Freemasonry has been under assault since its inception and accused of many conspiracies. While anti-Masonry is an equal opportunity employer, religious anti-Masonry often takes the form of Christian fanaticism and the opposition is general across the board, but some are unique to certain Christian denominations and churches. The relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and Freemasonry has been characterized by a complex and often contentious history. The Catholic Church's stance against Freemasonry can be traced back to the late 18th century when it formally condemned the secretive fraternal organization. The Church's opposition was rooted in a perceived conflict of principles and values, as well as suspicions regarding the Masonic rituals and secrecy.
Through this document, the Vatican alleges the existence of a secret society within the Catholic Church known as the Alta Vendita, which purportedly seeks to infiltrate and manipulate the Church for its own agenda. This publication is a blueprint for the slow subversion of the Church. However, there is considerable skepticism about the authenticity of the document, and many scholars argue that the conspiracy theory is unfounded and lacks credible evidence.
According to “Architects of Deception” by Juri Lina, the Carbonari (Italian for "charcoal makers") was established in Naples in 1806 and was a guild that was supposedly infiltrated by the mafia, Freemasons, and the Illuminati. The governing body of the Carbonari was called “Alta Vendita.” This group was accused of participating in Italian insurrections in the 1830s and was supposedly presided over by Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Mazzini (both of whom were influential in establishing an independent and unified Italian state), but that doesn’t hold that much muster as the group was suppressed by 1831. The Vatican makes claims that this group is a neo-Illuminati group and slanders them for their pro-republican stances (a common theme from that church). The Carbonari were divided into two degrees: Apprentice and Master. Supposedly, Masons could enter the Carbonari immediately as Masters. The Carbonari spread across Europe through the 1800s. It is claimed that the Carbonari worked behind the scenes to topple monarchies (particularly the Bourbon dynasty for some reason) and commit acts of terrorism. After failed uprisings, the Carbonari ceased to exist after government crackdowns, and many of their leaders were either put to death, imprisoned, or exiled, but conspiracy theorists claim that members just joined a new movement called Giovane Italia ("Young Italy") that was governed by Giuseppe Mazzini (who is also included in the World War conspiracy theory.
I’ve read several different works and no one can say how the Vatican got a hold of this document. They just say it fell into the hands of Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846), but they declare it is authentic because Pope Pus IX (1846-1878) said it was authentic. However, nothing in any of the published works concerning the Alta Vendita prove any link or affiliation with Freemasonry and whoever wrote it was unfamiliar with legitimate Freemasonry.
The Roman Catholics who reference the Alta Vendita as proof of the evil of Freemasonry are often “sedevacantists”. Sedevacantism is a traditionalist Catholic movement that believes that since the death of Pius XII in 1958 anyone sitting as Pope is illegitimate. Sedevacantism comes from the Latin phrase “sede vacante” which means “empty chair” meaning the Throne of St. Peter is empty. The movement originated after the Second Vatican Council which made some changes that they did not like. It is ironic that those who claim to uphold Catholicism which includes the doctrine of Papal infallibility, but then reject the Papacy of their own church. They however use it as they see it as the cause for all of the changes in the church in the post-Vatican II era. These sedevacantists even say that recent Popes have been Freemasons including the current one, Pope Francis, even though he has recently condemned Freemasonry and upheld the doctrine that prohibits Catholics from joining Freemasonry.
1. Carbonari. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbonari
2. Doesn't the Alta Vendita prove that Freemasonry is anti-Catholic? (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon: https://freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/anti-masonry01.html#alta
3. Lina, J. (2004). Architects of Deception. Stockholm: Referent Publishing).
4. Vennari, J. (n.d.). The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita. Retrieved from Catholic Family News: http://www.brizek.com/endtimes/altavend.htm