A new attack of Dan Brown
Wlodzimierz Redzioch talks to Professor Massimo Introvigne, the founder and director of the Italian Centre for Studies on New Religions.
Wlodzimierz Redzioch: – You have dealt with Dan Browns’ literary works for many years. What is your opinion about them?
Prof. Massimo Introvigne: – I am not a literary critic but as a sociologist of religion I am interested in the fact that many people regard Dan Brown’s books both as novels and texts showing historical truths. Brown himself uses this ambiguity. One day he says that his books are only novels and on other occasions he tells people that what he writes about is the truth. From the sociological point of view it is not important whether his books are written well or badly. What counts is the fact that millions of people change their religious convictions under the influence of his books.
– Nowadays fewer and fewer people study manuals of history and more and more people read Dan Brown’s books. Is there a risk that the public opinion is convinced that the events depicted by Brown begin to be seen as historical facts?
– When the film ‘The Da Vinci Code’ was very successful in Great Britain, a survey was conducted. It showed that most British people thought that Jesus had married Mary Magdalene and had children (I noticed a similar conviction among secondary school students in Italy). If a similar question had been asked before the publication of the book ‘The Da Vinci Code’ probably nobody would have answered that Jesus had a wife. What is worse, probably millions are convinced that Jesus never regarded himself as God. This would have been the idea of Emperor Constantine. Of course, we mean notorious nonsenses but people read such nonsenses in the book ‘The Da Vinci Code.’
– You publicly accused Dan Brown of anti-Catholicism. What was his reaction?
– Brown answered to my accusations in his interview for the Italian weekly ‘Panorama’, ‘The objections of this critic meet the truth – I favour freemasonry more than the Vatican’ (‘Panorama’, 29 October 2009).
– This diplomatic statement conceals the whole truth about Dan Brown, namely the fact that he is a fervent enemy of Christianity, especially the Catholic Church. At the same time he is in favour of freemasonry about which he wrote his latest book. What should one know about the ‘The Lost Symbol’?
– ‘The Lost Symbol’ advertises and promotes freemasonry. My last book ‘The Found Symbol’ answers the question what freemasonry really is. First of all, Catholics should know that freemasonry rejects all dogmas and principles which could be discussed. It uses the method of democratic discussion in which everyone can present his/her point of view in order to find ‘the truth’ through mediation. This method can be good, for example during a session of some city council that is to decide where to build the sewer system. But when we use it in discussions concerning big ethical and philosophical questions we fall into relativism, which John Paul II and Benedict XVI so often condemned. The freemasonry method is like a computer programme. What comes from the computer depends on what is ‘put’ into it. The Church condemns the ‘programme’ itself, the so-called freemasonry method, regardless of the results because it introduces relativism and creates the danger of losing one’s faith. That’s why in the declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Masonic associations (Quaesitum est: de associationibus massonicis), prepared by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and promulgated by John Paul II, the Church teaches, ‘Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden.’ The new Code of Canon Law (1983) does not expressly speak about excommunication. The declaration states, ‘The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.’ Some Masons claim that because the new Code of Canon Law does not use the term ‘excommunication’ Catholics could belong to Masonic associations without any problems. But of course, this is only the view of freemasonry and not of the Catholic Church. Naturally, referring to this matter Catholics must respect the teaching of the Church and not the opinion of freemasonry. Even if the Code does not use the expression ‘excommunication’ the fact that the faithful who enroll in Masonic associations ‘may not receive Holy Communion’ explains everything. Besides, the above-mentioned declaration stresses that ‘It is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations’ and the local bishops cannot change the definite decision of the Holy See.
– What is the convergence between the idea of Dan Brown and the idea of freemasonry?
– Brown is not a deep thinker but in his latest book ‘The Lost Symbol’ he reveals his ideas quite clearly. He thinks that the Catholic Church afflicts his believers by such concepts as sin and grace whereas the spirituality that sets man free should be centred on the fact that man is a divine being. This is an old thesis of the eternal enemy of the Church – the Gnostic heresy with which Brown identifies himself. In his book ‘The Lost Symbol’ he states that the only difference between you [man] and God is that you have forgotten that you are a divine being. Brown gives a simplified picture of freemasonry because he does not show the differences between various Masonic associations, various historical epochs or geographical contexts. Nevertheless, ascribing to the wide trend of freemasonry the statement that man is a true God is not wrong. In this case the views of freemasonry are identical with Brown’s ideas.
– The publication of ‘The Lost Symbol’ in Poland will be widely advertised like all Dan Brown’s books. Many Catholics read them as well. However, they should realise that its author is a philo-Masonic anti-clerical and his books are tools to earn big money and to fight against the Catholic Church.