Dan Burke, the President and Chief Operating Officer of EWTN News, Inc., along with his wife Stephanie, recently interviewed Dr. Taylor Marshall, popular Catholic podcaster and author, about his book Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within. The interview took place on the August 23, 2019 episode of Divine Intimacy Radio—Resources Edition, which is produced by spiritualdirection.com and Sophia Institute Press, the latter of which is the publisher of Infiltration (under their Crisis imprint). As part of a response to Mr. Burke, who jokingly prods Marshall by saying “I’ve heard that you hate the pope,” Marshall says, “Even though people have said this book trashes the pope, I don’t think anyone could open up any page in this book and show me where that happens. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone cite a page or even a quote from the book against Pope Francis” (4:13-5:46). Later, Burke asks Marshall, “Pope Francis is not the central figure of this book, is that fair to say?” Marshall responds, “Yes. I mean, Pope Francis is hardly in this book at all. […]It’s a historical study. […]There’s no conspiracy theory in this. People sometimes say there’s a [conspiracy], I say ‘What is the conspiracy theory?’ There isn’t one. […]There is no grand conspiracy set forth in this book” (15:22-16:04).
I am quite confident in asserting that, whatever Marshall says to the contrary, there is a grand conspiracy set forth in Infiltration, and the whole book is a contrived attack on Pope Francis. For the benefit of those who have not read the book—and I don’t recommend purchasing it unless you absolutely have to for the purpose of verifying its contents—I will provide a summary of the grand conspiracy that Marshall sets forth. I will be as generous as I can in my summary and not attempt to debunk any of the claims Marshall makes, since it is crucial to understand exactly what Marshall is saying before considering if it has any basis in truth. Please note: I am working from the Kindle version, so all citations from Infiltration will use chapter numbers rather than page or location numbers.
The central thesis of Infiltration is this: “The Catholic Church is in crisis because the enemies of Christ plotted organized efforts to place a pope for Satan on the Roman Chair of Saint Peter. […]It has been a slow, patient plan to establish a Satanic revolution with the pope as puppet” (1). Marshall leaves no doubt that he believes this “pope for Satan” is Pope Francis. The story begins with a document entitled The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, which was allegedly written by a member of an Italian secret society, the Carbonari, sometime in the first half of the nineteenth century. The goal of the plot proposed in this document was, as Marshall puts it, to one day have “a Freemasonic naturalistic Pope reigning on the Chair of Saint Peter […]” (2). With the election of Pope Francis by the “Sankt Gallen Mafia” of corrupt cardinals, Marshall alleges, this goal was reached: “Mission accomplished for the Sankt Gallen Mafia: at last they delivered to the world a ‘Revolution in Tiara and Cope’ as had been prophesied by the Freemasonic document Alta Vendita more than 150 years before. After a slow, patient revolution, they had secured ‘a Pope according to our heart […]’” (31). Pope Francis’s “worldview and philosophy,” Marshall states, “is essentially that of a nineteenth-century member of the Freemasonic Carbonari.”
Marshall gets from Point A (the Alta Vendita) to Point B (the election of Pope Francis) by assembling a ramshackle narrative with parts largely dredged up from existing fringe Catholic sources. What gives him leeway to shape and twist his material into any shape he wants is that he hovers between constructing a narrative with human conspirators and a narrative that is driven by Satanic, demonic forces. There is no need to prove that so-and-so was actually a Freemason if, in the end, Freemasonry, Modernism, communism, and the Sankt Gallen Mafia are all manifestations of the same Satanic plot. So if the summary I provide below seems a little disjointed or ambiguous, that is the reason.
The preliminaries being established, here is the first part of my summary of the grand conspiracy of Infiltration:
In the early nineteenth-century, the Carbonari, an Italian branch of Freemasonry, hatched a plan to infiltrate the Catholic Church. The process of infiltration would occur over a long period of time, with the ultimate goal being the election of a Freemasonic pope by corrupted cardinals. The plan that the Carbonari put into action is described in a text called The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita. The process of infiltration by Freemasons and their allies was recognized by Pope Gregory XVI and many later popes. In 1846, Our Lady of La Salette likely warned of this plot in the ‘secret’ revealed to Mélanie Calvat, which speaks of a future time when “Rome will lose faith and become the seat of the Antichrist” (3).
Pope Pius IX recognized an external conspiracy of socialism and communism against the Church, which is why he added new prayers to follow all Low Masses, but the forces of Freemasonry first made real inroads into the Church after 1870 and the end of the Papal States. Pope Leo XIII sensed this demonic infiltration, which is why he added the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel to the Low Mass. In 1889, the Freemasons erected a statue of the famous heretic Giordano Bruno in Rome—not just as a symbol of opposition to religious oppression but also as a symbol of their plan to infiltrate the clergy and elect a pope who would be “pantheistic, naturalistic, relativistic, and universalistic” (6).
Pope Pius X took direct action against the infiltration. He recognized Modernism, which he condemned in his encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis as “the synthesis of all heresies,” as an “internal Freemasonic attack” on the Church (6). The central features of Modernism were naturalism, secularism, and the rejection of the good, the true, and the beautiful. This fight against Modernism was continued by Pope Benedict XV.
Under Pope Pius XI, communists began infiltrating the priesthood as part of an organized plot. This was proven later by the 1953 testimonies of Bella Dodd and Manning Johnson to the United States House Committee on Un-American Activities. Dodd testified that by 1953, four communist infiltrators had received the cardinalate. Three of these, according to Marshall, were likely Cardinals Spellman, Lercaro, and Frings. Fr. Annibale Bugnini was also an infiltrator, but a Freemason rather than a communist. Promoted to the Commission for Liturgical Reform in 1948, he worked to dismantle Catholic liturgy, beginning with Holy Saturday and Holy Week.
As Pope Pius XII became weakened by illness near the end of his life, he fell under the spell of Bugnini, Fr. Augustin Bea, and the future Pope Paul VI, Archbishop Giovanni Battista Montini. Marshall describes these men as “three crypto-modernists” (13). In order to learn more about methods of infiltration, Montini met with Saul Alinsky, of Rules for Radicals fame, through Jacques Maritain. Bea, meanwhile, was already engaged in a process of inter-religious infiltration that began in 1945 with the “‘Bea Psalter,’ based on the Hebrew psalms,” and reached its culmination at Vatican II. As Marshall asserts, “[Bea] loved the new ‘ecumenism’ and worked with unbridled determination to appease Jewish rabbis and intellectuals and to remove anything they deemed anti-Semitic from Catholic teaching and liturgy […].”
After the possibly rigged election of Pope John XXIII, things began to move fast. In 1959, Pope John XXIII opened the Third Secret of Fatima, but chose not to divulge its contents. Much later, in 2000, the Church published the Third Secret, although it most likely withheld a second part that warned of a “great apostasy in the Church.” After unwisely ignoring the prophetic warnings of the children of Fatima, Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council. The direction of the council reflected the values of the “New Order” of Freemasonry. Pope John XXIII worked with Bugnini, Bea, and Montini to create “the novus ordo liturgy” and “novus ordo ecumenism” and prepare the way for “the novus ordo pope,” Paul VI (16).
Paul VI continued the Second Vatican Council while championing the nouvelle théologie, which Marshall describes as “Freemasonic naturalism cloaked with quotations of the Church Fathers” (18). Dignitatis humanae and Nostra aetate, both deeply influenced by Cardinal Bea, are two of the most problematic texts of the council—the latter in particular, since “Freemasons would agree wholeheartedly that any and all religions suffice to illuminate humanity” (19). But luckily for those like Archbishop Lefebvre who would later resist the reforms of the council, “nothing binding came from Vatican II.”
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D.W. Lafferty, PhD, is a Catholic husband, dad, and independent scholar from Ontario, Canada. He works in higher education and has published articles on the literature of Wyndham Lewis, the conspiracy theory of Douglas Reed, and the life and legacy of Engelbert Dollfuss. Online, he tweets as @rightscholar.