There is a childish inquisitiveness about freemasonry in Portugal, namely about important people that look to be freemasons [or reputed to be]. Most common are the remarks that assert that Freemasonry is a queer entity, an evil association of men that call between themselves "brothers" but that really is a covert entity with hidden purposes, pursuing aims the "experts" catalogue adverse to the community and the society interests, as a whole. Then there are the insights about the connections of well-positioned people close to the top-ranks of the government, the judiciary or the Intelligence community. The last piece of literature of Sabado magazine may be looked as an example of the second type and is under a masonic insight a collection of commonplaces and histories of Peter and the Wolf. It addresses a gossipic look on Freemasonry in general and to the Grande Legal Lodge of Portugal in particulary. The basic conspiratory story told by the magazine is that the Portuguese Intelligence is led by freemasons and, consequently, their activity and decisions are not in the public interest. The magazine mentions a recent congress of Portuguese magistrates that approved a motion recommending its members to abandon any secret association or then reveal its allegiance to it so nobody doubts about their imparciality, merit and authority.
Why this annoyd interest in freemasonry and freemasons? What is the final intent of it?
These questions raise interrelated answers and may be traced to an irrational twadle about the rich and famous people, an inclination that substitute serious information and took by storm the rosy press and public and private broadcast channels. The uncover of the personal dramas and scandals of the so-called public figures has become in last years a central topic of curiosity of the general public, and something to envy, and to mock around. So Freemasonry - a society that has secrets and close-door practices - has become a new center of attention of the papparazi of the Portuguese press. The recent target of Sabado magazine become public figures that are close to the SIED [Service of Strategic and Defense Intelligence], the SIRP [Service of Intellligence of the Portuguese Republic], or members of the cabinet of the Prime-Minister; or have positions in the Defense industries. All of them reputed members of Lodges Mozart and Mercurio the Grand Legal Lodge of Portugal. There are two or three comments that this piece entitle us as fremasons and Men of Good. First of all, freemasonry is not a secret society [in the sense one may attribute to the Chinese Triads or the Italian Cosa Nostra], it is a discrete society with secrets.
The reason for these secrets is known and documented in profuse literature and even in the Internet. They are rooted to the esoteric traditions to whom freemasons give special allegiance, for three centuries. The secrets that freemasons are proud of don't have nothing to do with society [or as we name the profane world] but with legengs and myths Freemasons took from the antient guildas of masons and the Middle Age circles of knights'traditions. They fantasy, through diverse allegories, the progression of freemasons through apprentisenship and fellowcraft to the patterns of good and responsible behaviour we look as patterns. This is, basically, the reason why freemasonry doesn't uncover its "secrets" and doesn't open its doors to people that were not initiated in the Brotherhood. Its temples have been open to profanes in what we call "open door policy". Secondly, there is data and privileges that are restricted to members of the Brotherhood, a reallity that has parallels with any independent non-lucratice association, being it a football club, an union or a golf club. Thirdly, the members of the Brotherhood are dedicated to values that are customary to other civil or spsiritual institutions aiming at the improvement of Man, the enhancement of society and the design to build a better world. In this path and "work" Brotherhood members recognize themselves by signs and tolkens and assist eachother in need. There is nothing ilegal about this, as Masons act accordingly with strict moral rules and obey - as good citizens - to the law of the land. Never happen and we believe it will not happen that a Mason by being a Judge rules over a legal plead that involves a Brother of his Lodge or Grand Lodge and concludes with a partial veredict on it. If that situation of conflict of interests occurs the judge has the professional obligation to raise the issue [that is the lack of a fair and independent discernment coming from a personal relationship with the defendant] before any of the litigant parties raise it against it. It happens currently with other conflicts of interests.
The other point of the piece is the contigency of a member of the secret services be a member of a masonic Lodge. It is not common bout may happen in any free society where freedom exists and is guaranted. Any public servant is obliged to rules of confidenciality and the secret services are not different from any other department of the administration. Being a mason doesn't trouble the exercise of the profession and doesn't relieve the strict rules these public servants are obliged to. One of the most dearest cares and devotions of the freemasons is patriotism, the love for their country. This value, that for a long time was an integrant part of public education in Portugal, has been ruled out, after 1974, as something that is outdtated, stupid or non-modern. This is absolute non-sense. The mainstream thinking considers patriotism something that an urban educated man should not even consider. We disagree, completly, with this. The love for our motherland is one or, even, the basic moral dogma of the members of our Craft, in any part of the world. In many of our oaths we swear to give our life to our Motherland and we take it for granted. So we see no contradiction in being a truly freemason and a patriot at the same time; there is nothing under the Portuguese law that forbid members of the secret services to be freemasons and there is no logical reason for that. And if this reasoning prevail why then not exclude the fans of the football clubs, the Christians, the Rotaries or even the Gay Men? They have connections that after all may stain their judgment.
As general conclusion, the piece of Sabado may be considered a consequence of the good fortune our Brotherhood has enjoyed in recent years, assisting the number of candidates raising, accompanied by new Lodges and the capacity to construct a good and diplomatic relationship with the Masonic Obediences and even with the Portuguese Catholic Church. Freemasonry aims to be a centre for moral values and citizenship, looking to form Men of integrity and elevated moral standards. In doing so, Freemasonry is not different from other bodies of the society that look to pursuit the Good in the community of Men. Freemasonry serve its country and fellow-citizens, with pride and rejoice. But the decision to be [or not] a member of our Brotherhood is not for newpapers or journalists to decide. It is an individual decision. As the decison to uncover the quality of a freemason is to eachone to decide. In no circumstance, Portuguese freemasonry will drop the list of its members to the Ministry of Interior. The State and the Media has nothing to deal about it.