Secret societies were outlawed in Italian society in 1981 after a Free Masons Lodge, the right-wing P2 [Propaganda Due], emerged onto the surface of Italian media. Reaching its zenith of influence in Italy during the second half of the 20th century, many observers saw it as an instrument for projecting American power into the turbulent politics of cold war Italy. P2 served a critical role as a liaison between prominent societal groups, assisting in their attempts to control Italian society while at the same time benefiting from its ties to the most powerful Italians.
Freemasonry was not a paramilitary organization and pursued purely cultural, humanitarian and philanthropic aims. Freemasonry was outlawed in Italy when Mussolini and the Fascists were in power. When World War II came to a close, the American and British liberators supported the re-establishment of these organizations. During the 1960s, Italian freemasonry was divided into two main groups - Grande Loggia d'Italia (national system) and Grande Oriente d'Italia (international system) - both of which had established headquarters in Rome. Many of the lodges that exist in Italy are unregistered and therefore exist as illegal secret societies.
The history of P2 dates back to the 1890s, During its early existence however, it ran into some difficulties when its grand master was implicated in the scandal of Banca Romana. The Banca Romana was relieved, first through the Government's interposition and the considerateness of the Banca Nazionale, then by laws and royal decree, of the obligation of redeeming its notes. This relief was the cause of its being able to violate the law anew more freely and more recklessly, until it reduced itself to a disastrous condition. After the failure of the Banca Romana in 1893, with the revelation of its very grave irregularities, bitter discussions aroused as to its relations with the Government.
In 1971 Roberto Gelli was appointed organizing secretary, and he eventually become its powerful grand master. The P2 lodge had a vast list of membership that ranged from politicians, mafia members, judges, business men, even Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [who joined the lodge in 1978]. P2 contained several high-ranking government officials in the secret services, national police and wealthy members of society. In essence the P2 was saturated with Italy's most powerful men. The membership list contained 962 names, including top figures from business, politics, media, armed forces, secret services and the judiciary. The parliamentary P2 Commission concluded the list was a reliable guide to genuine membership, but a number of individuals with names on it succeeded in convincing the courts they did not belong. Many people joined the Masonic lodges, especially P2, because they were able to offer political protection.
There was an absence of horizontal relations, i.e. among brothers ofthe same grade, who did not know each other. Instead, all relationsbetween the Grand Master, Gelli, and the members were vertical. Gelli was in a position of"dominus" in the secret service. This is because the position in the hierarchy that was relevant was not that which the subjects occupied in the visible government, but that of the invisible one.
The founding document of the Montecarlo Lodge Masonic Executive Committee - connected with the P2 and led by the P2 Grandmaster, Gelli - reads: "Freemasonry is the association most qualified togovern. If it does not govern, therefore, it misses its very raison d'être". It then states that, in order to reach Freemasonry's ultimate goal, "it is obviously necessary to obtain the most suitable instrument: power . "
The "notorious" P2 lodge planned to take control of public authorities and subvert democratic institutions. The P2 lodge had colluded with the Mafia and organized crime. It would not be surprising were a government to fear judicial participation in Mafia controlled organizations. In the event of an electoral victory by the PCI, it would have become impossible to reconcile the legitimate government of the country - a Communist government - with the international political bloc to which Italy has belonged since the end of the Second World War, i.e. NATO.
P2's plans were outlined in a 1975 work by Licio Gelli [the head of the secret P2 masonic lodge] "Scheme for a General Recovery of the Country." This involved attempts to control the government by buying the three main tools of democratic control, which included the political parties, the press and the trade unions. Corruption was the key to success. The P2 lodge had colluded with the Mafia and scandal-linked financiers such as Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi [known as "God's Banker"] became lodge members [Both met premature deaths].
In 1986 Libero Gualtieri, chairman of the parliamentary committee on the secret services ""We accept as an established fact that within SISMI [Service for Intelligenceand Military Security] there is an offshoot structure called SuperSISMI.... We of thé parliamentary committee confirm our political evaluation as to the existence of thé SuperSISMI. There have been deviations, andprofound ones. Déviations that have impeded the establishment of many factsand identification of the authors of a massacre, the one in Bologna station,in short, we are not dealing With persons who are dishonest for private reasons. We committee members confirm that at the top of SISMI there had been established a "parallel structuré," which was born in part from the plans of the heads of Lodge P2¿ free of formal commitments and effective controls, and thus deviate and very dangerous."
A law enacted in 1982 provided that membership by government employees in a secret society was a criminal offense and that disciplinary measures could be taken against civil servants and judges. In Maestri v. Italy,  ECHR 39748/98 (17 February 2004) the court held that inflicting disciplinary measures on an Italian judge because of his membership in the Order of Masons, violated his freedom of association rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 11.
In November 1993 disciplinary proceedings were brought against him, under Article 18 of the Royal Legislative Decree of 31 May 1946, for having been a member of a Masonic lodge affiliated to the Grande Oriente d'Italia di Palazzo Giustiniani from 1981 until March 1993. In a decision of 10 October 1995 the disciplinary section of the National Council of the Judiciary found that the applicant had committed the offence of which he was accused and gave him a reprimand (censura). The disciplinary section stated that it was contrary to disciplinary rules for a judge to be a Freemason, on account of the incompatibility between the Masonic and judicial oaths, the hierarchical relationship between Freemasons, the rejection of State justice in favour of Masonic justice and the indissoluble nature of the bond between Freemasons.
The European Court of Human Rights determined that during the period of membership it could not have been foreseeable to the judge that membership in a non secret order of Freemasons could give rise to disciplinary action. The lodge judge Maestri belonged to was not secret; indeed, it made its membership list public.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|