March 2023 Print

The Conspiracy of the “Alta Vendita” of the Carbonari

By Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

Excerpt from They Have Uncrowned Him by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Chapter XXI. Available from Angelus Press.

So now we have arrived, in our brief historical outline of Catholic Liberalism, at the eve of Vatican II. Before analyzing the victory won at the Council by Liberalism, I would like to go back a little to show you how the penetration of Liberalism into all the hierarchy and even into the papacy itself, unthinkable two centuries ago, was nonetheless conceived, foretold, and organized as early as the beginning of the last century by Freemasonry. It will be sufficient to produce the documents that prove the existence of this plot against the Church, of this “supreme attempt” against the papacy.

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The secret papers of the Alta Vendita of the Carbonari* that fell into the hands of Pope Gregory XVI embrace a period that goes from 1820 to 1846. They were published at the request of Pope Pius IX by Cretineau-Joly in his work The Roman Church and Revolution.1 With the brief of approbation of February 25, 1861, which he addressed to the author, Pius IX guaranteed the authenticity of these documents; but he did not allow anyone to divulge the true names of the members of the Alta Vendita implicated in this correspondence. These letters are absolutely bewildering; and, if the popes have asked that they be published, it is so that the faithful will know the conspiracy hatched against the Church by the secret societies, that they will know its plan and be guarded against its possible fulfillment. I will say no more about this now; but you will tremble as you read these lines. I am not inventing anything; I am only reading, without making any secret that they are taking place today! Without hiding the fact that the most audacious of their projects are even surpassed by the present-day reality! So let us read! I will emphasize only what should strike us the most.

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The pope, whoever he is, will never come to the secret societies: it is up to the secret societies to take the first step towards the Church, with the aim of conquering both of them.
The task that we are going to undertake is not the work of a day, or of a month, or of a year; it may last several years, perhaps a century; but in our ranks the soldier dies and the struggle goes on.
We do not intend to win the popes to our cause, to make of them neophytes of our principles, propagators of our ideas. That would be a ridiculous dream; and if events turn out in some way, if cardinals or prelates, for example, of their own free will or by surprise, should enter into a part of our secrets, this is not at all an incentive for desiring their elevation to the See of Peter. That elevation would ruin us. Ambition alone would have led them to apostasy; the requirements of power would force them to sacrifice us. What we must ask for, what we should look for and wait for, as the Jews wait for the Messiah, is a pope according to our needs…
With that we shall march more securely towards the assault on the Church than with the pamphlets of our brethren in France and even the gold of England. Do you want to know the reason for this? It is that with this, in order to shatter the high rock on which God has built His Church, we no longer need Hannibalian vinegar, or gunpowder, or even need our arms. We have the little finger of the successor of Peter engaged in the plot; and this little finger is as good, for this crusade, as all the Urban II’s and all the St. Bernards in Christendom.
We have no doubt that we will arrive at this supreme end of our efforts. But when? But how? The unknown is not yet revealed. Nevertheless, as nothing should turn us aside from the plan drawn up, and on the contrary everything should tend to this, as if as early as tomorrow success were going to crown the work that is barely sketched, we wish, in this instruction, which will remain secret for the mere initiates, to give to the officials in charge of the supreme Vente some advice that they should instill in all the brethren, in the form of instruction or of a memorandum…
Now then, to assure ourselves a pope of the required dimensions, it is a question first of shaping for him, for this pope, a generation worthy of the reign in which we are dreaming. Leave old people and those of a mature age aside; go to the youth, and, if it is possible, even to the children…You will contrive for yourselves, at little cost, a reputation as good Catholics and as pure patriots.
This reputation will put access to our doctrines into the midst of the young clergy, as well as deeply into the monasteries. In a few years, by the force of things, this young clergy will have overrun all the functions; they will govern, they will administer, they will judge, they will form the sovereign’s council, they will be called to choose the Pontiff who should reign. This Pontiff, like most of his contemporaries, will be necessarily more or less imbued with the Italian and humanitarian principles that we are going to begin to put into circulation. It is a small grain of black mustard that we are entrusting to the ground; but the sunshine of justice will develop it up to the highest power, and you will see one day what a rich harvest this small seed will produce.
In the path that we are laying out for our brethren, there are found great obstacles to conquer, difficulties of more than one kind to master. They will triumph over them by experience and by clear-sightedness; but the goal is so splendid that it is important to put all the sails to the wind in order to reach it. You want to revolutionize Italy, look for the pope whose portrait we have just drawn. You wish to establish the reign of the chosen ones on the throne of the prostitute of Babylon, let the clergy march under your standard, always believing that they are marching under the banner of the apostolic Keys. You intend to make the last vestige of the tyrants and the oppressors disappear; lay your snares like Simon Bar-Jona; lay them in the sacristies, the seminaries, and the monasteries rather than at the bottom of the sea: and if you do not hurry, we promise you a catch more miraculous than his. The fisher of fish became the fisher of men; you will bring friends around the apostolic Chair. You will have preached a revolution in tiara and in cope, marching with the cross and the banner, a revolution that will need to be only a little bit urged on to set fire to the four corners of the world.2

Here is another excerpt from a letter of “Nubius” to “Volpe” of April 3, 1824:

Our shoulders have been laden with a heavy burden, dear Volpe. We have to bring about the immoral education of the Church, and arrive, by small, well-graded, although rather poorly defined means, at the triumph of the revolutionary idea by a pope. In this scheme, which has always seemed to me to be of a superhuman reckoning, we are still groping our way as we walk…3

“Superhuman reckoning,” says Nubius; he means a diabolical reckoning! For this is to calculate the subversion of the Church by its head himself, which Monsignor Delassus4 calls the supreme attempt, because nothing more subversive for the Church can be imagined than a pope won over to the liberal ideas, than a pope using the power of the keys of St. Peter in the service of the counter-Church! Now, is this not what we are living right now, since Vatican II, since the new Canon Law? With this false ecumenism and this false religious liberty promulgated at Vatican II and applied by the popes with a cold perseverance in spite of all the ruins that these have been producing for more than 20 years!

Without the infallibility of the Magisterium of the Church’s having been involved, perhaps even without any heresies properly so called having been maintained, we are seeing the systematic autodemolition of the Church. “Autodemolition” is a word of Paul VI, who implicitly exposed the true culprit: for who can “autodemolish” the Church, if not he who has the mission of maintaining it on the rock? What acid is there more effective for dissolving this rock, than the liberal spirit penetrating the successor of Peter himself!

This plan is of a diabolical inspiration and a diabolical fulfillment! It is not only the enemies of the Church who have revealed it. It is also the popes who have very explicitly unmasked it and foretold it.



* The Carbonari was an informal network of secret revolutionary societies active in Italy from about 1800 to 1831. The Italian Carbonari may have further influenced other revolutionary groups in France, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Uruguay and Russia.

1 2nd vol., original ed., 1859; reprinted by Circle of the French Renaissance, Paris, 1976; Monsignor Delassus produced these documents again in his work The Anti-Christian Conspiracy, DDB, 1910, Tome III, pp. 1035-1092.

2 Permanent instruction of 1820, op. cit., pp. 82-90.

3 Op. cit., p. 129.

4 The Problem of the Present Hour, DDB., 1904, Tome I, p. 195.