“In Eminenti Apostolatus Specula”
Condemnation of Freemasonry
of Catholics Who Join the Freemasons
Monday, April 28, 1738
Health and Apostolic Benediction to all Christ's Faithful
Stationed on the prominent Watch Tower, although with inferior merits, in the disposition of Divine Mercy, in accord with the Duty of Pastoral Providence entrusted to Us We direct with a continual zeal for solicitude, (insofar as it is granted from on High) Our attention to those things through which, once the access to errors and vices has been shut off, the Integrity of Orthodox Religion may be principally preserved, and the dangers of disturbances may be driven off from the whole Catholic world in these most difficult times.
To be sure, even as the very voice of the public testifies, it has become known to Us that spreading far and wide and each day gaining strength are some societies, assemblies, meetings, gatherings, fellowships, or associations commonly called de` Liberi Muratori or Francs--Macons, or identified by whatever other designation according to the variety of idioms in which men of any religion and sect whatsoever, satisfied by a certain feigned appearance of natural honesty, are mutually united by a strict as well as impenetrable covenant according to the laws and statues established by them, and which at the same time they both secretly dedicate themselves to by a strict oath administered on the Sacred Bible, and which under the accumulation of severe penalties they are bound to conceal by an inviolable silence.
But since such is the nature of a crime, that it betrays its very self, and emits a cry as a herald of itself, on this account the societies or associations mentioned above have impressed upon the minds of the faithful a powerful suspicion to such an extent, that to enroll in these same fellowships is, before prudent and likewise approved men, absolutely the same as incurring the mark of depravity and perversion. For if they were not acting wickedly, they would never have such great hate for the light. Which voice has continually become more frequent, that in many regions the above mentioned societies have appeared for a long time to be outlawed by the secular authorities as being in adverse to the security of the realms and providentially banned.
Consequently, We, reflecting upon the most serious damages, which generally are inflicted not only on the tranquility of the temporal State, but also on the spiritual health of souls from societies and associations of this kind, and for this reason, at least, in order to be in harmony with both civil and Canonical Sanctions, We, as Commander of the family of the Lord after the manner of the faithful and prudent Servant, ought to teach with Divine Eloquence by day and night, that a vigil must be kept lest the class of men of this type as thieves break into the house, and lest, in Truth, like foxes strive to destroy the vineyard, they corrupt the hearts of the simple ones, and shoot the innocent ones with arrows in hidden ways. In order to obstruct the broadest path which could possibly be opened to accomplish with impunity their wickedness, and from other just and reasonable causes known to Us, We have established and Decreed, that from the counsel of several of Our Brother Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and especially by Our own motion and from the fullness of Apostolic Power, those same societies, assemblies, meetings, gatherings, fellowships, or associations commonly called de` Liberi Muratori or Francs--Macons, or called by any other name whatever, must be condemned and prohibited, as by Our present Constitution, perpetually valid, We condemn and prohibit them.
Wherefore, We admonish severely and in Virtue of Holy Obedience each and every faithful of Jesus Christ, of any state, grade, condition, order, dignity, and pre-eminence whatever, be it laity, or Clerics, both secular and regular, likewise those worthy of specific and individual mention and expression, that anyone under whatever pretext or special condition may not dare or presume to enter or to propagate, or foster, and thus to receive and hide them in their dwellings or homes or anywhere else, the aforementioned societies de` Liberi Muratori or Francs--Macons, or otherwise named, to be enrolled in, to adhere to, or to take part in them, or to give opportunity or convenience that may allow them to convene in any place, to furnish them with anything, or otherwise offer counsel, aid or good will, openly or secretly, directly or indirectly, per se or through others in any way whatever. Likewise no one may dare or presume to exhort, induce, provoke, or persuade others to be inscribed in, to be reckoned as part of or be among these societies of whatever kind, or to help and support them in any way whatever. On the contrary, they are by all means obliged to abstain totally from those very societies, assembles, meetings, gatherings, fellowships, or associations under pain of excommunication to be incurred ipso facto without any declaration by all those offending as above, from which no one is able to obtain the favor of absolution except through Us, or the Roman Pontiff reigning at the particular time, save one who has been determined to be at the point of death.
Moreover, We Ordain and Mandate, that as well the Bishops and Prelates, Superiors and other Ordinaries of places, as the Inquisitors Deputed for the places of heretical perversity wherever, proceed and search for grounds of accusation against transgressors, of whatever grade, state, condition, order, dignity, or pre-eminence they may be, and punish with fitting penalties and confine those strongly suspected of heresy; for We grant and impart to them, in general, and to each of them unrestricted faculty of going out and searching for grounds against, and of restraining and punishing with suitable punishments, those same transgressors, once the aid of the secular arm also has been called upon for this purpose, if there should be need.
On the other hand, We Ordain, that absolutely the same faith which would be applied to the Original Letter, if they would be produced or shown, be applied to duplicates, likewise to printed copies, of the present letter signed by the hand of some public notary, and secured by the seal of a person constituted in Ecclesiastical Dignity.
It is allowed to no man to falsify this Letter of Our Declaration, Condemnation, Mandate, Prohibition and Interdict, or to oppose it by a rash boldness; but if anyone presumes to attempt this, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God, and of His Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.
Given at Rome at Saint Mary Major in the 1738th year of the Incarnation of the Lord on the 28th day of April, in the eighth year of Our Pontificate.”