick up the pieces.
now I can’t speak of any piano playing crocodiles, but I can state that their lives were mired in a swamp of self indulgence and promiscuity shared by those of common interest in the Lodge.
I know that even in dementia my mother in law was sure her husband’s masonic ring would ,”open doors ” for them.I know they hated,”The damned Catholics that do not contracept or abort.” I know they and my grandchildren were cheated out of a loving relationship due to prejudices that they formed in the Lodge.Even the ‘Master Mason’ newsletter’s motto mocked the motto of the Radio Rosary priest Fr Peyton.Their is ,”The Family that Plays Together ,Stays Together” his was ,” The Family that Prays Together Stays Together.”
Long after they died my husband was being dunned for their pass Lodge dues.
IMHO the Lodge is juxtaposed to Christianity, as are all SECRET self grandiose societies within and without organized religion.Pope Leo XIII was on target and the Catholic Church should have never opened the door for the establishment of their own secret societies and lodges.
Taxil’s story in the 19th century is eerily similar to that of Bella Dodd in the 20th. Both were raised Catholic; both fell away young; both engaged in high-profile associations with anti-Catholic causes; both eventually re-converted to Catholicism and made sensational charges against their former associates–charges which were widely believed and publicized.
The biggest difference of course, is that in the end Taxil sprung the trap and discredited himself, while Dodd did not and so is still believed by many to have been telling the truth. But I have to wonder: If indeed the Soviets were so intent on infiltrating and destroying the Church from within, and if indeed they had spent so much time and effort and money toward that end, and if indeed Dodd was privy to the secrets of such a highly important and highly classified operation, why was she expelled from the Party on so shallow a pretext (thereby giving her a motive to reveal the Party’s secrets), and once expelled why was she not effectively silenced? Certainly the Soviets were not above such tactics; and if she were really spilling the beans so publicly about such an important program, why did they not protect their investment by rubbing her out?
I don’t know as much about Dodd and her story as I probably should, and I could be missing something here; but I must say that it has never passed the “smell test” for me–and the parallel with Taxil’s story doesn’t make me feel any better about it.
At the time Bela Dodd gave her testimony, others were also giving testimony. Their testimony seemed absurd, also, and then when the KGB files were opened, it turns out they were all true. Truth can be stranger than fiction.
Mary, in my own diocese it seems that even the doors of the Church are open to those with Masonic connections. A while back the Catholic center on our local college campus had a big shindig which it announced would be co-hosted by our local bishop (very conservative), the center’s pastor (very Opus Dei), a powerful Democratic politician (very pro-choice), and a powerful Republican politician (a 33rd-degree Mason).
When objections were made to this arrangement (and many were) the official response was that this was just “standard fundraising practice” and therefore much ado about nothing.
The Leo Taxil/”Diana Vaughan” saga also touched upon the life of St. Therese of Lisieux, movingly recounted in the book Maurice and Therese: A Love Story. Vaughan credited her “conversion” to St. Joan of Arc, whom Therese and the Carmelites counted upon as a great intercessor. When Therese read about Diana Vaughan, she corresponded with her, apparently composing a poem about St. Joan (no text remains of this correspondence to confirm the contents) and including a photograph of herself dressed as Joan during a convent play. Perhaps this was in part because Therese recognized the sensationalist aspect of Diana and wanted to encourage a deeper faith. Diana sent back a thank you note but Taxil used the photo of Therese in costume as St. Joan as the backdrop scene during which he revealed the hoax. One can only imagine the humiliation that Therese must have experienced, as we know that she later threw the thank you note into the compost pile. I think this is a cautionary note that even the most spiritually discerning of people can be hoodwinked when their religious trust is manipulated.
I also have had personal relationships with Freemasons, and my experience is quite different. My first husband was a member of a lodge in another state and was also a member of the Orthodox Church in America. I have never been a member of either organization and have nothing but an historical interest in them. Of course, I kept my silence about my husband’s membership because if some of the people in his parish found out about it, he might have been thrown off the parish council.
If there had been any interest in pornography there, I think I would have heard about it. My husband was not anti Catholic. I was not dunned for any dues after he died. His Masonic friend, who once took him to a lodge meeting as a visitor so that they could give secret handshakes and they like, also did not strike me as anti Catholic. He and his wife had four children and were very family oriented.
The only think I ever heard about the beliefs of the Freemasons were that they were for the overthrowing or at least the bringing under constitutional control of the monarchies in Europe because monarchies caused a lot of wars which took the lives of a lot of innocent people. It is here worth noting that George Washington was a Mason and that he refused to be a king of the United States when such a kingship was offered him. (I think this is a true story. Some stories about GW are legendary, but I have not heard that about this one is.)
From reading Abuse Tracker, it is clear to me that all human organizations have people who are addicted to pornography. There is plenty of sin both financial and sexual in church organizations. Beware!
Mary Ann, the fact that others were telling the same story as Dodd only proves that others had an interest in purveying the same notions at the same time; without corroboration, that could mean almost anything.
Part of my problem with Dodd’s story is that it so conveniently serves the purposes of people who might have wanted such a story to be told, regardless of whether it was true or not–and this works equally well from either the right wing or the left.
What if Dodd were not a genuine defector from the Communists, but had been “sheep-dipped” by the KGB with a phony expulsion to set her up as a credible source for a story the KGB wanted told? What better way for the Soviets to discredit the Catholic Church than by having a phony defector offer up a lurid tale of how the Church had been infiltrated and virtually taken over with no one being the wiser–especially if no such thing had actually happened!
On the other hand, what if Dodd were one of the many operatives who were infiltrated into the Communist Party by our own security apparatus in those days, and then publicly extracted with a bogus story intended to discredit the growing liberal reform movements within the Church by tarring them as agents of Soviet subversion. We know that such games were being played in similar circumstances by numerous federal agencies, as well as by private right-wing organizations with access to government resources; many of these covert operations were very sophisticated and highly successful, and were only exposed decades later after the damage had already been done.
In short, there are just too many hands potentially stirring this pot for me to put any credence in any of it without some kind of external control. Some objective check on the veracity of the stories needs to be found, and KGB documents–if genuine–might be just the ticket. I would be very interested to see what they have to say, if you can point me to a source for them.
Janice, you are correct in your last comment. However, as you implied about the Orthodox , they also teach avoidance of secret societies if their clerics adhere to Scripture, and most do. Even my elderly half sister told me her non denominational church teaches against secret societies , masonry in particular. The Masonic lodges here have even approached KoC to co mix and some have.My Lutheran niece said her Pastor refused a handsome check from the local Lodge by way of donation and she never knew why until we all compared family notes at a dinner All Christian denominations are being courted for Lodge membership now.
As for the testimony of Bella Dodd , I have in my possession a notarized copy of a statement given by a Texas couple who heard her speak in the thirties She stated then that she answered to three Communist Party bosses who were Cardinals in the Vatican at the time.
Point being was that her assignment was to recruit communist party members to infiltrate Catholic seminaries.According to her testimony she placed over a thousand men. I was also told by a woman who met Dodd personally that the only CP men who would take the job were homosexuals as they did not have any personal conflict in giving up the possibility of marriage and family.
Father Michael Koening
Did Dodd supply names and dates? It seems she would have remembered at least some helpful details regarding men she had sent to seminary. Was there the kind of purge one would expect of Catholic seminaries and clergy after her revelations? Lots of smoke, but where’s the hard evidance of any fire?
Dodd converted though ArchBish Sheen and allegedly he told her not to reveal the cleric’s names.The same clerical culture is glaringly evident today in the News.
Sardath, what you describe is the communist dialectic.The exact same we have been treated to concerning the fall of communism in the USSR and the hero worship of the late Pope and his friend Lech Walesa of the Solidarity Union. Few Catholics know that Walesa was accused of being a communist collaborator and recently lost his case claiming libel in the Polish courts. nor do they realize that Walesa has been held up along with the late Pope by those who have political aspirations. In one interview he denies Limbaugh’s claims that he considered Obama a socialist. He states Obama is a “great world reformer.” Nor do Catholics understand the communist party control over the decision making in the Polish Catholic Church. The Ordinations and Consecrations of priests and Bishops in Poland were subject to Communist Party approval.Lists of five candidates were gone over by the Local communist party and Bishops were advised who to choose.
The nature of atheistic communism is to cause confusion.One is left to wonder if the upcoming canonization on the scheduled May 1st date was chosen to honor St Joseph the Worker or the Communism’s most popular holiday?
The fact that Gorbachev was rumored to be secretly a baptized Christian, in many Catholic political circles, was disavowed by the man himself in a 2008 interview where he restated his commitment to atheism.
The answer to the dilemma may be discovered when we realize who, what and why these false rumors were delivered into the minds of voters here and abroad.
May I recommend New Lies for Old ,and the Perestroika Deception for starters.
Scroll down to the News article.Another good reason to avoid being a joiner of any group within and without the church.
A Case Study of Contemporary Masonic Cronyism and Inequity
The article below was posted on a Masonic website in 2004, by Arkansas Mason Maxwell D. “Doug” Simmons, a Past Master of Blocher Lodge No. 247, in Booneville.
I agree with Fr. Michael on this: If indeed there was a KGB plot to flood the seminaries with Communist infiltrators, and such a plot were unmasked by the testimony of Dodd and others, then one would expect the Church to conduct a veritable inquisition to identify and purge the infiltrators out of simple self-protection, if nothing else.
Given the politics of the day, one would also expect the U.S. government to ferret out and prosecute those who were behind the operation, since the infiltrators would represent a dangerous “fifth column” and the organizers would be guilty, at the very least, of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Since none of that happened, the most logical explanation is that the alleged conspiracy was a fabrication, hence there was no one to purge and no one to prosecute.
I am especially suspicious of Dodd’s claim to have “answered to three Communist Party bosses who were Cardinals in the Vatican.” This goes against everything I have ever read about how the Communists actually conducted covert operations, especially in the United States and Europe. Such operations tended to be highly compartmentalized and organized into small cells which had limited communication with the rest of the apparatus; that way if a cell was compromised, the damage was limited and could easily be contained. This is one reason why counter-espionage operations were so difficult, and garnered relative few real spies; the system was very nearly impervious to penetration, and most of the spies that were captured were caught as much by happenstance as by design.
That a covert operation of this size and importance would be entrusted to someone like Bella Dodd, and that she would be privy to the identities of not just one but three highly placed and immensely valuable top-level operatives inside the Vatican, strikes me as completely implausible.
My question about Bella Dodd is what did she do for a living? Who was paying for her food, clothing and shelter? Was she raising money by giving speeches designed to do just that.
Is is a sad fact that there are people who will do or say anything to be right, to raise money, or just to get attention. Such people are called pathological liars. Whenever you catch people in small lies, be sure to keep your distance from them. They have no remorse for what they do to others if it gets them what they want.
In the day of Bella Dodd, she probably did not have to prove anything. People who wanted to believe her just did so. Remember the rumor after 9/11 that 5000 Jews were warned not to go to work that day. I know someone who believed it. Such rumors die off these days because most of us are educated to the point of demanding proof. The Truther movement after 9/11 has come up with some dillies. They hold conventions to preach their messages. There is money in that.
Maybe when the Communist Party had no more use for Bella Dodd she changed her tune and went over to the other side where everyone rejoices over the repentance of a sinner and paid her to give speeches to people who want to believe whatever she says. Leo Taxil would have done okay if he had not strained everyone’s credibility.
Since Bella Dodd ran for the House of Representatives, then we can assume she wanted to be a politician. Do they lie to us to get what they want, namely our votes?
On the subject of communist control which inextricably linked to freemasonry.
This is an excellent video which will enable the viewer a better understanding of how the communist dialectic works to drastically change a political culture.”KGB does not bother with the Leftist idiots. They served their purpose to demoralize and destabilize the culture.”Exposure to true information does not matter to them anymore.
Then the stage of “crisis” comes. Remember this was made in 1985, we have been living it.
Watch and listen
Mary, if Walesa was a Communist agent, then why did the Polish Communist allow him to get away with as much as he did? Why didn’t they have him thrown in prison where nobody could get to him outright or kill him when they had the chance? If they did, the Solidarity movement would have been in severe disarray. Besides, JPII’s would-be assassin had ties to the Bulgarian secret police…and Bulgaria was the most loyal Soviet ally in the Warsaw Pact. It should be obvious that the Communists viewed JPII and Walesa as major threats, not dupes.
As far as May 1 goes, May is a very special month for Catholics since they view it as “Mary’s month,” and JPII, if nothing else, was devoted to Mary.
I will agree with you, Mary, about the KGB’s assertion that for “Leftist idiots…Exposure to true information does not matter to them anymore.” I’ve found that out in discussing things with them on Facebook.
BTW, Leon, what is the point of this post on Taxil and Freemasonry?
Mostly it is amusing. If it has a point, it is that clericalists and anticlericalists can be batty and willing to believe anything about their enemies.
It certainly generated a lot of interesting and informative comments
Joseph and all,
The long range goal of communism is and was to be a global political entity.Solidarity’s role was to bring down the curtain and open the doors to global Free Trade for the former soviet countries. If it means convincing the West that from one day to the next they changed their ideologies. It worked.They counted on the fact we have been effectively dumbed down.
While most were watching CNN after 9/11, I was reading Pravda,having been interested in Putin’s speeches as to how our economy would collapse and how we all would have a global governance.
Thanks for the clarification. I have a tendency to be too serious.
Evidently double agents abound in Eastern Europe. Remember Fr. Gapon?
Interestingly, Raisa Gorbachov was buried in a Russian Orthodox ceremony.
In case anyone is interested there is a review of the book PAUL VI BEAUTIFIED? on the website RenewAmerica. It mentions the “Pecorelli List” which names RC Cardinals who are suspected of being Freemasons. You will have to google it, as I do not know how to post links. Too old to be technical.