Skip to comments.Good Catholics should not wear aprons
Posted on 10/30/2009 9:01:19 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
A few years ago I was told that at the ceremony of induction of the vicar of one of the local Anglican churches, the Bible which was handed to him had embossed on its front cover the emblem of the Freemasons, the square and compasses. It subsequently came to light that nearly all the male members of his Parochial Church Council were "on the square", and his predecessor as vicar had been a Mason as well. This is not a "low", or Evangelical, church, but very firmly in the Anglo Catholic tradition, where a number of clergy and lay people over the years have talked of becoming Catholics.
Why is all this a problem? The reason is that the Catholic Church teaches that Freemasonry and Christianity are incompatible. The Holy See in 1983 reiterated the traditional position that Catholics who are Freemasons are in a state of grave sin and may not receive the sacraments - the Declaration on Masonic Associations was signed by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and makes it clear that local bishops cannot dispense from its provisions. There were two reasons for this document: first, the new Code of Canon Law, which came out at the same time, no longer mentioned Freemasonry by name in its list of organisations which Catholics are forbidden from joining; second, mistaken advice had been given in the late Seventies in Britain and America which suggested that Catholics could be Freemasons if local lodges were not anti-Catholic; the 1983 rescript corrected that advice. Consequently, Anglicans or others who are Freemasons wishing to become Catholics will have to discard their aprons: this may keep the numbers of potential converts down.
It is often claimed by Freemasons and others that the reasons for the Catholic Church's hostility to Freemasonry are to do with politics - the political hostility between the Church and what is known as "Grand Orient" Freemasonry in the rest of Europe and Latin America; English Freemasonry is completely different, it is claimed; unlike the "Grand Orient" it has retained belief in the "Supreme Being". But this is nonsense: the Church's original condemnations from the 18th century related to English Masonic lodges in Florence and elsewhere in Italy.
The reasons for our teaching, expounded in teaching from many popes since the 18th century, are theological. In the first place, Freemasonry is a naturalistic religion. Its rituals and constitutions present the member as a man who is able to advance towards enlightenment through his own efforts - a good parable of this is the depictions of the trials of Tamino in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute. The Mason can earn his salvation through rites of initiation and the activities of the lodge (including charitable giving); it is thus, in a way, the perfect religion for the "self-made", middle-class professional man. It is totally at odds with the Christian vision, in which we need God's grace, through the death and resurrection of Our Lord, to grow in holiness.
Second, the prayers in its rituals specifically exclude reference to Our Lord. They are often prayers of Christian origin which have been vandalised.
In order to encompass adherents of other faiths the Saviour of the world is simply removed and set aside: he is not important. How can any Christian go along with this?
Third, the oaths required in the initiation rites require the new Mason to promise to keep secret the organisation's rituals, even though he does not at that point know what they are. These oaths are what Christian moral theologians call "vain" - they are not acceptable and cannot bind the person making them, even if they are done in the name of God. This is the problem with the oaths, not (as is sometimes claimed) the dire penalties which used to be referred to in the rituals.
These are the principal reasons why we teach that Freemasonry and Christianity are not compatible. In addition, we could cite the reactionary world view espoused in the rituals, supportive of the status quo and urging members to "keep to their station" in society. This, coupled with the make-up of lodges and the mechanisms of social control identified in exposés written in the Eighties reveal the movement as being somewhat at odds with the social teaching of the Catholic Church and our witness for justice and peace in the world. The "preferential option for the poor" would not find a place in the lodge. One could also point to the exclusion of women from lodge membership and the strain placed on many marriages by the commitments demanded of Freemasons: in spite of claiming to be a "system of morality" infidelity and adultery seem often to be viewed with some indulgence.
It is important that Catholics rest their challenge to Freemasonry on the clear theological arguments which I have advanced and that we are well-informed about the subject: sometimes criticisms of Freemasonry are inaccurate and frankly hysterical, and we should avoid conspiracy theories. It is also true that it is somewhat weaker than it was, partly as a result of the books written 20 years ago and pressure for Freemasons to reveal their membership, particularly in the police and the legal profession. Because of the decline, Freemasonry is very conscious of its public image and superficially less secretive than in the past.
Although it is weaker than in the past, Freemasonry still seems to have some influence in the Church of England. A study written by Caroline Windsor, Freemasonry and the Ministry (Concilium publications 2005), has shown that it is still quite strong in cathedrals (a big Masonic service was held in St Paul's Cathedral in 2002, with the Dean preaching) - and also that many parishes where Freemasons are active are weak in terms of Christian witness. If we are serious about ecumenical dialogue, the issue of Freemasonry has to be addressed; the same is true of interfaith relations, as Freemasons are sometimes involved in interfaith organisations - if they are there, we are talking about dialogue which is three-way, not two-way.
The overriding problem is that in spite of what Freemasons claim, their way of life is a religion, with all of religion's hallmarks. You can no more be a Freemason and a Christian than you can be a Muslim and a Christian. Catholics are committed to inter-faith dialogue and mutual respect, but this requires Freemasons to be honest about what they are. For Catholics, thinking about the reasons for the gulf between us can deepen our understanding of the Christian faith.
Three of the officers in the local lodge are also Knights of Columbus. Besides I wear a Knights of Columbus apron when we make our Pancake Breakfasts. Bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes, hash browns, corned beef hash, toast, juice, coffee. $5. Children under twelve free. Go ahead. Try getting that at Bickford’s.
Cooking aprons are OK.
Neo-pagan masonic gear is not.
Very interesting considerations. I think many people don’t realize that the option of coming back to Rome, while made as simple as possible for Anglicans, is going to require some serious analysis and soul-searching by them. They really will have to be quite honest about what they believe and quite thoroughly informed about what the Church teaches and believes, and then figure out where they can go from there.
That said, the British have always had a fondness for a sort of Pelagianism (Pelagius was from Britain, actually) which rejects original sin, believes that salvation is possible through one’s own means and that Jesus was basically just a “good example” for mankind. That’s what makes it possible for people to think they are simultaneously accepting Freemasonry and Christianity. Their version of Christianity is very naturalistic and Pelagianist, and differs very little from English Freemasonry except that it gives more preeminence to Jesus as a good example.
So they have a lot to think about before going any further, and I’m sure most of them (especially among the TAC) are aware of this.
Is the bishop aware of this? Do the Knights know? One of the reasons for the founding of the K of C, of course, was to give Catholic men a fraternal organization that would not conflict with Catholic principles.
My grandfather was buried with a lambskin Masonic apron on his coffin, with the lodge members doing the gestures and rituals. He was a devout Southern Baptist, believing that salvation came only through Jesus Christ.
My other grandfather was a lapsed Congregationalist, an impish atheist, and he was a Mason too.
For both, the attraction had to be a night with the boys, secrets kept from wives.
In the US, I think most of the attraction was simply that of any fraternal order (as you say, a night out with the boys). The US was full of these groups, although the attraction of the Masons was probably that they were older and had more of a tradition, so you got a better class of folks (the town banker, for example). I doubt that most people in small town America gave much thought to the philosophical underpinnings of Freemasonry.
That said, I can see why it might be necessary to reexamine it now in light of the current state of religious belief.
Look at your arguments, and focus on those that liberals and anti-Catholics have used, against the Catholic faith.
“Exclusion of women???” Gosh, how many women Priests to we have? How many women are in the Knights of Columbus? How much time does the Knights require, away from our families?
Historically, the Catholic Church acted in cowardice, when the French King crushed the Knights Templar's, in order to get out of paying back a large national debt that France owed to the Knights. Our own Pope was complicit in that act of slander and libel and mass murder.
This is a HISTORICAL fact!
Then, some of the lore of the Masons seems to indicate that their roots might trace back to that “Friday the 13th” travesty.
The Masonic youth group, “Demolay” was founded on the name of a Templar leader.
The Catholic Church, being embarrassed at our own history, attempted to muzzle critics and rewrite history, or simply send valid history down the “memory hole” -—
Yes, during the Reformation, there were countless acts of brutality against Catholics, committed by “Reformers” -— but instead of making clear, through our “ecumenical dialog” that religious intolerance, by Catholics towards Protestants, or by Protestants towards Catholics, was WRONG, our Catholic Church, again, did a poor job of educating the flock. Also, by keeping Catholics OUT of the Masons, there are few, within the Masonic lodges, who understand OUR side of the story!
Yes, there are some Masons with some goofy views. So what?
It should also be pointed out that Catholic leaders, in America, bear much guilt for passing on ridiculous rumors and false allegations against the Masons, during a few national scandals that rocked the American Masonic Lodges. This was done for self-serving purposes, to protect their power, to keep parishes united, to hold on to all of the charitable contributions and activities of the flock, to keep the faithful from hearing any of the Catholic sins, of the past, and to keep the flock ignorant of history. It amazes me, often, that those Catholics who go off about Masons, especially our Priests and Bishops, spend little time addressing another Papal directive:
“It is impossible, at the same time, to be a sincere Catholic and a true socialist!” I have not joined the Masons, as I try to be obedient. However, I have several Masonic friends, and they are as Christian as any other Christian I have ever met.
“Knights of Columbus pancake breakfasts”
What, no grits?
Anyway, reading this thread and recalling the centuries long prohibition against Freemasonry for Catholics like me, I tend to believe that it is based upon the inherent Pelagianism in the group. Salvation through self-improvement with Jesus as an example rather than as our Lord, directly contradicts the Christian message of salvation through divine grace.
In fact, salvation through self-improvement by achieving higher and higher degrees of perfection sounds a great deal like the teachings of Mormonism, a sect in which aprons and other sacred garments are also ceremonially presented.
Just wow. Is this the 21st century?
Masonry is both Pelagian and indifferentist ("all religions are good").
Modern Catholic historians will generally admit that the suppression of the Templars was a grave injustice.
However, the Papacy was owned lock, stock, and barrel by the French king at the point, so whatever "justice" was done would have been the "justice" that Phillip wanted.
The connection between the Templars and the Freemasons is probably just wishful thinking in any case.
It's not just a historical quirk of Catholics.
Pope Clement XII, Papal Bull In Eminenti, 1738
The Holy See has been in opposition to Freemasonry since pretty close to the earliest establishment of speculative masonry in 1717. It hasn't changed and there is no way it will ever change (now to the degree that it is taught and enforced...well, that's a different issue altogether)
From your article:
Anglicans or others who are Freemasons wishing to become Catholics will have to discard their aprons: this may keep the numbers of potential converts down.
Yup, that is pretty much true.
“It’s not just a historical quirk of Catholics.”
No, but the the recent issues started with a hoax on the sittting pope by a French crook called Leo Taxil.
The then-pope fell for the hoax, and while the Roman Catholic Church has admitted the error, the lie has taken a life of its own in cracked Protestant fringe groups.
Indeed, many lazy historians in many denominations (or simple conspiracy nuts) pick up various RCC writing that have been since-rejected by the RCC and run with it.
The Lutheran link has so many false statements about the freemason fraternity, I wouldn’t know where to start.I wouldn’t join the fictional fraternity it talks about, either.
It surprises me that so many purported Christian organizations would slander an organization to which many, if not most, of the Founding Fathers of these United States belongs, without doing some basic on-line research.
“Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Humanum Genus, 1884”
This encyclical is particularly out-of-date, in that the good-meaning pope based his conclusions about masons on the lies of Leo Taxil, who was a bitter anti-Catholic and intentionally misled the pope, “confessing” of his hoax a few years after the Enycical was published.
Also, what if you're a paidmason and not a freemason?
Look, I don’t want to get in a fight. I’m just laying out the facts.
And the fact is that the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the current Pope) revalidated the Church’s position in 1981 and again in 1983 (after the current code of canon law was enacted).
So it is what it is. If you are a Catholic and are a Freemason, you are in a state of mortal sin. Period. It is an established Magesterial teaching. Not simply that one encyclical...but since 1738.
I’m not going to get in a rant about it. I just posted this information to make sure any Catholics (or those considering becoming that way) know what the Church’s position is.
I agree with you. As noted in my first post: rules are rules.
I would state the reasons for the rules, however, are historical accidents or simple bad information.
Good Christian people should work together to clear up these misunderstandings.
Which of course has absolutely nothing to do with God or Jesus.
This is ironic considering that Fundamentalist Protestants (many of whom are doubtless Masons) regard the Catholic Church and its doctrine as "Pelagian."
NB: This is merely an observation. I am not criticizing the Catholic position on Masonry.
” tend to believe that it is based upon the inherent Pelagianism in the group. Salvation through self-improvement with Jesus as an example rather than as our Lord, directly contradicts the Christian message of salvation through divine grace.”
Absolute nonsense. The fraternity has NO TEACHINGS or beliefs regarding salvation.
That’s like saying the Marines or Boy Scouts are guilty of “Pelagianism” because they promise to make you a better man.
BTW, I saw a TV article where the Masonic temple in a large city opened their doors for a rare look at the rituals of Freemasonry.
On a table where a ceremony was taking place could be seen the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad-Gita. These were said to be held as of equal value in giving laws and ethics unto mankind.
Would this be a correct observation?
“Would this be a correct observation?”
Not in my experience.
The only thing permitted in my Lodge (and in any lodge I’ve ever seen) is the Holy Bible, generally King James.
The Bible is called the “Great Light in Masonry” and presented to all masons -— and where masons are directed to set as a “rule and guide” to their lives.
It sounds like made-for-TV hooey.
What is the “Bhagavad-Gi” anyway?
In the movie "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" the doctor's daughter(the female lead part), a Greek girl living on the island of Kephalonia, was named Pelagia, pronounced Pela-hee-ia. Is there a connection with Pelagius, and is that pronunciation similar?
This encyclical is particularly out-of-date, in that the good-meaning pope based his conclusions about masons on the lies of Leo Taxil, who was a bitter anti-Catholic and intentionally misled the pope, “confessing” of his hoax a few years after the Enycical was published.
I believe you are mistaken here. It was the publication of Humanum Genus which inspired Leo Taxil to perpetrate his infamous hoax. It could therefore hardly be seen as a basis for any of the Pope's conclusions printed in that document.
Maybe so, but it was interaction between the two (I think maybe a letter that Taxil based his hoax on, or an earlier hoax of Taxil) that got it going.
I actually read about in a Roman Catholic magazine some years ago, and cut it out.
I’ll see if I can find it.
I respect your opinion, but I have to disagree.
As a life long catholic (and former alter boy) I take offense at the hypocrocy of the RCC.
1) I have traveled the world and have seen people laying hungry on the steps of a church full of gold statues. Why not use some wealth for the betterment of the people? I’m not talking about a meal, I’m taking real help. I seem to recall - “Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat every day”
2) Politicians who protect abortion should be forbidden to take communion. How come Ted “The Swimmer” Kennedy was given last rights? He wasn’t worried about all those innocent lives he helped snuff out by advocating abortion. What about Polosi? She was given an audience with the Pope. Don’t tell me politics has no influence on the Papacy.
3) Freemasons give a million dollars a day to charities. I have organized toy drives and other events. OK, I don’t do it through the church, but the needy get help. Maybe the chuch isn’t happy that they are not getting the cut?
4) The RCC sponsors hospitals and so do Masons. Most people do not know that the Shiners, as in Shiners Children’s Hopsitals, are Masons. If the RCC and the Free masons could look past their differences, we could help so many more people. Put the BS aside, lock arms, and get things done!
5) Don’t lecture me about “You need to be all in or all out”. Don’t tell me I have to swallow everything that Rome says. I live my life by being the best I can with a strong moral and ethical compass. If I followed as a robot, I would not be using the brains, reasoning, or compassion that God gave me at birth.
6) The priest that married my wife and I also baptized my two sons. Now he owns a gay bar in Deleware. Does this mean I’m not married or that my two sons were not baptized? I think not.
Like I said, I respect your opinion, but I disagree with the church. It doesn’t keep me from attending church or going to confession. I have NEVER done ANYTHING as a Freemason that needs confessing. I don’t have all the answers, but I can only call them as I see or have experienced them. My faith in God is strong and I thank him every day for my family and everything else - including the hard lessons.
PS - No man stands taller than when he is bending over to help a child.
PSS - If there is Mason Ping list, please add me.
FRiend, I am not stating an opinion. I am quoting an objective fact: the consistent teaching of the Church since 1738 (note: the objective part is that this is the teaching; it is for each of our individual judgments whether we assent to that teaching or not)
And the last document I cited above (post #17) says the following:
Therefore the Churchs 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. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.
That is substantively the same as was initially declared back in 1738 (approximately 21 years after speculative masonry began). If you are interested, you can read the pertinent quote from that Papal Bull in post #17, above.
You said, As a life long catholic (and former alter boy) I take offense at the hypocrocy of the RCC.
As I said in post #19, I really don't want to get into an argument about whether the AF&AM (or any Masonic body) is a "good," "bad," or "hypocritical" organization. So I really don't want to go there. I have known many, many people in my life who were members of the Craft -- most (but not hardly all) were fine, upstanding members of the community. And one would have a hard time not seeing the community projects (the one that comes most to my mind is the network of Shriner hospitals). And it is not to say that the leadership in the Church, particularly within the American Church, is spotless and without blame. You could take a look at any number of my posts within this forum to recognize that.
Having said that, being a faithful Catholic and being a practicing Freemason are mutually exclusive. That is not according to FReeper markomalley's opinion, that is according to the teachings of the Church, including the two small quotes I've given in this thread.
You go on to say, Dont lecture me about You need to be all in or all out. Dont tell me I have to swallow everything that Rome says…
I'm not lecturing you one way or the other. You inserted yourself in this conversation, not me. If you choose to stand in opposition to a teaching of the Church, that is between you and your God. As long as you don't cause a scandal, I don't personally want to get into your personal life one way or the other. But it does seem rather odd that you criticize the Church of hypocrisy for not denying communion to politicians who don't assent to the teachings of the Church while proudly proclaiming your own defiance.
You then say, It doesnt keep me from attending church or going to confession. I have NEVER done ANYTHING as a Freemason that needs confessing.
I'm glad being a Freemason doesn't keep you from going to church. I would be surprised to find that any action you took would need confessing. But, again, since you spoke of anger toward pro-choice politicians not being immediately and unceremoniously booted from the Church, if these politicians honestly believe that they have voted for a pro-abortion piece of legislation, while maintaining the position of "I'm personally against abortion and would never do it, but I don't want to impose my religious belief on others" (the usual pro-"choice" cop-out), have they done something that requires them to go to confession?
You are, in essence, advocating the "supremacy of conscience" theory: if you don't believe it's wrong, then it's not wrong. And that is the same justification used by 100% of the pro-abortion "Catholic" politicians. Not telling you what to do here, FRiend, just pointing out that the line of thought you have expressed is identical to the one expressed by pro-choice Catholics.
Oh, and by the way, as for the gay former priest, you, as a former altar boy, I'm sure are familiar with the expression, ex opere operato (if not, you can Google it). So, as long as the sacraments were administered validly at the time, I wouldn't worry about it.
As far as a Masonic ping list, I think you should check with TheThirdRuffian or uglybiker. They could, I'm sure, get you hooked right up.
Send uglybiker a FReepmail if you would like on/off The Masonic PING List
The List of Ping Lists
Same ol', same ol'.
No. I’ve only ever observed either a Bible or in one case a Talmud. The Gita definately not as that represents a polytheistic religion.
Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:
Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of interest.
Obama Says A Baby Is A Punishment
Where’s Fred, Barney and the Grand Poobah?
I've been a Catholic all my life, and been all over the world. I have never once seen a Church with gold statues in it. I have never seen a picture of a Catholic Church with gold statues in it. Can you please name a few examples of Catholic churches with gold statues? You've made an accusation, back it up.
I agree. I am allowed to attend several Catholic churches and the priests know I am a Mason. In fact, I have great friendships with them.
Besides that, in the Roman Rite, even a lay person could perform a wedding (Canon 1112.2) because the bride and groom confer marriage on each other. (In the Eastern Rite the priest is the minister of the sacrament)
So, no one would tell you and your wife they are not married.
Anyone, even an atheist, can perform a baptism, as long as the formula is correct.
If you really are Catholic, then the Masons are effecting you more than you think, because they are telling you stuff about the Catholic Church that is completely false. How come you implicitly trust all the bad things said about the Catholic Church by Masons, but you distrust everything the Catholic Church teaches?
Is this familiar to you:
“The All-Seeing Eye, whom the Sun, Moon, and Stars obey, and under whose watchful care even comets perform their stupendous revolutions, pervades the inmost recesses of the human heart, and will reward us according to our merits.”
It is enough that Jesus said do not swear oaths.
At this point, I realized this gentleman hasn't a clue.
As a Mason for the past 37 years, I have always been encouraged to be active in my own religion. It is about power and control...Roman Catholic...Wisconsin Synod Lutheran...whatever...it is about the church "owning you" body and soul.
My soul belongs to God Almighty, who gave it to me at the moment of conception! "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!"
And I will do so, wearing an apron if I wish, but still beholding to God!
OK, I stand corrected. In this Masonic ceremony with everyone in full regalia, the temple was either in Baltimore or Alexandria, on the table was a Talmud, a Bible, AND a Koran, no doubt about the latter.
I’m not sure that Freemasonry is incompatible with Christianity, but it is pre-Christian, no doubt. I still believe there is an element of salvation-by-degrees assocoated with Masonic belief. In any case, it’s about much more than a night out with the boys as some allege. I have to give the benefit of the doubt to an organization that had Washington and Jefferson as members.
But I would like to know just what’s the story with the fez, and Potentates, and the crescent on the fezes, you know. Twice a year we have a huge gun show at the Jamil Temple, and from the entrance to the main hall you walk past case after glass case full of Past Potentate fezes.
Just curious about all the Islamic symbolism.
Funny, in 37 years as a Mason, I have never seen or worn any of that.
Joseph Smith was a defrocked Mason...he was defrocked for attempting to make the Fraternity into a Religion!