Secret Societies: 

Paths of the Ecumenical Movement Yesterday and Today


There are many religious movements today that may seem new to us. However, most of their ideas and policies have been practiced for centuries. They are put under new names with new faces, but their goals are still the same; to turn people's focus away from God and towards man made ideas and icons.

Ecclesiastes 1: 9b,10

" ...and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything whereof it may be said, See this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us."

 Freemasonry is one group that claims many fronts and forms, but whose goals and philosophy are embraced by adherents, as the "Universal Religion". Through much research into history one will find many other groups that have tried to unite different people and religions into one religion. One major conflict to that agenda was the Reformation. It was a major turning point for Christianity but also a time when the Catholic Church was grieved for those who chose to follow the Protestant religion. That grief has never subsided.

Since that time Rome has developed strategies and policies to bring "the lost sheep" back into the fold, under the required leadership of the Pope, while many outside the Catholic faith work their way back to Rome.

Many of those strategies were discussed in the book, "The Secret History of The Oxford Movement" by Walter Walsh, 1899. Though Walsh was writing about the work of the Catholic church in his time, many of the thoughts and ideas are applicable to many Christian organizations and leaders today.

The book was written as an expose on the secret societies and movement of the Society of the Holy Cross, "Ritualists and Romanizers" in the 1800's. The author covers controversial information regarding the Jesuits and many others. Most of his documentation comes directly from correspondence, speeches or documents of the "Society" and they were, according to his statements, very displeased that he wrote the book and exposed what he did. That really isn't a new or odd response. Few people or groups like to be exposed or have questions asked of them.

Walsh said this, "Secret Ritualistic Societies have now come into existence, and they are increasing in number every year... At present the Church of England is literally honeycombed with Secret Societies, all working in the interests of the scheme for the Corporate Reunion of the Church of England with the Church of Rome. These secret plotters are the real wire-pullers of the Ritualistic Movement.... report of speeches delivered in the secret meetings of Secret Societies, and of Semi-Secret Societies, several of them by men who have since risen to positions of eminence in the Church of England. (Pg. xxxviii Preface)

Walsh mentioned many quotes from Jesuits and those who were Catholic or Catholic sympathizers or supporters. One who became very famous and esteemed was,

"......Cardinal Newman... 1833 as the start of the Tractarian Movement. Within three months from that date he published his work on the "Arians of the Fourth Century", in which the "Disciplina Arcani", or the "secret teaching", which found such favour...Newman himself. "If," he writes, "it is necessary to contrast the two with each other, the one may be considered as withholding the truth, and the other as setting it out to advantage." (Chapter 1, page 1) …he quotes with approval …advice of Clement of Alexandria: "The Alexandrian father," he affirms, "who has already been quoted, accurately describes the rules which should guide the Christian in speaking and writing economically... Whatever is in his mind is also on his; towards those who are fit recipients, both in speaking and living, he harmonizes his profession with his thoughts. He thinks and speaks the truth; except where careful treatment is necessary, and then, as a physician for the good of his patients, he will LIE, or rather utter a LIE, as the Sophists say…Nothing, however, but his neighbour’s good will lead him to do this. He gives himself up for the church". (Pg. 2)

While what Newman presented was supposedly for people of faith he admits that it didn't come from the Word of God, although that should not really be a surprise when you read it. I couldn't think of a scripture that justifies lying being acceptable if under a particular circumstance.

"...It is worthy of note that Newman affirmed that these secret doctrines were not learnt from the Scriptures. ..he writes, "How was any secrecy practicable, seeing that the Scriptures were open to everyone who chose to consult them?…the secret doctrines of the early church, have never been learnt merely from Scripture"…Surely the Sacred Volume was never intended, and is not adapted, to teach us our Creed". (pg 2)

The scriptures weren't intended to teach us our Creed, our doctrines, our teachings???? What were they for?

Walsh goes on to include quotes from other members of the group.

"Pusey wrote:

..."I know not that the Popish controversy may not just be the very best way of handling Ultra-Protestantism, i.e., neglecting it, not advancing against, but setting Catholic views against Roman Catholicism and so disposing of Ultra-Protestantism by a side wind, and teaching people Catholicism, without their suspecting, while they are only bent on demolishing Romanism. I suspect we might thus have people with us, instead of against us, and that they might find themselves Catholics before they were aware." (Pg. 10.)

Amazing to me is that many people are actually involved in this very thinking to this day, caught up in the ritualism and manner of the Catholic church, while denying it their "verbal support".

Walsh goes on with:

"...revelations made by Rev. Dr. Desanctis…In his work ‘Popery and Jesuitism in Rome in the Nineteenth Century’…1852…. "My father Confessor," says Dr. Desanctis, "was Secretary to the French father Assistant of the Jesuit Order, and…. "Despite all the persecution they [the Jesuits] have met with, they have not abandoned England, where there are a greater number of Jesuits than in Italy; all classes of Society; in Parliament; among the English clergy, among the Protestant laity, even in higher stations…. St. Paul became as a Jew that he might save the Jews…if a Jesuit should feign himself a Protestant, for the conversion of Protestants….

The plan below is actually reflected in our society. We are constantly on information overload and activity overload, where we fill our time with everything but the study of the Word of God and time with Him.

"The English clergy were formerly too attached to the Articles of Faith to be shaken from them. …to reunite them to the Romish Church; and so the Jesuits of England employed another plan. This was to demonstrate from history…the legitimacy of the usages of the English Church, whence, through the exertions of the Jesuits concealed among its clergy, might arise a studious attention to Christian antiquity. This was designed to occupy clergy in long, laborious and abtruse investigation, and to alienate them from their Bibles."

" …a Roman priest asked Desanctis: "But …would be for the greater glory of God, that all the Puseyites (followers of Dr.Pusey) should become Catholics?" "No my son, the Puseyite movement must be left alone that it may bring forth fruit. If all the Puseyites were to declare themselves Catholics, the Movement would be at an end. Protestants would be alarmed, and the whole gain of the Catholic Church would be reduced to some million of individuals and no more. From time to time it is well that one of the Puseyite leaders should become a Catholic, in order that, under our instructions, the Movement may be better conducted, but it would not be desirable for many of them to come over to Catholicism. Puseyism is a living testimony to the necessity of Catholicism in the midst of our enemies; it is a worm at the root which, skillfully nourished by our exertions, will waste Protestantism till it is destroyed." (Pg 32-33)

When you consider the strategies put forward above, it was really quite well thought out. It worked then, and continues to work today. People seem to have no concept of when they are being manipulated or processed into these strategies. Maybe that is because few learn from or understand history. If they did, they might recognize these same strategies as taking place today.

Walsh claims the Society of the Holy Cross consisted of the following:

"...Society of the Holy Cross… The Society consists (Statuta, chapter i.,sec. I) "of Bishops, Priests, Deacons, and candidates for Holy Orders." .. "The Objects of the Society" are,... "to maintain and extend the Catholic faith and Discipline…" (Pg. 48)

...(After controversy the issue of disbanding the Society was discussed) " …to dissolve would be to create confusion in certain minds, and would involve some loss of self-respect; if we dissolved we acknowledged ourselves to be in the wrong, and destroyed the great instrument we had for promoting the Catholic Revival in this country.... the Society had been rushed into the midst of its foes, and was now surrounded, and in danger of being cut to pieces. There was nothing for it but to "take open order,’ to skirmish as it were for a time, to pass through our enemies and re-form in a stronger position…. he (Rev. E.G. Wood) counseled disbanding the Society, with the view of thereby escaping …reconstructing the Society under the same or a similar title….(pg 130-131)

Note—they voted not to disband.

"The Order of Corporate Reunion is even more secret… than the Society of the Holy Cross…more Popish…acknowledging the Pope as the Lawful Head of the whole visible Church on earth…. supplying the rank and file of the Ritualist, in the Church of England, with the Roman doctrine and ritual for which they craved... the real object …to bring not only themselves, but the whole Church of England with them, back to the Pope—and this is what is meant by Corporate Reunion. (Chapter 5, pg. 147...)

The idea was, give them what they are looking for and they won’t look any further. It appeared to work, and continues to do so today.

Walsh went into some detail on the thinking behind the introduction behind convents at that time. What was disturbing was that I had conversations with men who claim to be of God who echoed some of the thinking below as being a required commitment from wives to their husbands.

"Dr. Pusey …founded several convents, and retained spiritual authority over them until his death…. His advice to Sisters of Mercy is: --"Study to be perfectly obedient to your spiritual father…Now perfect obedience implies prompt, punctual, willing, unquestioning obedience, unless the thing commanded be evident sin." (Pg. 39)

"… Ritualistic Sisterhoods….every Ritualistic Sisterhood is as truly a secret Society as is the Society of the Holy Cross, or the Order of Corporate Reunion…..... the rules of the Tractarian Sisterhoods were copied from the Roman models....Dr Pusey, 1840, remarked...important to have a class of persons acting under us... The system Dr Pusey imported into the English Church was not only Popish, but also pagan in its origins....Rule of Holy Obedience: -- Ye shall ever address the Spiritual Mother with honour and respect; avoid speaking of her amongst yourselves; cherish and obey her with holy love, without any murmur or sign of hesitation or repugnance, but simply cordially, and promptly obey with cheerfulness and banish from your mind any question as to the wisdom of the command given you. If ye fail in this, ye have failed to resist a temptation of the Evil One."

Walsh added: "There is nothing in the "Blind Obedience" of a Jesuit worse than this "Rule of Holy Obedience."

"…. Dr. Pusey required a similar blind obedience to be given by the Sisters of Mercy to their Father Confessors… "I would have great respect paid …your Confessor, for—(to say nothing of the honour due to the priesthood)—we ought to look upon them as Angels sent by God; and also as His lieutenants upon earth, and therefore we owe them all reverence, even though they may at times betray that they are human…" (Chapter 6, pages 162-201)

Walsh was totally against this thinking and the implementation of the convents and stated this disagreement in no uncertain terms.

"A Religious has made the sacrifice of her will in taking the Vow of Obedience: she is no more her own and she must obey her Superiors for God’s sake, yielding herself as wax, to be molded unresistingly." Anyone who submits to a Vow of Obedience like this, "yielding herself as wax to be moulded unresistingly," is more truly a slave to her Superiors than any negro slave is to his master, since slavery of the mind and soul is in her case added to that of the body. Moral slavery is the greatest of all tyrants. "….Plainly this whole Rule of Obedience is simply the counterfeit of the entire self-consecration which the Christian, whose soul has been redeemed, owes to his Redeemer. To Him, indeed, and to His holy will revealed in the scriptures, the Christian owes an unhesitating, unquestioning obedience…. But this Rule of Obedience is, in fact, a part of that corrupt and perverted Christianity which…is part of a carefully devised system for depriving the soul of obedience to God." (Pg. 169)

Walsh continued by quoting the philosophy behind the convents and sisterhood:

"Ritualistic sisterhoods mainly exist for the propagation of what ordinary and loyal churchmen term advanced Romanizing practices and doctrines. (Pg. 192).. " In many of the Ritualistic Sisterhoods much of the time of the Sisters is devoted to the care of the sick....Dr. Pusey said, at the Oxford Church Congress, that "the Sister is the Pioneer of the priest," which amounts to this: wherever the Sister goes, she prepares and makes ready the way, as a pioneer, for the priest to follow her." (Page 198)

Chapter IX of this book entitled, "The Romeward Movement", probably holds some of the most controversial yet relevant statements of the whole book. The thinking and strategies to move all people back to Rome continues today at a rate that is phenomenal.

"If the Majority of the Church of England could have been induced to accept the views of these advanced Romanizers, she would have been sufficiently "Catholicised" for reunion with the Papacy. ...The romanizers…. thought they were, even then, within a measurable distance of the realization of their hopes. So full of expectation…Their Roman Catholic brethren must be let into the secret. So an anonymous letter was sent…now known, the author was Rev. W. G. Ward (a letter published 1841)…. From this very remarkable and thoroughly Jesuitical letter, I give the following extracts: ---

"You see, then sir, that humility, the first condition of every sound reform, is not wanting in us. We are little satisfied with our position... We groan at the sins committed by our ancestors in separating from the Catholic world. We experience a Burning desire to be reunited to our brethren. We love with unfeigned affection the Apostolic See, which we acknowledge to be the head of Christendom; and the more so because the Church of Rome is our mother, which sent from her bosom the blessed Saint Augustine, to bring us her immovable faith. We admit also, that it is not our formularies, or even the Council of Trent, which prevent our union. After all these concessions, you may ask me, why, then, do you not rejoin us? What is it that prevents you?… "There are at this moment, in the Anglican Church, a crowd of persons who balance between Protestantism and Catholicism, and who, nevertheless, would reject with horror the very idea of a union with Rome. The Protestant prejudice, which, for three hundred years, have infected our Church, are unhappily to deeply rooted there to be extirpated without a great deal of address. [Did he not really mean sly cunning?] We must, then, offer in sacrifice to God this ardent desire that devours us of seeing once more the perfect unity of the church of Christ. We must still bear the terrible void which the isolation of our Church creates in our hearts, and remains still until it pleases God to convert the hearts of our Anglican confreres, especially of our holy fathers, the bishops. We are destined, I am persuaded, to bring back many wandering sheep to the knowledge of the truth. In fact, the progress of Catholic opinions in England, for the last seven years, is so inconceivable that no hope should appear extravagant. Let us, then, remain quiet for some years, TILL, BY GOD’S BLESSING, THE EARS OF ENGLISHMEN ARE BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO HEAR THE NAME OF ROME PRONOUNCED WITH REVERENCE. At the end of this term you will soon see the fruits of our patience." (Pg. 280)

"(Removing the Barriers) …1867, the authorities of the Society of the Holy Cross were busily engaged in securing signatures…at the first Lambeth Conference. The Romeward leanings of the society…. This document will be read … all who love the freedom of the Church of England, and believe that it would be a sin to join the Roman communion… "We are mindful of efforts made in former time by English and foreign Bishops and theologians to effect, by mutual explanations on either side, a reconciliation between the Roman and Anglican Communions. And, considering the intimate and visible union which existed between the Church of England and the rest of Western Christendom, we earnestly entreat your lordships seriously to consider the best means of renewing like endeavors, and to adopt such measures as may, under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, be effectual in REMOVING THE BARRIERS which now divide the Western Branch of the Catholic Church." (Pg. 324)

The strategies and thoughts are very relevant today and found in groups such as Promise Keepers whose leadership have stated:

" We believe that we have a 'God-given mission' to unite Christian men who are separated by race, sectarianism, age, culture and economics... the biblical directive to be 'ambassadors of reconciliation' compels us to breakdown the walls that have divided and polarized the Body of Christ for too long." (Promise Keepers Statement of Faith, Promise Keepers 1996 magazine, pg.5)

Also in the PK pamphlet "Biblical Unity & Biblical Truth: a Necessary Tension", we find the split of the Christian church discussed.

"...for the first thousand years, there was but one recognized Church....the first major division...resulting in the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches...another fracture occurred leading to the creation of the Protestant Church. Protestanism...the formation of a myriad of denominations and sects, each intending in its own way to maintain the purity of the Gospel and uphold Biblical Christianity...the Ecumenical Movement. Intending a broad-based reunification,...In view of history, and in spite of the difficulties involved, Promise Keepers believes the Lord is calling Christian men to denominational reconciliation... sought to find the common ground upon which all Christians can unite....Therefore, while Promise Keepers desires to call men of all Christian denominations together in Biblical unity, that unity must be based on the historically essential truths of Christianity..."

Going by the historical presentation in their document, Promise Keepers leadership and adherents believe that each denominational split from the original Church are to be considered part of the denominational reconciliation and unity. Finding common ground in this way, although claiming to be based on the Biblical truth of Christ, is really the same concept as the secular "unity in diversity". Unity on the things we can agree on, tolerance and respect for the things we disagree with.

"(Appendix PG 380) - Reunion with Rome (what the Ritualists Teach) " We have no wish to revile the faith of Roman Catholics, for it is the same faith of our own; we have no wish to insult their worship, for we worship God in the same Eucharist;…The real difference in the matters of faith between a sincere and intelligent Roman Catholic and a Catholic-minded member of the Church of England is the merest shadow of a shade. Each refers to Holy Scriptures, each refers to the history of the Church through its eighteen centuries of existence, as the real test of the truth of its doctrines, and the difference between them therefore cannot be great. The spirit of schism would lead each to magnify difference to the greatest possible extent, but the spirit of Christian faith and love will lead to a different conclusion. Two things we know for certain, …Catholic Unity is a plain Christian duty; and secondly that there can be no such thing as Catholic Unity without the Bishop of Rome as the lawful Primate and President of Christendom…."

"Of course to those whose cry is ‘No peace with Rome’, and whose glory is in the shame of divided Christendom, it [i.e. Corporate Union] is a thing as incredible as hateful, the wish that it may ever be so is the father to the thought; … What we have to strive and pray for is the restoration of the outward, visible, corporate manifestation of that unity. Do, brethren, consider seriously these things, and be not lead away by blind prejudice, and by that insensate outcry against Rome and Popery."

What has been taking place throughout the religious world is a culmination and continuation of this thinking. It did not stop. It did not fade away. It simply has manifested itself with different people and groups embracing and forwarding the agenda.

Charles Colson and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus (Lutheran who converted to Catholicism) authored the ecumenical documents Evangelicals and Catholics Together and Evangelicals and Catholics Together II. The approval for the wording was required to come from Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity.

Besides the authors, Charles Colson and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, the original document was signed in 1994 by:

(# --Have since removed their names)

There are most likely many others that applied their names in agreement even if they never made it public. As well, one must consider the influence and position each in agreement has with colleagues and congregations.

Evangelicals and Catholics Together II boasts scholars and Christian leaders who endorsed the original 25-page statement in addition to the original authors Colson and Neuhaus.

They include:

Roman Catholics:

The second document which was formally released December 8,1997 in Christianity Today included evangelical and Catholic theologians who had met in New York and together adopted the joint statement entitled "The Gift of Salvation" also called "Evangelicals and Catholics Together II." The statement that was distributed throughout the Internet for several months before the official publishing included Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission, and Bob Seiple (World Vision) as signers, but their names were subsequently omitted in the Christianity Today report with no explanation offered.

"The publication of "The Gift of Salvation" in Christianity Today is accompanied by an introduction by Timothy George, senior adviser to Christianity Today and dean of Beeson Divinity School at the Southern Baptist-supported Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. George says "The Gift of Salvation" "has been made possible by a major realignment in ecumenical discourse: the coalescence of believing Roman Catholics and faithful evangelicals who both affirm the substance of historic Christian orthodoxy against the ideology of theological pluralism that marks much mainline Protestant thought as well as avant-garde Catholic theology. Thus, for all our differences, Bible-believing evangelicals stand much closer to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger than to Bishop John Spong!" (George, "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: A New Initiative," Christianity Today, Dec. 8, 1997, p. 34).

In Atlanta, Georgia at a Pastors conference, Promise Keepers brought together "leadership" from The World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, evangelicals, Mormons, and Roman Catholics, including about 600 priests.

Bill McCartney of Promise Keepers says this:

"We have a plan...Baptists... Lutherans...Roman Catholics...we've been divided...but now we're being reunited...! Nobody can go out of here without the same plan...every man connected to a church; every church connected to each other...! (Washington,DC)

But lest it be suggested that Promise Keepers and it's supporter are the only vehicle being used to further the agenda of uniting people and religion, the following should be cause to pause.

Excerpt from: Ecumenical News International
ENI News Service; Vatican official says justification statement can be signed 'without delay'
17 September 1998 by Stephen Brown

"... A senior Vatican official has said that the Roman Catholic Church is ready to sign - "without delay and in its integrity" - a major statement with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) which aims to resolve a doctrinal dispute dating from the Reformation.
Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said that he was clarifying "misreadings" of the official Catholic response to the "joint declaration on justification", on the basis of which some observers believed the Vatican had given only qualified support to the joint declaration with the LWF, the world's major grouping of Lutheran churches...
The doctrine of justification was a major point of contention between Martin Luther and his followers and the Papacy at the time of the Reformation. The differences led to mutual doctrinal condemnations by Lutherans and Catholics.
A key paragraph in the joint declaration - which was drawn up by a Catholic-Lutheran working group - states that these condemnations do not apply to the Lutheran and Catholic doctrines on justification as they are presented in the declaration. Many Lutherans hope that such a statement will allow significant ecumenical progress with the Roman Catholic Church in other areas..." end quote.

There are many entering into agreements to "unite" the world, either through denominations or causes. However God calls His people to something else. Scripture always provides a clear course of action for any situation we encounter.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."


All Scripture Taken from Authorized King James Bible