Pope Francis Condemns Freemasonry In The Philippines

Pope Francis Condemns Freemasonry In The Philippines January 8, 2024

Pope Francis condemns Freemasonry in the Philippines. We live in a society that is increasingly open and tolerant. It seems that the Church has shifted in the same direction. So, how is it that we just saw a prohibition for Catholics belonging to the Freemasons? It is surprising how clear the recent document from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith is about Philippine Catholics being prohibited from taking part in the Freemasons.

Pope Francis smiling and waving
Pope Francis waves to the crowd | Courtesy of Cathopic

Aren’t the Freemasons just a fun-loving society that promotes well-being?

Part of the surprise may come from the fact that Masons present themselves as a men’s club that focuses on doing good. Sure, they have some private rituals, but it can’t be all that bad, can it? Doesn’t the Catholic persecution of the Freemasons say more about the Church than it does about the Masons?

That’s not the whole story

Cardinal Fernandez points out in the Note that membership in Freemasonry is very significant in the Philippines. It is not limited to those formally inducted as members, as there are other associates and sympathizers who are influenced as well. Most people seem convinced that there is not opposition between membership in the Catholic Church and in Masonic Lodges.

What does the Church propose?

The Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith proposes two things to the Philippine bishops. On the doctrinal level, they should remind the faithful that active membership in Freemasonry is prohibited. It is impossible to be a good Catholic and a Freemason. On the pastoral level, they should ensure catechesis in all parishes so that people understand the reason behind the prohibition.

What is the prohibition?

There is a long tradition of Catholic prohibition of belonging to the Freemasons. Since the group was founded in 1717, there has been legislation prohibiting Catholics from joining Masonic Lodges. In the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Freemasonry was mentioned specifically as a secret society banned to Catholics. When the 1983 Code of Canon Law was promulgated, the old law was abrogated. This means that the old law is no longer in force. But there was a need to continue to make it clear that Catholics cannot be Freemasons. So the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith published a note stating that it is a grave sin for a Catholic to be a member of the Freemasons and made it clear that such a person may not receive Communion.

Why is it prohibited?

Freemasonry preaches a Deist worldview, showing a god that is impersonal. It claims to not be a religion, but it ends up being a “lowest-common-denominator” religion. This is problematic because there is an enormous difference between a personal God who comes to save us and redeems us through the sacraments of the Church and an impersonal god who barely exists.

Although Freemasonry claims to not be a religion, it does have little rituals that foster a certain religious affiliation. And some versions of Freemasonry have been notably anti-Catholic, wanting to demolish established religion. It makes sense to alert the faithful to the danger that it presents to their faith.

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About Fr. Nicholas Sheehy, LC
Fr. Nicholas Sheehy was ordained a Catholic priest in 2013 for the Legionaries of Christ. He has been involved in youth work including missions, retreats and apostolic outreach in Germany, Italy, the United States and Central America. He is passionate about the New Evangelization and formation for young adults and married couples. He is a spiritual director and retreat director, offering marriage preparation and marriage counseling through the Divine Mercy Clinic and Family Center. He is currently Executive Director and Chaplain of the Newman Center at St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Pasadena, California. You can read more about the author here.
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