Part IV - Freemasonry and the Catholic Church

Continuation of Freemasonry - Part I - Part II - Part III Jump to - Part V

It appears that the Roman Catholic Church has softened its stance on Freemasonry. In the 1920’s membership in Freemasonry was grounds for excommunication. In 2007, membership in Freemasonry has been downgraded to a serious sin but not necessarily grounds for excommunication. Catholic excommunication is a condemnation, but not an imprecation that dooms to perdition.

Masonic lodge membership is gravely sinful, Vatican official says

“Rome, Mar. 5, 2007 (Catholic World News, - Catholics who become members of Masonic lodges are guilty of serious sin, a Vatican official has confirmed.

Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, the regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, told a Vatican Radio interviewer that membership in a Masonic lodge is not necessarily grounds for excommunication, but it is a grave matter.”
1920’s Views: Things Catholic Are Asked About - Chapter XXXVII

“It is well known that the Catholic Church is opposed to Freemasonry. Indeed it is excommunication for a Catholic to be a Freemason. Freemasons know this. Parkinson, an illustrious Mason says: “The two systems of Romanism and Freemasonry are not only incompatible, but they are radically opposed to each other” (Freemason’s Chronicle, 1884, II, I7). This is so well understood that we are not surprised to know that Masons as a body do not want Catholics in their ranks. “We won’t make a man a Freemason until we know that he isn’t a Catholic” (Freemason’s Chronicle, 1890, II, 347).”

Source: Things Catholic Are Asked About - Chapter XXXVII

Here is a robust forum in which you can discuss this matter:
Quote from above: “COMMENT: ….. the “naturalism” or “universalism” preached by Masonry was condemned for centuries by the real Roman Catholic Church.”

Scripture Catholic has a succinct FAQ on Freemasonry
Quote from link: FAQ on freemasonry:”What is the Catholic Church’s position on Freemasonry?The Church, through its Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has formally declared that Catholics who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion. This declaration, which is the most recent teaching of the Church, has affirmed nearly 300 years of papal pronouncements against Freemasonry on the grounds that the teachings of the Lodge are contrary to Catholic faith and morals.”

Editor’s comment: I have failed to find a Roman Catholic source that gives a positive
view of Freemasonry. I would be grateful if my readers would help me with this,
as the omission of positive comments would be unfair to the Freemasons. The views expressed in the sources are not necessarily mine.

Additional Reading: Snippets from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia has a lengthy article on Freemasonry. Here are some short quotes, but I would encourage you to go to the source to get the full context.

  • Secret society: “the very nature of Freemasonry as a secret society makes it difficult to be sure even of its reputed documents and authorities, and therefore we have consulted only those which are acknowledged and recommended by responsible members of the craft”
  • Throat cut if secrets divulged: “the oaths of secrecy taken on the Bible
    and there is a penalty for breaking these oaths: “These several points I solemnly swear to observe under no less penalty, than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the root and my body buried in the sands of the sea”
  • Babel and Pyramids: “insinuates that God, the Great Architect, founded Freemasonry, and that it had for patrons, Adam, the Patriarchs, the kings and philosophers of old. Even Jesus Christ is included in the list as Grand Master of the Christian Church. Masonry is credited with the building of Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babel, the Pyramids, and Solomon’s Temple
  • Opposedto Supernatural Truth: “It is evident, however, that even in this restricted sense of “unsectarian” Christianity, Freemasonry is not a Christian institution, as it acknowledges many pre-Christian models and teachers of “Humanity”. All instructed Masons agree in the objective import of this Masonic principle of “Humanity”, according to which belief in dogmas is a matter of secondary importance, or even prejudicial to the law of universal love and tolerance. Freemasonry, therefore, is opposed not only to Catholicism and Christianity, but also to the whole system of supernatural truth.”
  • Must condemn Freemasonry: “These papal edicts and censures against Freemasonry have often been the occasion of erroneous and unjust charges. The excommunication was interpreted as an “imprecation” that cursed all Freemasons and doomed them to perdition. In truth an excommunication is simply an ecclesiastical penalty, by which members of the Church should be deterred from acts that are criminal according to ecclesiastical law. The pope and the bishops, therefore, as faithful pastors of Christ’s flock, cannot but condemn Freemasonry.”