Justin Welby, the Church of England's Archbishop of Canterbury, is allowing a full Masonic service to be conducted in Canterbury Cathedral on the same day that Cardinal Nichols reconsecrates England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Westminster Cathedral on February 18, 2017.
Canterbury Cathedral was the Mother Church of All England from 597 till the death of the last Catholic archbishop, Cardinal Pole, in 1558. It was the heart of the Catholic Church in England and one of the major shrines of Christendom because it housed the shrine of St. Thomas à Becket.
The Masonic service in Canterbury Cathedral marks the 300th anniversary of the foundation of Freemasonry with the establishment of the first Grand Lodge in London. It is reported that the Masonic service will last three hours, but the published order of service appears much shorter. It remains unclear whether Justin Welby has given his permission for the Masons to participate in full regalia in Canterbury Cathedral. The Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Rev. Robert Willis, will preside at the Masonic service. The Duke of Kent, who is the Grand Master of the Freemasons, will also be in attendance along with other High Rulers in the Craft.
Virtue online: The Voice for Global Orthodox Anglicanism reports that Justin Welby made his controversial decision to allow the Masonic service in Canterbury Cathedral because of a large donation: "Canterbury Cathedral agreed to hold the service of thanksgiving to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry after receiving a donation of £300,000 ($374,520) from the Masons for the restoration of the North-West Transept in the Cathedral."
Justin Welby's and Canterbury Cathedral's decision to allow a Masonic service is controversial among certain groups of Anglicans in light of the 1987 summary of the deliberations by the General Synod of the Church of England, Freemasonry and Christianity: Are They Compatible?:
It was "clear that some Christians have found the impact of Masonic rituals disturbing and a few perceive them as positively evil." Some believed that Masonic rituals were "blasphemous" because God's name "must not be taken in vain, nor can it be replaced by an amalgam of the names of pagan deities." It noted that Christians had withdrawn from Masonic lodges "precisely because they perceive their membership of it as being in conflict with their Christian witness and belief. The Synod's primary theological objection centred upon Freemasonry's use of the word "Jahbulon," which is the name used for the Supreme Being in Masonic rituals, and is an amalgamation of Semitic, Hebrew and Egyptian titles for God.
Cardinal Nichols' reconsecration of England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Westminster cathedral on February 18, 2017 inaugurates the celebrations of the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. The Mass at Westminster Cathedral includes the crowning of a specially commissioned statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
There is a violent history of Masonic hostility to Our Lady of Fatima since the original apparitions in 1917 in Portugal. Father John de Marchi's account of the miraculous events at Fatima, personally verified by Sr. Lucia, recounts the hostility of local freemasons towards Our Lady and the three visionaries at Fatima. Arthur Santos, the mayor of Vila Nova de Ourem, who persecuted and psychologically tortured the three children, was a member of the Masonic Lodge of Leiria, and founded a new lodge in his native Vila Nova de Ourem. The Masonic Lodge at Santarem, a neighbouring town to Fatima, became the rallying point to atheistic opposition to Our Lady of Fatima. In September 1917, men from Santarem joined up with men from Vila Nova de Ourem to attack the makeshift shrine at the site of the apparitions.
In view of this history of masonic anti-Catholicism, is it more than an unhappy coincidence that a major Masonic service is being conducted in the ancient Mother Church of the Catholic faith in these lands on the very same day that England is reconsecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in honor of Our Lady of Fatima? Even if it is coincidence, it is a conjunction of events that is profoundly significant and meaningful.
Originally published at EWTN-Great Britain.