MSA Logo

Masonic Service Association of North America

Focus April 2005

P2 Lodge Scandal Resurfaces

Several years ago a tragedy involving the infamous P2 Lodge made national headlines. One of its members, Roberto Calvi, was found hanging by the neck on Blackfriar Bridge in London. The resulting scandal; death, missing funds, mysterious connections, and corruption, led to an investigation that included Freemasonry. The death of Roberto Calvi was ruled a suicide, but now the case has reopened with the arrest and pending trial of several men charged with his murder. The trial, set for October 2005, may focus, in part, on the P2 Lodge.

Dateline NBC devoted a full hour to this subject in a show aired on May 11, 2005. Masons who may be asked about Masonic involvement in this case should refer to a statement made on the Dateline NBC show which said:

We know that Calvi was a Freemason-not the Masons as they are known in the United States, but a member of an outlawed secret sect in Italy that had broken away from the mainstream order. Reportedly the clandestine group called one another Blackfriars, and used the traditional Masonic symbols of bricklayers and builders. Did his killers stuff bricks in Calvi's trousers as a symbol-a warning to others in the renegade secret society?

The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin

Gordon S. Wood, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian, has written a new book about Franklin including his Masonic membership. The book also speaks about the Masonic Fraternity as "expressing Enlightenment values." The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin is now available in bookstores; ISBN #1-59420-019-X

New Award

The Masonic Information Center will soon announce plans for a new award to recognize lodge excellence in public awareness. The intent is to honor lodges that demonstrate exemplary work in constructing a positive Masonic identity that is highly visible in the social fabric of the community. Look for details soon.

Masonic Public Awareness

Over the last several issues of FOCUS we have shared with our readers some of the findings and conclusions reached by the MIC concerning our fraternity. A report is being prepared for release later this year. A summary from the foreword to that report follows:

It's no secret that participation in the Masonic fraternity has been declining for at least fifty years. Symptomatic of our decline is the fact that our membership totals are at the lowest level in more than eighty years. Hoping to stop the erosion, the fraternity has tried numerous initiatives: one-day classes, shortened proficiencies, and a lowered age requirement needed to petition for membership. Grand Lodges have hired public relations firms and have paid for advertising in multiple media channels, including newspapers, magazines, billboards, radio, and television. Each initiative hinted at success.

For instance, one-day classes attracted many new members but, what about the ever increasing numbers of demits and NPD's? Clearly, getting new members was only a part of the issue, keeping members involved and enthusiastic about Masonry has not been satisfactorily addressed.

The numbers tell a very sad tale of the decline of one of the world's most important fraternal organizations, fading away as poet and philosopher T.S. Elliot says, "Not with a bang, but a whimper."

In 2004, the Conference of Grand Masters asked the Masonic Information Center to look into the possibility of creating a National Masonic Public Awareness Program; we accepted the challenge. By accepting that challenge, we assumed a greater responsibility; to test the integrity of what we want to communicate to the public about Freemasonry. We have to ask the tough question of ourselves: Who are we as a fraternal organization within the context of the culture of the 21st century?

Contemporary writer Thomas Friedman in his book The World is Flat quotes Michael Hammer, a business organization consultant who once remarked about an organization in decline, saying:

"One thing that tells me a company is in trouble is when they tell me how good they were in the past. Same with countries. You don't want to forget your identity. I am glad you were great in the 14th century, but that was then and this is now. When memories exceed dreams, the end is near."

Our Masonic memories are to be treasured. Our Masonic dreams have faltered. This report proposes that we have forgotten our Masonic identity so that our memories truly do exceed our dreams.

This report is also a call to action. Freemasons must take the initiative to chart our own destiny for a bright and vital future.

FacebookMasonic Service Association      •     Tel: (301) 476-7330      •        Fax: (301) 476-9440       •           Toll-free: (855) 476-4010
3905 National Drive, Suite 280 Burtonsville, MD 20866        •             Email: [email protected]

  Privacy Policy