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


Friday, September 16, 2016

The Catholic Church and Freemasonry

Back in 2009, Gate City Lodge 2 in Atlanta, Georgia held an outstanding series of lectures on the overall topic of Religion and Culture, which explored a wide variety of religious topics throughout the year. 

One of the presentations was "The Historical Relationship Between the Catholic Church and Freemasons: Why Roman Catholics are prohibited by the Church from becoming Freemasons,"  by Rev. Mr. John  J. McManus, JD, JCL. McManus is an attorney, a Catholic Deacon, and a Canon Lawyer, which means he has, in his words, "a pontifical licentiate that allows me to practice as a lawyer in the Tribunals, or courts, of the Roman Catholic Church, and also to advise the Archbishop or others regarding canonical issues, or those issues related to the law of the Roman Catholic Church." So, it is his job to know the most current and definitive rules within the Church.

I received a message this week from someone searching for the most up to date information on the subject of Freemasonry and the current position of the Roman Catholic Church. This is a common question I get asked by lots of men, and I always refer them to this link.

McManus' presentation is lengthy and extremely detailed in its citing of Roman Catholic laws, rulings, papal pronouncements, and the most current official position of the Church on Catholicism and the Freemasons. He was not at Gate City Lodge to accuse, defame, defend, proselytize, or argue.  He simply laid out the current information as it stands, along with the historical trail of laws and rulings that led to the Church's current position since Vatican II, and the subsequent statements of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1983, led by then Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI.

The complete paper can be read on the Gate City Lodge 2 website HERE.


  1. Bro. Hodapp - Below is a response I received this past July from the DC area Diocese regarding the Church and Freemasonry.

    Question I asked: I have a devout Catholic friend who is considering becoming a Freemason. If he does so, will he be restricted from partaking in Communion?

    Diocese Response: Thank you for emailing about your friend's interest in joining the Freemasons, an institution whose practice and instruction includes several precepts opposed to the teaching of the Catholic Church. If your friend joins freely and with the knowledge of the serious contradictions to the Catholic faith into which he will be partaking, he is committing grave sin and should refrain from the Holy Eucharist, just as anyone else in grave sin would do. The Bishop would not make an individual judgment on his actions, but the Bishop rarely makes an individual pronouncement of the actions of a particular public sinner. The decision to refrain from Holy Communion should be the result of the informed conscience of your friend when he realizes the seriousness of his decision to join a society that has a long history of serious error and sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Even if his intention for joining is not to oppose the Church, which I assume is the case (i.e., he wants to network, not be a heretic), he must realize that by partaking of their practices he is supporting and promoting the Freemasons and participating in their activities, including their anti-Catholic practices.

    The following is a link to an article which appeared in our diocesan newspaper three years ago that goes into more detail about the freemasons than my few sentences, and is much clearer: Caution-catholicherald.com/stories/No-sincere-Catholic-should-join-the-Masons,21667

    I would encourage your friend to read it, and if he is unwilling, I would encourage you to read it so you can explain to him the gravity of his decision.

  2. Here is the link referenced in my post above.


  3. The pronouncements referenced are the results of and reactions to the secular and openly political branches of Freemasonry which have openly and secretly opposed the Roman Church coupled with the disdain for the mainstream, Anglo Freemasonry containing certain universalist religious aspects of craft ceremony that involve prayer in a universalized tongue (GAOTU) with men of other faiths around an altar. And yet, you have Masonic craft lodges of the Rectified Scottish Rite at the Via San Pancrazio and in Monte Carlo whose membership rosters are composed entirely or Roman Catholic clergy.

    1. Isn't the Rectefied Rite fully Christian?

      Here in Scandinavia it's widely, but erroneously, beloved by many masons that the Catholic Church accepts the Swedish Rite as it's fully Christian including our lodges of S:t John which corresponds to the Craft. However there is no formal exemption although you could guess that at least the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm (which covers the whole of Sweden) looks the other way on membership in the Swedish Rite.

      Personally I find this attitude towards Freemasonry, shared with many evangelicals, to be the church at it's worse. An entirely different attitude would be possible, i.e to trust that the faith build in church would safeguard the beliver from joining the wrong organizations and hence that the church would rather expect it's members to promote Christian values in whatever organization they join.

      Per Börjel
      VII degree, Swedish Order of Freemasons

  4. Fascinating reading; its nice to hear this from the Church's perspective as opposed to the Masonic perspective. In their list of 12 irreconcilable Masonic teachings; this one stood out to me:

    "6. Masonic Toleration: The masons promote a principle of toleration regarding ideas. That is, relativism teaches them to be tolerant of ideas divergent or contrary to their own. Such a principle not only threatens the Catholic position of objective truth, but it also threatens the respect due the Church’s teaching office."

  5. I first wrote on this subject in 1986, in both Philalethes Magazine and Illinois Research Society publications. My final conclusion concerned the Craft, not the Church: that the fraternity should NOT place itself in the position of giving religious advice to a petitioner. If a Roman Catholic petitioner asks a freemason about his Church's position on membership, we should refer him to his Church. Period. Full stop.

  6. I first published on this topic in the mid-1980's, in the Philalethes Magazine and Illinois Lodge of Research proceedings. The conclusion was for the Craft, and remains valid. No freemason should place himself in the position of giving religious instruction to a petitioner, except to provide him information on OUR sole requirements for a Mason. If a Roman Catholic petitioner asks for information on the Church's position, we should refer him to his Church. Period. Full stop. J.


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