Juan Carlos Esteban

Carlos Gardel and Freemasonry

here is no evidence that Gardel had been a Mason.

1. This issue that sprung up lately through Marcelo Martínez, leads me to point out that in the intellectual, art and tango fields Gabriel del Mazo, Arturo Jauretche, Atilio García Mellit, Homero Manzi, Florencio Sánchez, García Velloso, Roberto J. Payró, Enrique Muiño, etc. were members of the Masonry.

The case of Florencio Parravicini, as son of Masons, was initiated at a very young age, on June 5, 1894 in the Lodge Roma N° 128 and later switched to the Bernardo Monteagudo Lodge. He was city councilman due to the Masonry support.

People in the tango milieu that were Masons are: Augusto Berto and Francisco Canaro. Berto was initiated in the Unión del Plata Lodge No. 1, on April 5, 1924 and was a Worshipful Master (President) between 1936/37. He subscribed later to the Estrella de Occidente (Western Star), in which he also was appointed as leader. In the Argentine Grand Lodge he carried out several positions, among them, that of Junior Warden during the period 1937/38. In his will he bequathed half of his Masonic rights to the Masonic orphanage, Hogar Bernardino Rivadavia of José C. Paz.

Canaro was initiated on January 28, 1923 in the Unión del Plata Lodge. As for Carlos Gardel there are neither records nor undoubtable mentions and I seriously doubt about that condition because of his Salesian bonds and his frequent attendance to religious services in his adult age.

2. As contribution to the questionable work by Martínez about the eventual Carlos Gardel’s initiation in Masonic rites, I think it is necessary to have into account the following aspects:

a) Carlos Gardel received, from his early childhood and school time, a strong religious education at the Salesian School Pio IX from April 1901 to 1904, and was consubstantiated with all its rites.

b) At the entrance of the Colegio Pio IX, at the Chappel of the Relics, there is a commemorative plaque of his stay at the institution. Inside the temple, a former student placed another one where every year a Mass is offered in his memory. In 1985 Father Humberto Baratta wrote a short sketch about his stay at the Salesian establishment which was endorsed by the San Francisco de Sales Inspectorate. After a recent inner remodeling it has three glass cabinets with a great number of photos and reminders that highlight his memory. It is easy to conclude that had there been the least evidence as convert or doubtful man initiated in the Masonic liturgy, surely, the attentive surveillance of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would have acted quickly, instead of keeping him in his privileged place.

c) The Chilean actor Francisco Flores del Campo (1907-1993), that appeared in the movie “El día que me quieras” and who lived with Gardel at the time of the filming, said in a note for the Chilean television: «every Sunday morning he used to go alone to Mass to Saint Patrick church in New York and afterwards he returned alone just like as he had arrived». We can infer that that supposed duplicity, near the end of his life, was irreconcilable with his personality without deceitfulness.

d) Coming back to the doctrinaire aspect, it is worthwhile to highlight that, due to the lack of documentary evidences in the files of the Grand Lodge and of the Supreme Council, 330, there are no traces, records, not even mentions about Gardel up to 1957.

3. On December 8, 1892, in a letter to the Italian people the Pope wrote: «Let us remember that Christianity and Freemasonry are essentially irreconcilable, that is to say, enrolling in one means quitting the other».

4. On November 26, 1983 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, at that time, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote: «It is kept without changes the negative judgment of the Church as for the Masonic associations because their principles have been always regarded as irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and hence the admission to them is forbidden». Due to all that was said above and whereas Carlos Gardel was respectful and loyal to his most intimate beliefs, had such hypothetical conversion occurred it would have been disclosed.

5. I now refer to a communiqué to the Academia del Lunfardo by the prestigious friend José Gobello concerning the Gardel’s vigil in Medellín written by Aquiles Echeverri M. in his book “Gardel, su historia y causa de su muerte”. According to Echeverri they held a wake for his remains at the residence of the priest, Dr. Enrique Uribe Ospina: «That night that a wake for Gardel was held a group of Masons appeared saying that Gardel was a Mason. Immediately, Monsignor demanded convincing evidences but as they saw the strength and the temperance of the religious man their attempt failed, as later the priest explained».

6. Those evidences were never produced but “tales” were spread, based on suppositions, that lately have been in vogue. People cannot let rest in peace a myth! In sum, the newest version, full of legends, that entertain the new chroniclers are sayings and circumstances with no verifiable checking with which they comfortably move making up fables without producing material evidence. Pure padding, prey of the winds of history. No more than pastimes of amateur opinionists.

The rigorous story of Gardel is a field banned for dilettanti engaged in poking among waste leftovers, gossips of village women.

The other story is too big for them and is the one that lasts. On the other hand, to try to make him —now a corpse— a convert is a reprehensible attitude and I am not willing to be an accomplice of in disrespectful or, rather, devious details.

7. Mr. Marcelo Martínez, go on “digging deeper”, like a God Janus, about testimonies and “coincidental” and not so much coincident details. The investigative line is nurtured by reliable proofs and not by testimonies and clues that highly abound in the “oriental tale”.

What is precise and documented is:
a) As main element, his absence in the records of the Grand Lodge and the Supreme Council, 330;
b) His religious education in the Salesian congregations;
c) His attendance on Sundays to the Saint Patrick church in New York.

The other “testimonial” line has a close relationship with his pretended condition as “racist”, “akin to the underworld”, “whoremaster”, “pimp”, “homosexual” and other compliments grown by sensationalistic narrators that write for the gutter press.