When money speaks, the truth remains silent.
The adventurer Michele Sindona was already at the head of a vast financial empire when his friend Pope Paul VI, in 1969, made use of his services as financial adviser to the Vatican. The Sicilian’s influence on both sides of the Atlantic was sufficient to ensure that he received universal respect; irrespective of personal character. The American ambassador in Rome referred to Sindona as ‘the man of the year’, and Time magazine was later to call him ‘the greatest Italian since Mussolini’.
His connection with the Vatican increased his status, and his business operations, carried out with the dexterity of a spider spinning a web, soon placed him on a near footing with the more political and publicly advertised Rothschilds and Rockefellers. He burrowed into banks and foreign exchange agencies, outwitted partners as well as rivals, and always emerged in a controlling capacity.
He invested money under assumed or other persons’ names, disposing of and diverting funds, always with set purpose, and he pulled strings for the underground activities of the Central Intelligence Agency as well as for more secret bodies, that brought about political repercussions in European centres. All this was done with an air of confidential propriety and by methods that would not have survived the most casual examination, carried out by the most inefficient accountant.
One of his early banking contacts was with Hambro, and from that followed a list that came to include the Privata Italiana, Banca Unione, and the Banco di Messina, a Sicilian bank that he later owned. He held a majority stake in the Franklin National Bank of New York, controlled a network that covered nine banks, and became vice-president of three of them. The real assets of those banks were transferred to tax shelters such as Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liberia.
Before long he had taken over the Franklin National, with its 104 branches and assets of more than five billion dollars, despite an American law that forbade direct ownership of any bank by groups with other financial interests. But a way round this was found by the then President Nixon, and by Sindona’s friend and share manipulator David Kennedy, a former secretary to the United States treasury and that country’s ambassador to Nato.
At one time it was reckoned that the amount involved in his foreign speculations alone exceeded twenty billion dollars. Apart from the interests already named, two Russian banks and the National Westminster were finger deep in his transactions. He was president of seven Italian companies, and the managing director of several more, with shares in the Paramount Pictures Corporation, Mediterranean Holidays, and the Dominican sugar trade. He had a voice on the board of Libby’s, the Chicago food combine. He bought a steel foundry in Milan.
It was only to be expected that, when estimating such a man, his past and his character counted for less than the jingle in his pocket. New friends, acquaintances, public figures, and distant relatives pressed forward for a sight of the Sindona smile; and among them was a churchman, Monsignor Ameleto Tondini. Through him the financier met Massimo Spada, who managed the affairs of the Vatican bank, or, to give it a more innocuous title, the Institute for Religious Works.
Its main concern was with the handling of Vatican investments, which to some extent came under a body known as the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. That had come into existence, as a financial entity, in 1929, under one of the conditions of the Lateran Treaty concluded with Mussolini.
It had since outgrown the limitations imposed by the Treaty, and had taken on truly international dimensions under a conglomerate of bankers including John Pierpont Morgan of New York, the Paris Rothschilds, and the Hambros Bank of London. Its clerical supervisor was Monsignor (soon to be Cardinal) Sergio Guerri.
Spada, who was the chairman of Lancia, became chairman of a part ecclesiastical, part financial institution, known as the Pius XII Foundation for the Lay Apostleship, a very wealthy concern which was later taken over by Cardinal Villot, who was in many ways a reflection of Paul VI.
There is always a sinister side to big money dealings, and one of Sindona’s associates, Giorgio Ambrosoli, became increasingly nervous as the carrying out of increasing frauds kept pace with the profits, and with the effects they produced in several European social, economic, and political structures. He expressed his doubts to Sindona, who brushed them aside. But he did not do the same with Ambrosoli. Instead he made him the object of rumour and surrounded him with a network of suspicion. And one more unsolved crime was added to the Italian police register when Ambrosoli was shot dead outside his house by ‘unknown assassins’.
Even before Sindona was concerned with its investment policy, the Vatican, despite its condemnation of money-power in the past, was heavily involved in the capitalist system. It had interests in the Rothschild Bank in France, and in the Chase Manhattan Bank with its fifty-seven branches in forty-four countries; in the Credit Suisse in Zurich and also in London; in the Morgan Bank, and in the Banker Trust. It had large share holdings in General Motors, General Electric, Shell Oil, Gulf Oil, and in Bethlehem Steel.
Vatican representatives figured on the board of Finsider which, with its capital of 195 million lire spread through twenty-four companies, produced ninety per cent of Italian steel, besides controlling two shipping lines and the Alfa Romeo firm. Most of the Italian luxury hotels, including the Rome Hilton, were also among the items that figured in the Vatican share portfolio.
Sindona’s influence at the Vatican, deriving from his earlier friendship with Paul VI, and the recent meetings with Spada, was soon felt in much the same way as it had been in the outer world. He assumed complete control of the Banca Privata. He bought the Feltrinelli publishing house, and the Vatican shared in its income despite the fact that some of its productions included calls to street violence and secret society propaganda. The same quarter gave support to Left-wing Trades Unions, and to the none too healthy work, often on the seamy side of the law, conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency. The same lack of discernment was shown by the fact that one of the firms that helped to swell the Sindona Vatican funds had been making, at least for a time, contraceptive pills.1
Other and more direct Vatican commitments were with the Ceramica Pozzi which supplied taps, sanitary equipment, and bidets, and with a chemical group, again with Hambros in the background, that manufactured synthetic fibres for textiles. Vatican representatives appeared on the boards of Italian and Swiss banks, and their influence was increasingly felt in the management of holding companies in many parts of the Western world.
Another ‘shut eye’ operation was when Cardinal Casaroli concluded an agreement with Communist authorities, whereby one of the Vatican companies erected a factory in Budapest.
Almost within hearing distance of the work was another Cardinal, Mindszenty, Archbishop of Hungary who, abandoned by Rome because of his anti-Communist stand, had taken refuge in the American Embassy after the abortive 1956 uprising.
Had it been possible to conduct a genuine inquiry at that time, the names of Vatican officials would have been found figuring in some of President Nixon’s complicated ventures. So much emerges when, by steering a way through a mass of often contradictory manoeuvres, one pin-points the Vatican ownership of the General Immobiliare, one of the world’s largest construction companies which dealt in land speculation, built motorways and the Pan Am offices, to quote but a few of its operations, and also controlled a major part of the Watergate complex in Washington. It was thereby enabled to build, and own, the series of luxury buildings on the banks of the River Potomac that became the headquarters of the Democratic electoral campaign in 1972.
The management of the Generale Immobiliare was in the hands of Count Enrico Galeazzi, the director of an investment and credit company (estimated capital twenty-five billion lire), who could so freely come and go at the Vatican that he was known as the laypope.
The Holy See became a substantial partner in Sindona’s commercial and industrial empire in the spring of 1969 when, in answer to calls from Paul VI, the financier made several visits to the Vatican where the two men met, in the Pope’s study on the third floor, at midnight. (Only, so far as the minor clerics and staff of the Vatican were concerned, and according to the Pope’s appointment book that was duly ‘doctored’ before being entered up, it was not His Holiness who conferred with Sindona but Cardinal Guerri, who in all probability was sleeping at the time.)
Besides wishing to fortify the Vatican’s investment policy, the Pope was concerned with maintaining the Church’s non-liability for Government control, in the shape of tax, of its currency and assets. That exemption, with the Christian Democrats heading a four-party coalition since the end of the Second World War, had never been seriously questioned. But new voices were now being heard. The Vatican was named as the biggest tax-evader in post-war Italy, and there was a growing demand for its arrears to be settled.
Another member of this sanctified business circle was Paul Marcinkus, one of a Lithuanian family who had emigrated to Chicago. He was in the good books of Monsignor Pasquali Macchi, the Pope’s personal secretary, and had so far not been prominent in any pastoral field. His most practical experience, in the sphere of Church activity had been gained when, due to his standing six feet four in his socks, and his long powerful arms (which earned him the nickname of ‘gorilla’) he supervised the guarding of Paul VI during his travels. Paul made him a Bishop.
As controller of the Vatican Bank, a post that was handed to him by Paul VI, he was responsible for more than 10,000 accounts belonging to Religious Orders and to private individuals, including the Pope. The number of the latter’s account, by the way, was 16.16. He handled the Vatican’s secret funds and its gold reserves at Fort Knox, and he transferred a substantial part of the funds, in the hope of making a quick profit, to the Sindona holdings.
He was also President of the Institute for Religious Training, and a director of the Continental Illinois Bank of Nassau. His rise was neither unexpected nor brought about without influence being exerted, for on July 2nd, 1963, Marcinkus followed the example of those many clerics who, in defiance of Canon 2335, had joined a secret society. His code name was Marpa.
Taking advantage of the fact that clerical garb was no longer essential, Marcinkus shouldered his way through the fringes, then into the colourful noisy heart, of Roman society. He was the affluent manager of one of the city’s most influential, privileged, and respected banks. He lounged at bars, joined exclusive clubs that had hitherto been envied and far-off places to him, and showed his animal strength on the links by sending numerous golf balls into oblivion. In time his blatant playboy attitude annoyed the more established Roman community, who turned a cold shoulder. It would seem that he had little more than gangling brawn to recommend him. But there were always plenty of Americans, who were there on business, to take their place, though even they were shocked when the Bishop was said to be involved in fraudulent bankruptcy.
Meanwhile the first warnings, conveyed by hints of danger, were reaching Sindona and the Vatican from many parts of the world. The current call was to transfer money to the United States, as events in Europe pointed to political unrest and economic collapse; and the future of the Franklin Bank, in which Sindona and the Vatican were heavily involved, became highly doubtful following a series of disastrous speculations. There were frantic efforts to persuade more secure banks to buy outright, or at least re-float, the Franklin. Calls went out from Montini to arrange the transfer of Vatican investments to a safer haven.
It was not that Sindona had lost his touch; but world forces, assisted by enemies in the Mafia who envied Sindona’s rise, were proving too much for the maintenance of far-flung ventures like some over which he had presided. Aware that he was standing on shaky ground, Sindona tried to gain the support of the Nixon administration, by offering a million dollars, which perhaps could have materialised only if the deal had been accepted, for the President’s electoral fund. But as Sindona, for obvious reasons, insisted on not being named, and since the acceptance of anonymous gifts for an election was forbidden by law, his offer was declined. It was disappointing for all concerned that it impinged upon one of the few laws that even the elastic Federal system could not openly stretch.
Sindona made a final gesture in the approved style of a Hollywood gangster. He threw a lavish and spectacular evening party at Rome’s foremost hotel (that was probably owned by the Vatican) which was attended by the American ambassador, Cardinal Caprio (who had been in charge of Vatican investments before the arrival of Marcinkus), and the accommodating Cardinal Guerri.
Marcinkus merely came in for a great deal of blame. His operations with Vatican funds, said Monsignor Benelli, one of his critics, had been intolerable. But Marcinkus, who knew too much of what went on behind the scenes at the Vatican, could not be abandoned, and he was given a diplomatic post in the Church.
Sindona had been tipped off, by one of his hirelings who was also employed by the secret service, that a warrant was out for his arrest. But he bluffed and drank his way through the festivities, went off for a time to his luxury villa in Geneva, then took a plane to New York.
There, pending actual charges, he was kept under a form of mild surveillance. But it seems that some of those who were detailed to watch him belonged to the Mafia, and the next the Pope heard of his former adviser was that he had been shot and wounded in a scuffle.
It was easy enough, by delving into his past that was more than ankle-deep in great and petty swindles, and now that he was no longer a power to be reckoned with, to bring him to trial; and an attempted kidnap case, and widespread bribery, were now added to the charges against him. When the obliging Cardinal Guerri heard of this, he seems to have become suddenly convinced, perhaps because his name had figured in talks that clinched the bargaining between Pontiff and financier, that Sindona was a much maligned man. He wanted to go to New York and testify on his behalf.
But the Pope, aware of Guerri’s easy-going nature, and not wanting the extent of his own co-operation with the accused to be dragged out in the witness box, kept Guerri in Rome.
The trial ended, in the autumn of 1980, with Sindona receiving a sentence of twenty-five years’ imprisonment. Few, apart from those members of the public who expressed indignation as the financial antics of Sindona were made known to them for the first time, believe that such a sentence will ever be served. At least one anti-clerical paper suggested that Pope Paul was lucky not to have been put on the stand alongside his banker.
As it was, the Pope was left with two reminders of their partnership. The Church had sustained a heavy financial loss which meant, as the Pope asserted with a quite gratuitous beating of the breast, that the Bride of Christ was face to face with bankruptcy; while there was a new administrative agency for finance that he had founded as a result of Sindona’s help.
At the head of this was Cardinal Vagnozzi, Apostolic Delegate in New York. He was assisted by Cardinal Hoeffner, of Cologne, and Cardinal John Cody of Chicago.
The last named of that trio was soon to make a sensational entry into the news. Cardinal John Patrick Cody, aged seventy-three, the son of a St. Louis fireman, was Archbishop of the largest Roman Catholic diocese in America. He therefore had the handling of many thousands of tax-exempt ecclesiastical funds. And in the autumn of 1981 his congregation was overwhelmed, as only loyal Church members can be, by rumours that soon became facts, to the effect that the United States Attorney’s office in Chicago was looking into Cody’s financial affairs.
A Federal Grand Jury had also asked for the records of a St. Louis investment company, where a certain Mrs. Helen Dolan Wilson had an account, to be examined.
The inquiry, most unusual in the case of a contemporary Cardinal, turned upon what was called the diverting, disposition, or misuse of Church funds amounting to more than £500,000 in English money. It also came to light that the National Conference of Catholic Bishops had lost more than four million dollars in a single year, during which time the Cardinal had been treasurer.
The Mrs. Wilson referred to, of the same age as the Cardinal, was variously referred to as a relation of his by marriage, as his sister, as a niece, while Cody usually spoke of her as his cousin. Her father, more precise judgments claimed, had married the Cardinal’s aunt, while others were sure that no real blood relationship existed between them. The couple concerned said that a brother and sister relationship, begun in their childhood in St. Louis, was their only tie.
‘We were raised together’, explained Mrs. Wilson. Their remaining close friends was therefore a natural development. They travelled together, and for the past twenty-five years she had followed his every move about the diocese. He had become, in the religious sense, her ‘supervisor’, a role that she found beneficial when her marriage, which left her with a son, ended in the divorce court.
It was easy enough for the Cardinal to place her, as manager, in an office connected with the Church in St. Louis. Her appearances there were far from regular but, whether working or not, she nonetheless remained on the Church’s pay-roll. He also helped her son to set up business, in the same town, as an insurance agent, a post that Wilson resigned when, with the Cardinal, he started dealing in ‘real estate’.
Mrs. Wilson retired, after having earned a modest £4,000 a year, but before long she was known to be worth nearly a million dollars, mostly in stocks and bonds. She was also the beneficiary of a hundred thousand dollars insurance policy, taken out on the Cardinal’s life, on which she borrowed.
The inquiries made by the Federal Grand Jury, and publicised by the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, brought forth a flood of allegations. The Cardinal had made over most of the missing money to her. Part of it had gone in buying her a house at Boca Raton, in Florida. There had also been a luxury car, expensive clothes and furs, and holiday cash presents.
The Cardinal, though saddened and feeling rejected because of the allegations, was firm in saying that he didn’t need a chance to contradict them. He was ready to forgive all those responsible. Mrs. Wilson was equally firm in saying that she had received no money from the Cardinal. To say that there was anything more than friendship between them was a vicious lie, or even a joke. She strongly resented being scandalised, and being portrayed as a kept woman or (as her fellow-countrymen put it) ‘a tramp’.
Had it not been for the many falls from grace that have overtaken the modern Church, a case like this would scarcely have merited more than a mention. But now it prompts questions. Was it a frame-up, part of the age-long wish to bring the Church into disrepute? Was the Cardinal personally corrupt? Or was he one of the infiltrators who, without any real religious conviction, have been secretly fostered into the Church for the sole purpose of wearing away its moral and traditional fabric?
There is, in the light of other strange happenings that have occurred, nothing extravagant in that suggestion; and it would seem to be borne out by a long report in The Chicago Catholic of September 29th, 1978. An Archdiocesan Liturgical Congress was held in order, as one of the jargon-crazed Modernists said, to keep the Church ‘living, moving, changing, growing, becoming new, after some centuries of partial paralysis.’
As part of that process, dance groups frolicked under flashing multi-coloured lights, trumpets blared, people reached and scrambled for gas-filled balloons, and donned buttons that bore the message ‘Jesus loves us’; while a priest, who was looked upon as an expert in the new liturgy, his face whitened like a clown’s, paraded about in a top hat and with a grossly exaggerated potbelly emerging from the cloak he wore.
The background to all this was made up of vestments, banners, and the hotch-potch of a mural, all of which, in the approved style of ‘modern art’, revealed no more than casually applied splashes of paint. The Mass that marked the close of this truly ridiculous Congress (that, as we shall see, was only a faint reflection of what happened elsewhere, and which would never have been dreamt of before the days of ‘Good Pope John’) was presided over by Cardinal Cody.
At another time The Chicago Tribune, in a report describing what was said to be a ‘Gays’ altar’, referred to a concelebration (meaning celebration of the Eucharist by two or more priests) at a church in that city: One hundred and twenty-two priests were present at what passed for Mass, and every one of them was a self-confessed moral pervert.
Neither of these profanities called forth a word of protest from John Patrick, Cardinal Cody.
He died of a heart attack in April, 1982, while this book was in preparation.
1. Yet Pope Paul criticised the capitalist system in his social encyclical Populorum Progressio on the development of peoples.
Woe to him who doesn’t know how to wear his mask, be he King or Pope.
The give-and-take of human relationships poses a more difficult problem than those that are normally accredited to science. For the latter will, in all probability, be solved in time; but when it comes to people, especially those who are no longer among the living, we are faced with questions that, in this our world, are unlikely to be answered.
For instance, it has to be asked why did two prelates, within a few months of each other, both die in circumstances that are not normally connected with any churchman, and, more especially in these cases, highly placed ones?
When a party of Parisians, after having attended a religious festival in the country, returned to the capital late at night on Sunday, May 19th, 1974, some of them noticed that the priest who had been in charge of them looked ill and tired.
He was Jean Daniélou, sixty-nine years old, and a Cardinal; no cut and dried character, but someone difficult to place in the minds of ordinary people who knew very little about him. He had entered a Jesuit novitiate in 1929, and had been ordained nine years later. The author of fourteen books on theology, and the Head of the Theological Faculty at the University of Paris, he was also a member of the Académie Française.
While revealing little, he made certain statements about himself that invited questions; even controversy. ‘I am naturally a pagan, and a Christian only with difficulty’, was one of them, though that, of course, expresses a point a view held by many of his creed who know that little more than a knife edge exists between affirmation and disbelief. He was aware of new elements, that were forming and gathering strength within the Church, and although he judged freely – ‘A kind of fear has spread leading to real intellectual capitulation in the face of carnal excesses’ – the conservatives were no more able to number him among their kind than were the more vocal progressives. He was one of the founders, in 1967, of the Fraternity of Abraham, an interfaith group comprising the three monotheistic religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.
‘Today is a time when we sin against intelligence.’ Both sides could have claimed that as a dictum. Some accused him, when he appeared to hold back, of being prudish. But always he claimed to be uncommitted. ‘I feel in the depths of my being that I am a free man.’ But freedom, when it is not a political catchword, can no more be tolerated in the world than truth (as the peasant girl Joan of Arc had realised centuries before). And the more Daniélou withdrew from society, and lived quietly at his residence in the Rue Notre-Dame des Champs, without keeping a secretary or running a car, the more he became suspect, or openly disliked.
None of this escaped him, but he tried not to dwell upon it. Had he done so, he owned that he would have been discouraged, a self-evident failure who had not taken advantage of the promise that was made available by his rise in the Church. Later he found, or at least came to believe, that opponents were scheming and plotting against him. There was, indeed, a definite campaign of whispers and hints in the Press that compelled him, though it was more a matter of choice than the force of actual opposition, to maintain a steadily but relatively unimpressive place on the fringe of things.
So he remained, a problematic figure who arrived home on that Sunday midnight after an exhausting day in the country. But Monday brought no change in his routine. He said Mass, as usual, at eight o’clock, then worked in his office and received a few visitors. He lunched at a restaurant, and afterwards called at the home of a Professor at the Sorbonne.
It appears, for some unexplained reason, that part of his mail went to an address in the Rue Monsieur; for he collected this, was back at his house at three o’clock, then left a quarter of an hour later, after saying that he expected to return at five.
But he did not. For at three forty-eight the police received an urgent message from a Madame Santoni, who occupied an upper floor at number fifty-six in the Rue Dulong, a none too reputable quarter just north of the Boulevard des Batignolles. Her message brought the police rushing to the scene, for it told them that no less a person than a Cardinal was dead on her premises.
He, Daniélou, had called there soon after three-thirty. He had, so someone told her, run up the stairs four at a time, then collapsed at the top, purple in the face, and soon became unconscious. She had torn his clothes apart, and summoned help. But it was impossible to revive him, and the first arrivals had been helplessly looking on when his heart stopped.
In answer to a radio announcement of the Cardinal’s death, the Apostolic Nuncio, with the Jesuit Provincial of France, and Father Coste, Superior of the Jesuits in Paris, arrived at the apartment, together with reporters from the France Soir, and nuns who were called in to deal with the body that was, however, already too rigid to be prepared for the funeral.
Father Coste addressed the reporters. It was essential for them to maintain the utmost discretion, and, having said that, he went on to state that the Cardinal had died in the street, or it may possibly have been on the stairway, after he had fallen in the street.
‘Oh no, it wasn’t’, broke in Madame Santoni. Father Coste objected to her interruption, the other clerics joined in, the police had their say, the reporters asked questions, and at the height of the argument, although no one actually witnessed her going, Madame Santoni disappeared and was seen no more at the inquiry.
Now the lady in question thoroughly deserved the title of Madame. She was well known to the police and to the Press, a twenty-four year old blonde who traded under the name of Mimi, sometimes as hostess at a bar, a go-go girl at an all night cabaret, or as a strip-tease dancer in the Pigalle. She was never on call at her home, which was run as a bawdy-house by her husband. It was then, however, temporarily out of business, as he had been convicted only three days previously for pimping.
Such explanations as the Church chose to offer were vague, and all in line with the general verdict that the Cardinal had burst a blood-vessel, or suffered a heart attack. Cardinal Marty, the Archbishop of Paris, refused a request from Catholics as well as from secular quarters for an inquiry to be held into the Cardinal’s death. After all, he explained, the Cardinal wasn’t there to speak for himself. It may have been an unfortunate afterthought that caused the Archbishop to speak of the Cardinal needing to defend himself. The eulogy was delivered in Rome by Cardinal Garrone who said: ‘God grant us pardon. Our existence cannot fail to include an element of weakness and shadow.’
One may wonder how deep Garrone’s soul-searching may have gone since, although he was known to belong to a secret society, he brazenly sat it out and held on to his red hat. A comment by the orthodox journal La Croix was briefer and more to the point: ‘Whatever the truth is, we Christians well know that each of us is a sinner.’
This sort of happening supplied the Left-wing anti-clerical papers with copy for a week. One such, Le Canard Enchaine1, had scored heavily some years before, in a controversy over the ownership of a string of brothels within a few yards of the cathedral in Le Mans. The paper claimed that they were owned by a high dignitary of the Church. His friends and colleagues strongly denied this. But the paper was proved to have been right. Now the same source had no hesitation in saying that the Cardinal had been leading a double life.
He had been under observation for some time, a step that was ordered by no less a person than M. Chirac, the Prime Minister. He and Jacques Foccard, a former Minister of the Interior, both knew perfectly well that the Cardinal had been paying regular visits to Mimi.
That in turn was ridiculed by Daniélou’s supporters; whereupon the paper retorted that there might be more revelations to come. ‘If we were to publish all the details, it would be enough to shut you up for the rest of your natural days.’
The truth of this strange story may lie in one of four possible explanations.
One may have its origin in the effects of the Second Vatican Council. Daniélou was said by some to have regarded that as a positive disaster, and we know that he described the more liberal school of theologians, to which the Council gave rise, as lamentable, miserable, execrable, wretched. Many resented this, especially when he went on to call them ‘assassins of the Faith’. He determined to do what he could to prevent the Faith being secularised and degraded, and this led him to think, since human tempers are just as hot within the Church as they are outside it, that he was in danger. That would account for the somewhat enclosed life he led in Paris.
But he let it be known that he was determined to make a stand, and he drew up a list of those he called traitors to the Church. Some of those whose names were included breathed fire against him, but he publicly announced that he intended to publish the list.
Four days later, according to a theory held by many who are certainly not light-weights, he was murdered by those he would have named. Then, inspired by a kind of macabre humour, those he had called ‘assassins’ had his body taken out and dumped in a brothel. After that, the surprising discovery could easily be arranged.
That is written in full knowledge of how outrageous it must appear to those who regard the Church from a purely parochial level; in happy ignorance of its medieval history that was destined to be repeated, with all the cut-and-thrust and poisoned cups of that period, in a few years’ time, and within the very walls of the Vatican palace.
Or could Daniélou have been, earlier in life, one of those infiltrators whose influence he came to detest? Did he, after being initiated into one of the secret societies opposed to the Church, undergo a change of heart, which caused him to be looked upon as a menace? There is ample evidence that the societies had, and still have, no scruples in dealing with defaulters.
That suggestion is not without substance. For in the Rue Puteaux, Paris, there is an ancient church, the crypt of which serves as the Grand Temple of the Grand Lodge of France. Some three years before Daniélou’s death the Auxiliary Bishop of Paris, Daniel Pézeril, had there been received into the Lodge, after he had issued a communiqué to justify his action. In it he said: ‘It is not the Church which has changed. On the contrary, Masonry has evolved.’ It was Monsignor Pézeril who was asked, by Pope Paul, to seek a way of bridging the gap between the Church and the societies.
Cardinal Daniélou had been a not infrequent visitor to the crypt, where he was seen in consultation with one of the Lodge Masters who had been honoured with the title of Grand Secretary of the Obedience. It must therefore be asked, does the answer to the mystery lie with those with whom Daniélou had conferred in the crypt?
But the story circulated by the satirical papers was the most shrill and insistent, and the most commonly known. They claimed that it had been obvious, to those who had been in Madame Mimi’s apartment before the police arrived, that Daniélou’s body had been hurriedly dressed. And if he had not been one of her clients, why had he gone there with three thousand francs that were found in his pocket-book? The purveyors of such scandal concluded that the Cardinal had died in a state of ecstasy, if not of grace.
Yet another version brings the story more up to date, with a trial that has now (the time is November, 1981) passed through its opening stage in Paris.
On Christmas Eve, 1976, Prince Jean de Broglie was shot dead by a gunman as he left a friend’s house. The necessary inquiries brought a far reaching web of fraud, complicity, and blackmail into the open, involving the former President Giscard d’Estaing and a friend of his, Prince Michel Poniatowski.
The latter had recently ousted and taken the place of Jacques Foccard as Minister of the Interior, and Foccard was now using a woman, who was known also to Giscard, to get money from the Prince. Foccard has already been mentioned in connection with the Daniélou case.
Since the known operation is obviously part of a vast cover-up, it is no more possible, than it is necessary here, to unravel the details, which leave all those concerned in a very murky light. But it is claimed that they account for Daniélou’s being in the brothel, and for the three thousand francs that were found on his person. They were one of the instalments that he had been paying, for the past three months, on behalf of someone, referred to as a friend of his, who was being blackmailed.
A most disarming finale to all this came in the form of a line or two in an English religious weekly, the Catholic Herald, which briefly announced that Cardinal Daniélou had died in Paris.
Brief though the memory of the public is, there may have been a few lingering thoughts on Cardinal Daniélou’s mysterious death in the minds of some Parisians who noticed a Bishop from the south-west of their country step from a train on the afternoon of January the 12th, 1975.
He was Monsignor Roger Tort, fifty-seven years old, and Bishop of Montauban, on the River Tam just north of Toulouse. He was due to attend a meeting of the French Episcopal Commission, and he straightway proceeded to a room he had booked at the headquarters of the Catholic Aid Society in the Rue de Bac. His movements for the next couple of days are unrecorded, but on Thursday the 15th he lunched at the Commission’s meeting place in the Rue du Regard, on the left bank of the Seine. It is possible that from there he went to meet a friend whom he had known during the war, but we know nothing certain about him until an alarm was raised, and a call went out to the police, on the night of the 16th.
Excitement centred on the Rue du Ponceau, again on the left bank, a narrow street off the Rue Saint-Denis, a quarter notorious for brothels, prostitutes, and sex shops, where red lamps shone invitingly. The woman who raised the alarm kept one of the brothels. She had come across a man, who was obviously ill, in the street outside her door, and she got the help of two others of her kind to drag him inside. By then he was dead.
Who was he? She neither knew nor cared. She had never seen him before. She had done what she could from purely ‘humanitarian reasons’. The red lamps winked as more people arrived and the contradictory stories went on. The stranger had died of a heart attack, between seven and eleven o’clock, in the street, or in the corridor, or in one of the rooms. A news-hungry reporter said that the Bishop, once his identity had been confirmed, had come a long way from his lodgings and from the Commission’s meeting place. The reporter went on to say, backed by a snap judgment from the police that, as in the case of Daniélou, the body appeared to have been hastily dressed.
A clerical apologist later advised all those interested to put away such thoughts as being totally unworthy. He pointed out that Monsignor Tort, when found, was still wearing his Bishop’s ring, and his pectoral cross, and that his rosary was still in his pocket. Surely the presence of those objects was enough to prove that ‘no inadmissible intentions’ had brought him into the district? The facts, so far as they could be known, did not admit of any shameful interpretation.
The Church absolved the dead man from moral guilt, and within a few weeks a new Bishop was being installed at the small cathedral in Montauban.
An elementary reading of these two episodes could be taken as evidence that churchmen (especially Catholic ones and, more especially, those of exalted status) may be hypocritical and corrupt. That, of course, will not be disputed by any save the wilfully blind; and the fact that they may be members of secret societies, first and last, and therefore void of genuine religious conviction, is the theme of these pages. But there is no evidence to connect the deaths.
In the Cardinal’s case there are signs, however tentative, that he had been persuaded to act a minor role in a major political scandal; or that he had taken a definite stand in a religious quarrel; and religious quarrels, like a civil war, admit of no quarter being given. There is, however, no trace of Monsignor Tort being involved in anything startling. He can only be the object of assumption – that he was the victim of personal weakness, of an accident, or of someone’s wish to discredit religion.
But as it is, the similarity between the two deaths is startling.
Christian atmosphere, Christian tradition and morality ... is diminishing and is in fact to a great extent displaced by a way of life and thought opposed to the Christian one.
Pope Pius XII.
Pope Pius XII.
This section is concerned with some of the most dramatic changes in the whole of history; changes whose ultimate significance has, in the popular sense, gone largely unreported, and because of that they have been accepted without comment by the world at large. But they are changes that have set the tone of our present; they are fashioning our future; and in time to come they will be so established that it will seem foolish, or eccentric, to question them. At the risk of being tedious, and in order to emphasise a vital point, it needs to be repeated that religious Rome was regarded, less than a generation ago, as the one fixed centre of faith that would not change. It was proof against novelty. It despised fashion and towered above what is called the spirit of the age.
Secure in itself, it admitted no speculation, none of the guesswork that too often goes by the name of discovery. It maintained one attitude and taught, century after century, one message that was always the same. So much was claimed by itself, endorsed by its followers, and recognised by its enemies.
But just as in our time we have witnessed the spread of Communism, so at the turn of the century another movement threatened what may be called the more static ordering of thought. It was, put very roughly, a mingling of the nineteenth century’s liberal and scientific preoccupations, and its object was to treat the Bible to the same sort of criticism to which the political and scientific worlds had been subjected. Evolution, as opposed to settled and accepted truth, was in the air; dogma was questioned, and many saw this, though some of its propagators may not have intended it to go so far, as a denial of supernatural religion.
The reigning Pope of the time, Pius X, denounced Modernism, as the new movement was called, as being no less than free-thought, a most dangerous heresy. An encyclical, issued in 1907, and a condition he laid down a few years later, that clergy were required to take an anti-Modernist oath, evidenced his firm opposition. And a similar situation was created later when Pius XII, brought face to face with Communism, condemned it time and again, and in 1949 promulgated the sentence of excommunication against any Catholic who countenanced or supported it in any way.
But a very considerable difference soon appeared between the receptions that greeted the opposition expressed by the two Popes. Pius X had been accused, in the main, of arrogance and intolerance. But Pius XII, echoing the sentiments of Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius XI, was not only ridiculed by avant-garde journalists, one of whom called him a ‘small-town aristocrat’, but was actually opposed and contradicted by the man who in 1963 ascended the Papal throne as Paul VI.
His sympathy for Left-wing politics had never been in doubt. He had co-operated with Communists. His encyclical Populorum Progressio, issued in 1967 on the development of the world, was adversely criticised by the Wall Street Journal as ‘warmed up Marxism’1. But his being ranged openly on their side, and his reversal of earlier Papal judgments, marked a new departure in a Pontiff whose words carried to the greater part of the Christian world.
He was fully in tune with the modern age, and responsive to the currents of the time. He was ready to open doors that every one of his predecessors, even those of doubtful character, had kept fastened. This was made clear in 1969, when he said: ‘We are about to witness a greater freedom in the life of the Church, and therefore in that of her children. This freedom will mean fewer obligations, and fewer inward prohibitions. Formal disciplines will be reduced ... every form of intolerance and absolutism will be abolished.’
Such statements were welcomed by some, while others among his listeners were filled with apprehension; and when he referred to some normally accepted religious standpoints as being warped, and entertained only by those who were polarised or extremist, the hopes or fears of both modes of thought appeared to be justified. Was he paving the way for what would virtually be a new religion, freed from established notions and practices, and embracing all the advantages of the modern world, or was he bent on so paring down the established religion until, instead of standing out as decisive, unique, it appeared to be but one faith among many?
So the two sides waited. One in favour of a promised relaxation, the other apprehensive lest many of their traditional supports were about to be dismantled.
Here again, I feel it necessary to repeat, what follows is neither in the nature of attack nor of defence. It is a simple summary of events that occurred, and of declarations made; and if they appear to be partisan, it is not the fault of the present writer, but of Pope Paul who made them all of one character.
He challenged and condemned the unbroken front presented by Pius X in the face of Modernism. The latter’s imposition of an anti-Modernist oath was said to have been an error, so Paul abolished it. The Index of forbidden books, and the prerogatives of the Holy Office with its historic right to impose interdicts and excommunication, were now things of the past. The Canon Laws of the Church, hitherto regarded as pillars, the guardians and promulgators of decisions and judgments, were thrown open to criticism and, if need be, to revision. History and text-books, written from a predominantly Catholic viewpoint, were blue-pencilled or re-edited.’
The Church’s contacts with the world, and with other religions, were to be more open, and no longer conducted from a height of superior authority, knowledge, and experience. There was declared to be no fixation of absolute truth. Discussion or dialogue was to take the place of declaration. And from these changes a new society of humanist culture would emerge, with an ostensible Catholic background provided by advanced theologians who, under Pius XII, had been kept on the fringes of the Church.
They included Hans Kung, whose views were said to be more anti-orthodox than those advanced by Luther. He was to claim that he had been specially defended by Paul VI. The German Jesuit, Karl Rahner, whose brand of thought had formerly been frowned upon as being too extreme, was now told by Paul to ‘forge ahead’. The Dominican Schillebeeckx spread consternation among the already dispirited Dutch clergy with such statements as that Christianity would, sooner or later, have to surrender to atheism, as the most honest and natural man was the one who believed nothing.
Teachers such as these, far from being reprimanded, retained their secure positions and were given a publicity, not usually accorded to churchmen, in the Press. Even an Irish paper referred to Hans Kung and to Schillebeeckx as ‘the most outstanding theologians in the world’; and the belief that they were confident of having powerful support was strengthened when it became known, in some ecclesiastical quarters, that prelates such as Suenens and Alfrink had threatened to form a ‘Cardinals’ Trade Union’ if Hans Kung and his writings were condemned.
The total ban on Communism and its supporters, by Pius XII, was taken for granted, although it had never been actually enforced. But even so there were demands for its removal. Instead of an ice-bound resistance to Communism, that had been an accepted feature of the historic Church, a thaw set in, and it soon became no longer remarkable for a priest to speak and act in favour of Marxism. Some accompanied their change of heart with a profession of contempt for the past, as did Robert Adolphs, Prior of the influential Augustinian house of Eindhoven, in Holland.
Writing in The Church is Different (Burns and Oates), he said that the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas represented ‘a pretty desiccated kind of Western thinking’. He denounced the anti-Modernism of Pius X as a ‘Fascist-like movement within the Church’, and he ridiculed the warnings given by Pius XII who had imagined that ‘he had to do battle with a sort of underground Modernist conspiracy that was making use of a widespread clandestine organisation in order to undermine the foundation of the Catholic Church.’
The Flemish professor, Albert Dondeyne, was more outspoken in Geloof en Wereld (Belief and the World), where he criticised the mental outlook of the Church for always having been convinced as to the total perfidy of Communism. He referred to the Church’s habit of presenting things as though Christianity were simply and without reminder opposed to the Communistic order of society as being extremely dangerous.
‘Christian society’, he went on, ‘makes God the servant of a kind of Christian party interest. It may’, he continued, ‘identify Communism with the Devil; but what if this particular Devil has been conjured up by the errors and shortcomings of Christianity itself?’ He admitted that the inhuman aspect of Marxism could not be denied. ‘But this does not altogether preclude there being major positive values in Communism to which Christianity of the nineteenth century ought to have been open, and to which Christianity must all the while remain receptive today.’
A similar plea emanated from a most unexpected quarter, the semi-official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, which recommended Catholics being taught to collaborate with Marxists for the common good. Communism, it was urged, had changed dramatically since the time of Lenin and of Stalin; and there was now no reason why the Church, if only because of its humanitarian aspect, should not regard it as an ally. Old differences between them were disappearing, and the Church should now recognise, as more than one Western European government was on the point of doing, that Communism had a vital part to play in helping to shape the future.
Traditionalists eyed these advances with no little alarm. As they saw it, a door was being opened by which Marxist elements could enter into their stronghold; and those fears increased when Communist and Vatican officials showed signs of entering into a partnership that had hitherto been unthinkable.
Prelates whose names might be known to the public, the ever serviceable Suenens, Willebrands, Bea, and Konig of Vienna, exhibited a readiness to walk hand-in-hand with agents hot from Moscow, who, but a short time before, had ridiculed the Church’s claim to moral sovereignty over the minds of men. Nothing now was said of that claim by either side. Instead a list of everyday details, which maintained a steady growth over the years, showed how atheistic and orthodox spokesmen were passing from dialogue into a series of friendly exchanges.
Archbishop Casaroli, acting as middleman between the Vatican and the satellite States, flew in a Red airliner to the Soviet capital. He and members of the Central Committee raised glasses together in the Kremlin. He dined with KGB officers in Bulgaria, and later in Czechoslovakia. The secular Press circulated such items as proof that the Church had at last come down from its pedestal, and was accepting democracy; and the nervousness previously felt by traditionalists became downright fear when Paul VI, between the years 1967 and 1978, by his own words and actions, gave evidence of that very definite shift in Vatican policy.
Let us telescope and summarise the allusive events of that time. Local armed risings in Africa were everywhere on the increase, and the Pope supported those movements even when they not infrequently led to the massacre of women and children. By a surprising turn-about he said that the Christians in those parts were the terrorists, and the whites the latter had displaced had always exerted an influence that was bad. When the Reds finally took over the provinces of Mozambique and Angola, he hailed them as legitimate representatives of the people, and expressed a personal desire to meet some of the guerrilla leaders.
Three of them, Amilcar Cabral, Agostino Neto, and Marcellino dos Santos, accordingly went to the Vatican, where there was a kissing of hands as the Pope gave them a letter expressing de facto recognition of their Communist regime. But he was less forthcoming when a deputation showed him pictures, some revolting, of murderous activities carried out by West African terrorists. Sceptical journalists exchanged knowing looks when he made very obvious efforts to put them aside.
Equally surprising was the affectionate respect he confessed for Obote of Uganda, who had a long record of violence behind him and who is, at the moment of writing, still in the news as being a more bloodthirsty tyrant than the overthrown Amin. The blacks of Uganda were actually urged by the Pope – it must be the first call of its kind ever to issue from such a quarter – to take up arms against the whites.
In Algiers, many of the half-million Catholics there, under Monsignor Duval, were slaughtered when the overwhelming Moslem population turned against them. Duval abandoned his charges and joined their enemies, an act of betrayal that was rewarded by Pope Paul creating him a Prince of the Church.
Another puzzling situation occurred in Spain, at a time when the shooting of police, by Basque gunmen, was at a startlingly high level. Five of the gunmen were caught and sentenced to death. It was a time of grief for Pope Paul, who called the executions that followed ‘a homicidal act of repression’. He offered special prayers, but only for the murderers. Their victims were never mentioned. Thus encouraged by Rome, there was an upsurge of Communism in Mexico and in Latin-American States. Monsignor Ignaccio de Leon, speaking for the Mexican bishops, declared that his Church had shown itself to be useless in the face of social problems. Most fair-minded people will agree that it probably had. But no better example had been shown by the Marxism he openly preached from the pulpit.
Cardinal Henriquez celebrated a Te Deum in his cathedral when Salvador Allende, who boasted of being atheist, became President of Chile. Many Catholics, swayed by the hierarchy, had used their votes to help him to power. The name of Christ was now rarely heard in those once highly orthodox countries, except when it was used to invite a depreciatory comparison with such luminaries as Lenin and Mao Tse Tung. The revolutionary Fidel Castro of Cuba was honoured as a man ‘inspired by God’.
Causes that excite suspicion are sometimes covered by euphemistic terms, and observers who were alarmed by Pope Paul’s political leanings were liable to be assured that he was following ‘a policy of expansionism’. But whatever their nature, his sympathies certainly extended over a wide area. He confessed to feeling close spiritual ties with Red China. He sent his accredited diplomatic agent to the Communist government in Hanoi. He voiced support for the atheistic regimes in Yugoslavia and Cuba. He entered into talks with the Russian controlled government of Hungary. But he was less cordial in his relations with a traditionally orthodox country such as Portugal.
His presence there in May, 1967, excited comment, both on account of the almost casual arrangements he made for meeting the Catholic President, Salazar, and the way in which (as one of his closest colleagues remarked) he practically mumbled when celebrating the Mass that marked the climax of his visit.
It had been taken for granted that he would welcome a meeting with Lucia dos Santos, the last survivor of the three children who, in 1917, witnessed the apparitions, the strange phenomena that accompanied them, at the small town of Fatima. But the Pope put her aside with a testy: ‘Now now, later.’ As an afterthought he referred her to a bishop.
A different kind of reception was accorded to Claudia Cardinale and Gina Lollabrigida, when the Pope received them at the Vatican. They were certainly not dressed in the approved way for a Papal audience; and the crowd who had assembled to gape at the ‘stars’ expressed admiration for the Holy Father’s broadmindedness.
This would seem to be the place to introduce a report that reached me by way of a M. Maurice Guignard, a former student of the Society of Jesus at the college of St. Francis de Sales, Evreux, Normandy. The report, dated the 7th of August, 1972, originated from a body for the defence of the Faith, of Waterloo Place, Hanover. It was drawn up ‘out of obedience’ to orders given by Father Arrupe, Superior-General of the Society, and it was the work of Father Saenz Arriaga, Doctor of Philosophy and of Canon Law.
Apart from those influential Jesuits, it was substantiated and countersigned by the following members of the Society:
- Cardinal Daniélou, the story of whose mysterious death, in 1974, is told in part seven of this book.
- Father Grignottes, private. secretary and confessor to Father Arrupe.
- Father de Bechillon, former Rector of Evreux.
- Father de Lestapis, formerly of Evreux and for some time in charge of Radio Vatican broadcasts.
- Father Bosc, formerly professor at Evreux and Professor of Sociology at the University of Mexico.
- Father Galloy, member of the faculty of the College of Lyons.
Dealing with the past of Paul VI, it states that from 1936 to 1950 he was prominent in a vast network of espionage that covered some of the countries, on both sides, involved in the Second World War.
It goes on to say that he was a principal shareholder, with a Maronite Archbishop2, of a chain of brothels in Rome. He found the money for various films, such as the erotic Temptations of Marianne, which he financed on condition that the leading role was given to a certain actress named Patricia Novarini. When not working at the movie studio, this young lady performed as a striptease artist at the Crazy Horse Saloon, an exclusive night-club in Rome.
The tolerance accorded to film stars was, however, withheld from those who refused, even at great cost to themselves, to compromise with the Russians. One such was Cardinal Slipyi who, as Patriarch of the Ukrainian Church, had witnessed the deaths, deportation, or the unexplained disappearance of some ten million of his fellow Catholics. He was ultimately arrested and spent some years in prison.
When released, he cried out against ‘traitors in Rome’ who were co-operating with those who had been his oppressors. ‘I still carry on my body the marks of the terror’, he exclaimed to those who, like Pope Paul, were suddenly afflicted with deafness. The Pope, in fact, refused to recognise him as Patriarch; and from then on Slipyi encountered a surprising number of obstacles and harassments at every turn.
It was only to be expected that the Vatican’s attitude would, sooner or later, be reflected by a similar change of heart among the people of Rome; and elections held there in 1978 brought about a result that would once have been regarded as a catastrophe, but which now passed as commonplace. For the newly returned President was Sandro Pertini, a life-long member of the Communist Party who soon introduced measures that affected every sphere in the hitherto settled precincts of Italian family life.
Many Catholics, influenced by the friendly relationship that had existed between the Red leaders and Good Pope John, gave their votes to Pertini.
Traditionalists called to mind the directions given by the Marquis de la Franquerie in L’infaillibilité Pontificale to those who were planning to infiltrate the Church: ‘Let us popularise vice through the masses. Whatever their five senses strive after it shall be satisfied.... Create hearts full of vice and you will no longer have any Catholics.’ And now, as the Marquis had rightly anticipated, a general breakdown occurred in every social grade and every department of life; from junior schools to factories, on the streets, and in the home.
Murders increased, as did the kidnapping of wealthy people who were held to ransom. Crime and chaos flourished as a barrage of anti-police propaganda weakened the law. The prevailing axiom, and not only among the young, was that ‘anything goes’. Pornography flourished. The hammer and sickle emblem was painted on church doors, and scrawls ridiculing priests, the Church, and religion in general appeared on walls and hoardings.
The Pope’s reaction to this did not surprise those who were already dismayed by his pro-Communist views. He invited Pertini to the Vatican, where, it was discovered, the two men had so much in common that their meeting was afterwards described by the Pope as having been emotional. ‘The encounter brought us very close’, he said. ‘The eminent visitor’s words were simple, profound, and full of solicitude for the welfare of man, for all humanity.’
In the same year Giulio Argan became Mayor of Rome. He too was a hardened Communist, and his election provided further proof of the way in which the political pendulum was swinging in Italy. Pope Paul, expressing satisfaction with the turn of events, looked forward to working with the mayor in a spirit of ‘desire, confidence, and anticipated gratitude.’
We have so far given instances of the Pope’s personal commitment to Marxist principles. And that he was by no means averse to compromising with or surrendering the Church’s doctrine was proved by the way he handled the case of Alighiero Tondi, a priest who left the Church and became an ardent worker for Moscow.
Tondi married Carmen Zanti, whom he chose as being the possessor of a ‘melancholy look and a sweet voice.’ Tondi had never been dispensed from his former vows, but Pope Paul had no difficulty in declaring that his marriage, void of any religious form, was canonically valid.
Meanwhile Carmen had used her voice to such good effect that she was elected to the Soviet Chamber of Deputies, and afterwards to the Senate. Then, both KGB agents, they went to Berlin where Carmen, who was obviously more pushing than Tondi (who was experiencing qualms of conscience), became the leader of the Women’s Communist organisation.
Tondi, who never quite forgot his ordination, was suffering a premature dread of hell fire, and wished to return to the Church. Nothing could be easier, said the not-at-all squeamish Pope Paul. He removed the ban of excommunication from the penitent, assured him that he had no need to recant, and declared that his marriage was still perfectly valid.
The fact of Communism having been given ‘a human face’, and by no less a legislator than the Head of the Church, was not without effect on other countries. When the National Committee of Catholic Action for Workers met in France, it was attended by seven card-carrying members of the Communist Party. The French Bishops overlooked their anti-national and disruptive tendencies.
In England, Cardinal Hume of Westminster expressed sympathy for movements that challenged the authority of governments opposed to the Left. And in February 1981, Cardinal Gray and his Auxiliary Bishop, Monsignor Monaghan, leaders of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, called on Catholics to support Amnesty International, a movement that, under the banner of Human Rights, gave what help it could, moral and otherwise, to agitators who, in several parts of the world, worked for the overthrow of established order.
Dissatisfied elements within the Church, who had weaker voices and no clenched fist to emphasise their protest, soon discovered that they had no right of appeal against the imposition of what, to them, was a more deadly danger than heresy. A spokesman for traditional Catholics in America, Father Gommar de Pauw, explained their bewilderment to the Vatican, and begged for guidance. His letter was not even acknowledged. When it was announced that a congress of Spanish priests, for the defence of the Mass, would be held at Saragossa, an edict issued by Pope Paul, at almost the last minute, prevented the meeting.
The once proudly independent colours of the Catholic Church were hauled perceptibly lower when Pope Paul entered into ‘dialogue’ with the World Council of Churches.
At that time, 1975, more than two hundred and seventy religious organisations, of various kinds, were grouped under the Council, and it soon became clear that it stood for the liberation theories that had been introduced by John XXIII and since furthered by Paul VI. It had funds to spare for subversive movements in what is called the Third World, so that even our Press was forced to complain of the support it handed out.
Its gifts were not niggardly. For instance, as the Daily Express deplored, £45,000 had gone to terrorists who were responsible for the massacre of white women, children, and missionaries; and the Anglican Church Times remarked that the World Council of Churches ‘has developed a political bias recognisably Marxist in its preference for a revolution of a Left-ward character.’
The Catholic Church had always stood apart from the World Council. But the advent of ecumenism had changed all that, and the Council’s dangerous tendencies were made light of in order to foster harmony between the different religions.
Pope Paul, acclaimed as being always ready to move with the times, was willing to see eye to eye with the Council. But he had to move warily, as Catholic opinion throughout the world had, so far, been well trained to resist any encroachment upon its rights and its historical claim.
So when asked whether an alliance could be effected, he returned a diplomatic ‘not yet’. But he showed where his sympathies were by following that up with a personal gift of £4,000 to further the Council’s work and its aid to guerrillas.
The present Pope, John Paul II, has announced his intention of renewing negotiations with the pro-terrorists.
There is a more sinister note on which to end this summary of Pope Paul’s intransigence.
The name of a self-confessed devil worshipper, Cardonnel, is practically unknown here; but in other countries his writings excited a variety of feelings ranging from awed admiration to horror in those who read them.
As a member of the Dominican Order, he was given permission to speak in Paris Notre-Dame in mid-Lent 1968. Listeners were struck by his rabid anti-Christian expressions, on account of which he was called ‘le théologien de la mort de Dieu’ (the God’s death theologian). He boasted of the title, left his Order and finally the Church, and became a hardened devil-worshipper. In a typical outburst he likened the Christian God to Stalin, to a beast, and finally to Satan.
Pope Paul admired his work; and although he ignored requests from Catholics who wished to safeguard their religion, he made a special point of writing to Cardonnel, congratulating him and sending good wishes.
2. The Maronites are a group of Eastern Catholics, named after their founder, Maro, and mainly settled in Lebanon.
O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
The following section has been written with some misgivings. For on the one hand it leads up, in a subsequent part, to events that are startling, obscene, desecrating, which have taken place in buildings consecrated by ritual and by history, that the still practising Catholic may prefer to ignore. While on the other hand it deals with the Church’s teaching on the Mass, or rather, on what the Church taught about the Mass when it still spoke with an authority that was recognised even by those who refused to accept it.
It is therefore necessary, to clear the understanding of those who may not have been acquainted with that teaching, to glance at a few essential aspects concerning it.
The Mass was not merely a service. It was the central act in the Church’s life, a great mystery by which bread and wine were consecrated and so became the actual body and blood of Christ. It was the sacrifice of Calvary enacted over again, an earnest of the salvation effected by Christ who was there, under the sacred species of bread (‘This is my Body’) and wine, upon the altar.
Whenever a Catholic found himself in strange surroundings, the Mass was there as a rallying point for his worship. So it had been, with but a few minor alterations, for Latin Catholics from the earliest Christian centuries (beginning, roughly, from the seventh century) on record. And so it would remain, the Church taught and the faithful believed, until the end of time, a bulwark against error that inspired an air of sanctity – or impressive hanky-panky, call it what you will – that was recognised by devotee and disbeliever alike.
Typical of those who knew this was the Liberal and Protestant Augustine Birrell, 1850-1933, who was sometime Secretary for Ireland. ‘It is the Mass that matters’, he said. ‘It is the Mass that makes the difference, so hard to define, between a Catholic country and a Protestant one, between Dublin and Edinburgh.’
The unique quality of what may be called, in pedestrian terms, a landmark in religion, has always influenced the plans of those who set out to overcome the Church. The Mass has always stood in their path, a stumbling block that had to be demolished before their attack could make headway. It was denigrated as a base superstition, a mere operation of the hands, accompanied by words, that deceived the over-credulous. The assault against it was heaviest, and partly successful, in the sixteenth century; and when the Church recovered its breath it called a Council that took its name from the little town of Trent, which later became an Italian province, where the principles of the Counter-Reformation were defined. And those principles took shape, largely, as a defence of the focal point that had never been lost sight of – the Mass.
It was codified by Pius V, the future saint who had started life as a shepherd boy and who, in keeping with Rome’s verdict that Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn had been invalid, declared that their child, the English Queen Elizabeth I, was therefore both heretic and bastard. And from then on the echoes of his firm, uncompromising yet always dignified thunder had lived on in association with the old Romanesque cathedral of Trent, the place that gives its name, Tridentine, to the order of the Mass that was intended to pass into general use for the whole Church, and for all time.
The Missal he drew up, and in which this was decreed, leaves no doubt as to that: ‘At no time in the future can a priest ever be forced to use any other way of saying Mass. And in order once for all to preclude any scruples of conscience and fear of ecclesiastical penalties and censures, we declare herewith that it is by virtue of our Apostolic authority that we decree and prescribe that this present order of ours is to last in perpetuity and never at a future date can it be revoked or legally amended.’
The decree specifically warned ‘all persons in authority, of whatever dignity or rank, Cardinals not excluded, and to command them as a matter of strict obedience never to use or permit any ceremonies and Mass prayers other than those contained in this Missal.’
This was repeated, as though to make doubly clear, even to those who were already converted, that he was speaking as Pope: ‘And so this Council reaches the true and genuine doctrine about this venerable and divine Sacrifice of the Eucharist – the doctrine which the Catholic Church has always held, and which She will hold until the end of the world, as She learned it from Christ Our Lord Himself, from the Apostles, and from the Holy Ghost.’
Few Papal assertions have been more explicit. The Mass, as generally known, was to be preserved, unaltered and unalterable, for all time. But Cardinal Bugnini, who had gone on clinging to the office after his membership of a secret society had become known, and Paul VI, who affected to be unaware of any such revelation, made short work of Pope St. Pius V’s pronouncement.
It later became known that some twenty years before Vatican Two made pulp of the traditional Mass book, a priest-professor had been detailed to draw up plans for gradual liturgical changes; while in December 1963 the Council introduced new practices and a new phraseology that, at first, made little impact on the public.
But now Pope Paul and Cardinal Bugnini, assisted by Cardinal Lercaro, went straight ahead, with the assistance of non-Catholics whom they called ‘authoritative experts of sacred theology.’
The experts called in to amend the Most Holy Sacrament of the Catholic Church comprised one or two Protestants; Canon Ronald Jasper; Robert McAfee Brown, a Presbyterian; Brother Thurion, who was a Lutheran; a Calvinist, a Rabbi, and a certain Joachim Jeremias, a one-time Professor of Gottingen University who denied the divinity of Christ.
Bugnini said that they were merely present as observers, that they had no voice when the changes were discussed. But apart from the fact that they claimed to have played an active part in the Concilium, that they commented upon it and made suggestions, one need only ask: why, without some set purpose, were they ever invited to participate?
Whatever this very mixed bag decided, said Pope Paul, would be ‘in accordance with God’s will’. It was also intended to correspond to the temper of ‘modern man’. And what emerged from their deliberations was a Novus Ordo (New Mass) missal, a veritable sign of the times which meant that the era of a ‘MiniMass,’ and of ‘pop’ music in Church, with all the profanities it led to, was about to begin.
Such innovations extracted a blind obedience from those who believed that conformity to whatever was said and done by the priesthood, especially in church, was a virtue. Some who questioned the changes were told not to presume any further. It was said to be contumacious, and displeasing to God; while the fact that many were resolute in opposing the changes, and turned their backs upon the Novus Ordo, called forth the charge that they were in mortal sin, and inflicting another wound on the loving Father who was waiting to welcome them.
After all, the Vatican and its spokesman-in-chief, Pope Paul, had approved the changes. A revolution had been achieved, and it was all for the good. The old Roman Missal had become a back number. The progressives were cock-a-hoop. And now they proceeded to pass beyond their original objective and pressed forward.
A number of what may at first appear to be minor practices came under their scrutiny. Genuflecting, and kneeling to receive Holy Communion, were found to be unnecessary. One entering a church, the interior of which had long been familiar, suffered a shock when it was seen that the perhaps priceless Travertine altar had been replaced by a table, at which the priest, who was now sometimes called the president, faced the people and, in a clumsy vernacular instead of the old verbal music (for Latin has always been hated by the enemies of the Church) invited the congregation to join in a ‘repast’.
The manner of receiving Communion now differed greatly. The Host might be given into the hand, as was evidenced when Pope Paul celebrated a New Mass at Geneva. A number of Hosts were passed to a girl who was standing conveniently near, and these she distributed into the hands, sometimes grubby or sticky, of those about her, or into the hand of any chance looker-on who came up to see what was being given away.
Another method was to place the one-time Sacred Elements in a chalice and then invite the people to come forward and help themselves. An extra relish could be given to the bread by dunking it in the wine. It had hitherto been out of the question for non-Catholics to receive Communion at Mass. But Pope Paul introduced a new ‘updating’ by permitting a self-confessed Presbyterian lady, Miss Barberina Olsen, to receive the wafer.
His example was followed. First Cardinal Bea, and after him Cardinal Willebrands, empowered their Bishops to issue an open invitation; and then Cardinal Suenens, at the close of a Congress at Medellion, in Columbia, called on all and sundry to come forward with open mouth or ready hand.
A more decisive battle was fought out in Rome, where Bugnini’s New Mass was celebrated in the Sistine Chapel. A large majority of the prelates who were present voted against it. The actual numbers were seventy-eight in favour, two hundred and seven against. The orthodox Cardinal Ottaviani, who never lost caste, examined the text of the vandalised version, and found that it contained some twenty heresies.
‘The New Mass’, he said, ‘departs radically from Catholic doctrine and dismantles all defences of the Faith.’ The same sentiment was expressed by Cardinal Heenan of Westminster: ‘The old boast that the Mass is everywhere the same ... is no longer true.’
Ottaviani was head of the Holy Office, which exercised guardianship over faith and morals. Pope Paul clamped down upon the office, and clipped the Cardinal’s claws; and he was so annoyed by the adverse vote that he forbade the New Mass ever to be the subject of a ballot again. From then on it was given official, but not popular sanction. Thousands of people, who would not tolerate a form of the Mass that was less dignified than the Protestant Communion service, either left or stopped going to church. Many priests followed suit. Those who stood by the incontrovertible ruling of Pius V on the Mass were threatened with suspension, or even excommunication.
One of the first to be declared anathema for observing the old Mass, was a priest who was somewhat remote from the scenes of tension, a Father Carmona of Acapulco, in Mexico. Bishop Ackermann of Covington, America, when faced with a number of orthodox and therefore recalcitrant priests in his diocese, lamented helplessly, ‘What can I do? I can’t throw them into jail.’ Their doubts were embodied in a question that was left for Pope Paul to answer – whether the introduction of the New Mass was the beginning of an age of new darkness on the earth, or the harbinger of an unprecedented crisis within the Church?
He refused to answer. And the same wall of silence was encountered by a deputation of priests who begged for a return to the traditional. Mass; while thousands from several parts of Europe, who went to Rome with the same purpose in mind, were turned away.
Those who brought about the changes had not been working blindly. They had followed a plan, in conformance with the secret design that furnishes the theme of these pages. They now had the future in their hands, and the confident way in which they accepted this was made clear by an article in L’Osservatore Romano, which depicted the pretty hopeless future awaiting those priests who braved the wrath of the Vatican by carrying out the duties for which they had been trained. They would, said the article, become ‘headless, autonomous priests facing an arid, squalid life. No sheltered future, no promotion to the hierarchy, no expectation of a pension at the end of their ministry.’
One who had been most zealous in promoting the changes sang their praises in the following terms: ‘It is a different liturgy of the Mass. We want to say it plainly. The Roman rite as we knew it exists no more. It has gone. Some walls of the structure have fallen, others have been altered. We can look at it now as a ruin or as the particular foundation of a new building. We, must not weep over ruins or dream of an historical reconstruction. Open new ways, or we shall be condemned as Jesus condemned the Pharisees.’1
Pope Paul was equally extreme in approving the findings of the Second Vatican Council’s commission on the Liturgy: ‘The old rite of the Mass is in fact the expression of a warped ecclesiology.’
Reading that, some may have been reminded of the old Coronation Oath, that ran as follows:2
‘I vow to change nothing of the received tradition, and nothing thereof I found before me guarded by my God-pleasing predecessors, to encroach, to alter, or permit any innovation therein.
‘To the contrary; with glowing affection to reverently safeguard the passed on good, with my whole strength and my utmost effort. To cleanse all that is in contradiction with canonical order that may surface.
‘To guard the whole canons and decrees of our Popes likewise as divine ordinances of heaven, because I am conscious of Thee, whose place I take through the grace of God.
‘If I should undertake to act in anything of contrary sense, or permit that it will be executed, Thou willst not be merciful to me on the dreadful day of Divine Justice.
‘Accordingly, without exclusion, we subject to severest excommunication anyone – be it myself or be it another – who would dare to undertake anything new in contradiction to this constituted evangelical tradition and the purity of the orthodox Faith and the Christian religion, or would seek to change anything by his opposing efforts, or would concur with those who undertake such blasphemous venture.’
Whenever this oath may have been taken at the time of a coronation, I know not. But its principles, until the Roncalli era, were tacitly accepted and endorsed as a conventional part of Papal observance.
For instance, one of the greatest and most gifted of the Popes, Pius II (1458-64) in his Bull Execrabilis, repeated a law that was endorsed through the centuries and accepted, without modification, by what has always been referred to as the magisterium of the Church: ‘Any Council called to make drastic change in the Church is beforehand decreed to be void and annulled.’
But Paul VI, the friend of Communists, who collaborated with the anarchist Alinsky and with the Mafia gangster, Sindona, issued his own statement of policy which appeared in L’Osservatore Romano, on April the 22nd, 1971, English edition:
‘We moderns, men of our own day, wish everything to be new. Our old people, the traditionalists, the conservatives, measured the value of things according to their enduring quality. We, instead, are actualists, we want everything to be new all the time, to be expressed in a continually improvised and dynamic unusual form.
It was raving of this sort (reminiscent of ‘Peter Simple’s’ sarcasm in The Daily Telegraph) that led to the introduction of eatables such as roast beef, jellies, and hot dogs, washed down by draughts of coca-cola, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and to nuns clicking their heels and twisting their bodies, in a kind of carmagnole, to mark the Offertory.
‘Anti-Christ’, said Hilaire Belloc in 1929, ‘will be a man.’
But perhaps the most ludicrous justification of the change was put forward by one of our most ‘progressive’ Bishops, who said to the present writer: ‘The New Mass got off to a ringing start yesterday. The guitars were going all over my diocese.’
The doctrinal and liturgical changes in the Church were not long in showing the effects that the conservatives had forecast; and startling though many of them were, they still remain largely unknown even to people who live in the countries where they occurred.
It used to be looked back upon as an outrage of the most extreme order when, during the French Revolution, a harlot was hoisted on to the altar of Notre Dame where she was crowned and worshipped as the Goddess of Reason; or when Chartres Cathedral was on the point of being converted into a Temple of Reason.
But such things pale into insignificance when compared with the desecrations and obscenities that have taken place, often with the approval of prelates, in some of the most revered Catholic minsters on both sides of the Atlantic.
There was a marked falling off from established ritual when such things as a communal supper took the place of a solemn Mass; when the priest, armed with a bread knife, had a large loaf placed in front of him which he proceeded to cut into chunks, helping the others and then himself until a general munching of jaws showed their appreciation of the Body of Christ. Such suppers, served in a parishioner’s house, became a regular feature of Dutch family life. Sometimes the ‘lady of the house’, instead of a priest, officiated at Mass that was served in her ‘best room’.
There were not a few places where the traditional office of priest was taken over by a woman, who walked among the congregation giving out the Sacrament to any who stood with gaping mouth and a nauseous display of tongue and teeth. Sometimes it was placed in the sweaty hand of a child, or between the trembling fingers and palm of a geriatric who promptly dropped it on the floor, where it could be trampled; or it might be self-administered.
One small girl came away from Mass, in one of the more ‘advanced’ quarters of Holland, saying that she had learnt more there than she ever had through seeing her brother in a bath. For the altar-boy who, in England, would have passed for a fourth former, had been naked.
Pope Paul, determined not to lag behind in the scurry for progress, signed a special edict whereby any who cared to help themselves to the Blood of Christ could suck it up through a straw. In that way some churches came to resemble a coffee bar, especially when the blare of a discotheque issued from the sanctuary, together with the shouting, strumming, and stamping of feet that accompany the celebration of a jazz Mass, a beat, and a ‘yeah-yeah’ Mass. There were teenage Masses where, instead of the sacramental Bread and Wine, hot dogs, buns, and coca-cola were served. At others, whisky and cream crackers took the place of the elements. Some priests found the wearing of an alb inconvenient when saying Mass, and so resorted to shirt-sleeves.
The new freedom offered a chance for political extremists to advertise their usually Left-wing tenets. One of the foremost seminaries in Canada was sold to Chinese Reds, who tore out the tabernacle and put in its place a portrait of the wholesale murderer Mao Tse Tung. It later became a training centre for revolutionary street fighters.
In September, 1971, the Catholic school at Vald’Or, Abitibi, Quebec, initiated a new game for boys. It consisted of spitting at the figure of Christ on the cross, and the one who covered the face with the biggest spit was declared winner. This was reported in the French-Canadian paper, Vers Demain, in September, 1971.
In one South American province, where disturbances rarely died down, a local Bishop Casaldaliga came out on the side of the Russian-inspired insurgents. He adopted the rough and ready garb of a guerrilla, complete with cartridge belt, and went on preaching and officiating at Mass under the name he gave himself, Monsignor Hammer and Sickle.
But a truly sinister scene was enacted at the basilica of St. Maria de Guadelupe in Mexico City, where a goat was sacrificed in front of the high altar. Now it is not only the fact of an animal being killed, and in church, that excites comment. It seems to have called for none from the people there present who gaped, were astonished, and then walked away no doubt concluding that it was all part of the new order within the Church. And so it was. But Archbishop Gomez, who had charge of the basilica, knew more than that, as did the strange crowd of people to whom he actually rented it for the occasion.
The goat, said to have been created by the Devil, figures in the Satanic lore of those whose secret design has always been the downfall of the Church. The happening referred to resembles part of the old pre-Christian ritual, when a goat was sacrificed at an altar during the Day of Atonement. The sins of the High Priest, and of the people, were transferred to a second animal of the same species, which then became the scapegoat and was driven into the wilderness; or, in demonology, it was forced over a cliff into the hell-fire that was tended by Azazel, a fallen angel.
Hence it was no ordinary Mass but a Black Mass that was celebrated in Mexico City, with the use of an inverted cross, an event that was filmed and recorded by those who arranged it.
But such things marked only a beginning, as did a growing clamour, supported by priests, for abortion, and for sexual aberrations to be recognized as perfectly normal. There were priests who almost shouted from the housetops that they were glad to be homosexual, as it was a privilege that conferred the ‘psychological fulfilment of one’s personality’. It became accepted, in some parts, for perverts of the same sex to be married in church.
In Paris, a man and a woman, minus every stitch of clothing, paraded their nakedness before an altar, where they were married by a priest who conveyed to them what has been called the ‘sublime’ nuptial blessing. Advanced Holland, not to be outdone, reacted with the news that a couple of male homos had exchanged vows and tokens in a church wedding; while an American priest, who was still holding on despite the fact that he had been cited in a divorce case, gleefully smote his breast and affirmed that he too was an emancipated moral pervert, which he afterwards ratified by uniting a pair of lesbians in matrimony.
It was a fruitful time for cranks and opportunists of every kind. An ex-nun, Rita Mary, joined an American lay community whose members were committed to the ‘new spirit emerging in religious life’. A breath from that spirit of newness suddenly revealed to her that ‘God the Father is female’. Others who favoured the cause of women’s liberation adopted the same slogan, and as part of their campaign cars adorned with stickers exhorting people to ‘Pray to God, she will provide’ appeared on the streets.
Traders were quick to seize upon it as a good stunt, and Rita Mary’s vehicles were soon joined by others offering a more material tip: ‘With Jesus on your side you can be a more successful businessman.’
Still keeping to America, there was a gathering at Stubenville, Ohio, in July 1976, at which a thousand priests endorsed a novel intention to ‘de-clericalise the ministry’, which meant, in effect, putting themselves out of work. They were advised to get ready for the collapse of the social order; then, after prayers, some discovered that they had been given the gift of healing. A general laying on of hands followed, and from that the mixed congregation, amid shouting, fell to hugging and kissing each other.
Bursts of spontaneous affection, as we shall see, were fast becoming a feature of the New Mass, as also was a growing obsession with sex. The ‘exploration of touch’, referring to bodies, became a new kind of worship.
At a meeting in Philadelphia, where Cardinal Wright and eight of his Bishops were present, the main speaker, Father Gallagher, told his audience that ‘touching is crucial’. And it may be assumed that many suppressed instincts found a relief that had long been clamoured for in the words that followed: ‘Do not hold hands sexlessly.’ The nine prelates conveyed smiles and blessings to the ‘love in’, as such displays of emotion were coming to be called, that followed.
A variation on the same theme was heard at the National Pastoral Congress at Liverpool in 1980, where a declaration was passed that, much to the surprise of a representative English audience, deified the most taken-for-granted of their marital acts: ‘During sexual intercourse a man and his wife create Christ’: a statement that sounds suspiciously like Aleister Crowley’s words, that ‘sexual organs are the image of God’.
The latest excursion into the realm of ecclesiastical nonsense (January, 1982) has been made by Bishop Leo McCartie, the Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham. Let Rastafarians, he urged, the mostly young blacks who wear woolly caps and plait their hair into strings, be given the use of church premises. They worship the late Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia as the true god, they believe that Christ was black, and they smoke cannabis as part of their religious ritual.
The Bishop admits that the Church could not condone the smoking of cannabis on its premises, but only because it is against the law (my emphasis). But Rastafarianism, he goes on, is a valid religious experience, and its followers use cannabis like a sacrament, ‘which is comparable to the chalice or communion cup in Christian worship’. So now we know.
Let us take a few more instances of what the modernistic trend has achieved in America, all, let it be remembered, without calling forth more than an isolated protest, here and there, from any of the hierarchy. Moreover it was all approved by Pope Paul as was shown by the presence of his official representative who passed on Papal greetings to those who dressed up, cavorted, and made irreligious idiots of themselves to demonstrate the new freedom.
For the past two years, on June the 28th, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, has been the finishing point of what is known, to ecclesiastical and secular authorities alike, as a Gay Parade. In 1981 an estimated crowd of 50,000 marched up Fifth Avenue, led by a figure with a whitened face, and wearing a frilly ankle-length dress and a bonnet, who spun up and down the road and pavement in front of the cathedral on roller-skates. At least one of the lookers-on recognised the figure as being that of a reputable Wall Street broker.
An individual who was hailed as the Grand Marshal of the Parade then stepped from a black limousine, performed clown-like on the steps then, delicately holding a bouquet of pansies, made as if to enter the front door. By that time a Mr. McCauley, who practised as a New York attorney, already sickened by what he had seen, snatched the flowers and threw them in the faces of those who swarmed after the Marshal. A scuffle broke out, and police led the objector away.
It took two hours for the parade to pass a given point and gather about the cathedral. Some were dressed as priests, others were nuns; some were wearing black leather and chains. There was a group called Dignity, and another known as the North American Man-Boy Love Association. They carried a large sign announcing that ‘Man-Boy Love is Beautiful’, the older members walking arm-in-arm with boys, whose average age was about thirteen, and some of whom wore bathing suits.
The Gay Socialists carried a red banner, and shouted their hatred of God and the Church as they marched. But their frenzy was more than matched by that of the Gay Militant Atheists, who roared in unison: ‘Smash the Church! Death to the Church!’ Another cry of ‘Smash the State!’ showed that the real driving power behind the demonstration was making itself heard.
Then came an interlude as a male, in a nun’s habit and trailing a cross upside down, executed a dance, accompanied by obscene gestures, for a full half-hour. That was followed by a group that came forward and made as if to light a candle at the cathedral door. By then Mr. McCauley had returned. He renewed his protest, asked the police to stop the outrageous performances, and was promptly arrested.
The homosexuals then proceeded to drape a large banner about the barricades they had erected at the front steps of the cathedral. A captain of the City Fire Department then came forward and asked a police officer to intervene. The officer turned his back, whereupon the Fire Chief seized the banner, rolled it up and threw it on the ground.
The yelling mob swarmed over him. He was pulled down, his jacket was torn from his back, blows rained upon him, his fingers were seized and bent in an effort to break them, his legs were forced apart and hands reached for and grabbed his genitals. When he could speak, he told the police officer that he wished to press charges against those who had attacked him. The policeman sneered: ‘Come back tomorrow at the same time and see if you can recognise them.’ When the Fire Chief persisted, the policeman gripped his revolver so tightly and menacingly that his knuckles were seen to whiten.
Only two people were arrested, Mr. McCauley and the Fire Chief, both for disorderly conduct. They later heard the charges against them being framed. One police official said: ‘Say that you saw him assault someone.’ Another said: ‘Put in that he broke through the police line.’
Meanwhile the parade was going on, with the cathedral front being emblazoned with provocative signs and banners, one announcing that ‘Jesus was a homosexual.’ Doggerel was chanted. ‘Two, four, six, eight. Do you know if your kids are straight?’ Finally a flag was hung from the cathedral door. It was designed like the American flag, except that in place of the stars, sex symbols and representations of the penis were substituted.
The demonstrators, followed by a large crowd; made their way to Central Park, where they engaged in a free-for-all public exhibition of sex acts. Frightened people who had gone to the cathedral in search of consolation or quiet bunched together throughout the afternoon in side chapels and corners. When approached on the matter, the members of the Diocesan Curia said there had been nothing to complain about.
In Virginia, a priest drove a Volkswagen down the aisle of his church to mark Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. Later he had a forklift placed in the churchyard and climbed into its basket, where he stood waving his arms while being lifted up to commemorate Ascension Day. In Boston, Massachusetts, priests attired as clowns, with red hearts decorating their foreheads, scrambled and jostled about a church trying to catch balloons. A priest wearing a singlet and jeans cavorted in church with a girl whose flesh bulged from her leotard.
In this country, one Sunday evening, television went out of its way to show an Auxiliary Bishop processing up the aisle of one of our Catholic cathedrals. He was led to the altar by a young girl who danced and skipped about in front of him like a young horse. The celebration of Holy Mass in another church concluded with the singing of ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow.’3
Similar outbreaks occurred even in Latin countries, where the mysteries of the Church had long been part of the national consciousness, its blood and bone. For visitors to a church near Grenoble, in the Isere department of France, on a day in 1970, were surprised to see that the ornaments and candlesticks were being removed from the altar, and that the space before it was cleared. Then ropes were put in place to form a business-like representation of a ring where, according to the bills, an international boxing contest was to take place.
At the appointed time, a throng that was far from typical of the usual one seen there, and mostly male, shuffled, stumbled, or made their way arrogantly into the building where some of them had been baptised, and some married. As they acquired a more familiar feeling odds were shouted and bets made, but details of the fight were never recorded. Whether it was won on points, or by a knock-out; who acted as referee or time-keeper, and who plied the sponges; how much the church funds profited from the purse or the takings, none of this appears in the parish register. Neither does a protest from the Bishop.
On a Friday in early December, 1974, the coronation church of France, Rheims Cathedral, was given over to a horde of hippies and layabouts for one of their all-night sessions. The Archbishop and his clergy, who had obligingly provided the setting, may have noted, with a feeling of envy, as the prematurely aged youth of the district poured in, that they far exceeded in number those who were seen at High Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.
Cacophony was provided by the Tangerine Orange Group, and when the mixed congregation grew tired of waving their arms and shuffling in time to the uproar, they settled down to an orgy of drugs and hashish smoking.
When this affair became known, angry parishioners demanded that the Cathedral, which occupies a special place in history, should undergo a service of purification.
But their protests were waved aside by Father Bernard Goreau, who held the always questionable post of ‘cultural attaché’ of the archdiocese. He agreed that the dancers and smokers had been left to their own devices for hours in the Gothic darkness. ‘But’, he added, ‘things might have been worse.’
Indeed they might. We are told that they only urinated and copulated on the stone floor ... over which the Kings of old France had passed on the way to their anointing, and where Joan of Arc, holding her blazon, had stood like a soldier home from the war.
Also in France, it was not unknown for a priest to light and smoke a cigarette while saying Mass.
Even Rome was not immune from the sacrilegious parodies that followed the new religious freedom, the opening of the windows of the Church. The scene of one, in 1975, was the classroom of a Roman convent. Pope Paul was present, but the star turn was provided by Fred Ladenius, a gentleman from the Middle West who had acquired celebrity through appearing on Belgian television. He had furthermore been spoken of by an enthusiast as ‘the born again spirit, whose God updated the Jesus of 1974 by being the God of 1975.’4
Fred set about his task right manfully, stripping off his jacket and giving voice to almost incoherent ravings for which, he said, he was in no way responsible. What they heard were some of the truths he had received, that very morning, from the Lord’s mouth. For the Lord spoke and prophesied through him. Fred accompanied these revelations by flinging up his arms so violently that he broke into a sweat. But he was by no means exhausted. He rolled up his shirt-sleeves and invited all those who wished to receive the Lord, to come up ‘rapido’.
Fred, though still in a state of undiminished perspiration, waved his hands frantically over the heads of those who accepted the invitation, and accompanied each gesture with a cry of ‘Hallelujah!’ At the end of these ministrations the school blackboard was moved to make way for a table, on which were placed two chalices, one holding wine, and the other wafers of the kind that are used to celebrate Mass.
Then everyone fell into line and followed the example of Fred, who took out a wafer and dipped it in the wine before transferring it to his mouth. The meeting broke up amid more and louder cries of ‘Hallelujah!’ in which the Pope joined, and with further manifestations that the spirit was indeed moving amongst them.
Fred was duly rewarded by being sent for by the Pope, who thanked him warmly for all the good work he was doing for the Church. Fred stayed on in Rome, where he acted for a time as the Vicar of Christ’s Press Secretary.
In the Church’s calendar, one year in every twenty-five is declared to be a Holy Year. It is a time of special pilgrimages, when millions do penance to mark their adherence to the Faith and to obtain what is called the Great Pardon. Throughout that time Rome is seething with visitors from every part of the world, and on the last occasion of a Holy Year being declared, in 1975, Pope Paul extended a welcome, couched in the terms of emancipated religion to the ‘new generation who had come in search of a liberating and inspiring aid, in search of a new word, a new ideal.’
Those who attended High Mass in St. Peter’s on May the 19th, half-way through Holy Year, in expectation of those spiritual advantages, were in no way disappointed. They numbered some ten thousand. Cardinal Suenens officiated at the high altar. Pope Paul was present. Five hundred priests were ranged about them. This is how an experienced Catholic journalist described what happened when the time came to receive Holy Communion:5
‘It was not uncommon to see what one first thought of as white petals being scattered among the congregation. Only when I could push my way nearer did I realise that they were handfuls of consecrated Hosts, that the Cardinal’s hench-priests were scattering among the crowd.... They fell on the shoulders of men, on the dyed and coverless heads of women, and as was inevitable, not a few fell on the ground and were trampled upon by the crowd.
‘I spoke to a lady standing near me who was gobbling a number of them together. I asked her where she came from and was she a Catholic. She came from Egypt, she replied, and in fact had no religious persuasion, but her feelings were in favour of Mohammedanism.’
Tape-recorders were held high above the assembly, that was fast being galvanised into a state of excitement. Suddenly a voice boomed out through a microphone placed near the altar that God was not only present but was now, in fact, actually speaking, albeit in a strong and nasal American accent – one wonders whether the ubiquitous Fred was in action again?
Then Pope Paul took up the running. He gathered up handfuls of Hosts, pressed them upon people whose mouths were already full of the consecrated species, so that they could only free their hands by passing the Hosts on to others, who either crumpled them up or dropped them on the floor. The Pope, beginning to give an address, had to raise his voice in order to be heard above the growing turmoil, to which he added by exclaiming a further anachronistic ‘Hallelujah!’ and flinging up his arms.
By now some of the people were dancing. Others squatted or huddled on the floor among the trodden fragments of what, those same people had been taught, was the body of Christ. They swayed in time to a low moaning, an expression of the ecstasy inspired by the occasion, that grew in volume until it filled the basilica.
Still in the same year, a visitor to the church of St. Ignatius, in the street that bears the name of the founder of the Jesuits, in Rome, would have noticed that a heavy curtain was covering the main altar. Moreover, the seats had been turned round, as though to indicate that those who attended the service did not wish to be reminded of the lapis lazuli urn containing the relics of St. Aloysius Gonzaga.
A battery of microphones and loud-speakers was in evidence, and through one of these the voice of an Irish-American Jesuit, Father Francis Sullivan, was heard announcing, in the approved style of a follower of General Booth, that they had come together in order to praise the Lord. He went on to hammer home the fact that religion was in a state of flux, that everything was changing, and that it was a waste of time to take a nostalgic look back at things that used to be believed. His statements met with the smiling approval of Cardinal Suenens, who could always be relied on to patronise ‘way out’ effusions.
By now the Romans were getting used to having their faith supervised by oracles from the States; and they listened attentively when a second voice, from the same place of origin as Father Sullivan’s, exhorted them to love one another. People who were packing the church, thus encouraged, began to use their eyes, exchange looks, and to sidle alongside the person of their choice. Did they imagine, the voice went on, that the gift of love was a privilege intended for the early Church only? Of course it wasn’t!
With that, cries of agreement nearly split the roof, and couples fell into each other’s arms, sprawling on the floor, arms and legs flailing, fingers and mouths giving vent to a passion that was no longer fearsomely restrained by their surroundings, but which could now find expression in a freedom akin to that known to lovers in a ditch. Those who were barred, by age or infirmity, from taking part in the spectacle, savoured it with a lickerish look, or danced a few steps, or sang the praises of the Host whose house they had turned into a Bedlam. Hallelujah! God was good, and all this showed that churchgoing could now be a joyous event.
At the height of the uproar, a friar in the brown garb of St. Francis of Assisi somehow managed to make himself heard. He was in dire physical straits, aware of a strange, mystical, and maternal sensation. He felt exactly as Mary had done when conceiving the Son. Full of grace ... more applause ... and Hallelujah again.
What was left of St. Aloysius in his urn remained silent, as also did St. Ignatius who, as a soldier, had known the cleanly hiss of a sword as it was drawn from its scabbard.
For the sake of providing a still more startling climax, let us look back to the year 1970, when a Progressive Theological Congress was held in a Franciscan church in Brussels. The principle subject discussed, in flat contradiction of the Congress’s programme as indicated by its title, was sex, and it was expounded to an almost exclusively youthful gathering.
It was rightly anticipated, because of the theme, that Cardinal Suenens would be present; apart from which, as Primate of Belgium, he was on his home ground.
The Congress opened with the entry of girls, dressed in white and, as they twisted this way and that, waving cords and bits of broken chain to show that they were free. In an interval after the dancing, pieces of bread and glasses of wine were passed round, followed by grapes and cigarettes. Then, just as the young conference members thought all was over, their eyes were drawn towards the altar from which something was beginning to rise and to take on an unbelievable shape.6
It was at first greeted with gasps, then giggles, and finally pandemonium broke loose as the transparent plastic forming the shape was seen to represent a gigantic penis. The delegates screamed themselves hoarse, feeling that it was a challenge to – a recognition of – their virility. It was the sort of climax that had never been imagined and might only figure in the most extravagant of bawdy dreams. The presence of the Cardinal gave a permissive glamour to a setting that they would never again regard with awe.
It is well in place here, as part of our thesis, to look somewhat more closely at the scene that occurred in the Brussels church, and at the word Hallelujah, which has never been in everyday use, as a spoken expression of praise, within the Seven Hills. As an offering of praise to Jehovah, it has always been commonly used by religious revivalists rather than by Latins. But now we find Pope Paul using it.
What made him? And why did Cardinal Suenens, before an altar, preside over an amazing exhibition of carnal tomfoolery that many, especially the church-bound, will find difficult or impossible to believe?
There is one explanation. Neither of those named, while wearing the robes, vestments, and all the outward signs of Catholic prelacy, were Christian men. They had passed, by preparatory stages, into the highest echelon of occult understanding. They had been tutored, signed for, and guaranteed by the Masters of Wisdom in one of the foremost temples where atavistic rites, all with sexual undertones, take the place of religion.
When the adolescent girls shrieked with delighted embarrassment as the large plastic penis rose up before them, Cardinal Suenens knew perfectly well that they were, as he intended, commemorating the heathen god Baal whose name, divided into its Sumerian7 root words, has several meanings. Among them are lord, master, possessor, or husband, while others refer to a controlling male’s penis with its forceful boring and thrusting.
So what the Cardinal arranged for the young, mostly girls, of Brussels, was a show of phallic worship, which symbolises the generative power contained in the semen, or life juice, which streamed down upon all life and nature from the mighty penis of Baal. An exaggerated phallus was also a symbol of Yesed, the sphere of the moon, and also of the horned god Dionysius, or Bacchus.
The praise chant voiced by Pope Paul has its origin in the same fount of heathen worship, as its meaning, again according to its Sumerian construct, refers to the strong water of fecundity, or semen. During the public displays of mass sexual intercourse, which go by the name of fertility rites, this semen, when ejaculated, was caught in the hands of the officiating priests, who held it up for the approval of Yahweh (Jehovah) and then proceeded to smear it upon their bodies.
So much was implied by Pope Paul when he raised his arms and uttered a heartfelt Hallelujah!
2. Translated by Dr. Werner Henzellek from Vatican II, Reform Council or constitution of a new Church? By Anton Holzer.
3. The Sunday Telegraph. February 21st, 1982.
4. For more details of this and other events in Rome see From Rome, Urgently (Stratimari, Rome) by Mary Martinez, a lively book to which I am much indebted. I have also drawn upon another eye-witness account by Louise Marciana, formerly a Sister of the Precious Blood. It was at that Order’s convent that some of the antics here described took place.
5. Simon Keegan. News-Letter of the International Priests Association. Published by St. George’s Presbytery, Polegate, East Sussex.
6. Report from the Belgian News Service, quoted in Il Giornale d’Italia, September 17th, 1970.
7. From Sumer, which was a part of Babylonia.
One is always wrong to open a conversation with the Devil, for however he goes about it, he always insists on having the last word.
It is hoped that possible readers of this book, who may not be acquainted with the Catholic story, will by now have grasped one essential fact – that the general decline of the Church was brought about by the Council that goes by the name of Vatican Two. Furthermore, that the Council was called by John XXIII who, like several of the prelates and many of lesser title under his Papal wing, were clandestine members of secret societies, and who were, according to the age-long ruling of the Church, excommunicate and therefore debarred from fulfilling any legitimate priestly function. The disastrous results of their being allowed to do so, with Papal approbation (since both the Popes who followed Pius XII were part of the over-all conspiracy, while the recent John Paul I and John Paul II are subject to suspicion) are apparent to the most superficial observer. Such results are the outcome of Paul VI’s main wish regarding the implementation of Vatican II, as expressed in his last will and testament, and repeated more than once by John Paul II: ‘Let its prescriptions be put into effect.’
Those prescriptions were defined years ago in the policies of Adam Weishaupt, Little Tiger, Nubius, and others (already quoted) for their trained disciples to infiltrate, and then to wear down the authority, practices, and very life of the Church. This they have accomplished, under the guise of progress or liberation.
Every aspect of the Church, spiritual and material, has been taken over, from Peter’s Chair, with its once regal dignity, to a faldstool in the most insignificant parish church. The few priests who recognised this were kept in the background, or, if they managed to get a hearing, were exposed to ridicule; and surveying the scene, with its disorders, the exhibitions of profanity, and sexual aberrations staged in some of its most revered buildings, including St. Peter’s, one is tempted to think of a once highly disciplined Guards brigade being transformed into a mob of screaming hooligans.
One may pass from the truism, that little things are little things, to a more comprehensive realisation that little beginnings are not little things; and it is by working precisely on that principle that the modern controllers of the Church achieved their ends without producing too much alarm among the populace at large.
They began by relaxing formal disciplines and inhibitions, such as keeping Friday as a meatless day. Then certain symbols, rituals, and devotions went. The old liturgical language of Latin practically disappeared. The nun’s habit, which had never failed to inspire respect even in the most irreligious, went out of use, as did the cassock. The latter was sometimes replaced by jeans, as was demonstrated by two novices who, in Rome, went up to the altar to receive the blessing of their Father-General looking more like hippies than future Jesuits. A small cross, worn in the lapel of a jacket, was fast becoming the only sign that the wearer was a priest.
The old idea of priestly authority, whether exercised by a simple cleric or by the Pope, was effectively destroyed; and voices were always ready to applaud whenever the Church squandered this or that of its inheritance. ‘The priest is today no longer a special being’, cried the exultant Yves Marsaudon, a member of the Masonic Supreme Council of France. A congress of moral theologians, held at Padua, went much further: ‘The individual conscience is the Christian’s supreme authority above the Papal magisterium.’
It was becoming generally accepted that ‘one day the traditional Church must disappear or adapt itself.’ It was to become one of many institutions, with the accumulated legacies of two thousand years being cast away as things of little worth.
A quick glance at available statistics, over those years, shows a startling falling off in all the relative departments of Church life. Vocations, baptisms, conversions, and church marriages, took a downward plunge. The only increase was in the number of those who walked out of the Church. Many preferred to read the liturgy of the Mass in their homes, on Sundays and days of obligation, rather than see its once dignified movements parodied, and hear the historic language cheapened, in church.
In England, between the years 1968 and 1974, it has been reckoned that some two and a half million people fell away; and, if one may add to that the selling of Catholic journals, the most popular of these, The Universe, had an average weekly circulation of nearly three hundred and twelve thousand in 1963. Nine years later that figure had dropped to under a hundred and eighty thousand.
In France, with eighty-six per cent of the population officially Catholic, ten per cent put in an appearance at Mass; while a similar figure from 1971 to 1976, applied even to Rome. During the same period, in South America, once regarded as one of the toughest nuts for anti-clericals to crack, and where the people were commonly regarded as being steeped in superstition, an estimated twenty-five thousand priests renounced their vows. Vatican sources reported that there were three thousand resignations a year from the priesthood, and that figure took no account of those who dropped out without troubling to get ecclesiastical approval.
The Catholic part of Holland, where the new teaching was paramount, was in a truly parlous condition. Not a single candidate applied for admission to the priesthood in 1970, and within twelve months every seminary there was closed. In the United States, in the seven years prior to 1974, one in every four of the seminaries put up their shutters.
The traffic was all one way, for apart from the recorded drop in church attendance, a regular procession of priests and nuns, in the spirit of the new freedom, were deciding that marriage offered a more comfortable daily round than life in the presbytery or cloister. ‘Rebel priest, aged fifty, weds girl of twenty-five’ – so ran a typical headline in the Daily Express of 9th September, 1973. The marriage was celebrated in a Protestant church, where the attendance was brightened by priests and nuns who were all professionally geared to add their blessings to the confetti.
Many priests had passed beyond the hinting stage and were now openly declaring in favour of abortion. As for the Sacrament of Matrimony, as more and more couples tired of encountering the same face at breakfast, the Church discovered that it had been wrong in pronouncing them man and wife. Pleas of consanguinity, non-consummation, or that neither party had been validly baptised, were the order of the day, and the granting of annulments became quite a flourishing business.
By 1972, a few years after the rot had set in, Pope Paul personally disposed of some four thousand cases. Thus encouraged, a veritable flood of applications followed. Very few of those in search of ‘freedom’ were definitely refused, but were advised to try again or to come back later. In Trenton, New Jersey, Bishop Reiss was so overworked that he nominated seventeen extra priests to help him (I quote his own words) ‘beef up’ the number of annulments.
In March 1981 the Vatican took the quite superfluous step, so it seemed to many, of reiterating its Canon Law 2335, which stated that any Catholic who joined a secret society faced excommunication. To the man in the street, who was unaware that dozens of clerics, some in the highest offices of the Church, had already broken that law, it seemed a mere formality. But the Vatican, acting on information received, knew very well what it was doing. It was protecting itself, in advance, from any likely effects of a scandal that broke in May of the same year.
The Government of the country, headed by Christian Democrats, was formed of a coalition that included Socialists, Social Democrats, and Republicans. But the Communists were now demanding a place in the coalition, for political ends that left no doubt of their intentions. ‘The problem is’, they said, ‘to remove democratic institutions, the State apparatus, and economic life from the Christian Democratic power structure.’
But their efforts failed. The Christian Democrats held firm. So their enemies resorted to a weapon that has proved no less deadly in political warfare than assassination. They brought about a far reaching scandal which, they hoped, would topple the existing order of government in Italy.
It was made to appear, as part of the repercussions which, following the break-up of Michele Sindona’s financial empire, had rumbled through the early summer of 1981, that the activities of a widespread and dangerous secret society, known as Propaganda Two (P2 for short) had come to light. But in the confused world of politics and finance things do not happen as simply as that. The people who, when compelled to do so, cry out against the machinations most loudly, have invariably been part of the backstairs conspiracy. The fact of frauds being brought into the open may be through personal spite, disappointed blackmail, or the probing of some over-zealous underling – ‘why couldn’t he keep quiet?’ And the self-righteous profiteers who, from their lofty moral pedestals but with their pockets suffering, cannot do less than publicise the swindle, have to fume in private.
The exposure of P2 began when the police received a mysterious call advising them to search the home of Licio Gelli, a prestigious name in secret societies, and to investigate his relationship with the erstwhile barrow-trundler Michele Sindona.
The mere mention of Sindona made the implicated members of the Curia think of how to avoid being caught up in the scandal. Hence their apparently unnecessary reminder to the world at large that Canon 2335 was still valid. Meanwhile the police had come upon a suitcase in Gelli’s house containing the names of nine hundred and thirty-five members of P2.
There were many prominent politicians, including three Cabinet ministers and three under-secretaries; army generals and navy chiefs; leading bankers and industrialists, secret service heads, diplomats, judges, and magistrates; civil servants in foreign affairs, defence, justice, finance, and the treasury; top names in radio and television, and the managing director, editor and publisher of Italy’s leading newspaper, Corriere Della Sera.
Many others resigned, while a whole host of others came crashing down, like so many Humpty Dumpties, when the lists were published. More sizeable litter followed as the government of Arnaldo Forlani, in its entirety, was swept off the wall. The accusers and their victims were, of course, all members of the same gang. It was a case of ‘Brothers falling out’ with a vengeance. The usual accusations and recriminations followed, involving every degree of crime, even murder. The falsification of accounts, espionage, and official stealing, passed as minor considerations.
Through it all the Vatican reacted with only a mild fluttering of hearts. For although the Church had shed its aura of reverence, and its prestige had been reduced to a shadow, it remained inscrutable. The ghost of its former self was still potent. The fatally loaded guns might be levelled against its walls, but there was no cannoneer to apply the match.
It was a wise cynic who said: ‘In Italy religion is a mask.’
Although no churchman had been named in the scandal, the breaking of the Sindona story indirectly led to the Church reviewing its attitude to the secret societies. This had, according to orthodox belief, been settled by the said Canon Law 2335, which forbade any Catholic, on pain of excommunication, to join one. But in spite of that, because so many clerics, including members of the Curia, had broken that law, negotiations between the two sides, started in 1961, had been carried on for eleven years, with Cardinal Bea, the Pope’s Secretary of State (whose name was as doubtful as his nationality), assisted by Cardinal Konig of Vienna, and Monsignor J. de Toth, putting forward a more amenable version of the Church’s viewpoint.
These prolonged talks were more concerned with ironing out past differences than with formulating any future policy. But they managed to keep off the subject of hidden designs against the Church, which had partly prompted the latter’s ban. Then came further discussions at Augsburg in May, 1969, where consideration was given to Papal pronouncements that roundly condemned the societies; and there was more apprehension in conservative quarters when such equivocal terms as placing Papal Bulls in their ‘historical context’, and the removal of past injustices, were used to explain the purpose of the assemblies.
The outcome of this newly founded relationship fully justified the doubts of those who feared that the Church was giving ground, and going back on its judgments that had been defined as final; and that the thin end of the wedge was being imposed became apparent in July of the same year, after a meeting at the monastery of Einsiedeln, Switzerland.
It was there confidently anticipated, by Professor Schwarzbaver, that no reference to the seamy side of secret societies would be made. Neither was it. Instead it was announced that Rome’s previous rulings on relationship between the Church and secret societies had not been contained in Papal Bulls or Encyclicals but in Canon Law which, as every ‘updated’ cleric knew, was being revised.
This occasioned more serious doubt in orthodox quarters. It was recalled that Canon Law refers to a body of laws, authorised by the Church, and ‘binding to those who are subject to it by baptism.’ Could it mean that such terms as binding, revision, and alterations, were on the point of being subjected to new interpretations? Moreover, more than one Papal Bull had certainly contained a condemnation of the societies.
The societies (and this must be repeated) had no intention of refuting their original intention of undermining the Church. They had no need. They had so far succeeded in their design. Their own men had infiltrated and taken over the Church at every level; and to such an extent that the Church seemed in a hurry to abandon what was left of its original claims, its historic rites, and majesty; and now the societies waited for their picked men, Cardinals and others, to present themselves before the world, cap in hand, and cry aloud their past errors of judgments.
A definite move towards this came from the once highly orthodox centre of Spain, where Father Ferrer Benimeli put forward the extraordinary plea that Papal Bulls, condemning the societies, could no longer be regarded as valid.
An undertaking that strictures imposed by Canon Law on secret societies in the past would not again be invoked, was given by Cardinal Konig when Church and secular representatives met at Lichtenau Castle in 1970. Then came the statement that Canon Law and Papal Bulls had been all very well in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but such documents now had a mainly historical significance, and their import could not be enacted by a Church that was preaching the more significant doctrine of ‘brotherly love’ which, together with friendship and morality, ‘provided one of the most excellent tenets of the societies’.
The critics of these ‘get together’ tactics saw in this a concession to the fraternal spirit inspired by the societies, and also a virtual endorsement of the Cult of Man that Pope Paul had preached in the United States, and in which he had been confirmed by the Masters of Wisdom.
The general result of these contacts, on the Church side, was submitted for examination by the Congregation for the Faith; and the outcome was decided in advance by the remarks and reservations that accompanied them. It was no use looking back at what the Church had formerly decided. Comparison showed that its past attitude was old-fashioned, and properly belonged to a time when it had taught ‘no salvation outside the Church’.
That slogan too was outmoded; and the world’s Press, including most Catholic organs, again went to work with a will as it always did when it came to propagating views that undermined tradition and reinforced the designs of those secret society members who wore mitres in the Vatican.
With the Holy Office continuing to bend over backwards to confirm the changes, the process of secularisation gained momentum from the autumn of 1974 onwards. It was made clear that the bar against secret societies had become a dead letter, and that its abrogation was bringing relief ‘to a number of good people who joined them merely for business or social reasons’. They no longer presented a danger to the Church.
The dismay occasioned by this in some quarters was summed up by Father Pedro Arrupe, General of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), who saw it as a concession to organized ‘naturalism’ which, he said, had entered into the very territory of God and was influencing the minds of priests and religious. Naturalism, by dogmatically asserting that human nature and human reason alone must be supreme in all things, was another echo of the Cult of Man.
The Church’s changing attitude towards secret societies was reflected in this country by John Cannel Heenan, who was appointed Archbishop of Westminster in 1963 and created Cardinal two years later. In keeping with his hopeful expectation that the Church’s ban on the societies would soon be abolished, some of his senior clergy were authorised to negotiate with them. The Cardinal was then informed that a publication repeating the differences between the two sides was on sale in Catholic bookshops in his diocese.
He expressed his concern. ‘If, as I suspect, it is misleading, I shall see that it is withdrawn.’ He did so, and that publication, together with all similar ones, disappeared.
An interested inquirer who wrote to the Cardinal on the matter received, in reply, an assurance that the Cardinal conveyed his blessing. The same inquirer, on calling at the Catholic Truth Society bookshop, near Westminster Cathedral, was told that there had been no dealings with the Cardinal, and that the booklets had been withdrawn ‘through lack of public interest’.
The growing belief that Canon 2335 would not appear in any revised edition of Church law, together with the fact that orthodox elements were being out-manoeuvred, as they had been at Vatican II, led to the Church and the societies expressing a more open relationship.
There was, for instance, a ‘dedication breakfast’ at the New York Hilton Hotel in March, 1976, presided over by Cardinal Terence Cooke, seconded by Cardinal Kroll, of Philadelphia, and attended by some three thousand members of secret societies. Cardinal Brandao Vilela of San Salvador de Behia, represented Brazil.
In his speech, Cardinal Cooke referred to this ‘joyous event’ as marking a further stage ‘on the road to friendship’. He regretted ‘past estrangements’, and hoped that his presence there signified that the new understanding between the two sides would never again be compromised. To the Cardinals and the Masters it was not so much an outsize breakfast party as a momentous union, effected by opponents who had never before at any time come (openly) together.
Cardinal Kroll, as President of the United States Bishops’ Conference, had previously been approached by Cardinal Seper, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who voiced the fears of those who regretted the signs of vital changes in the Church. Seper was informed that no alteration had been made, and that none was pending within the area of central legislation.
‘It is still, and in all cases’, said Kroll, in a statement that even to read causes a raising of the eyebrows, ‘forbidden for clerics, religious, and members of secular institutes to belong to a secret society organization.... Those who enrol their names in associations of the same kind which plot against the Church, or the legitimate civil authorities, by this very fact incur excommunication, absolution from which is reserved for the Holy See.’
It was true that no active plot against the Church was then in motion. The societies could well afford to sit back and to take breath; not through any decisive change of heart, but because the first stage of the plot had been successfully accomplished. Two of the societies’ choosing, in the persons of John XXIII and Paul VI, had occupied Peter’s Chair. Others of their kind, who had received a red hat or a Bishop’s mitre, had dominated their counsels. The next move in the plot against the Church was being reserved for the future, when the innovations in doctrine and practice had been accepted by a generation who had never known what it was to respond to the guiding hands of Popes such as the now belittled Pius XII.
The rearguard, for so the anti-Liberals may be called, made what capital it could by harking back to Canon 2335, and to the Sindona scandal as illustrating the widespread disasters brought about by contact with a secret society. As part of this campaign, a German Episcopal Conference of Bishops was held in the middle of 1981, where it was stressed, without any qualification, that ‘simultaneous membership of the Catholic Church and of a secret society is impossible.’1
This was followed by the Italian Government approving a Bill to outlaw and dissolve all secret societies, and reminding Catholics that excommunication was still the Church’s penalty for joining one.
But both the German and Italian pronouncements were merely smoke screens; and none recognised this more than the societies, who were not in the least impressed. That Canon 2335, if it appeared at all in any revised edition of Church law, would be shorn of its urgency, had passed from being rumour and newspaper gossip to becoming an imminent fact. An English prelate, Cardinal Heenan, had said more than that, and had even anticipated it being abolished. While a leading official of the societies in Rome, unruffled, said he had it on good authority that Canon Law was being revised, as it was, in fact, by a Commission of Cardinals that had been set up by John XXIII and continued under Paul VI.
The official went on to say that the still apparent differences between the Church and the societies were all part of the conflict in the Vatican between the traditionalists and the progressives. ‘This may well have been’ – and he could well afford to shrug it off – ‘their last attack upon us.’
That pronouncement, like every other emanating from the same quarter, has proved to be correct.
For it has now to be accepted, according to a statement from the Holy See, that ‘The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has ruled that Canon 2335 no longer automatically bars a Catholic from membership of Masonic groups.’
It had probably been by Pope Paul’s own wish, in defiance of a custom that was part of a Christian’s, and especially a Catholic’s, second nature, that, after his death in 1978, there was no crucifix, nor even the most common religious symbol, a cross, on the catafalque when his body was placed for veneration in St. Peter’s piazza.
Was it a silent acknowledgment that his work, in compliance with the secret counsel enjoined upon him since the time he became Archbishop of Milan, had been well and truly done?