Vatican’s Holy Office still frowns on freemasonry
The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has reaffirmed its position that Catholics are prohibited from joining Freemasonic organizations due to the “irreconcilability” of principles.
In a Nov. 13 memo, Cardinal Victor Fernandez, prefect of the dicastery that was known for centuries as the Holy Office of the Inquisition, said it was “necessary” for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to “put in place a coordinated strategy.”
The strategy, according to Fernandez, should take a two-pronged approach—on the “doctrinal” level, where measures should apply to clerics enrolled in Masonic groups, and on the “pastoral” level, where catechesis should be conducted in all parishes and for bishops to make a “public pronouncement on the matter.”
Fernandez issued the note, which was approved by Pope Francis and made public on Wednesday, after Bishop Julito Cortes of Dumaguete sought the guidance of the Vatican on the “best pastoral approach” in addressing the membership of some Catholics in Freemasonry.
Cortes complained about the growing number of Catholics as well as “sympathizers” who believe that there is no conflict in being both a Catholic and a Mason.
‘State of grave sin’
The memo cited the 1983 Declaration on Masonic Associations where it declared that the “faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive the Holy Communion.” It was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then the prefect of the Vatican body, and approved by then Pope John Paul II.
“The Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden,” read the document.
According to a CBCP article, Catholics have been banned from joining Masonic groups since 1738, as decreed by Pope Clement XII’s bull “In Eminenti.”
Under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Catholic prelates and clerics who join Freemasonry would be excommunicated.