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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Does Not The Alta Vendita Prove That Freemasonry Is Anticatholic

Does Not The Alta Vendita Prove That Freemasonry Is Anticatholic Cover No.

The current interest in the Alta Vendita, mostly on the part of the extreme anti-Vatican II fringe of the Catholic church,1 was piqued by the 1998 publication of Alta Vendita, The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita by John Vennari, a writer for the Catholic Family News.

This little booklet2 reprints a collection of papers — reputedly from 1820s Alta Vendita correspondence — published by authority of Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) in 1859.3
During the early 19th century the people of the Italian states were attempting to expel foreign troops, mostly French and Austrian, and to redefine their political relationship with the aristocracy and the Roman Catholic Church. One of several political and militant groups, the Carbonari promoted republicanism, liberalism and what the Catholic Church condemns as "modernism". The Carbonari leadership was titled the Alta Vendita. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Just as the name "Carbonari" was adopted from the charcoal-burners, so also in their secret intercourse they made use of many expressions taken from the occupation of charcoal-burning. The place where the members assembled was called baracca (hut), its interior vendita (place of selling coal), and its surroundings foresta (forest). The members called one another buon cugino (good cousin); those not belonging to the society were pagani (heathens). The Carbonari were divided into two classes: apprentices and masters. No apprentice could rise to the grade of a master before the end of six months. The members made themselves known to one another by secret signs in shaking hands. These signs for masters and apprentices were unlike. One of the underlying principles of the society, it is true, was that the "good brotherhood" rested on religion and virtue; but by this was understood a purely natural conception of religion, and the mention of religion was absolutely forbidden. In reality the association was opposed to the Church. Nevertheless, it venerated St. Theobald as its patron saint. The members belonging to each separate district formed a vendita, called thus from the place of assembly. At the head was the alta vendita, to which deputies were chosen from the other vendite.

Whether the Carbonari was "opposed to the Church" or only opposed to the temporal and political power of the Church — and whether such a distinction is possible — is not the issue here. The important point is that after the fall of the Bourbons, its influence rapidly declined and, after 1841, nothing more was heard of it.

Interest in the Alt Venditi was kept alive by such discredited conspiracy theorists as Nesta Webster, Edith Starr Miller5 and William Guy Carr6 and further promoted by the John Birch Society.7
There is nothing in Vennari’s booklet, or any other writings on the Alta Venditi, that proves that the group was associated in any fashion with regular Freemasonry, that it had any influence on Freemasonry, that it grew out of the Bavarian Illuminati, or that it continues to exist in any form.

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