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Bishop Soddu (third from left) pictured at the inauguration of the Masonic House in Via Roma in Terni.Grande Oriente d'Italia/Twitter

TERNI, Italy (LifeSiteNews) – An Italian bishop last week attended the inauguration ceremony for a new entrance to the Masonic Lodge of the Grand Orient of Italy in Terni. Following public outcry at the scandal, the diocese quickly attempted to save appearance, defending the bishop’s presence at the event by invoking the “Synodal path.”

On September 27, the Bishop of the Diocese of Terni, Francesco Antonio Soddu, together with numerous city and government officials, as well as leaders and members Italy’s Masonic lodges, attended the ribbon cutting for the Masonic House in Via Roma in Terni. The Italian Catholic blogpost Messainlatino reported the event, noting the scandal of the bishop’s presence.   

According to the website and announcement of the Grand Orient of Italy (GOI), “The ribbon was cut by Grand Master Stefano Bisi, who was welcomed in front of the Via Roma headquarters by Luca Nicola Castiglione, president of the Circumscriptional College of Worshipful Masters of Umbria, Gabriele Cardona, president of the Council of Worshipful Masters of Terni, and numerous brothers. 

After the ceremony,” the announcement continued, a visit to the Masonic House, which has two temples inside, took place, which was attended by Mayor Leonardo Latini, Prefect Giovanni Bruno, [and] Bishop Francesco Antonio Soddu, who in their messages of greetings thanked for the invitation and expressed the hope that initiatives such as this can nurture dialogue and the comparison of different realities by defeating prejudices. Parliamentarian Raffaele Nevi and City Councilor Cristiano Ceccotti were also present. 

Bishop Soddu (second from left) joins ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Masonic House in Via Roma. Credit: Grande Oriente d’Italia/Twitter

Commenting on the photos of the event posted by the GOI, Messainlatino made note of the bishop, who was appointed by Pope Francis in 2021, “participating all jubilant in the ribbon cutting, and then taking the ritual photo next to the two columns placed at the entrance of the lodge, in one of the two Masonic temples.’”   

The Grand Master, Stefano Bisi, in his keynote address expressed typical masonic anticlerical sentiments, praising the secular state as the one and only guarantor of freedom and voicing the hope that September 20 would be restored as a holiday in celebration of the liberation of Italy from “the domination of the Church.”  

“Today,” Bisi declared, as in the past, our goal is always the same: to celebrate all the battles of freedom, starting with the one that in 1870 with the Breach of Porta Pia put an end to the domination of the Church, favoring the birth of free and secular Italy. 

Responding to the indignation among the Catholic faithful sparked by the bishop’s presence at Masonic ceremonies, the Diocese of Terni issued a statement defending the prelate’s attendance, stating that the faithful had “deliberately misunderstood and misinterpreted” his presence, which it claimed was not intended to “identify” with Freemasonry but to witness to the Gospel. 

Regarding the opening of the new entrance to the GOI headquarters in Terni,” the diocese stated, “astonishment, bewilderment and bitterness are aroused by the instrumental reading, deliberately misunderstood and misinterpreted, of Bishop Soddu’s presence at this circumstance.” The diocese further claimed that the bishop’s purpose at the ceremony was “witnessing fidelity to the Gospel and to the Church, especially in this time of the Synodal path that characterizes it.” 

In response to the diocese’s justification of the scandal of the event, Catholic historian and author Prof. Roberto de Mattei published a reply, reminding the faithful of the Church’s continuous condemnation of any and all involvement in Freemasonry and the penalty of excommunication for any Catholic who joins their ranks. De Mattei drew attention to the fact that secular relativism lies at the heart of Freemasonry, making it utterly incompatible with the profession of the Catholic faith. De Mattei’s comments are offered here: 

In 1968, a book by French writer Jean Madiran appeared entitled The Heresy of the Twentieth Century (L’Hèrésie du XX siècle, Nouvelles Editins Latines, Paris 1968): the heresy Madiran was referring to was that of the bishops, particularly the French bishops, whose heretical or heretizing positions he denounced as having been taken after the Second Vatican Council.

Madiran observed how it all stemmed from a yielding of Catholics to modern philosophy, and in particular to the principle that the evolution of society would force a change in the very concept of salvation brought by Christ. The Church should open up to the world, listen to its Gospel message of understanding the positive value of modernity, turning its back on the traditional, rigid and intolerant faith.

Madiran’s analysis, after more than half a century, is more relevant than ever, but perhaps today more than heresy we should speak of apostasy of the bishops, that is, of a global denial of the Catholic faith, which is expressed not only through heresies and errors, which are abundantly widespread among the ecclesiastical leadership, but by an underlying attitude that is also expressed in words and gestures of a strong symbolic value. We limit ourselves to citing one of the most recent examples […]

One of the first acts of Msgr. Francesco Antonio Soddu, bishop of Terni since Oct. 29, 2021, was to visit a headquarters of Freemasonry, a secret association condemned by countless Church documents that proposes a worldview directly antithetical to the Catholic one.

The condemnation of Freemasonry has never been abolished. The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in one of its documents dated Nov. 26, 1983, states that “the Church’s negative judgment regarding Masonic associations remains unchanged, since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who belong to Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and cannot have access to Holy Communion.”

And this applies to every type of Freemasonry, whether Latin or Anglo-Saxon. There are not two or more Freemasonries, some good, some bad. Freemasonry, from its founding document, the “Anderson Constitutions” of 1717, presents an ideology, which sets aside all religious and moral truth, reducing traditional religions to subjective opinions. Relativism constitutes in this sense the soul of Freemasonry, although it does not encompass its entire essence. Freemasonry, in fact, presumes to be a “universal religion,” the repository of a secret of which the Freemason gradually becomes aware through the rites, symbols, and texts he assimilates, but also through the enthralling atmosphere he breathes in the lodges in which he is placed. The newly inaugurated temple of Freemasonry in Terni will be a place where the unwary would-be Freemason will abandon the Catholic Church and be placed in an anti-Christian sect in which he will lose his soul and lose his way to the destiny of eternal happiness to which fidelity to the Gospel calls him.

The bishop of Terni is a successor of the Apostles. There is a golden booklet by St. Alphonsus Maria de’Liguori, titled Riflessioni utili a’vescovi per la pratica di ben governare le loro chiese, republished a few years ago in Umbria itself (edited by Mario Colavita, Edizioni Tau, Todi 2015), which we recommend for Msgr. Soddu and all Italian bishops to read.

The task of pastors is to save the souls of their flock, not to lead them to apostasy and perdition. Therefore, St. Alphonsus explains, if the bishop is negligent about the health of his sheep, “he will be reprobate in the tribunal of Jesus Christ.” This, unfortunately, is the path Msgr. Francesco Antonio Soddu, bishop of Terni-Narni-Amelia, set himself on as he participated in the inauguration of the Grand Orient of Terni, side by side with the Grand Master of Italian Freemasonry.

What can one do in the face of such a serious event, if not openly denounce it and pray for an intervention of Divine Providence to put an end to these scandals that are multiplying in Italy and around the world?