The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita (commonly called the Alta Vendita) is a document, originally published in French in 1859, purportedly produced by the highest lodge of the Italian Carbonari and written by “Piccolo Tigre,” codename for Giuseppe Mazzini.
In his book ‘Athanasius and the Church of Our Time’, Bishop Rudolph Graber quoted a Freemason who declared that “the goal (of the Illuminati) is no longer the destruction of the Church, but to make use of it by infiltrating it.”
In other words, since the Illuminati (who had infiltrated Freemasonry) cannot completely obliterate Christ’s Church, it plans not only to eradicate the influence of Catholicism in society, but to use the Church’s structure as an instrument of “renewal,” “progress” and “enlightenment” – as means of furthering many of its own principles and goals.
The strategy advanced in the Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita is astonishing in its audacity and cunning. From the start, the document tells of a process that will take decades to accomplish. Those who drew up the document knew that they would not see its fulfillment. They were inaugurating a work that would be carried on by succeeding generations of the initiated. The Permanent Instruction says, “In our ranks the soldier dies and the struggle goes on.”
The Instruction called for the dissemination of liberal ideas and axioms throughout society and within the institutions of the Catholic Church so that laity, seminarians, clerics and prelates would, over the years, gradually be imbued with progressive principles.
In time, this mind-set would be so pervasive that priests would be ordained, bishops would be consecrated, and cardinals would be nominated whose thinking was in step with the modern thought rooted in the “Principles of 1789” (pluralism, equality of religions, separation of Church and State, etc.)
Eventually, a Pope would be elected from these ranks who would lead the Church on the path of “enlightenment and renewal”. It must be stressed that it was not their aim to place a Freemason on the Chair of Peter. Their goal was to effect an environment that would eventually produce a Pope and a hierarchy won over to the ideas of liberal Catholicism, all the while believing themselves to be faithful Catholics.
These Catholic leaders, then, would no longer oppose the modern ideas of the revolution (as had been the consistent practice of the Popes from 1789 until 1958 who condemned these liberal principles) but would amalgamate them into the Church. The end result would be a Catholic clergy and laity marching under the banner of the enlightenment all the while thinking they are marching under the banner of the Apostolic keys.
Is it Possible?
For those who may believe this scheme to be too far- fetched, a goal too hopeless for the enemy to attain, it should be noted that both Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII asked that the Permanent Instruction be published, no doubt, in order to prevent such a tragedy from taking place. These great Pontiffs knew that such a calamity was not impossible.
However, if such a dark state of affairs would come to pass, that there would be three unmistakable means of recognizing it:
1) It would produce an upheaval of such magnitude that the entire world would realize that the Catholic Church had undergone a major revolution in line with modern ideas. It would be clear to all that an “updating” had taken place.
2) A new theology would be introduced that would be in contradiction to previous teachings.
3) The Freemasons themselves would voice their cockle-doodle of triumph believing that the Catholic Church had finally “seen the light” on such points as pluralism, the secular state, equality of religions, and whatever other compromises had been achieved.
The Authenticity of the Alta Vendita Documents
The secret papers of the Alta Vendita, highest lodge of the Carbonari (an Italian secret society) that fell into the hands of Pope Gregory XVI embrace a period that goes from 1820 to 1846. They were published at the request of Blessed Pope Pius IX by Cretineau-Joly in his work The Roman Church and Revolution.4
With the brief of approbation of February 25, 1861 which he addressed to the author, Pope Pius IX guaranteed the authenticity of these documents, but he did not allow anyone to divulge the true members of the Alta Vendita implicated in this correspondence.
The full text of the Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita is also contained in Msgr. George E. Dillon’s book, Grand Orient Freemasonry Unmasked. When Pope Leo XIII was presented with a copy of Msgr. Dillon’s book, he was so impressed that he ordered an Italian version to be completed and published at his own expense.5
In the encyclical Humanum Genus, Leo XIII called upon Catholic leaders to “tear off the mask from Freemasonry and make plain to all what it really is”.6 The publication of these documents is a means of “tearing off the mask”. And if the Popes asked that these letters be published, it is because they want all Catholics to know the secret societies’ plans to subvert the Church from within so that Catholics would be on their guard and hopefully, prevent such a catastrophe from taking place.
The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita
What follows is not the entire Instruction, but the section that is most pertinent to our discussion.
The document reads:
“The Pope, whoever he is, will never come to the secret societies; it is up to the secret societies to take the first step toward the Church, with the aim of conquering both of them.
“The task that we are going to undertake is not the work of a day, or of a month, or of a year; it may last several years, perhaps a century; but in our ranks the soldier dies and the struggle goes on.
“We do not intend to win the Popes to our cause, to make them neophytes of our principles, propagators of our ideas. That would be a ridiculous dream; and if events turn out in some way, if Cardinals or prelates, for example, of their own free will or by surprise, should enter into a part of our secrets, this is not at all an incentive for desiring their elevation to the See of Peter. That elevation would ruin us. Ambition alone would have led them to apostasy, the requirements of power would force them to sacrifice us. What we must ask for, what we should look for and wait for, as the Jews wait for the Messiah, is a Pope according to our needs …
“With that we shall march more securely towards the assault on the Church than with the pamphlets of our brethren in France and even the gold of England. Do you want to know the reason for this? It is that with this, in order to shatter the high rock on which God has built His Church, we no longer need Hannibalian vinegar, or need gunpowder, or even need our arms. We have the little finger of the successor of Peter engaged in the ploy, and this little finger is as good, for this crusade, as all the Urban II’s and all the Saint Bernards in Christendom.
“We have no doubt that we will arrive at this supreme end of our efforts. But when? But how? The unknown is not yet revealed. Nevertheless, as nothing should turn us aside from the plan drawn up, and on the contrary everything should tend to this, as if as early as tomorrow success were going to crown the work that is barely sketched, we wish, in this instruction, which will remain secret for the mere initiates, to give the officials in the charge of the supreme Vente some advice that they should instill in all the brethren, in the form of instruction or of a memorandum …
“Now then, to assure ourselves a Pope of the required dimensions, it is a question first of shaping him … for this Pope, a generation worthy of the reign we are dreaming of. Leave old people and those of a mature age aside; go to the youth, and if it is possible, even to the children … You will contrive for yourselves, at little cost, a reputation as good Catholics and pure patriots.
“This reputation will put access to our doctrines into the midst of the young clergy, as well as deeply into the monasteries. In a few years, by the force of things, this young clergy will have overrun all the functions; they will form the sovereign’s council, they will be called to choose a Pontiff who should reign. And this Pontiff, like most of his contemporaries, will be necessarily more or less imbued with the Italian and humanitarian principles that we are going to begin to put into circulation. It is a small grain of black mustard that we are entrusting to the ground; but the sunshine of justice will develop it up to the highest power, and you will see one day what a rich harvest this small seed will produce.
“In the path that we are laying out for our brethren, there are found great obstacles to conquer, difficulties of more than one kind to master. They will triumph over them by experience and by clearsightedness; but the goal is so splendid that it is important to put all the sails to the wind in order to reach it. You want to revolutionize Italy, look for the Pope whose portrait we have just drawn. You wish to establish the reign of the chosen ones on the throne of the prostitute of Babylon, let the Clergy march under your standard, always believing that they are marching under the banner of the apostolic keys. You intend to make the last vestige of tyrants and the oppressors disappear; lay your snares like Simon Bar-Jona; lay them in the sacristies, the seminaries, and the monasteries rather than at the bottom of the sea: and if you do not hurry, we promise you a catch more miraculous than his. The fisher of fish became the fisher of men; you will bring friends around the apostolic Chair. You will have preached a revolution in tiara and in cope, marching with the cross and the banner, a revolution that will need to be only a little bit urged on to set fire to the four corners of the world.”7
It now remains for us to examine how successful this design has been.
The Enlightenment, My Friend, is Blowin’ in the Wind
Throughout the 19th Century, society had become increasingly permeated with the liberal principles of the French Revolution to the great detriment of the Catholic Faith and the Catholic State. The supposedly “kinder and gentler” notions of pluralism, religious indifferentism, a democracy which believes all authority comes from the people, false notions of liberty, interfaith gatherings, separation of Church and State and other novelties were gripping the minds of post-enlightenment Europe infecting Statesmen and Churchmen alike.
The Popes of the 19th Century and early 20th Century waged war against these dangerous trends in full battle-dress. With clearsighted presence of mind rooted in an uncompromised certitude of Faith, these Popes were not taken in. They knew that evil principles, no matter how honorable they may appear, cannot bear good fruit, and these were evil principles at their worst, since they were rooted not only in heresy, but apostasy.
Like commanding generals who recognize the duty to hold their ground at all cost, these Popes aimed powerful cannons at the errors of the modern world and fired incessantly. The encyclicals were their cannonballs and they never missed their target.
The most devastating blast came in the form of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s monumental 1864 Syllabus of Errors, and when the smoke cleared, all involved in the battle were in no doubt as to who was on what side. The line of demarcation had been drawn clearly. In this great Syllabus, Pius IX condemned the principle errors of the modern world, not because they were modern, but because these new ideas were rooted in pantheistic naturalism and therefore, incompatible with Catholic doctrine, as well as being destructive to society.
The teachings in the Syllabus were counter-liberalism, and the principles of liberalism were counter-syllabus. This was unquestionably recognized by all parties. Father Denis Fahey referred to this showdown as “Pius IX vs. the Pantheistic Deification of Man.”8 Speaking for the other side, the French Freemason Ferdinand Buissont declared likewise, “A school cannot remain neutral between the Syllabus and the Declaration of the Rights of Man.”9
Yet the 19th Century saw a new breed of Catholic who utopianly sought a compromise between the two. These men looked for what they believed to be “good” in the principles of 1789 and tried to introduce them into the Church. Many clergymen, infected by the spirit of the age, were caught into this net that had been “cast into the sacristies and into the seminaries”. These men came to be known as liberal Catholics. Blessed Pope Pius IX regarded them with absolute horror. He said these “liberal-Catholics” were the “worst enemies of the Church”.
In a letter to the French deputation headed by the Bishop of Nevers on June 18, 1871, Blessed Pius IX said:
“That which I fear is not the Commune of Paris – no – that which I fear is liberal Catholicism … I have said so more than forty times, and I repeat it to you now, through the love that I bear you. The real scourge of France is Liberal Catholicism, which endeavors to unite two principles as repugnant to each other as fire and water.”10
Yet in spite of this, the numbers of liberal Catholics steadily increased.
Pope Pius X and Modernism
This crisis reached a peak around the turn of the century when the liberalism of 1789 that had been “blowin’ in the wind” swirled into the tornado of modernism. Fr. Vincent Miceli identified this heresy as such by describing modernism’s “trinity of parents”. He wrote:
“1) Its religious ancestor is the Protestant Reformation
“2) its philosophical parent is the Enlightenment
“3) its political pedigree comes from the French Revolution.”11
Pope St. Pius X, who ascended to the Papal chair in 1903, recognized modernism as a most deadly plague that must be arrested. He wrote that the most important obligation of the Pope is to insure the purity and integrity of Catholic doctrine, and further stated that if he did nothing, then he would have failed in his essential duty.12
St. Pius X waged war on modernism, issued an encyclical (Pascendi) and Syllabus (Lamentabili) against it, instituted the Anti-Modernist Oath to be sworn by all priests and teachers, purged the seminaries and universities of modernists and excommunicated the stubborn and unrepentant.
Pius X effectively halted the spread of modernism in his day. It is reported, however, that when he was congratulated for eradicating this grave error, Pius X immediately responded that despite all his efforts, he had not succeeded in killing this beast, but had only driven it underground. He warned that if Church leaders were not vigilant, it would return in the future more virulent than ever.13
Curia on the Alert
A little-known drama that unfolded during the reign of Pope Pius XI demonstrates that the underground current of modernist though was alive and well in the immediate post-Pius X period.
Father Raymond Dulac relates that at the secret consistory of May 23, 1923, Pope Pius XI questioned the thirty Cardinals of the Curia on the timeliness of summoning an ecumenical council. In attendance were illustrious prelates such as Merry del Val, De Lai, Gasparri, Boggiani and Billot.
The Cardinals advised against it.
Cardinal Billot warned, “The existence of profound differences in the midst of the episcopacy itself cannot be concealed … [They] run the risk of giving place to discussions that will be prolonged indefinitely.”
Boggiani recalled the Modernist theories from which, he said, a part of the clergy and of the bishops are not exempt. “This mentality can incline certain Fathers to present motions, to introduce methods incompatible with Catholic traditions.”
Billot was even more precise. He expresses his fear of seeing the council “maneuvered” by “the worst enemies of the Church, the Modernists, who are already getting ready, as certain indications show, to bring forth the revolution in the Church, a new 1789.”14
In discouraging the idea of a Council for such reasons, these Cardinals showed themselves more apt at recognizing the “signs of the times” then all the post-Vatican II theologians combined. Yet their caution may have been rooted in something deeper. They may also have been haunted by the writings of the infamous, illuminé, the excommunicated Canon Roca (1830-1893) who preached revolution and Church “reform”, and who predicted the subversion of the Church that would be brought about by a Council.
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