Freemasons in France - 1870-1914
In the later part of the 19th Century Freemasonry rapidly gained ground among the "Bourgeoisie" and with the ascendence of the " Bourgeoisie " became a factor in the nation's affairs. Church and Freemasonry did not go together in Latin countries. The latter in France was atheist and antagonistic to the Catholic Church. The strength of religion is with the women and with the royalist and Bonapartist parties. The workingman has no religion. Often he hates priests. The peasants are not very different, and except in a few sections, such as Bretagne and Vendee, the churches are deserted. Catholicism remains because of woman's influence. Even the leaders of the nation have Catholic wives. Children are brought up by the mother and to their eighteenth or twentieth year sons go to church and then each one does as he pleases. In the same family one may see a devout Catholic and a thirty-third degree Freemason.
The Liberal party in France deemed it necessary that all children should be taught loyalty to the Republic. The separation of church and state was accomplished through the means of the Law of Associations of July 1, 1901, the abrogation of the Concordat, December 9, 1905, and the law of January 2, 1907, restricting further the privileges of the Roman Catholic Church in France. French politicians claimed that it was all done in the name of liberty and equality. "The Church," they said, "was opposed to both; the Church was the enemy of country. She was the foe of social well-being and the obstacle in the way of progress."
Catholics in France and Catholics throughout the world protested that all this was a lie - a deliberate, infamous lie, framed and circulated by men actuated, first, by the basest of selfish reasons, and, secondly, by hatred of the Church, its priests and its religious, because the Church blocked the fulfillment of their selfish ends. In vain did the Catholics of France point out over and over again, with evidence unanswerable, that this was a Masonic plot, engineered without regard to country, or popular interest, or national welfare; that the Freemasons were atheist and aimed to de-Christianize France; that the Freemasons were unpatriotic, willing to betray their country for wealth and worldly position.
At a general meeting of the Masonic Lodges in 1879, French Freemasonry confessed that its aim " was to de-Christianize France, first by employing all means to strangle Catholicism, and then to effect the closing of all the churches." In 1903, M. Varenne a French Deputy and a Freemason, wrote in the Action: " We are the adversary of every dogma; we fight first the Catholic Church, but the Protestant, the Israelites, must not think it is for their benefit; religion is an absurdity whatever form it takes."
M. Delpech, a Senator and one time Grand Master of the Great Orient of France, at a meeting of all the Masonic Lodges in 1902, said: "The triumph of the Galilean lasted twenty centuries, a mysterious voice predicts the end of this deceitful God. The delusion lasted too long; He disappears, also the lying God. As Freemasons we are pleased to say we are not strangers to the ruin of the false Prophet." M. Lafferve, who succeeded Delpech as Grand Master and who was the strongest supporter of the Law of Separation in parliament, said in the Chambers of Deputies: " No society can develop itself either politically or socially under the slavery of a dogma, whatever it is."
It used to be the fashion In England to treat as the fanaticism of credulous Catholics the attribution of the campaign against the French Church to the influence of the Freemasons. The revelation of the masonic delations in the army in 1904, which led to the resignation of Gen. Andre and the fall of M. Combes, gave a shock to this view, and ought to have killed it once for all. Englishmen learned with astonishment of a system of espionage whereby Catholic officers were denied promotion because they were reported to the lodges as being the husbands of devout wives, or themselves churchgoers, or as having sent their children to Catholic schools.
Writing in January, 1907, in the Pall Mall Gazette, J. Caussade said that "the spirit animating the French Government in its dealing with the Church is the spirit of that hateful, contemptible Freemasonry which, out of an association of brotherhood has made an instrument of war against all religions."
The newspapers that supported'most strongly the French Government, in passing the Law of Separation, were the Action, the Aurore, the Lanterne and the Petite Rdpublique. The director of the first, M. Beranger, wrote, on February 13, 1914: " Our common end with Delpech, is to de-Christianize France, to destroy all religions." M. Flanchon, director of the Lanterne, wrote in 1905: "The end of the separation must be the crushing of the Church of Religion; the Church will not survive ten years after the Separation Law." The Aurore was the organ of M. Cl6menceau, then Prime Minister of France. M. Gerault-Richard echoed every day in La Petite Rdpublique " the atheistic chorus of separation and destruction."
In an article to which the years have given exceptional value, published in The Catholic World of April, 1914, Hilaire Belloc thus spoke of the evil influence of Freemasonry in France and of France's awakening: "The break-up of Freemasonry came with surprising quickness, and was brought on as much as anything by the Dreyfus case. Its whole power consisted in France, of course, as it consists everywhere, in secrecy. To get people to believe that it is a mere friendly society-on its own unsupported word and in spite of the grossly immoral principle inherent in all secret societies -was, and is still in Protestant countries, its principal strength. The Dreyfus case blew all that sky-high. French Freemasonry then appeared in the eyes of all Frenchmen, however provincial or stupid, in the light of an anti-Catholic society, and no one could be so dull as not to note the way in which in proportion as Freemasonry was strong in any country, in that proportion was the violent campaign against the French army and the French Church supported."
In an article by Charles Johnston, published in the New York Times February 24, 1918, the question is asked: Why did Joseph Caillaux enjoy such long immunity-an immunity which made it possible for him to betray French interests, prostitute his country's honor and pile up a fortune by gambling on diplomatic information which came to him as Prime Minister? Why was he able to look forward to being again Prime Minister of France? The writer answers and says because for years Caillaux was a leading member of Freemasonry, which " for the last twenty-five or thirty-five years played an almost dominating role in the politics of France, permeating with its octopus-like tentacles, not only the political world, but the French army and the French financial world." Caillaux, through his position in Freemasonry, was able to obtain immense political power; to amass a great fortune, to secure complete immunity.
Johnston claimed that Invisible Government "was the curse of France. Since 1870 the real centre of power has been, not in the Palace of the Elysian Fields, the official residence of the President of the Republic; not in the Bourbon Palace, the meeting place of the Chamber of Deputies, but in the Rue Cadet, the headquarters of the ' Grand Orient'-the life centre of ' Latin Freemasoi \ry' in France. And in this Temple of Mystery in the Rue Cadet, Joseph Caillaux has been one of the Chief Priests."
According to Johnston, this Masonic power endeavored to impose upon France not a genuine religious liberty, but a materialistic and atheistic tyranny. Caillaux is talented; brilliant. His gifts gave him leadership. He used the German bankers, dickered with them to found branches in France, and without any concern for his native land sought to be an unprincipled leader in international politics. He posed as the champion of International Socialism. He labored in the interests of Germany, and worked for a German peace. He fathered the dastardly espionage system that worked in army and navy, and sought to crush all men of religious faith. Ambitious officers sought promotion not on merit, but through Masonic influence. With the Socialists the Freemasons protested, in 1912, against, the strengthening of the French army.
Johnston concluded "How formidable the Freemason 'Internationalist' opposition to the military strengthening of France was, is revealed by this statement published just after the fall of Caillaux, in January, 1912, and at the very time when the three-years' law was coming into being: "At the present moment, it is estimated that three hundred Deputies (out of five hundred and eighty) and one hundred and eighty Senators (out of three hundred) are Freeemasons. Freemasonry thus disposes of an absolute majority in both legislative assemblies. As for the Ministries, for the last twenty-five years they have constantly contained a majority of Freemasons.'"
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