Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Manuel L. Quezon Abjures Masonry

Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina was President of the Philippine Commonwealth from 1935 to 1944, and before that, the first Filipino elected to the office of Senate President, in which he served from 1916 to 1935. During the Revolution against Spain he joined the Masons, and became fiercely critical of the Church during his tenures. At one time he was said to have remarked that the Catholic Church is the sworn enemy of liberty. Following is an account of his abjuration of Freemasonry and reversion to the Catholicism of his youth, as accounted by Nick Joaquin, "Quijano de Manila."

Of his first trip to the United States, when he was about four, Nonong remembers only that it was the time he and his sisters had their tonsils out, one after the other: “I remember being taken to the hospital by Dad, then Baby being wheeled out, then myself being led in.” Dad, says Nonong, was a great ‘friolero’, very sensitive to the cold” which may explain why Nonong has no memories of his father showing him the sights of Washington, since Don Manuel, whose Spanish heritage did not include imperviousness to wintry winds, could not have relished exposing himself to the chilly weather of the American capital.
That particular trip to the United States, in 1930, was an important chapter in Quezon’s life. He had been a”fallen-away”Catholic since the Revolution and had joined the Masons. During that 1930 voyage to the U.S., right on the international date line, and on the eve of his 52nd birthday, Don Manuel returned to the Church. He had, says Nonong, long fallen away from Masonry too, but he made a formal retraction to Archbishop Michael O’Doherty, a co-passenger on the ship during that August voyage to America.
Quezon’s retraction (it’s Spanish and in his own hand) reads in part:
“It has been twenty-five years more or less since I left the communion of the Catholic Church, to which I belong by virtue of baptism, like my parents before me. This separation of mine from the religion which guided my boyhood, adolescence and the first years of my mature life was due not only to the fact that I had lost my faith but that I had joined Masonry”.
“During those twenty-five years, I did not embrace any other religion.
“I have to confess with shame that, in the course of such a long period of time, I forgot, in fact, my God and may even have ceased to believe in him.
“The day came when I felt a complete desolation in spite of the material goods I enjoyed, and I found that the cause was my want of faith in supernatural life, my lack of religion.
“Thus mentally disposed, I asked some ministers of the Catholic Church to aid me in winning anew the faith I professed in baptism and those ministers responded to the call. I wish to be a Catholic once more, to live ad die in the Faith.”
When Quezon returned from America, word of his conversion had spread but was widely doubtful until Don Manuel was seen publicly attending mass. Nonong says that his father’s conversion was an intellectual one and that he remained devout all the rest of his life, with a special devotion to our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion and to St. Therese of the Child Jesus. An image of the Purisima that had been in the Quezon family for generations was kept by Don Manuel even during his non-Catholic years, enshrined in his bedroom.
Nonong remembers one twilight when he and his sisters were playing under the watchful eye of a maiden aunt who had nursed them since babyhood. Don Manuel happened to be in the same room, going through some papers. From some nearby parish belfry came the sound of the Angelus bell. Nonong and his sisters went on playing. Don Manuel had looked up from his papers; he said to the maiden aunt: “Mameng, don’t you teach this children to pray the Angelus?”