"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Filipino Freemason Denied Catholic Burial

Unfortunately, the struggle between mainstream Freemasonry and Roman Catholicism goes on. It is based upon a fundamental misunderstanding about what Freemasonry is and is not. But sadly, the fallout sometimes reaches out and slaps unsuspecting family members in the face in their toughest hour of grief.

On May 19th, a former governor of Quezon province in the Philippines, Rafael "Raffy" Puchero Nantes, was killed with five others, when the helicopter they were traveling in developed rotor problems and crashed into a neighborhood in Lucena City.

Nantes was buried on May 22 in a private cemetery in Lucban town, Quezon. He was denied a Catholic burial service by Filipino Bishop Emilio Marquez because, according to newspaper accounts, he was a "born-again Christian and a Mason who did not repent."

From CathNewsAsia.com "Freemason politician denied Catholic burial" on May 25th:

Bishop Marquez said Nantes’ sister, a Catholic, asked him to reconsider his decision, but accepted it after he explained Church law.

“I explained to her that canon 1184 applies to his being a known born-again Christian, and the Philippine bishops’ protocol on Masonry, which does not allow for a Church burial,” Bishop Marquez said.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on March 14, 1990, declared Church funeral rites will be denied to any Catholic who belonged to any Masonic association, unless there was some sign of repentance before death.

According to the CBCPWorld website:

The CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference on the Philippines) on March 14, 1990 issued its own guidelines in pursuance of the above directive. "Any Catholic who is publicly known as Mason, i.e. whose membership in any Masonic association can be proven in the external forum:

(a) may not receive Holy Communion

(b) may not be allowed to act as sponsor in Baptism, Confirmation, and weddings;

(c) may not be admitted as members of religious organizations;

(d) Church funeral rites may be denied unless some signs of repentance before death has been shown;

(e) where Church funeral rites were allowed by the Ordinary, no Masonic services shall be allowed in the church or cemetery immediately before or after the Church rites in order to avoid any public scandal."

Yet, the November 1983 Declaration on Masonic Associations (Quaesitum est), while maintaining that it is "forbidden" for Roman Catholics to become Freemasons, merely says, "The faithful, who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion." Baptism, Confirmation, weddings and funerals are not mentioned. It seems the Filipino bishops are making up their own rules. Quaesitum est was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the modern-day office of the Inquisition, and penned by then-prefect of the congregation, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

The 1917 code of Canon Law forbade Catholics, under the penalty of excommunication, to enroll in Masonic or other similar associations.

Can 2335: Affiliation With Masonic or Similar Societies. Those who join a Masonic sect or other societies of the same sort, which plot against the Church or against legitimate civil authority, incur ipso facto an excommunication simply reserved to the Holy See.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law superseded the 1917 Code, but when it was passed, the specific mention of Freemasonry was eliminated, instead referring to organizations that "plot against the Church."

Can. 1374. A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; one who promotes or takes office in such an association is to be punished with an interdict.

Modern, mainstream English-derived Freemasonry in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and elsewhere does not plot against the Church. While there have been vocal anti-Catholic Masons who have railed against the Church, there is no anti-Catholic plotting by any US Grand Lodge. The Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction went through an unfortunate period when its leadership took regular swipes at the Church in print, largely over the issue of public versus private elementary schools. But that has not taken place since the early 1960s. The irregular Grande Oriente de France takes public stances on the Church with great frequency. But regular, recognized Freemasonry the world over does not. A Mason's religious beliefs are his own.

Meanwhile, Brother Nantes' brethren mourn his untimely loss and extend comfort and prayers to his family.

For a reasoned article exploring both sides of the story, see Clash of the dogmas by Johanna D. Poblete in BusinessWorld Weekender.


  1. My girlfriend is Filipino and her father was a mainstream Freemason in the Philippines. She is well aware of the Catholic Church's position regarding Freemasons. even though she is still trying to understand the Grand Orient form of Freemasonry that I am involved with.

    She has fond memories of her father's masonic brothers visiting her home but is unable to understand that I am in a jurisdiction that allows women.

    The Catholic Church still has a lot of influence in the Philippines, as it does in Italy and many other countries.

    Despite the Church's position that Freemasonry is incompatible with Christianity, the real problem that always existed between the Church and Freemasonry was that of freedom of thought.

    We see the same in Islamic countries today. Any deviation from what the religious authorities teach merits death. Catholic countries in the period between 1400-1900 were not much different.

  2. Chris,
    You are unfortunately misguided in your statements about the Catholic Church and Freemasonry. Then Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) issued a statement in regards to the 1983 Canon law issue. He made it clear then that the church's stance on freemasonry never changed, and more inclusive wording was used to cover various organizations, not only Freemasonry. The Papal Bulls, which are official statements of the Church, have made it clear that the issue with masonry is the deist tendency within it, the oaths that must be sworn, and the plots against the church. Many lodges make the mistake of telling masons that in 1983 the ban was lifted against catholics becoming masons. It wasn't. Any catholic who becomes a freemason is pronounced to be in grave sin and is to be forbidden the holy communion. If a catholic dies in such a state, then they die is a state of unrepetant sin and are outside a state of grace.
    I'm not trying to preach, nor do I accept the ruling. When we as masons make statements in regards to religious matters and the lodge, we should be accurate.
    Fraternally yours,

  3. I don't think I misstated anything here.

    I posted the link to the 1983 Declaration on Masonic Associations (Quaesitum est) so it could be seen in its entirety. Here it is again. The Church does not object to Masonry's so-called "deist tendency," but more specifically to what it regards as syncretism - that is, the regarding of all religions as equal. Again, this is a misunderstanding of Blue Lodge Freemasonry (Pike went off on his own with the Scottish Rite and made assertions that Grand Lodges do not, but that's a whole nuther can o' worms). Masonry does not regard all religions equally. It simply takes no opinion one way or another. A Masons's beliefs are his own. Masonic ritual acknowledges the existence of God, and seeks to find terms (Grand Architect of the Universe) that can be used so that members can find respectful, common ground in the lodge room, without favoring one religion over another. Some Catholics, Lutherans, fundamentalists, Muslims and others object to this, as though Freemasonry is pretending to be a church of its own. Again, this is a common thread of complaint that goes back to 1738, because we have altars and we pray. But officially Masonry has no dogma, no plan for salvation, and merely the hope of an afterlife.

    Pius XII in 1951 went so far as to order clergy and lay Catholics to stay away from Rotary, Kiwanis and the Lions (and to this day, many Muslim clerics object to them, as well). They were added to the list of canonical prohibitions along with the Masons and other so-called "secret societies." Vatican II, which started in 1963, stripped the specific wording out, and merely referred to associations that plotted against the Church, in the 1982-3 Canon Law wording.

    Quaesitum est was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the modern-day office of the Inquisition, and written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI). It was designed to specifically single out Freemasonry. Of course, these things never happen in an historical vacuum. Recall that the P2 Lodge/Roberto Calvi/Licio Gelli scandals began to erupt in Italy in 1981. "The Masons" and their nefarious business dealings, Mafia connections, and embezzlement of Church finances were being splashed across the headlines on a daily basis. Never mind that Licio Gelli's P2 lodge was given the order of the boot by the Grand Orient of Italy in 1976, and Gelli and his lodge of crooks went on calling themselves Masons anyway until they were busted. It's no wonder Cardinal Ratzinger and John Paul II felt they had to put Freemasons back on their own list of undesirables.

    I was raised a Catholic and went to a Jesuit high school. Since I became a Mason, I do not take communion, because I respect the laws of the Church. And I'll probably wind of in a Methodist cemetery, because they are pretty open-minded. But I have met literally hundreds of Catholic Masons in this country and abroad, who see no conflict with the lodge and the Church. The Church can make whatever rules it wishes, and justify them as it sees fit. But the Church makes blatant false statements about Freemasonry, and I don't have to be happy (or quiet) about it. They have been locked in a battle with the Grande Orient de France since the French Revolution. That's not us. It's not our fight.

  4. Chris,

    I never said you misquoted, I said you were misguided. In regards to Canon law, then Cardinal Ratzinger clarified the official church stance when he issued his communicae in regards to the 1983 law and its intended meaning. what you're misguided in is the reality that as Vicar of Christ, the statements (encyclicals and bulls) made by the Popes carry equal weight with canon law.
    In regards to the GODF, there was no GOdF when the first papal bull was issued. Catholic law doesn't disallow its members from being grand orient masons, it says all masons.
    I come from a catholic background and am a mason as well, so I am familiar with both.

  5. PTTL said:
    what you're misguided in is the reality that as Vicar of Christ, the statements (encyclicals and bulls) made by the Popes carry equal weight with canon law.

    I am well aware of that.

    PTTL said:
    In regards to the GODF, there was no GOdF when the first papal bull was issued.

    I am well aware of that, too.

    PTTL said:
    Catholic law doesn't disallow its members from being grand orient masons, it says all masons.

    That's partially my point. GOdF's official gripe is what they see as Church interference in government and society—France's history is the root cause of this. Mainstream Freemasonry takes no such position, as it shouldn't. I don't want my GL issuing position papers about rosaries on school kids or against Catholic Charter schools. The GOdF regularly does this, and meets with France's president in an effort to influence the government.

    The Church's objection to Masonry is multi-faceted. It is unlikely that it will ever regard mainstream Freemasonry as "mostly harmless" to them, that we don't engage in syncretism, and that we're not masquerading as a church. And there are, of course, those "bloody oaths." The Church will never accept that Freemasonry is a friend to all faiths, that it encourages its members to follow their own faith and be regular attendees at their favored place of worship. And that's sad. And short-sighted.

  6. Chris,

    As Masons we definitely agree that Masonry is a friend to all faiths. After reading some more of this particular Filipino's situation, I'm not sure whether the real issue was his Freemasonry or his conversion to Born Again Christianity.
    If it was Freemasonry, then that comes down to an interpretation of Catholic doctrines.
    However, if it was his acceptance of Born Again (ie Protestant Christianity) then the Catholic Church has every right to deny him a Catholic burial. The Catholic Church's stance is that in everything good or true, some measure of God is present but not the fullness of Deity. If a catholic decides to break with the church, then his family should respect the fact he has forfeited his membership in it and all the rights that it entailed. If a Muslim decided to leave Islam and become a Christian, he or she would denied the same, as well as a Jew converting to Christianity is denied the same.
    In regards to the Grand Orient and their stance of political involvment, I can't speak for that. I'm not a member of the GOdF. What I can say is that i'm always amazed how quickly Anglo-
    American Freemasons criticize the GOdF for taking a political stance, or for taking a stance in regards to separation of church and state. If it wasn't for that attitude, America might not be here today. IT was Franklin who leaned on Masonic support as a member of The Nine Sisters Lodge to gain connections to French nobility. Equally it was French Masons who supported the Revolution both financially and physically.
    Not everyone likes the stance the GOdF takes in every issue. Then again, not everyone likes the stance of many Anglo-American lodges in regards to various issues.
    Lets not allow the issue of a Filipino Protestant's burial be turned into a GOdF ragging session.
    Fraternally Yours.

  7. When my dad died, his Freemason brothers respected my mom's decision to have his funeral and burial in a Roman Catholic way, the priest respected that decision as well. At the end of the day, it's the members of the family who decide. Peace to all. :-)


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