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Promoting a Conversion from Hatred to Dialogue

To be able to accept our differences, and even our opposing views and incompatibilities, in a true gospel spirit, presupposes a conversion of heart. Our personal or institutional temptation is often to blacken the reputation of the other, to let rumours take root in our hearts, to generalise isolated incidences, or to apply to all what happens in one particular country. The Vatican has just recently reaffirmed the Catholic teaching that someone cannot be a member both of the Freemasons and the Catholic Church. It is, however, good that encounters and historical research help us to break out of the demonization of men and women of good will who adhere to this philosophy, as this recently published research demonstrates.

A newly published book was presented on 9th November 2023 in Prague. Veronika, one of our Sisters, is a co-author of this book “Freemasons, T. G. Masaryk, Catholics – a Thorny Journey from Hatred to Dialogue” written in Czech. It addresses the problems and questions around Freemasons, especially here in the Czech Republic. It maps the historical evolution of the Catholic Church’s relationship towards them. She contributed to this research as a historian and as a theologian.

"Why is the book important? Freemasons in our country were and are a small group of men who want to work on their own human development and virtues and be useful to the society. In the past, and even now, they have been accused by some Catholics of conspiracy and even of a pact with Satan. Our book draws conclusions based on historical resources and clarifies the real identity of Czech Freemasons. It wants to clear them of false suspicions and express the Church’s apology for the lies and false accusations that some Czech Catholics spread. We respect the statement of the Catholic Church’s Magisterium about the incompatibility of double membership i.e. being a Catholic and a Freemason. The aim of this book is to dispel prejudice and establish the truth about the situation in the Czech Republic.

About 70 people of different back grounds, including the Grand Master of the Freemasons, attended the presentation. They were interested in the new findings and asked many questions. The atmosphere was open, friendly and one of the fruits was certainly leaving behind fear of the “mysterious” and “unknown” Freemasons.

I feel it so important to purify our historical memory, to try to foster understanding and respect for others and help those who are open minded to move from hatred to dialogue. This kind of approach is important in other contexts and countries. It helps bring about reconciliation, prevents scapegoating, prejudice and violence. It enables us to build bridges and strive for peace and mutual acceptance”. Veronika Řeháková IJS


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