FEW Catholics know of The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, a secret document written in the early 19th century that mapped out a blueprint for the subversion of the Catholic Church. The Alta Vendita was the highest lodge of the Carbonari, an Italian secret society with links to Freemasonry and which, along with Freemasonry, was condemned by the Catholic Church. Fr. E. Cahill, S.J. in his book Freemasonry and the Anti-Christian Movement states that the Alta Vendita was “commonly supposed to have been at the time the governing centre of European Freemasonry.” The Carbonari were most active in Italy and France. In his book Athanasius and the Church of Our Time, Bishop Rudolph Graber quoted a Freemason who declared that “the goal [of Freemasonry] is no longer the destruction of the Church, but to make use of it by infiltrating it.”
In other words, since Freemasonry cannot completely obliterate Christ’s Church, it plans not only to eradicate the influence of Catholicism in society, but also to use the Church’s structure as an instrument of “renewal,” “progress” and “enlightenment” to further many of its own principles and goals. An Outline The strategy advanced in The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita is astonishing in its audacity and cunning. From the start, the document tells of a process that will take decades to accomplish. Those who drew up the document knew that they would not see its fulfillment. They were inaugurating a work that would be carried on by succeeding generations of the initiated. The Permanent Instruction says, “In our ranks the soldier dies and the struggle goes on.” The Instruction called for the dissemination of liberal ideas and axioms throughout society and within the institutions of the Catholic Church so that laity, seminarians, clerics and prelates would, over the years, gradually be imbued with progressive principles. In time, this mind-set would be so pervasive that priests would be ordained, bishops would be consecrated and cardinals would be nominated whose thinking was in step with the modern thought rooted in the French Revolution’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and other “Principles of 1789” (equality of religions, separation of Church and State, religious pluralism, etc.).
Eventually, a Pope would be elected from these ranks who would lead the Church on the path of “enlightenment” and “renewal.” They stated that it was not their aim to place a Freemason on the Chair of Peter. Their goal was to effect an environment that would eventually produce a Pope and a hierarchy won over to the ideas of liberal Catholicism, all the while believing themselves to be faithful Catholics. These Catholic leaders, then, would no longer oppose the modern ideas of the Revolution (as had been the consistent practice of the Popes from 1789 until 1958—the death of Pope Pius XII —who condemned these liberal principles) but would amalgamate them into the Church. The end result would be a Catholic clergy and laity marching under the banner of the Enlightenment, all the while thinking they are marching under the banner of the Apostolic keys.
Is It Possible?
For those who may believe this scheme to be too far-fetched—a goal too hopeless for the enemy to attain, it should be noted that both Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII asked that The Permanent Instruction be published, no doubt in order to prevent such a tragedy from taking place. However, if such a dark state of affairs would ever come to pass, there would obviously be three unmistakable means of recognizing it:
1) It would produce an upheaval of such magnitude that the entire world would realize that there had been a major revolution inside the Catholic Church in line with modern ideas. It would be clear to all that an “updating” had taken place.
2) A new theology would be introduced that would be in contradiction to previous teachings.
3) The Freemasons themselves would voice their cock-a-doodle of triumph, believing that the Catholic Church had finally “seen the light” on such points as equality of religions, the secular state, pluralism and whatever other compromises had been achieved.
The Authenticity of the Alta Vendita Documents
The secret papers of the Alta Vendita that fell into the hands of Pope Gregory XVI embrace a period that goes from 1820 to 1846. They were published at the request of Pope Pius IX by Cretineau-Joly in his work The Roman Church and Revolution. With the brief of approbation of February 25, 1861, which he addressed to the author, Pope Pius IX guaranteed the authenticity of these documents, but he did not allow anyone to divulge the true members of the Alta Vendita implicated in this correspondence. The full text of the Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita is also contained in Msgr. George E. Dillon’s book, Grand Orient Freemasonry Unmasked. When Pope Leo XIII was presented with a copy of Msgr. Dillon’s book, he was so impressed that he ordered an Italian version to be completed and published at his own expense. In the Encyclical Humanum Genus (1884), Leo XIII called upon Catholic leaders to “tear off the mask from Freemasonry and make plain to all what it really is.” The publication of these documents is a means of “tearing off the mask.”
And if the Popes asked that these letters be published, it is because they wanted all Catholics to know the secret societies’ plans to subvert the Church from within—so that Catholics would be on their guard and, hopefully, prevent such a catastrophe from taking place.
What follows is not the entire instruction, but the sections that are most pertinent to our discussion. The document reads (with emphasis added):
Our ultimate end is that of Voltaire and of the French Revolution—the final destruction of Catholicism, and even of the Christian idea. . . . The Pope, whoever he is, will never come to the secret societies; it is up to the secret societies to take the first step toward the Church, with the aim of conquering both of them. The task that we are going to undertake is not the work of a day, or of a month, or of a year; it may last several years, perhaps a century; but in our ranks the soldier dies and the struggle goes on. We do not intend to win the Popes to our cause, to make them neophytes of our
principles, propagators of our ideas. That would be a ridiculous dream; and if events turn out in some way, if Cardinals or prelates, for example, of their own free will or by surprise, should enter into a part of our secrets, this is not at all an incentive for desiring their elevation to the See of Peter. That elevation would ruin us. Ambition alone would have led them to apostasy, the requirements of power would force them to sacrifice us.
What we must ask for, what we should look for and wait for, as the Jews wait for the Messiah, is a Pope according to our needs . . . With that we shall march more securely towards the assault on the Church than with the pamphlets of our brethren in France and even the gold of England. Do you want to know the reason for this? It is that with this, in order to shatter the high rock on which God has built His Church, we no longer need Hannibalian vinegar, or need gunpowder, or even need our arms. We have the little finger of the successor of Peter engaged in the ploy, and this little finger is as good, for this
crusade, as all the Urban IIs and all the Saint Bernards in Christendom. We have no doubt that we will arrive at this supreme end of our efforts. But when? But how? The unknown is not yet revealed. Nevertheless, as nothing should turn us aside from the plan drawn up, and on the contrary everything should tend to this, as if as early as tomorrow success were going to crown the work that is barely sketched, we wish, in this instruction, which will remain secret for the mere initiates, to give the officials in the charge of the supreme Vente [Lodge] some advice that they should instill in all the brethren, in the form of instruction or of a memorandum . . . Now then, to assure ourselves a Pope of the required dimensions, it is a question first of shaping for this Pope a generation worthy of the reign we are dreaming of. Leave old people and those of a mature age aside; go to the youth, and if it is possible, even to the children. . . . You will contrive for yourselves, at little cost, a reputation as good Catholics and pure patriots.
This reputation will put access to our doctrines into the midst of the young clergy, as well as deeply into the monasteries. In a few years, by the force of things, this young clergy will have overrun all the functions; they will form the sovereign’s council, they will be called to choose a Pontiff who should reign. And this Pontiff, like most of his contemporaries, will be necessarily more or less imbued with the [revolutionary] Italian and humanitarian principles that we are going to begin to put into circulation. It is a small grain of black mustard that we are entrusting to the ground; but the sunshine of justice will develop it up to the highest power, and you will see one day what a rich harvest this small seed will produce. In the path that we are laying out for our brethren there are found great obstacles to conquer, difficulties of more than one kind to master. They will triumph over them by experience and by clearsightedness; but the goal is so splendid that it is important to put all the sails to the wind in order to reach it. You want to revolutionize Italy; look for the Pope whose portrait we have just drawn. You wish to establish the reign of the chosen ones on the throne of the prostitute of Babylon; let the clergy march under your standard, always believing that they are marching under the banner of the Apostolic keys. You intend to make the last vestige of tyrants and the oppressors disappear; lay your snares [nets] like Simon Bar-Jona; lay them in the sacristies, the seminaries and the monasteries rather than at the bottom of the sea: and if you do not hurry, we promise you a catch more miraculous than his. The fisher of fish became the fisher of men; you will bring friends around the Apostolic Chair. You will have preached a revolution in tiara and in cope, marching with the cross and the banner, a revolution that will need to be only a little bit urged on to set fire to the four corners of the world.
It now remains for us to examine how successful this design has been. The Enlightenment, My Friend, Is “Blowin’ in the Wind” Throughout the 19th century, society had become increasingly permeated with the liberal principles of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, to the great detriment of the Catholic Faith and the Catholic State. The supposedly “kinder and gentler” notions of religious pluralism, religious indifferentism, a democracy which believes all authority comes from the people, false notions of liberty, separation of Church and State, interfaith gatherings and other novelties were gripping the minds of post-Enlightenment Europe, infecting statesmen and churchmen alike. The Popes of the 19th century and early 20th century waged war against these dangerous trends in full battle dress. With clearsighted presence of mind rooted in an uncompromised certitude of Faith, these Popes were not taken in. They knew that evil principles, no matter how honorable they may appear, cannot bear good fruit, and these were evil principles at their worst, since they were rooted not only in heresy, but in apostasy. Like commanding generals who recognize the duty to hold their ground at all cost, these Popes aimed powerful cannons at the errors of the modern world and fired incessantly. The Encyclicals were their cannonballs, and they never missed their target. The most devastating blast came in the form of Pope Pius IX’s monumental 1864 Syllabus of Errors, and when the smoke cleared, all involved in the battle were in no doubt as to who was on what side. The lines of demarcation had clearly been drawn. In this great Syllabus, Pius IX condemned the principal errors of the modern world, not because they were modern, but because these new ideas were rooted in pantheistic naturalism and were therefore incompatible with Catholic doctrine, as well as being destructive to society. The teachings in the Syllabus were counter-Liberalism, and the principles of Liberalism were counter-Syllabus. This was unquestionably recognized by all parties. Father Denis Fahey referred to this showdown as Pius IX vs. the Pantheistic Deification of Man. Speaking for the other side, the French Freemason Ferdinand Buisson likewise declared, “A school cannot remain neutral between the Syllabus and the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man.’”
Yet the 19th century saw a new breed of Catholic who utopianly sought a compromise between the two. These men looked for what they believed to be “good” in the principles of 1789 and tried to introduce them into the Church. Many clergymen, infected by the spirit of the age, were caught into this net that had been “cast into the sacristies and into the seminaries.” They came to be known as “Liberal Catholics.” Pope Pius IX remarked that they were the worst enemies of the Church. Despite this, their numbers increased. Pope St. Pius X and Modernism This crisis peaked around the beginning of the 20th century when the Liberalism of 1789 that had been “blowin’ in the wind” swirled into the tornado of Modernism. Fr. Vincent Miceli identified this heresy as such by describing Modernism’s “trinity of parents.” He wrote:
1) Its religious ancestor is the Protestant Reformation;
2) Its philosophical parent is the Enlightenment;
3) Its political pedigree comes from the French Revolution.
Pope St. Pius X, who ascended to the papal chair in 1903, recognized Modernism as a most deadly plague that must be arrested. He wrote that the most important obligation of the Pope is to insure the purity and integrity of Catholic doctrine, and he further stated that if he did nothing, then he would have failed in his essential duty. St. Pius X waged a war on Modernism, issued an Encyclical (Pascendi) and a Syllabus (Lamentabili) against it, instituted the Anti-Modernist Oath to be sworn by all priests and theology teachers, purged the seminaries and universities of Modernists and excommunicated the stubborn and unrepentant. St. Pius X effectively halted the spread of Modernism in his day. It is reported, however, that when he was congratulated for having eradicated this grave error, St. Pius X immediately responded that despite all his efforts, he had not succeeded in killing this beast, but had only driven it underground. He warned that if Church leaders were not vigilant, it would return in the future more virulent than ever.
Curia on the Alert
A little-known drama that unfolded during the reign of Pope Pius XI demonstrates that the underground current of Modernist thought was alive and well in the immediate post-Pius X period. Father Raymond Dulac relates that at the secret consistory of May 23, 1923, Pope Pius XI questioned the thirty Cardinals of the Curia on the timeliness of summoning an ecumenical council. In attendance were such illustrious prelates as Cardinals Merry del Val, De Lai, Gasparri, Boggiani and Billot. The Cardinals advised against it. Cardinal Billot warned, “The existence of profound differences in the midst of the episcopacy itself cannot be concealed . . . [They] run the risk of giving place to discussions that will be prolonged indefinitely.” Boggiani recalled the Modernist theories from which, he said, a part of the clergy and of the bishops were not exempt. “This mentality can incline certain Fathers to present motions, to introduce methods incompatible with Catholic traditions.”
Billot was even more precise. He expressed his fear of seeing the council maneuvered” by “the worst enemies of the Church, the Modernists, who are already getting ready, as certain indications show, to bring forth the revolution in the Church, a new 1789.” In discouraging the idea of a council for such reasons, these Cardinals showed themselves more apt at recognizing the “signs of the times” than all the post-Vatican II theologians combined. Yet their caution may have been rooted in something deeper. They may also have been haunted by the writings of the infamous illuminé, the excommunicated Canon Roca (1830-1893), who preached revolution and Church “reform” and who predicted a subversion of the Church that would be brought about by a council. Canon Roca’s Revolutionary Ravings In his book Athanasius and the Church of Our Time, Bishop Graber refers to Canon Roca’s prediction of a new, enlightened Church which would be influenced by “the socialism of Jesus and the Apostles.” In the mid-19th century, Roca had predicted: “The new church, which might not be able to retain anything of Scholastic doctrine and the original form of the former Church, will nevertheless receive consecration and canonical jurisdiction from Rome.” Bishop Graber, commenting on this prediction, remarked, “A few years ago this was still inconceivable to us, but today . . .?”
Canon Roca also predicted a liturgical “reform.” With reference to the future liturgy, he believed “that the divine cult in the form directed by the liturgy, ceremonial, ritual and regulations of the Roman Church will shortly undergo a transformation at an ecumenical council, which will restore to it the venerable simplicity of the golden age of the Apostles in accordance with the dictates of conscience and modern civilization.” He foretold that through this council will come “a perfect accord between the ideals of modern civilization and the ideal of Christ and His Gospel. This will be the consecration of the New Social Order and the solemn baptism of modern civilization.” Roca also spoke of the future of the Papacy. He wrote, “There is a sacrifice in the offing which represents a solemn act of expiation . . . The Papacy will fall; it will die under the hallowed knife which the fathers of the last council will forge. The papal caesar is a host [victim] crowned for the sacrifice.” Roca enthusiastically predicted a “new religion,” “new dogma,” “new ritual,” “new priesthood.” “He called the new priests ‘progressists’ [sic]; he speaks of the ‘suppression’ of the soutane [cassock] and the ‘marriage of priests.’” Chilling echos of Roca and the Alta Vendita are to be found in the words of the Rosicrucian Dr. Rudolph Steiner, who declared in 1910, “We need a council and a Pope to proclaim it.” The Great Council that Never Was Around 1948, Pope Pius XII, at the request of the staunchly orthodox Cardinal Ruffini, considered calling a general council and even spent a few years making the necessary preparations. There is evidence that progressive elements in Rome eventually dissuaded Pius XII from bringing it to realization since this council showed definite signs of being in sync with Humani Generis. Like this great 1950 encyclical, the new council would combat “false opinions which threaten to undermine the foundations of Catholic doctrine.” Tragically, Pope Pius XII became convinced that he was too advanced in years to shoulder this momentous task, and he resigned himself to the idea that “this will be for my successor.”
Roncalli to “Consecrate Ecumenism”
Throughout the pontificate of Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), the Holy Office under the able leadership of Cardinal Ottaviani maintained a safe Catholic landscape by keeping the wild horses of Modernism firmly corralled. Many of today’s Modernist theologians disdainfully recount how they and their friends had been “muzzled” during this period. Yet even Ottaviani could not prevent what was to happen in 1958. A new type of Pope “whom the progressives believed to favor their cause” would ascend to the pontifical chair and would force a reluctant Ottaviani to remove the latch, open the corral and brace himself for the stampede. However, such a state of affairs was not unforeseen. At the news of the death of Pius XII, the old Dom Lambert Beauduin, a friend of Cardinal Roncalli (the future John XXIII), confided to Father Louis Bouyer: “If they elect Roncalli, everything would be saved; he would be capable of calling a council and of consecrating ecumenism.” And so it happened: Cardinal Roncalli was elected and called a council which “consecrated” ecumenism. The “revolution in tiara and cope” was underway.
Pope John’s Revolution
It is well known and superbly documented that a clique of liberal theologians (periti) and bishops hijacked Vatican Council II (1962-1965) with an agenda to remake the Church into their own image through the implementation of a “new theology.” Critics and defenders of Vatican II are in agreement on this point. In his book Vatican II Revisited, Bishop Aloysius J. Wycislo (a rhapsodic advocate of the Vatican II revolution) declares with enthusiasm that “theologians and biblical scholars who had been ‘under a cloud’ for years surfaced as periti [theological experts advising the bishops at the Council], and their post-Vatican II books and commentaries became popular reading.” He notes that “Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis  had . . . a devastating effect on the work of a number of pre-conciliar theologians” and explains that “During the early preparation of the Council, those theologians (mainly French, with some Germans) whose activities had been restricted by Pope Pius XII, were still under a cloud. Pope John quietly lifted the ban affecting some of the most influential ones. Yet a number remained suspect to the officials of the Holy Office.” Bishop Wycislo sings the praises of triumphant progressives such as Hans Küng, Karl Rahner, John Courtney Murray, Yves Congar, Henri de Lubac, Edward Schillebeeckx and Gregory Baum, who had been considered suspect before the Council, but who are now the leading lights of post-Vatican II theology. In effect, those whom Pope Pius XII considered unfit to be walking the streets of Catholicism were now in control of the town. And as if to crown their achievements, the Oath against Modernism was quietly suppressed shortly after the close of the Council.
St. Pius X had predicted correctly. Lack of vigilance in authority had allowed Modernism to return with a vengeance. “Marching under a New Banner” There were countless battles at Vatican II between the International Group of Fathers, who fought to maintain Tradition, and the progressive Rhine group. Tragically, in the end, it was the latter, the Liberal and Modernist element that prevailed. It was obvious, to anyone who had eyes to see, that the Council opened the door to many ideas that had formerly been anathema to Church teaching, but which are in step with modernist thought. This did not happen by accident, but by design. The progressives at Vatican II avoided condemnations of Modernist errors. They also deliberately planted ambiguities in the Council’s texts which they intended to exploit after the Council. These ambiguities have been utilized to promote an ecumenism that had been condemned by Pope Pius XI, a religious liberty that had been condemned by the 19th and early 20th-century Popes (especially Pope Pius IX), a new liturgy along the lines of ecumenism that Archbishop Bugnini called “a major conquest of the Catholic Church,” a collegiality that strikes at the heart of the papal primacy and a “new attitude toward the world”— especially in one of the most radical of all the Council documents, Gaudium et Spes. As the authors of The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita had hoped, the notions of Liberal culture had finally won adherence among major players in the Catholic hierarchy and were thus spread throughout the entire Church. The result has been an unprecedented crisis of Faith, which continues to worsen. At the same time, countless highly placed Churchmen, obviously inebriated by the “spirit of Vatican II,” continuously praise those post-Conciliar reforms that have brought this calamity to pass.
Taken from The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita by TAN Books & Publishers, Inc.
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