(Edward Pentin – May, 15 2020) A document on human fraternity which Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar university, co-signed last year in Abu Dhabi, has been given a ringing endorsement in the magazine of Italy’s largest Freemasonic fraternity.
The Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together is “innovative” and a “slow-release drug” that could herald a “new era” and represent a “turning point for a new civilization,” writes Pierluigi Cascioli, a journalist with Nuovo Hiram, the quarterly magazine of the masonic Grand Orient lodge in Italy.
He adds that the text “is important both because of the two authoritative joint signatures and for its content.”
The five-page “Human Fraternity” document was praised when it was published as an effort to push back a drift toward a “clash of civilizations,” but it also received criticism for its syncretic elements and a controversial passage that stated the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God.”
Critics said the words appeared to contradict the Church’s central belief that the Christian faith is the only valid and the only God-willed religion through which man can be saved and that God, being truth itself, cannot will false religions.
In his article, Cascioli advises giving the document a “thorough reading,” and arguing that it proposes “values that are able to build a better world.” The document, he writes, has “noble pages” which “should be carefully considered” not only by Christian and Catholics and Muslims and Sunni Muslims, but all humanity.
“The call for greater fraternity is addressed to the whole of humanity, even the five billion people who don’t share one of their two faiths,” Cascioli continues, adding that he believes the call “is based both on the beliefs of the authors of the Document” as well as those who have the ability to “reason.” It is an “appeal to all,” he writes, “erga omnes [towards all].”
Cascioli wonders how many within the Church or Islam have read the document which he sees as offering an impetus to both the Church and Islam to “do more to ensure that there is effective equality between women and men.”
Referring to the preface of the Document, he asks whether its condemnation of discrimination and its call for “mutual respect” will lead to “respect for women and men who have homosexual or bisexual tendencies?”
“Every human being is unique and inimitable,” he argues, and should have “the right, (or, better, the duty) to experience his or her own eroticism according to his or her own nature”. He then refers to the nations that criminalize homosexuality, particularly in the Islamic world.
He focuses on the Document stating that “God created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity” and uses it to criticize some Catholics for being part of a Catholic nobility, or as Cascioli reads it: “Different from other human beings in the sense of being superior to others.” He wonders if Catholics will continue to “accept Catholic nobility” when the Abu Dhabi document “repeatedly indicates that all human beings are equal in dignity,” and even speculates that the Church might expel those nobility who will not accept such egalitarianism.
He further wonders if the “monarchical” structure of the Church is at odds with the egalitarianism he sees in the document, and speculates whether the Church’s social doctrine will need to be “updated” in the “light of the innovative values of the Document.”
Pope Francis and the Grand Imam express “avant-garde positions,” he observes, and he wonders how many Catholics and Muslims will follow them. “How far ahead of their respective ‘bases’ are the two leaders?” Cascioli muses. “Pope Francis is far from his base; the Grand Imam is very far from his.”
But he prefers to take the long view, believing the Human Fraternity document is “like a slow-release drug.” It would be “illusory to expect immediate, great upheaval, but it could open a new era,” he argues. Cascioli says Francis and el-Tayeb have “built an airport runway” for the document’s values, but for the contents to “take off”, there must be a “strong impulse” which allows them to “overcome the force of gravity.” People should have the “courage of fraternity,” he says, and so “take off towards a better world.”
If implemented, he sees the Document as “being a turning point for civilization because it will open a new era.” Cascioli then goes through what he calls various “spiritual epochs,” or layers of civilization, beginning with what he calls “the pre-Christian mythical religions” (paganism) through to the Enlightenment, Martin Luther, the US Declaration of Independence, the constitution of the United Nations (which he notes was devised by “the Freemason President of the USA, Roosevelt,” and brought to fruition President Truman, “also a Freemason”). He then includes the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, when the Church “once again believed in respect for the freedom of conscience of every human being, as it had done so in the first four centuries.”
Cascioli sees great promise for the Document, comparing it to a “mushroom on a meadow” part of a growing “awareness” for humanity, “nourished by a more elevated human conscience.”
“The Freemasons, who have fraternity at their center, will not be able to avoid discussing this Document,” he believes, and draws attention to page four in which it stresses the importance of “adopting a culture of dialogue.”
“In applying this principle, will Catholics and Sunnis want to dialogue with Freemasons?” Cascioli wonders.
The Catholic Church has long condemned Freemasonry, stressing that its principles are irreconcilable with the Catholic faith, and teaching that for a Catholic to belong to it is a “grave sin” that automatically disqualifies him from receiving Holy Communion.
Pope Clement XII decreed in 1738 that those who joined the Masons were excommunicated, although since the 1983 Code of Canon Law, this penalty no longer applies.
Masonic rituals are inimical to Catholicism and a strong anti-Catholicism also permeates Freemasonry, according to Father William Saunders in a 1996 article published on EWTN’s website. Some particularly strong critics, such as Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, also believe its higher ranks are committed to worshiping Satan.
“Alas, ultimately [Freemasonry] is close to Satanism,” he said in his 2019 book interview Christus Vincit. “Not every Freemasonic group is Satanic, but the roots are Satanic and lead to Satanism in the highest degrees of Freemasonry.”
He noted that Pope Pius VIII, in his encyclical Traditi Humilitati Nostrae, published in 1829, “gave one of the most succinct and accurate definitions of the ideology and work of Freemasonry, stating: ‘Their law is untruth, their god is the devil, and their cult is turpitude.’”
Bishop Schneider also pointed out that a key principle of Freemasonry is creating chaos, and from that chaos, to create their own order. “Significantly,” he said, “one of the ideological and strategic mottos of Freemasonry is: ‘ordo ab chao.”