Centuries of Secrecy

How, in Catholic Italy, could a secret, traditionally anticlerical organization like the Freemasons flourish?

The answer may lie in the fact that during centuries of oppression—foreign and home-grown—secret societies were a means of popular resistance to authority. The Mafia, for instance, came into being under feudal rule in Sicily. In the 19th century an underground society called the Carboneria fought to get rid of Austrian rule. Similarly today, in an Italy that has been threatened by Communism, neo-Fascism and terrorism, many an idealistic Italian has been tempted to join a secret group with...

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