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Catholic Masons are Excommunicated

Of interest to our readers, especially those who know the history of the opposition to Fatima as related in the article above, is that the Church has very recently reaffirmed its stand on Freemasonry. The first recent official evidence of this reaffirmation that has come to our attention is the declaration of the German Episcopal Conference on the request of Catholics to become Freemasons, which we quote here in its entirety as it was reported in L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, July 14, 1980.

Declaration of German Episcopal Conference on request of Catholics to become Freemasons

“In the years 1974-1980 official conversations took place in Germany between the Catholic Church and Freemasonry by order of the German Episcopal Conference and the Grand United Lodges.

The attempt was made, in the course of these conversations, to establish whether Masonry had undergone changes in the course of time such as to make it possible, from now on, for Catholics to be members.

The talks were held in a cordial atmosphere, characterized by frankness and objectivity.

The first three degrees of membership of the society were considered.

After a careful examination of these first three degrees, the Catholic Church ascertained that there exist fundamental and insuperable differences.

Freemasonry, in its essence, has not changed. To belong to Freemasonry calls in question the foundations of the existence of Christ. A thorough examination of Masonic rites and of fundamental considerations, as well as the objective finding that Freemasonry has not changed, lead to the obvious conclusion:

Membership of the Catholic Church and at the same time of Freemasonry are not reconcilable.”

The Church’s stand against Freemasonry was further reinforced this year by the Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dated February 17, 1981.

What follows below is the complete text of the Declaration as it appeared in the English edition of L’Osservatore Romano on the 9th of March, 1981.

Declaration of S. Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith


On 19 July 1974 this Congregation wrote to some Episcopal Conferences a private letter concerning the interpretation of can. 2335 of the Code of Canon Law which forbids Catholics, under penalty of excommunication, to enroll in Masonic or other similar associations.

Since the said letter has become public and has given rise to erroneous and tendentious interpretations, this Congregation, without prejudice to the eventual norms of the new Code, issues the following confirmation and clarification:

1) the present canonical discipline remains in full force and has not been modified in any way;

2) consequently, neither the excommunication nor the other penalties envisaged have been abrogated;

3) what was said in the aforesaid letter as regards the interpretation to be given to the canon in question should be understood — as the Congregation intended — merely as a reminder of the general principles of interpretation of penal laws for the solution of the cases of individual persons which may be submitted to the judgment of ordinaries. It was not, however, the intention of the Congregation to permit Episcopal Conferences to issue public pronouncements, by way of a judgment of a general character on the nature of Masonic associations, which would imply a derogation from the aforesaid norms.

Rome, from the Office of the S. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 17 February 1981.

Some of our readers may wonder why the Church imposes the penalty of excommunication against those Catholics who would join the Freemasons.

Pope Leo XIII explains that to join the Freemasons is very serious, because thereby one endangers his Catholic faith and the eternal salvation of his soul. In the Pope’s own words he says:

“As Our predecessors have many times repeated, let no man think that he may for any reason whatsoever join the Masonic sect, if he values his Catholic name and his eternal salvation as he ought to value them. Let no one be deceived by a pretense of honesty. It may seem to some that Freemasons demand nothing that is openly contrary to religion and morality; but, as the whole principle and object of the sect lies in what is vicious and criminal, to join with these men or in any way to help them cannot be lawful.” (paragraph 31, Humanum Genus, Encyclical letter of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII on Freemasonry).

Pope Leo XIII further warns that by joining this sect, one may even put his physical life in danger, as he says in his encyclical,

“Moreover, to be enrolled, it is necessary that the candidates promise and undertake to be thenceforward strictly obedient to their leaders and masters with the utmost submission and fidelity, and to be in readiness to do their bidding upon the slightest expression of their will; or, if disobedient, to submit to the direst penalties and death itself. As a fact, if any are judged to have betrayed the doings of the sect or to have resisted commands given, punishment is inflicted on them not infrequently, and with so much audacity and dexterity that the assassin very often escapes the detection and penalty of his crime.” (paragraph 9, Humanum Genus.)

By way of further explanation for this severe penalty of excommunication, we quote below a few paragraphs from the same encyclical letter on this subject. In this passage, Pope Leo XIII indicates the long history of the Church’s stand against Freemasonry and gives some reasons why the Church must oppose Freemasonry. To be faithful to Her duty, the Church must speak out against Freemasonry, in order to be faithful to Her mission of saving souls.

3.) At so urgent a crisis, when so fierce and so pressing an onslaught is made upon the Christian name, it is Our office to point out the danger, to mark who are the adversaries, and to the best of Our power to make headway against their plans and devices, that those may not perish whose salvation is committed to Us, and that the kingdom of Jesus Christ entrusted to Our charge may not only stand and remain whole, but may be enlarged by an ever-increasing growth throughout the world.

4.) The Roman Pontiffs Our predecessors, in their incessant watchfulness over the safety of the Christian people, were prompt in detecting the presence and the purpose of this capital enemy immediately it sprang into the light instead of hiding as a dark conspiracy; and moreover they took occasion with true foresight to give, as it were, the alarm, and to admonish both princes and nations to stand on their guard, and not allow themselves to be caught by the devices and snares laid out to deceive them.

5.) The first warning of the danger was given by Clement XII in the year 1738, and his Constitution was confirmed and renewed by Benedict XIV. Pius VII followed the same path; and Leo XII, by his Apostolic Constitution, Quo graviora, put together the acts and decrees of former Pontiffs on this subject, and ratified and confirmed them forever. In the same sense spoke Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, and many times over Pius IX.

6.) For as soon as the Constitution and the spirit of the Masonic sect were clearly discovered by manifest signs of its actions, by cases investigated, by the publication of its laws, and of its rites and commentaries, with the addition often of the personal testimony of those who were in the secret, this Apostolic See denounced the sect of the Freemasons, and publicly declared its constitution as contrary to law and right, to be pernicious no less to Christendom than to the State; and it forbade any one to enter the society, under the penalties which the Church is wont to inflict upon exceptionally guilty persons.” (paragraphs 3 - 6, Humanum Genus.)

Some friends of Our Lady of Fatima may wonder what Freemasonry has to do with Fatima and Our Lady’s promise there to defeat the militant atheistic errors of Communism. The best answer to this would be to quote from paragraphs 23 and 27 of Pope Leo XIII’s same encyclical, in which he explains that Freemasonry and Communism are allied with each other. This may surprise some who are not well informed about either sect.

23.) That these doctrines are equally acceptable to the Freemasons, and that they would wish to constitute States according to this example and model, is too well known to require proof. For some time past they have openly endeavored to bring this about with all their strength and resources; and in this they prepare the way for not a few bolder men who are hurrying on even to worse things, in their endeavor to obtain equality and community of all goods by the destruction of every distinction of rank and property.”

27.) Now, from the disturbing errors which We have described the greatest dangers to States are to be feared. For, the fear of God and reverence for divine laws being taken away, the authority of rulers despised, sedition permitted and approved, and the popular passions urged on to lawlessness, with no restraint save that of punishment, a change and overthrow of all things will necessarily follow. Yea, this change and overthrow is deliberately planned and put forward by many associations of Communists and Socialists; and to their undertakings the sect of Freemasons is not hostile, but greatly favors their designs, and holds in common with them their chief opinions. And if these men do not at once and everywhere endeavor to carry out their extreme views, it is not to be attributed to their teaching and their will, but to the virtue of that divine religion which cannot be destroyed; and also because the sounder part of men, refusing to be enslaved to secret societies, vigorously resist their insane attempts.”

To help our readers understand the gravity of joining the Masonic sect we publish here several articles from the Church’s law which are still in effect today. Since joining the Masons is a grave injustice to God and endangers the salvation of souls, the Church today cuts off from the Sacraments and from membership in the Catholic Church those who join the Masons. Furthermore, as another measure for protecting the good of the Church, the Church will not lift the penalty of excommunication for those who repent of this crime of joining this sect, without first the repentant person applying to the Holy See of Rome (or to a confessor authorized by the Holy See to act in this matter) for permission to rejoin the Church. There are further penalties against Priests, and all others who have been ordained, for joining the Masonic sect. Here then is an unofficial translation of the Church’s law which specifies these things.

Canon No. 2335: Those who enroll themselves in a Masonic sect or other associations of the same kind which work against the Church or legitimate civil government, incur ipso facto excommunication reserved simply to the Apostolic See (that is the Holy See in Rome).

Canon No. 2336, No. 1). Clerics who commit the crimes mentioned in canons 2334 and 2335, besides the stated canonical penalties, incur suspension and privation of any benefice, office, dignity, pension and remuneration, which they may have from the Church; Religious, however, are deprived of their office and all active or passive vote as well as other penalties imposed by their constitutions.

No. 2) Moreover clerics and religious who enroll in a Masonic sect or similar organization must be denounced to the Holy Office (now called the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.)