MADRID, Spain, JAN. 30, 2005 ( To understand what is happening in Europe, the phenomenon of Masonry must be taken into account, says Protestant historian César Vidal.

The director of the program "La Linterna" of the Spanish bishops' COPE radio network, Vidal has just written a book, "Los Masones: La Historia de la Sociedad Secreta Más Poderosa" (The Freemasons: History of the Most Powerful Secret Society), published by Planeta.

Among other things, the book addresses the Masonic influence in the most important events of recent Spanish history, especially since the election last March of the Spanish Socialist Labor Party (PSOE).

Vidal says that "the secularist current promoted by the government headed by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero shares more than enough Masonry's rank anti-clericalism."

The author explains that the Freemasons have an enormous role in the European Union and, by way of example, says that "the project of the European Constitution has been driven by a Freemason," Valéry Giscard D'Estaing, "who has excluded mention of the continent's Christian roots and, in addition, has insisted on the inclusion of an article that subjects the churches of the different nations but frees 'philosophical organizations' from that obligation."

Vidal has doctorates in history, philosophy and theology, and a law degree.

Q: Which outstanding personalities in Spain were and are Masons, a fact known by very few people?

Vidal: The list would be too long and some, only some, are mentioned in my book "The Freemasons." Suffice it to say by way of illustration that the Grand Master of the great Spanish east is Dr. Josep Corominas, PSOE deputy; that the special five-member commission that established Felipe González as the PSOE's secretary-general has three Masons among its members -- one of them the future president of the Senate -- and that Rodríguez Zapatero's grandfather was a Freemason.

Q: Can it be said that Masonry is behind the secularist current that is being witnessed in Spain?

Vidal: What can be said without danger of exaggeration is that the secularist current promoted by the government that José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero heads shares, more than enough, Masonry's rank anti-clericalism.

Q: What role does it have and might have in the European Union?

Vidal: Enormous if one takes into account that the project of the European Constitution has been promoted by a Freemason who has excluded mention of the continent's Christian roots and, in addition, has insisted on the inclusion of an article that subjects the Churches to the different nations but frees "philosophical organizations" from that obligation.

Q: In what way, over the last century, has Masonry been present in the history of Spain?

Vidal: Repeatedly and lamentably. A very important role must be attributed to Masonry in the pro-independence movements of Cuba and the Philippines, in anti-clerical and secularist campaigns, in the erosion of the parliamentary monarchy of the Restoration, going so far as to take recourse to terrorism, in the proclamation of the Second Republic and, very especially, in the redaction of a Republican Constitution which created a social break that led to the Civil War.

Q: Can you tell us about concrete events that prove its struggle against Catholicism?

Vidal: That is the history of Masonry since the 18th century, but suffice it to recall, by way of example, that Rodolfo Llopis, Freemason and Socialist, became secretary-general of the PSOE [and] promoted the anti-Christian educational legislation of the Second Republic; or scandals such as that of the Banca Ambrosiana which were linked directly to the Masons' action.

Q: What were Masonry's origins?

Vidal: The real origins of Masonry date back to the end of the 17th and early 18th centuries, when groups of individuals attracted by occult gnosis founded meeting places in which, supposedly, it was transmitted.

Of course, they talk about origins that refer to pagan religions, to gnosis, to a nonexistent personality of Solomon's time and also to the druids.

Q: What are its most characteristic features, objectives and present structure? Is it a religion?

Vidal: Though Freemasons deny it, the truth is that the Masonic cosmo-vision is not one proper to a philanthropic society as they often say, but that of a religion. That circumstance explains, precisely, the repeated condemnations of the Holy See and of the other Christian confessions, which consider membership in Masonry incompatible with Christianity.

Masonry might be described as a secret society, with an initiative structure, a gnostic cosmo-vision, and an existential manifestation which makes it easy for its members to help one another when it comes to occupying important posts in society.

Q: What percentage of Freemasons are there at present?

Vidal: Without a doubt, very small. In France it is said that they are not more than 0.6% of the population. However, that has not prevented their controlling the Socialist International or their spreading in the Right itself, through personalities such as Giscard D'Estaing.

Q: In what vital points of our society -- especially in economic, political and intellectual circles and the media -- are Freemasons present?

Vidal: There are sectors that have always been of interest to Freemasons. Needless to say, politics where they control the Socialist International and have entered powerfully in parties of the Right. No less is their weight in the world of communications and, very especially, their interest in education, justice and the armed forces.

In France, for example, the "affaire des fiches" revealed to what extent Masonic officers were promoted and Catholics, on the contrary, blocked from promotion.