The Novus Ordo or the Freemason Mass?

November 3, 2022 (Edward J Barr) – Recently there has been more interest in the impact that Freemasonry may have had on the Novus Ordo Mass.  This is not a new topic of interest in the Church, yet it is one that has gained steam after the continual crushing of the “Traditional Latin Mass” (TLM) after the issuance of Traditionis Custodes in 2021.  Several orthodox priests and organizations have delved into the topic, the most interesting being a book by perhaps the best primary source on the topic, “Murder in the 33rd Degree” by Father Charles Murr.  The central figure in this drama as pertains to the Mass is Cardinal Annibale Bugnini, who was Secretary to the Preparatory Commission on the Liturgy for the Second Vatican Council.  Rather than get into the debate of whether Bugnini was a freemason or not, RLE will focus on three aspects of the controversy; 1. What changes to the Mass would Freemasonry desire, 2. What changes to the Mass were made by Vatican II, and 3. Which changes are expressed in the current Novus Ordo Mass.

1. What changes to the Mass would Freemasonry desire?  The Church is clear that Freemasonry is antithetical to the faith.  It is in essence a separate non-Christian religion, complete with rituals, worship, and a defined theology.  Some Catholics maintain that the historical prohibition against Freemasonry was changed in the 1983 code of canon law (canon 1374); however, that was clearly debunked later that same year when the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that, “The Church’s negative position on Masonic association… remains unaltered…joining them remains prohibited by the Church.  Catholics enrolled in Masonic associations are involved in serious sin and may not approach holy Communion….”  As Freemasonry promotes indifferentism and syncretism it has been antagonistic to the Catholic Church since its founding in 1717.  The initial response from the Church was the encyclical, In Eminenti, by Pope Clement XII in 1738.  

The most specific indicators of what changes the Freemasons would desire of the Mass came from the inadvertent 1974 release of documents from the P2 (Propaganda Due) Masonic Lodge in Italy.  As Freemasonry is based on secrecy and disinformation this was a monumental event.  When the documents were made public by Italian authorities in 1981 it took only 5 days for the government to fall, as many members were “outed” as members of the Lodge.  For our purposes the documents pertaining to the Mass are of extreme importance.  

There were 34 specific goals to destroy the Mass.  A truncated list of key goals follows (numbering from the original list):

3. Instigate doubts to imply that the Eucharist is closer to the Protestants’ belief that it is only bread and symbolic.

4. Stop all Latin in Mass Liturgy, and devotions and songs. It lends a feeling of mystery and respect… 

11. Stop the practice of saying Mass before the Holy Eucharist in the Tabernacle…

30. Get women and laity to give Communion, say that this is the “Age of the Laity.” Start giving Communion in the hand like the Protestants, instead of on the tongue – say that Christ did it this way. Collect some for Satanic Masses

(Note: many of the other goals are also evident in the Church today; the above goals are the ones that pertain specifically to the Mass.  Many of the Masonic goals align with reports of other entities seeking to destroy the Church, such as those by Bella Dodd concerning Communist infiltration.)

2. What Vatican II said about the Mass: The main document that promulgated changes to the Mass is Sacrasanctum Concilium.  A truncated list of key reforms follows:

Chapter 1 III. Reform of the Sacred Liturgy

23.  …Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.

Chapter 1 III C
Wherefore, in the revision of the liturgy, the following general norms should be observed:

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. 

Chapter II – The Most Sacred Mystery of the Eucharist

54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue…Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

Chapter VI – Sacred Liturgy

116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.

3. What the Novus Ordo is today (Note: It is recognized that there is currently no uniformity in the “Novus Ordo” Mass.  Here we consider the most common practices as determined from study and personal observation): 

1. Tabernacle removed from the sanctuary.

2. Communion in the hand.

3. Communion distributed by the laity.

4. Minimal, if any, use of Latin.

5. Minimal, if any, use of Gregorian Chant.

In addition to the lack of implementation of Vatican II guidelines in the current Novus Ordo Mass, there are several innovations that were not in Sancrasanctum Concilium.  Prominent ones include priests facing the congregation rather than East, laity involved with priestly actions in the sanctuary, and frequent informalities in the liturgy (too numerous to be mentioned here).  

Assessment: There is consistent and long-standing evidence of Masonic antipathy to the Catholic church.  There is limited evidence of specific plans to destroy the Mass other than the above goals from the P2 Lodge.  However, that plan is consistent with other efforts by anti-Catholic groups (Marxists, Communists, Atheists, etc.) to disrupt and discredit the Church and its sacraments (to include post Dobbs violence).  

The current Novus Ordo Mass is at best inconsistent with the specific guidance promulgated by Vatican II in Sancrasanctum Concilium. In addition to positive disregard of directives such as the use of Latin and Gregorian chant, there are common innovations that violate Vatican II instructions. We cannot be certain of the motivations and intentions of Church leaders that resulted in the current practices exhibited in the Novus Ordo Mass, yet we can analyze facts.  By comparing the stated P2 Masonic goals to destroy the Mass against the Vatican II guidance to reform the Mass we can evaluate which of the two the current Novus Ordo resembles.  RLE will let the readers decide.

Edward J Barr is a catechist, an attorney, an intelligence officer, and a university faculty member. He earned a Master of Theology degree from the Augustine Institute. His new novel, The Gray Apostle: Mission of the Messiah is available on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and other fine local bookstores. Mr. Barr is a contributing writer for the Roma Locuta Est blog (

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