23 February 2024

Providas Romanorum - Confirming In Eminenti

Thirteen years after Pope Clement released In Eminenti Apostolatus, Pope Benedict XIV confirmed it, emphasising the prohibition on Catholics from joining the Lodge.

Pope Benedict XIV

18 March 1751

We deem it dutiful, with a new intervention of Our authority, to support and confirm - as just and grave reasons require it - the provident laws and sanctions of the Roman Pontiffs Our Predecessors: not only those laws and sanctions whose force or for the process of time or due to the carelessness of men we fear they may slow down or die out, but also those that have recently gained strength and full vigor.

1. In fact Clement XII, Our Predecessor of happy memory, with his own Apostolic Letter of 28 April of the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 1738, the eighth year of his Pontificate - Letter addressed to all the faithful and which begins In eminenti - condemned for always and forbade some Societies, Unions, Meetings, Meetings, Conventicles or Aggregations commonly called the Freemasons or des Francs Maçons, or otherwise called, which were already widespread in certain countries and which are now increasing more and more. He forbade all and individual Christians (under penalty of excommunication to be incurred ipso factowithout any declaration, from which no one could be acquitted by others, except at the point of death, other than the Roman Pontiff pro tempore ) to attempt or dare to enter such a Society, propagate or lend them favor or shelter, conceal them, register to join or intervene with them, and more, as is more widely and more widely contained in the same Letter. Here is the text.

2. " Clement Bishop, servant of the servants of God. Greetings and Apostolic Blessing to all the faithful.

Placed at the behest of Divine clemency, although unworthy, in the eminent See of the Apostolate, in order to fulfill the debt of the Pastoral Providence entrusted to Us, with assiduous diligence and concern, as far as it is granted to Us by Heaven, we have turned our thoughts to those things by which - the door to errors and vices closed - the integrity of the Orthodox religion is mainly preserved, and in these very difficult times the dangers of disorder are removed from the whole Catholic world.

Already for the same public fame we are known that they extend in every direction, and from day to day they are strengthened, some Societies, Unions, Meetings, Conventicles or Aggregations commonly called the Freemasons or des Francs Maçons, or with other denominations called according to the variety of languages, in which with a close and secret alliance, according to their Laws and Statutes, men of any religion and sect unite among themselves, content with a certain affected appearance of natural honesty. Such Societies, with a strict oath taken on the Holy Scriptures, and with the exaggeration of grave penalties, are obliged to maintain an inviolable silence about the things they do secretly.

But since it is the nature of the crime to manifest itself by itself and generate the noise that denounces it, it follows that the aforementioned Societies or Conventicles have produced this suspicion in the minds of the faithful, according to which honest and prudent men can subscribe to those Aggregations it is the same as staining themselves with the infamy of wickedness and perversion: if they did not operate iniquitously, they would not hate the light so decisively. Such fame has grown so considerably, that these societies have already been outlawed by secular princes in many countries as enemies of the kingdoms, and have been providentially eliminated.

We therefore, meditating on the very serious damage that mostly these Societies or Conventicles cause not only to the tranquility of the temporal Republic, but also to the spiritual health of souls, as they do not in any way agree with either the Civil Laws or the Canonical ones; taught by the Divine words to watch day and night, as a faithful and prudent servant in charge of the Lord's family, so that this race of men does not plunder the House like thieves, nor like foxes ruin the Vineyard; that is, so that he does not corrupt the hearts of the simple nor occultly injure the innocent; in order to close the road which, if open, could allow crimes with impunity; for other just and rational reasons known to Us, with the advice of some Our Venerable Brother Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and againmotu proprio, with sure science, mature deliberation and with the fullness of Our Apostolic power, we decree that we must condemn and prohibit ourselves, as with our present Constitution, to be valid in perpetuity, we condemn and prohibit the aforementioned Societies, Unions, Meetings, Meetings, Aggregations o Conventicles of Freemasons o des Francs Maçons,or whatever other name you call. Therefore, strictly, and by virtue of holy obedience, we command all and individual faithful of any state, degree, condition, order, dignity or prominence, whether lay or clerical, both secular and regular, even if they are worthy of special and individual mention. and summons, that no one dare or presume under any pretext or appearance to establish, propagate or favor the aforementioned Societies of Freemasons or des Francs Maçonsor otherwise named; to host and hide them in their homes or elsewhere; to subscribe and join them; to provide them with the means, faculty or possibility of meeting somewhere; to give them something or even to give advice, help or favor in any way, openly or in secret, directly or indirectly, on their own or for others, as well as to exhort, induce, provoke or persuade others to register or to intervene in similar Company, or in any way to benefit and favor them. Indeed, everyone must absolutely abstain from said Societies, Unions, Meetings, Meetings, Aggregations or Conventicles, under penalty of excommunication for all offenders, as above, to incur the pso facto,and without any declaration, from which no one can be absolved, except on the point of death, by anyone other than the Roman Pontiff pro tempore.

We also want and command that both the Bishops, the Superior Prelates and the other Ordinaries of the places, as well as the Inquisitors of heretical evil deputies in any place, proceed and inquire against transgressors of any state, degree, condition, order, dignity. or pre-eminence, and who repress and punish them with the same penalties with which they strike suspected heresy. Therefore we grant and attribute free faculty to them, and to each of them, to proceed and inquire against the aforementioned transgressors, and to imprison and punish them with due penalties, also invoking, if necessary, the help of the secular arm.

We also want that the copies of this letter, even if printed, signed by the hand of some public notary and bearing the seal of a person constituted in ecclesiastical dignity, be given the same faith that would be given to the Letter if it were exhibited or shown in the original.

Therefore, absolutely no one is permitted to violate, or with reckless daring to contradict this page of Our declaration, condemnation, commandment, prohibition and interdiction. If anyone dared so much, let him know that he will incur the indignation of Almighty God and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul " .

3. But since, as far as we have been told, some have had no difficulty in affirming and publicly disseminating that the said penalty of excommunication imposed by our Predecessor is no longer effective because the relative Constitution has not been confirmed by us, almost as if explicit confirmation of the successor is necessary for the Apostolic Constitutions to maintain validity;

4. and having been suggested to Us, by some pious and God-fearing people, that it would be very useful to eliminate all the subterfuges of the slanderers and to declare the uniformity of Our soul with the intention and will of the same Predecessor, adding to its Constitution the new vote of Our Confirmation;

5. We certainly, until now, when we have kindly granted absolution from the incurred excommunication, often before and mainly in the past year of the Jubilee, to many faithful truly repentant and grieving for having transgressed the laws of the Constitution itself and which they assured from the heart to move away completely from similar Societies and Conventicles, and that in the future they would never return; or when We granted to the Penitentiaries delegated by Us the faculty of imparting absolution in Our name and with Our authority to those who had recourse to the Penitentiaries themselves; and when with solicitous vigilance we did not neglect to ensure that the competent Judges and Tribunals proceeded in proportion to the crime committed against violators of the Constitution itself, which was effectively carried out several times; we have certainly provided arguments that are not only probable but completely evident and indubitable, through which the dispositions of our soul and the firm and deliberate will consenting with the censure imposed by the aforementioned Clement Predecessor should have been understood. If a contrary opinion spread around Us, We could surely despise it and refer Our cause to the just judgment of Almighty God, uttering those words that were once recited in the course of sacred services: "Grant, O Lord, we pray that We do not cure the slanders of perverse souls, but once perversity itself has been overcome, we beg that You do not allow us to be afflicted by unjust slanders or enveloped in cunning flattery, but rather that we love what You command ". Thus reports an ancient missal attributed to St. Gelasius, Our Predecessor, and which by the Venerable Servant of God Cardinal Giuseppe Maria Tommasi was inserted in the Mass entitled Against the slanderers.

6. However, so that it could not be said that We had imprudently omitted something, in order to easily eliminate the pretexts for lying slanders and shut their mouths; Having first heard the advice of some of our Venerable Brother Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, we have decreed to confirm the same Constitution of Our Predecessor, word for word, as reported above in a specific form, which is considered to be the broadest and most effective of all: We confirm, validate, renew and we want and decree that it has perpetual strength and efficacy for Our sure science, in the fullness of Our Apostolic authority, according to the tenor of the same Constitution, in all respects, as if it had been promulgated with Our motu proprio .and with Our authority, and had been published for the first time by Us.

7. In truth, among the very serious reasons for the aforementioned prohibitions and condemnation set out in the aforementioned Constitution there is one, by virtue of which men of any religion and sect can mutually unite in such Societies and Conventicles; it is clear what damage can be done to the purity of the Catholic religion. The second reason is the strict and impenetrable promise of secrecy, by virtue of which what is done in these meetings is hidden, to which the sentence that Cecilio Natale, at Minucio Felice, adduced in a very different cause can be applied: " honest things always love the public light; wickedness is secret . "The third reason is the oath with which they undertake to inviolably observe this secret, as if it is lawful for someone, questioned by legitimate power, with the excuse of some promise or oath to evade the obligation to confess everything that is sought. , to know if in such Conventicles anything is done contrary to the stability and to the laws of the Religion and of the Republic. The fourth reason is that these Societies oppose the Civil Sanctions no less than the Canons, taking into account, in fact, that under the Civil Law all Colleges and meetings formed without public authority are prohibited, as stated in the Pandects (book 47, title 22, De Collegiis et corporibus illicitis), and in the famous letter (n.97 of book 10) of C. Plinio Cecilio, who reports that it was forbidden by his Edict, according to the commandment of the Emperor, that the Aetheries should be held, that is, that they could exist and meet Societies and meetings without the authorization of the Prince. The fifth reason is that in many countries the aforementioned Companies and Aggregations have already been proscribed and banned by Secular Principle laws. Finally, the last reason is that prudent and honest men blamed the aforementioned Societies and Aggregations: in their opinion anyone who joined them incurred the accusation of pravity and perversion.

8. Finally, the same Predecessor in the aforementioned Constitution exhorts the Bishops, the Superiors Prelates and the other Ordinaries of the places not to neglect to invoke the help of the secular arm if necessary for the execution of this provision.

9. All these things, even individually, are not only approved and confirmed by Us, but are also recommended and enjoined upon the Ecclesiastical Superiors; but We ourselves, out of debt of the Apostolic solicitude, with this present Our Letter invoke and with deep affection we seek the aid and help of the Catholic Princes and the secular Powers - being the Supreme Princes and Podestà themselves elected by God as defenders of the faith and protectors of the Church - so that it is their concern to do their utmost to ensure that the Apostolic Constitutions have due respect and absolute obedience. This brought to their memory by the Fathers of the Council of Trent (sess. 25, chap. 20), and much earlier the Emperor Charlemagne had admirably declared it in his Specifications (tit. I, chap. 2), in which,In no way can we know how those who show themselves unfaithful to God and disobedient to his priests can be faithful to us . "Consequently, he imposed on all the Presidents and Ministers of his provinces that they oblige all and individuals to pay due obedience to the laws of Church. He also imposed very serious penalties against those who neglected to do this, adding among other things: " Those who in these things (which does not happen) will be found negligent and transgressors, know that they will not keep the honors in our Empire, even if are our children; they will neither have a place in the Palace, nor will they have society or community with us nor with our faithful, but rather they will pay the penalty in anguish and hardship ".

10. We also want the copies of this letter, even if printed, signed by the hand of some public Notary and bearing the seal of a person constituted in ecclesiastical dignity, to be given the same faith that would be given to the Letter if it were exhibited or shown in the original.

11. Therefore, absolutely no one is permitted to violate, or with reckless daring to contradict this page of Our confirmation, innovation, approval, commandment, invocation, request, decree and will. If anyone dared so much, know that he will incur the indignation of Almighty God and the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

Given in Rome, at Santa Maria Maggiore, on March 18 of the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 1751, the eleventh year of Our Pontificate.

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