Here is a link to a long overview of the history and influence of the Sodalitium Pianum, Benigni's anti-Modernist quasi-police force. The article gives a particularly astute summary of how it shaped the various traditionalist accounts of the 20th century overhaul in Rome (FSSPX, sedevacantism, integralism etc). For example, some have accused John XXIII of being a communist because he drew the ire and wrath of the Sodalitium for supporting a local labor strike as a parish priest (ironically that sent him into diplomatic work and accelerated the rise of an otherwise common priest).
One plus of this article is that is distinguishes between the many folds of "Modernism," between some people who really were outright heretics and others who simply were not neo-Thomists and did not know when to bit their tongues.
The article perhaps glosses over other factors in the understandable reactionism of early 20th century Catholics, such as a century of anti-clericalism, socialization of Church property, industrialization which ruined local communities, an endless series of nationalistic revolutions, and migration. Did all this warrant Pio Nono's (or Pio No No) "prisoner in the Vatican" approach? Unlikely, but I can hardly criticize those who supported Action Francaise in the 1920s. They wanted a Catholic country, or at least security for the Church, and if not for Cardinal Gasparri they perhaps would have had it.
|And now Mr Bond, we will issue a new encyclical and|
there is nothing the Holy Office can do to stop us!
The other matter where I think both liberals and traditionalists, and this article, are off is the subject of the Freemasons. No, there is not a master president of the "lodge" in an office under the United Nations headquarters plotting the destruction of the Church like a James Bond villain. This does not mean we should ignore the Masons. They were not, and are not, an organization in a corporate fashion. Structurally the most proximate thing to them would be terrorist cells in that one "lodge" is created from another and becomes an independent entity. The Masonic lodges gave primitive liberalism—political and philosophical—a forum for discussion and a means of social cohesion. This means that there was no Masonic conspiracy against the Church. It does mean that many who joined a given lodge were already disposed against the Church (like Calles of Mexico) and had access to the resources of like minded individuals. One cannot dismiss their importance outright just because the parody of them proved to be unsubstantial. Many clergy probably joined the Masons or had affiliation with them, either because of their own liberal beliefs or because they thought these new intellectual trends offered a means for making the Church relevant again. Indeed the particular Roman Pontiff about whom I have unique views may have associated with a greater number of "lodge men" than his predecessors or successors. This does not mean he was an "agent" or "on the other team," but it means that he may have held sympathies for their political liberalism, their optimism about the new age ushered in by technological shocks, and their views of the relationships between the Church and other parties. The Masons' relevance in the early 20th century is overestimated by some seeking an easy explanation for the total collapse that transpired and too easily dismissed by those wishing to distance themselves from crackpots.
Either way, read the article!