VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Catholics are forbidden from joining the Freemasons, the Dicastery (formerly Congregation) for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed today in a statement signed by Cardinal Víctor Fernández and approved by Pope Francis.
The question came from Bishop Julito Cortes of the Diocese of Dumaguete in the Philippines, who said members of his flock are increasingly joining Masonic lodges. “Membership in Freemasonry is very significant in the Philippines; it involves not only those who are formally enrolled in Masonic Lodges but, more generally, a large number of sympathizers and associates who are personally convinced that there is no opposition between membership in the Catholic Church and in Masonic Lodges,” the response stated.
“On the doctrinal level, it should be remembered that active membership in Freemasonry by a member of the faithful is forbidden because of the irreconcilability between Catholic doctrine and Freemasonry,” the response stated, referencing the Congregation’s 1983 statement on the matter as well as guidelines from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines released in 2003.
“On the pastoral level, the Dicastery proposes that the Philippine Bishops conduct catechesis accessible to the people and in all parishes regarding the reasons for the irreconcilability between the Catholic Faith and Freemasonry,” the response stated. “Finally, the Philippine Bishops are invited to consider whether they should make a public pronouncement on the matter.”
The CDF reiterated the Church’s teaching that Freemasonry is a mortal sin in 1983, amid confusion about whether Catholics were still forbidden to join.
“The faithful who [enroll] in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion,” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led at the time by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, reaffirmed in 1983. The prohibition has always been in place since the papal bull In eminenti, issued in 1738 by Pope Clement XII.
Freemasonry involves secret oaths, and its “rites” include a mockery of Catholicism.
Father William Saunders detailed some of the problems in an article for EWTN.
“The Catholic Church has difficulties with Freemasonry because it is indeed a kind of religion unto itself,” he wrote. “The practice of Freemasonry includes temples, altars, a moral code, worship services, vestments, feast days, a hierarchy of leadership, initiation and burial rites, and promises of eternal reward and punishment.”
“While in America most Masons are Christian and will display a Bible on their ‘altar,’ in the same lodges or elsewhere, Jews, Moslems, Hindus or other non-Christian religions can be admitted and may use their own sacred scriptures,” he explained.
One “rite” includes an explicit rejection of the papacy and an eternal power.
“When one reaches the 30th degree in the masonic hierarchy, called the Kadosh, the person crushes with his foot the papal tiara and the royal crown, and swears to free mankind ‘from the bondage of despotism and the thraldom of spiritual tyranny,'” Saunders explained.
The Catholic priest further explained one oath:
A candidate makes an oath to Freemasonry and its secrets under pain of death or self-mutilation by kneeling blindfolded in front of the altar, placing both hands on the volume of sacred law (perhaps the Bible), the square and the compass, and repeating after the ‘worshipful master.’ Keep in mind that the candidate does not yet even know all the ‘secrets’ to which he is taking an oath.
LifeSiteNews also has an extensive series on the problems of Freemasonry. Those articles can be found here.
The reaffirmation of nearly 300 years of Catholic Church teaching on the subject of Freemasonry from Cardinal Fernández comes as the prefect and Pope Francis have released confusing statements on human sexuality and gender, including that individuals confused about their sex can receive Baptism and serve as godparents, in contradiction to a 2015 CDF statement on the question.