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Catholicism vs. Freemasonry - Irreconcilable Forever
The Evangelization Station ^ | Rev. Robert I. Bradley, S.J.

Posted on 05/08/2010 10:27:29 PM PDT by GonzoII

Catholicism vs. Freemasonry - Irreconcilable Forever

Rev. Robert I. Bradley, S.J.

What is the truth regarding the present official attitude of the Catholic Church toward Freemasonry? To begin this inquiry into that which is now in effect, we should go back to what was stated in the Church's canon law before there was any doubt about where the Church stood on Masonry. The former code of Canon Law contained a canon, which definitely capped all the previous papal condemnations of it. Canon 2335 reads as follows:

“Persons joining associations of the Masonic sect or any others of the same kind which plot against the Church and legitimate civil authorities contract ipso facto excommunication simply reserved to the Apostolic See.”

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, however, when the revision of the Code was underway, the prevailing spirit of "ecumenical dialogue" prompted questions among various bishops as to whether or not Canon 2335 was still in force. Responding to these questions, a letter from Cardinal Francis Seper, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to the presidents of all the episcopal conferences, dated July 18, 1974, stated that: (1) the Holy See has repeatedly sought information from the bishops about contemporary Masonic activities directed against the Church; (2) there will be no new law on this matter, pending the revision of the Code now underway; (3) all penal canons must be interpreted strictly and (4) the express prohibition against Masonic membership by clerics, religious and members of secular institutes is hereby reiterated.

This rather awkwardly structured letter came to be interpreted in many quarters as allowing membership by laymen in any particular Masonic (or similar) lodge which, in the judgment of the local bishop, was not actively plotting against the Church or legitimate civil authorities.

This state of affairs, in which undoubtedly a fair number of Catholics in good faith became Masons, lasted for some years. Then, on February 17, 1981, Cardinal Seper issued a formal declaration: (1) his original letter did not in any way change the force of the existing Canon 2335; (2) the stated canonical penalties are in no way abrogated and (3) he was but recalling the general principles of interpretation to be applied by the local bishop for resolving cases of individual persons, which is not to say that any episcopal conference now has the competence to publicly pass judgment of a general character on the nature of Masonic associations, in such a way as to derogate from the previously stated norms.

Because this second statement seemed to be as awkwardly put together as the first, the confusion persisted. Finally, in 1983 came the new Code with its Canon 1374:

A person who joins an association that plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; one who promotes or takes office in such an association is to be punished with an interdict.

Cardinal Ratzinger's Declaration

Following the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law, in 1983, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a new declaration: (1) the new Canon 1374 has the same essential import as the old Canon 2335, and the fact that the "Masonic sect" is no longer explicitly named is irrelevant; (2) the Church's negative judgment on Masonry remains unchanged, because the Masonic principles are irreconcilable with the Church's teaching ("earum principia semper iconciliabilia habita sunt cum Ecclesiae doctrina"); (3) Catholics who join the Masons are in the state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion and (4) no local ecclesiastical authority has competence to derogate from these judgments of the Sacred Congregation.

Beginning in 1738 with Clement XII's encyclical In Eminenti and running through ten successive pontificates, the Church's case against Freemasonry finds its culminating statement in 1884 in Leo XIII's encyclical Humanum Genus. Masonic deceitfulness regarding its real objectives in society—and its consequent policy of secrecy regarding the authorities of Church and State, and including even the rank-and-file of its own membership—has always been noted by the popes, and most tellingly by Leo XIII. And in the century since then and in our own country this conspiratorial policy has been amply documented.

However useful this knowledge of Masonic strategy is for our understanding of the authentic nature of the movement, it is quite secondary. It is wholly subordinate to that which defines the movement itself: the content in function of which conspiracy is but "method," the “end” determining and justifying the means. That content—that end—is what we must now examine, if we are to find the fundamental and explicit reason for the Church's condemnation of Freemasonry.

This fundamental reason can be briefly stated. The following summary passage from Leo XIII's Humanum Genus suffices.

“. . . that which is their ultimate purpose forces itself into view—namely, the utter overthrow of that whole religious and political order of the world which the Christian teaching has produced, and the substitution of a new state of things in accordance with their ideas, of which the foundations and laws shall be drawn from mere "Naturalism."

Now, the fundamental doctrine of the Naturalists, which they sufficiently make known by their very name, is that human nature and human reason ought in all things to be mistress and guide. Laying this down, they care little for duties to God, or pervert them by erroneous and vague opinions. For they deny that anything has been taught by God; they allow no dogma of religion or truth, which cannot be understood by the human intelligence, nor any teacher who ought to be believed by reason of his authority. And since it is the special and exclusive duty of the Catholic Church fully to set forth in words truths divinely received, to teach, besides other divine helps to salvation, the authority of its office, and to defend the same with perfect purity, it is against the Church that the rage and attack of the enemies are principally directed.

Catholicism and Freemasonry are therefore essentially opposed. If either were to terminate its opposition to the other, it would by that very fact become something essentially different from what it previously was; it would in effect cease to exist as itself. For Catholicism is essentially a revealed religion; it is essentially supernatural, both in its destiny and in its resources. Beyond all natural fulfillment, it tends toward an eternity of ineffable union with God in Himself; and beyond all natural resources, it begins that union here and now in the sacramental life of the Church.

Masonry, on the other hand, is essentially a religion of "reason." With an insistence and a consistency matching Catholicism's self-definition, Masonry promises perfection in the natural order as its only destiny—as indeed the highest destiny there is. And it provides for this perfectibility with its resources: the accumulated sum of purely human values, subsumed under the logo of "reason."

Literally a logo, the Masonic compass and square are the symbol of a Rationalism that claims to be identified with all that is "natural." The consequent syncretism, blending all the strands of human experience—from the cabalistic mysteries of an immemorial Orient to the technological manipulations of a post-modern West—is the basis for Masonry's claim to be not just a religion but the religion: the "natural" Religion of Man. That is why its claim to date from the beginning of history—its calendar numbers the "Years of Light" (from the first day of Creation) or the "Years of the World"—is no mere jest on its part. And that is why its opposition to the Catholic Church antedates the Catholic Church's opposition to it. For it cannot abide the Church's claim to be the One True Church, and the consequent refusal by the Church to be relegated to the status of a "sect" which Masonry would have it be.

Since the Church's claim to be the One True Church is ultimately founded and validated on the reality of the One True God, the opposing Masonic claim must ultimately derive from a perception of God that diametrically opposes the Church's faith. And so it does. Although Pope Leo does not explicitly speak of this essential opposition between Catholicism and Masonry in terms of the First Commandment of God—"I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before me"—surely the most radical and simplest way of situating this opposition is to say just this. The Masonic "God" is an idol. What the Masons really worship is Man—or the Spirit who has deceived man from the beginning: the masked Spirit of Evil. This is the one primal reason why the Catholic Church has condemned, and will always condemn, Freemasonry. It is clearly sufficient to stand by itself as the only reason—and in a most fundamental sense, as Leo XIII seems to imply, that is the only reason in fact.

Gravely Evil Misuse Of Oaths

We can, however, give a second reason for the Church's opposition to Masonry. Not strictly independent of the first reason, based as that reason is on the First Commandment, we can yet distinguish a second reason—based on the Second Commandment. Some ten years earlier than Humanum Genus, there appeared (even in English translation) a brief, but penetrating work, A Study of Freemasonry by the great bishop of Orleans, Felix Dupanloup. All the more impressive because of his "liberal" credentials, Dupanloup duly notes the facts, and the gravity, of the Masonic conspiracy. But what he stresses, besides the same primary point subsequently stressed by Leo XIII, viz., the Masonic violation of the First Commandment, is its violation of the Second Commandment by its gravely evil misuse of oaths. The famous (or, rather, infamous) oaths that run through the entire ritual of Masonic initiation are more than mere promises based on personal honor. They formally invoke the Deity, and have for their object a man's total commitment to a cause under the direst sanctions. The Catholic Church sees in such oaths an inescapable grave evil. Either the oaths mean what they say or they do not. If they mean what they say, then God is being called to invert by his witness loyalties (viz., to Church and to State) already sanctioned by Him. If the oaths are merely fictitious, then God is being called to witness to a joke.

It is not the secrecy of what goes on "behind the lodge door" that elicits and justifies the Church's condemnation of Masonry. It is rather the formal violation of the Second Commandment, which these proceedings inescapably entail. The vaunted Masonic secrets, moreover, are scarcely that secret any longer. There is in fact a frequent Masonic plea to the effect that there are no secrets in Masonry—that all is open to a truly open mind. On this point we may take the Mason at his word: he is speaking more truly than he knows!

The case for the Catholic Church's condemnation of Freemasonry is open and clear. By its very nature as formulated in its philosophical statements and as lived in its historical experience, Masonry violates the First and Second Commandments of God. It worships not the One True God of revelation—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—but a false god, symbolically transcendent but really immanent: the "god" called "Reason." And it invokes without adequate cause the Name of the One True God. After such a case as this, to cite the secrecies of initiation and the further secrecies of machination called "conspiracy" is not only anti-climactic, it is beside the point.

To conclude: we Catholics should now see the Masons more clearly for what they essentially are. They are the heirs (unwitting or otherwise is irrelevant) of a religion, which purports to be the one religion of the one "God"—and therefore the enemy, intrinsically and implacably so, of Catholicism. Freemasonry in its modern mode is "modernity" in the deepest (i.e., the philosophical and religious) sense of that term. It is, in a word, "Counterfeit Catholicism." For its "God" is the "Counterfeit God": the one who would be as God, the one who is the prince of this world, the one who is the Father of Lies.

Printed with ecclesiastical permission.

The Evangelization Station
P.O. Box 267
Angels Camp, California 95222, USA
Telephone: 209-728-5598
Pamphlet 056

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; freemasonry; masonry
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To: Ransomed

Didn’t see the LDS question...don’t know for sure. I imagine not, if the LDS’s believe in a source being.

21 posted on 05/01/2011 9:18:52 AM PDT by MAK1179 (Obama in SPELLCHECK corrects itself to Osama...coincidence?)
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To: MAK1179

(err swype keyboard)Supreme

22 posted on 05/01/2011 9:20:07 AM PDT by MAK1179 (Obama in SPELLCHECK corrects itself to Osama...coincidence?)
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To: Ransomed

I was thinking of this on how to help you understand rather that get frustrated with your sense of logic. Here’s the deal. We don’t require that you belong to a religion. We require the belief in God, however you define Him. They don’t ask what your Religion is. You simply must be of legal age, an upstanding citizen (no felons), believe in a supreme being and be well recommended.

23 posted on 05/01/2011 9:39:07 AM PDT by MAK1179 (Obama in SPELLCHECK corrects itself to Osama...coincidence?)
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To: MAK1179

Seems to me that all they would have to do is ask if your particular faith precludes membership. If someone says yes, well it’s on the Masons if they let them join. If someone says no, but it really does preclude membership, then it would be on the person joining.

Why would they want someone whose faith specifically teaches that they shouldn’t join, considering that faith is a requirement?


24 posted on 05/01/2011 10:16:08 AM PDT by Ransomed
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To: GonzoII; it_ürür; Bockscar; Mary Kochan; Bed_Zeppelin; YellowRoseofTx; Rashputin; ...

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

25 posted on 05/01/2011 10:18:14 AM PDT by narses ("Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." Chesterton)
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To: jeffDavis1861
Freemasonry is not a religious organization.
Really? But it has Temples, and hierarchs and "revealed mysteries". Quack, quack. The Duck test suggest you may be in error.
26 posted on 05/01/2011 10:20:16 AM PDT by narses ("Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." Chesterton)
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To: narses

I would stronly suggest that those still curious about a Catholic perspective on the freemasons might be interested in this page at John Salza’s website:

Respectfully, of course, no Catholic should be a freemason.

27 posted on 05/01/2011 10:46:16 AM PDT by sayuncledave (A cruce salus)
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To: sayuncledave


28 posted on 05/01/2011 10:46:49 AM PDT by narses ("Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." Chesterton)
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To: Ransomed

On the Masons? Preposterous.

I as a Catholic choose to ignore the church’s position on my membership. My choice. That choice has NO bearing on my belief in God. You don’t make any sense.

29 posted on 05/01/2011 12:53:41 PM PDT by MAK1179 (Obama in SPELLCHECK corrects itself to Osama...coincidence?)
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To: sayuncledave John Salza’s eye you’ll all burn.

30 posted on 05/01/2011 12:56:36 PM PDT by MAK1179 (Obama in SPELLCHECK corrects itself to Osama...coincidence?)
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To: GonzoII

Friday the 13th bump.

31 posted on 05/01/2011 1:10:59 PM PDT by Delta 21 (Make your choice ! There are NO civilians.)
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To: MAK1179

“On the Masons? Preposterous.”

They are the ones who require faith from their members, even if that faith teaches that they are precluded from being Masons.

“I as a Catholic choose to ignore the church’s position on my membership. My choice. That choice has NO bearing on my belief in God. You don’t make any sense.

Fair enough. I as a Catholic choose to heed the Church’s teaching on Catholics belonging to the Masons. I reckon we’ll find out if it’s no big deal eventually. Masons, at least those in America, seem to lots of good things.


32 posted on 05/01/2011 1:14:41 PM PDT by Ransomed
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To: narses

This thread is like deja vu.

This thread is like deja vu.

33 posted on 05/01/2011 9:23:50 PM PDT by GonzoII (Quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea...Quare tristis es anima mea?)
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To: jeffDavis1861

I think you just proved their point.

34 posted on 05/03/2011 9:22:55 AM PDT by SQUID
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To: MAK1179

PTA is not a belief system.

35 posted on 05/03/2011 9:24:58 AM PDT by SQUID
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