Over a century before the St. Gallen mafia plotted to seize the papacy, a Freemasonic document dreamed of “a pope according to our heart.” He would be sprung from a generation won over to Freemasonic dogmas from its youth, via the corruption of families, books, and education. He would be elected by a corrupted clergy and would be similarly “imbued with the Italian and humanitarian principles which we are about to put into circulation.”
“Let the clergy march under your banner, while they naïvely believe they are marching under the banner of the Apostolic Keys,” stated The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, ultimately acquired by the Church and published with the encouragement of multiple popes. “You will have preached revolution in tiara and cope … a revolution that will need only a little help to set the corners of the world on fire.”
Today, as the fire of revolution burns in the Church, Dr. Taylor Marshall’s bracing, important new book Infiltration offers an illuminating “historical diagnosis” for our present ecclesial malaise. Adroitly weaving together papal documents, Marian apparitions, historical data, and original research into the mysterious center of gravity known as St. Gallen, Switzerland, Marshall convincingly shows that the sparks of Church crisis far predate both Pope Francis and Vatican II.
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As his sprawling connect-the-dots narrative puts it:
For over a century, the organizers of Freemasonry, Liberalism, and Modernism infiltrated the Catholic Church in order to change her doctrine, her liturgy, and her mission from something supernatural to something secular… It is an agenda to replace the supernatural religion of the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ with the natural religion of humanism and globalism.
In his foreword to Marshall’s book, Bishop Athanasius Schneider calls Infiltration a “significant contribution” to the work of raising awareness of the “historical roots and perpetrators” of today’s crisis. Against those who would scoff at any mention of a Freemasonic threat, Bishop Schneider speaks specifically of an infiltration of the Church “by an unbelieving world, and especially by Freemasons.” He has previously stated that “some bishops and cardinals speak clearly with a Masonic spirit,” even if they are not formal members.
As Marshall explains, the splintered post-Reformation landscape nurtured the Freemasonic dream of a “new universal ‘catholic church’ instituted to unite man in naturalism, rationalism, and the universal brotherhood of man.” Hence the plot to “subvert the current (Catholic) order and replace it with an enlightened order in which all religions are approximations of the truth.”
Infiltration admirably elucidates the theological errors at play, explaining in detail the heresy of naturalism: “manipulating nature to produce something above nature—just as Satan attempted to transcend his nature in order to be God.” Describing how Freemasonic naturalism was smuggled into the Church under various guises, Marshall’s historical survey registers a veritable ideological infiltration.
In 1886, Pope Leo XIII published Quod Multum, decrying the “bold obstinacy of secret societies” and their domination by way of “conspiracies” and “corruptions.” Leo wrote four encyclicals against Freemasonry and doggedly fought Liberalism, which promoted rationalism and a Protestant critical approach to Scripture. As Marshall explains, Pope St. Pius X later “identified this internal Freemasonic attack as ‘Modernism,’ the naturalism of Freemasonry with a Catholic veneer that justifies itself by appealing to the ‘evolution of dogma.’”
Here Marshall lays out an incisive tripartite analysis of Modernism’s main pillars: the “demythologizing” of Scripture, the embrace of secularism and universal fraternity, and the rejection of Catholic morals, doctrine, and aesthetics. This section is crucial for understanding the errors thriving under the current pontificate, particularly the insidious axiom that “doctrine must always be ‘pastoral,’ not ‘true.’”
Marshall’s treatment of “crypto-Modernism” and la nouvelle théologie is likewise illuminating, explaining how Pope Pius XII’s Humani Generis launched a “direct criticism” of the movement’s theologians. Emboldened by the relaxing of prior policies against Modernism, such theologians “began to push the limits of rationalism and naturalism through dissimulation.” According to Marshall:
They sought to make everything grace and, by doing so, they, in fact, reduced everything to the natural, so that the natural longings of every human became the means of salvation. Hence, all human nature itself is ‘open’ to attaining salvation. This means that the liturgy should be less supernatural and that other religions are ‘open’ as means of salvation. This theology necessitated a new liturgy, a new ecumenism, and a new form of Catholicism. It was Freemasonic naturalism cloaked with quotations of the Church Fathers.
In his foreword, Bishop Schneider states: “As Pope Leo XIII noted when he opened the secret Vatican Archives, in researching and exposing historical facts—even if they are compromising and troubling—the Church has nothing to fear.” Marshall’s book thus grapples with many disconcerting pieces of information: testimony alleging that the main architect of the Novus Ordo Missae, Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, was a secret Freemason; evidence that the liturgy under his leadership was Protestantized; proof that the controversial Vatican II document Nostra Aetate was masterminded by a man who ultimately left the priesthood and lived as an openly homosexual crusader for “gay rights”; and evidence that numerous other theological engineers of Vatican II were suspected of Modernism under Pius XII.
Given Marshall’s willingness to confront such thorny material, his book is not without controversy. One reviewer (in highly unfortunate, derisive language) caricatures Marshall’s book as a “conspiracy theory” similar to that of a “mad relative”—both seriously misrepresenting the level of Marshall’s scholarship and ignoring the numerous preconciliar popes who have spoken with utter seriousness against the same subversive forces discussed by Marshall. When the reviewer lists specific criticisms, it becomes apparent that his real objection is to Marshall’s failure to endorse a rosy picture of la nouvelle théologie, the Novus Ordo Missae, and Vatican II.
However, Marshall is not “abysmally ignorant” of la nouvelle théologie but rather, as we have seen, very well-informed, pointing out that the great Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (the rumored ghostwriter of Humani Generis) warned that the movement was leading to Modernism and unbelief. Likewise, Marshall’s criticism of Vatican II’s understanding of “active participation” in the liturgy is backed up with strong textual analysis, while an important new biography of Bugnini confirms Marshall’s thesis on his subversive liturgical influence. Finally, Marshall is right to highlight the insidious influence of theologians like Karl Rahner at Vatican II—especially since a new Italian book compellingly shows that Pope Francis is building up a radical “new Church of Karl Rahner.” It is good, not lamentable, that Marshall’s book challenges us to scrutinize more carefully the proximate and remote historical causes of the Francis pontificate.
Regarding another reviewer’s charge that the book offers too much speculation, it is true that, as Bishop Schneider explains, “because of the lack of sufficient source material and since the relevant Vatican Archives are still closed to researchers, some issues considered in this book … must remain as hypotheses” for the present moment. However, it is incorrect to suggest that Infiltration’s thesis hinges on proving whether certain Churchmen are formal Freemasons. As Marshall specifically reiterates, the Alta Vendita did not seek to elect a professed Freemason as pope. Instead, says Marshall, it sought to create “a climate among youth, seminarians, and young priests who grew up breathing the air of ecumenism, indifference to religious disagreements, and a mission for world brotherhood.” It sought to cultivate a milieu so imbued with the ideals of the French Revolution that it would organically produce a like-minded pope and clergy.
As historian Roberto de Mattei argues, the St. Gallen mafia’s leader, Cardinal Carlo Martini, called the Church “200 years behind” precisely because “this is the distance which separates us from the era of the French Revolution.” Martini’s mafia of cardinals plotted to elect a pope who would gradually “update” the Church with revolutionary ideals—exactly as the Alta Vendita had dreamed. According to Bishop Schneider, such worldly principles include “the absolute freedom of man from any divine revelation or commandment” and “a brotherhood of man so uncritical that it even eliminates any distinction on the basis of religion.”
Recalling Pope Francis’s subversive statements on conscience and an allegedly God-willed “diversity of religions,” Marshall says the revolutionaries finally have a pope whose philosophy “is essentially that of a nineteenth-century member of the Freemasonic Carbonari.” Under Infiltration’s capacious gaze, the Francis pontificate thus emerges as the unsurprising outcome of a long history of corrupting ideas. Surveying that historical genealogy equips us to better recognize the errors flourishing under this pontificate—and to vigorously resist them.
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