The illegalization of Portuguese Freemasonry: 65 years ago
In the political climate lived in Portugal after the installation of Estado Novo, the M.P. Jose Cabral, then director-general of the prisoner service, monarchist and former national-syndicalist presented in January 19, 1935, in the National Assembly (the rubber-stamp parliament) the draft law no. 2, seeking the dissolution of secret associations. The project adopted a definition of “secret association” that sought to include Freemasonry and Carbonaria; the latter probably would not exist in that time.
The draft law on secret associations also enforced sanctions to those who belonged to any sort of "secret association" regardless of the purposes of the organization. In his speech at the National Assembly on April 5, 1935, arguing in favor of outlawing Freemasonry, José Cabral said in a given step: I know of States that do not tolerate it. States similar to ours: strong States, authoritarian, guided only by the firm grasp of the common good and thus I know that Freemasonry was exterminated by the fascist State that declared it incompatible with their own existence. We have a doctrine and we are a force, said Salazar, and the same boundaries, with the doctrine and force of Freemasonry ".
The reactions were swift. On January 31 that year Norton de Matos, then Grand Master of the Grand Orient Lusitano wrote an open letter to José Alberto dos Reis, then president of the National Assembly and a former Mason, protesting against the project of bill presented by José Cabral.
On April 4 next, Norton de Matos presented its resignation of Grand Master and renew through an work of architecture the order of triangulation of all Lodges. Mauricio Costa succeeded him as Grand Master ad interim, until May 19, 1937, when he died.
On March 27, 1935, the Câmara Corporativa, the council body of the dictatorship, gave its agreement to the approval of the bill, in an extensive commentary signed by Domingos Fezas Vital, Afonso de Melo, Gustavo Cordeiro Ramos, José Pinto Coelho and Gabriel Abel Andrade, its rapporteur. It is considered that part of the evidence carried to the legal text was given by António Vicente Ferreira, a supporter of Salazar, a Freemason since 1911 and four times, Minister during the First Republic.
On April 6, 1935, the National Assembly approved unanimously the bill, which is to be published in January in the 1st Series of the Government Gazette at May 21, 1935 as Law No. 1901. The four legislators who missed the session in the following sessions of the National Assembly vote on statements that explicitly stated that if present they would vote in favor of the law.
In the outcome of the repression, the Masonic Palace was closed, the archives confiscated and the officials of the Order put under surveillance. Portuguese freemasonry followed a path common to other European Crafts under fascism, Nazism and communism: vanished or get clandestine.
The Portuguese craft lay down columns for thirty-nine years and was restated in all its privileges, premises and goods on April 1974, following the success of the Carnation Revolution.