Restful Increase is a blog that talks about the power of God's Unfailing, Unmerited, and Undeserved Favor - Jesus Christ. 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? If you also read the accounts for Sarah, you will also see that she also laughed at the possibility of bearing a child but in Hebrews 11 there is no mention of Sarah laughing, the Scripture talks only of Sarah's faith. Prepared for Gate City 2, Atlanta, GA, as the fifth installment of their Religion & Culture series.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gate City II for inviting me to speak with you tonight about a rather difficult topic, the historical relationship between the Catholic Church and Freemasons, and why Roman Catholics have been and continue to be prohibited by the Church from becoming Freemasons. I have provided you with that personal background to let you know that my studies have been related to the Roman Catholic Church and its laws. This presentation is being given from the Roman Catholic Church’s point of view, particularly since that is the only point of view I can articulate, and the material presented about Freemasons has been gathered from various sources, primarily within the Roman Catholic literature. As the title of that article and this presentation suggest, the Roman Catholic Church has for centuries, and continues to this day, to prohibit its members from membership in Freemasonry. As advertised, I will begin this presentation with a look at the origins and historical issues related to this prohibition, then address in passing some of the official canonical documents related directly to that prohibition, then review in some detail the efforts in modern times to reconcile the differences between the parties, and finally address the canonical issues developed by both the 1917 Codex Juris Canonici and the 1983 Code of Canon Law. In order to understand why the Roman Catholic Church has the authority to prohibit one of its members from belonging to Freemasonry, or to prohibit or allow its members to do or not do other things, it is important to understand a little about the Roman Catholic Church itself.
For nearly two thousand years, through unbroken apostolic succession, bishops have taught the Catholic faith that was received from Christ in the Gospels, Sacred Tradition, and through the Magisterium, the teaching office of the Church.
The Roman Catholic Church believes that it has an innate right and obligation to speak the truth about all human matters, and that truth is directed at the one primary end, the salvation of souls. The laws of the Church, codified as canon laws, set forth both the requirement and the penalty for not following the teachings of the Church, and there is a judicial process involved in determining whether the law has been broken and what sanction, if any, is appropriate in the individual case.
The best way for me to explain the relationship between the law of the Church and the essential end of human behavior is in a statement by Mother Teresa.
It was difficult to determine the precise historical origin of the Freemasons, primarily because there is little historical evidence of the Masons before the eighteenth century.
On April 28, 1738, the Roman Catholic Church published the first of many condemnations of this new society when Clement XII issued the constitution In eminenti. The nineteenth century brought renewed and continued confirmation of the charges and penalties against Masons, particularly Catholic Masons.
On September 13, 1821, Pius VII issued his decree Ecclesiam Christi in response to the growing influence of a particular form of Masonry called Carbonarism on the movement to form liberal governments in much of Europe. On March 13, 1826, Leo XII issued his decree Quo graviora in which he not only reaffirmed past condemnation, he added more condemnations, and he offered a particularly critical view of the influence of Masons on universities. On August 15, 1832, Gregory XVI in his decree Mirari Vos reaffirmed all previous papal decrees condemning Freemasons, and he added more justifications for the Church’s condemnation of Freemasons.
On October 12, 1869, Pius IX in his decree Apostolicae Sedis that reformed certain automatic [latae sententiae] penalties, retained membership in the Masons among those excommunications reserved to the Holy See. On April 12, 1884, Leo XIII issued his encyclical Humanum genus which was a document dedicated entirely to the condemnation of the Masons and reaffirmed the latae sententiae penalty imposed by Pius IX in Apostolicae Sedis. The twentieth century canonized the penalties and condemnations of the previous two hundred years. Canon 2335: This canon, with only a few changes, reaffirmed the reserved ipso facto excommunication of catholic masons promulgated by Pius IX on Apostolicae Sedis. Canon 2336: This canon levied additional penalties against clerics or religious who belonged to the masons.
Canon 693, Section 1: Denied them the right to inscribe validly in a pious association of the faithful. It was easy to establish whether the first requirement was met-all one had to do was examine the membership books of the organization. What if the charitable or fraternal organizations were only indirectly associated with Freemasons? These and other similar questions gave rise to discussions within the Church hierarchy about a new legal attitude toward Freemasons. As a consequence of this new attitude, several groups of bishops began to view the ban on Masonic membership in the light of the particular character of the respective local lodges. The next significant event in Catholic-Masonic relations occurred in talks that occurred over a six-year period between 1974 and 1980 when representatives from the German Episcopal Conference held talks with a group representing the Grand Lodges of Germany. The Masonic World-view: The Masons promote a freedom from dogmatic adherence to any one set of revealed truths. The Masonic Notion of Truth: The masons deny the possibility of an objective truth, placing every truth instead in a relative context.
The Masonic Notion of Religion: The Masonic teaching holds a relative notion of religions as all concurrently seeking the truth of the absolute.
The Masonic Notion of God: The Masons hold a deistic notion of God which excludes any personal knowledge of the deity.
The Masonic Rituals: The rituals of the first three Masonic grades have a clear sacramental character about them, indicating that an actual transformation of some sort is undergone by those who participate in them.
The Spirituality of Masons: The Masonic Order makes a total claim on the life of the member.
The Diverse Divisions within the Masons: The Masons are comprised of lodges with varying degrees of adherence to Christian teaching. The Masons and the Protestant Church: While a 1973 meeting of Protestant Churches determined that individual Protestants could decide whether to be members of both the Christian Church and the Freemasons, it included in its decision the caveat that those Christians must always take care not to lessen the necessity of grace in the justification of a person before God. The German bishops’ statement had a significant influence on the subsequent attitude of Rome toward Catholic-Mason relations, renewing the age-old attitude of distrust and antagonism.
Therefore, if the particular lodge the Catholic joined did not conspire against the Church, then only one of the two requirements for incurring the penalty of excommunication had been met. Therefore, the revised canon removed the ipso facto excommunication of canon 2335, and it was broad enough in scope to allow for particular legislators to determine when the penalty was warranted and if, or whether, harsher penalties were called for in certain circumstances.
Catholic membership in Masonic lodges was still prohibited because Masonic principles were still contrary to the teachings of the Church. Catholics who did, in fact, belong to Masonic associations were committing grave sin and were, consequently, barred from receiving Holy Communion. The reason the Masons were no longer explicitly referred to in the new code was due simply to the principles that guided the revision of the law.
Local ordinaries did not enjoy the prerogative of determining which Masonic lodges operated against the interests of the Church and which were neutral towards or even supportive of the Church’s interests.
The National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States did not officially respond to the Congregations 1983 declaration. While the Congregations declaration reflects the current law in the Church and Catholics are prohibited from joining the Masons, the debate among Church scholars and canonists about this issue and the related issue of enforcement, application, and the canonical implications of each issue remain. About Greg StewartA devoted student of the Western Mystery Traditions, Greg is a firm believer in the Masonic connections to the Hermetic traditions of antiquity, its evolution through the ages and into its present configuration as the antecedent to all contemporary esoteric and occult traditions.
It’s interesting that the twelve points delineated are some of the things about which Masons are the most proud. I apologize to the millions of good people out there that call themselves Catholic, but I cannot get past all the grave evil committed by this organization. It is possible that the Catholic Church has committed more institutionalized terrorl than any other organization in history. As a Freemason I am proud of my tolerance for all religions, but it sure is tough to take this Church seriously, especially since they can no longer burn me at the stake. Once again I apologize to any and all Catholics I might have offended but I thank I god that today we have a right to voice our opinions, a right that the Church has denied mankind for centuries through the use of violence.


Gate City 2 is proud that you have decided to recognize our efforts in such a way as to post them on such a prestigious Freemasonic website. As a Catholic Mason I think there is a big difference between the pre Vatican II Church and the post Vatican II Church.
But let me tell you that the way to arrest fears and combat misinformation is to have a respectful meeting of the minds. Being kind and tolerant instead of adversarial and confrontational can go a long way into making friends out of enemies.
The Freemason Information e-magazine is to be commended for presenting this important material. Contrary to some of my brothers who have commented above, I vigorously disagree with the notion that the German Bishops’ Conference accurately depicted Freemasonry in their 12 points. This works if you accept the first premise: that what the Pope says has a meaning beyond that of any other man. As one who was born and raised Catholic and later in life became a Freemason I have struggled with the issues discussed here.
As a Freemason I have found myself and become closer to G-d than I have at any time in my earlier life.
What Freemasonry promotes in the Fatherhood of G-d, brotherhood of man is, in my opinion, is what is right for our world as a whole. My respects to the Church and all the good they do, but I believe that Masonry is the future and I feel good about being a part of it. I don’t see how anything the Masons do or teach today could possibly contradict the Catholic Church. Brothers, with deep regret, I am going to resign the craft and encourage others to search their souls more deeply. Because Abraham in not under the Law (this is before the Law) and because before Abraham was called Abraham, he was first Abram. Now noticed the character that was inserted to Abram's name; its the 5th letter of the Aleph-Tav which is Hei which is the character for Grace. It seems that God is consistent when He said that there is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
My name is John McManus and in my civilian life I am an attorney who has been practicing law for just over 27 years.
I am not a Freemason, nor have I studied in any detail, other than for the preparation of this presentation, the laws, rules, creeds, or other constitutive documents of Freemasons. That prohibition remains applicable today in the Archdiocese of Atlanta for all members of the Roman Catholic Church.
It is my sincere hope that at the end of this presentation the fundamental inconsistencies between the basic tenants of the Roman Catholic Church and those of Freemasonry will allow at least a better understanding of the prohibition that the Roman Catholic Church asserts in this matter.
And, therefore, throughout the ages, the Church has issued decrees, which are decisions regarding a particular case, and encyclicals, which are writings approved by the Holy Father, and she has held Councils and synods, discussing various issues related to the faith.
It does appear, however, that on June 24, 1717, four independent guilds of stone cutters met in a London inn to form the first grand lodge. In that constitution, Clement XII declared the basic tenants of Freemasonry to be a threat not only to the basic teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, but also to the stability of governments and society.
It should be noted here that the law of the Roman Catholic Church, which was developed through Tradition, Sacred Writings, synods, Councils, Decrees and Encyclicals, was not codified in one in a single code of canon law until the Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917. These penalties included suspension for clerics and loss of active and passive voice for religious. Those inquiries lead to the hope that the issue would be addressed by the Second Vatican Council.
This was first done in 1966 by the Scandinavian bishops who determined that each bishop could judge whether or not a particular lodge was acting or teaching in ways contrary to the interests of the Church. In March 1969, a commission of three Catholics and nine masons gathered in Innsbruck to discuss their mutual concerns. Such a subjective relativism is in direct conflict with the revealed truths of Christianity. That is, relativism teaches them to be tolerant of ideas divergent or contrary to their own.
True adherence to the Christian faith is thereby jeopardized by the primary loyalty due the Masonic Order. As a direct result of the Lichtenau Declaration, canons 2335 and 2336 of the 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law were abandoned early in the code revision process and were not included in the penal law schema of 1973. Therefore, membership in a neutral lodge would not necessarily bring with it an ipso facto excommunication for the Catholic. Based upon this canon, it appeared that the decision about whether Catholics were allowed to join a particular lodge was left up to the local legislator, the bishop. However, it did ask the Pastoral Research and Practices Committee to write a report on the compatibility of Masonic principles with the Catholic faith. He is a self-called searcher for that which was lost, a Hermetic Hermit and a believer in “that which is above is so too below.” Read more about Greg Stewart. I agree with them so for the first time in my life I actually agree with the Catholic Church ?? Who would have thunk it? Some of those points aren’t exactly correct, but then, it would be easy to get that impression if you were on the outside looking in. As a pre-teen I started reading the bible and failed to see any correspondence between that church and the teachings of Christ.
The Inquisition, harboring and aiding Nazi war criminals after WWII, protecting child molesters within its ranks (and reassigning them when they are caught so they might continue molesting other children), the persecution of Galileo, and the complete opposition to science in general only to name a few.
For centuries the papacy changed hands for political reasons and was often gained through deception and even murder. Many documents of the Catholic Church encourage a well-formed conscience, and many approved writers such as Merton, Aquinas, and Augustine endorse it as well.
The Catholic Church says that abortion is wrong at all times, while at the same time stating that an expectant mother may undergo surgeries which might threaten the fetus.
Although not a Mason myself, I know Masons who hold a personal relationship with one or more deities. Other organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America, have rituals of passage of a transformational manner.
If the allegation provided by the author in #1 is true, then #8 contradicts that; Masonry clearly cannot state that it provides all that is necessary for perfection if it rejects dogma. Although not a Mason myself, I know Masons who have other oaths, other commitments, and have no problem keeping true to those other oaths and commitments. It has been made clear to me even back when I was a Catholic that, by and large, Masonry has no problem with welcoming Catholics in any lodge. Why would a church of love count us, regular masons, amounst those groups of clandestine masons who are not apart of our fraternal order?
Although I more or less agree with the Church on many topics, quite frankly, I’m sick of the egocentric priests, the horribly abusive nuns and the awful memories they left me with, and the weird conglomeration of new age spirituality and traditional catholic values that I was taught when forced to attend CCD as a teen.
But as a Catholic, I would like to add a commentary in hopes of adding clarification to what it is to be Catholic especially for any of my Catholic brethren who may need more perspective. Last Sunday, I was privileged to attend New Creation Church's first service where Pastor Joseph Prince shared 'Imperfect Faith—Not A Barrier To God's Grace'. Because Abraham is under Grace (not under the Law) and because he is called the 'Father of Faith'. In fact, he offered his son Ishmael (son through Hagar) as a fulfillment to God's blessing.


It seems that has does not remember our sins anymore and as far as the west is from the east, that is how far he has taken our iniquities away from us.
Every time you stepped into faith, God records but every time you fall into unbelief God does not see it. I am Roman Catholic Christian from birth, and since my ordination in 2002, I have been a member of the Roman Catholic Clergy as a Deacon, the lowest of the three levels of clerical hierarchy in the Catholic Church.
Nothing presented herein is intended to criticize, condemn or otherwise cast aspersions on either Freemasonry or Freemasons, as a group or to any individual Freemason, whether Roman Catholic or not.
There has certainly been a great deal of confusion regarding whether this prohibition continues today, engendered in large part by the language of the 1983 Code of Canon Law that omitted the specific prohibition against Freemasonry stated in the 1917 Codex Juris Canonici.
To be Catholic, one must believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that he established the Church with divine authority. The authority of the Church rests in the Bishop of Rome, The Roman Pontiff, the successor to St. The most recent Council was the Second Vatican Council held in the 1960’s which has had a significant effect on the law of the Church, and the Church itself. Therefore, it is incumbent upon Catholics to understand the teachings of their faith, the reasons why the Church teaches as it does, and then live a life accordingly, constantly striving to be faithful to Christ and his teachings.
It appears that this new order of masons spread to France by 1732, Hamburg, Germany by 1737, and then throughout much of the rest of Europe, including Italy. Clement XII imposed the penalty of excommunication reserved to the Holy See on persons who either belonged to or externally supported the society. Did Catholics who joined an American lodge deserve to suffer the same penalty as one who joined a lodge more patently opposed to the Church?
The Second Vatican Council, however, did not specifically address the issue with Freemasons. If the bishop decided that the lodge was not manifesting such behavior, the bishop was free to determine whether a particular Catholic could join that particular lodge. The commission met under the auspices of the Secretariat for Non-Believers and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith. Such a principle not only threatens the Catholic position of objective truth, but it also threatens the respect due the Church’s teaching office. Thus, the justification of a person through the work of Christ is not an essential or even necessary aspect of the struggle for perfection.
But even those lodges comprised of Christian members seek merely to adapt Christianity to the overall Masonic world-view. This has lead to some confusion among the bishops about the Church’s stance toward Masons. Such a principle not only threatens the Catholic position of objective truth, but it also threatens the respect due the Church’s teaching office. How anyone considers the Catholic Church a legitimate expression of Christianity is beyond me. It is good to remember that there are tons of Catholic Masons out here and as a Fraternity that preaches the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God it is a wise move to still be able to search for common ground and extend for the olive branch in the face of what one thinks is misinformation and unwarranted criticism.
Historically, the twin Janus faces of church and state have always found indoctrinating, coersive, threatening and dictatorial methods and means of punishing and excommunicating folks who took a deeper, more conscious and mindful inquiry. Unless you are an immigrant and became an American then you were born an American, the result of no decision made by you.
Partly because they explicitly agree to refrain from discussions of politics and religion at meetings. I was so blessed with the what he shared that I started meditating on the fresh revelation of how God treats our faith.
So looking at Abraham and his wife, Sarah, we can have a good clue on how God sees your faith and my faith when we are under Grace.
Even if you have 1% faith and 99% of unbelief God still sees your 1% of faith and not an ounce of your doubt. Since 2007, I am also a Canon Lawyer, which means that I have a pontifical licentiate that allows me to practice as a lawyer in the Tribunals, or courts, of the Roman Catholic Church, and also to advise the Archbishop or others regarding canonical issues, or those issues related to the law of the Roman Catholic Church.
Instead, this presentation is intended to provide historical and current information on the subject matter that may be used in civil discussions and personal reflections about the issues presented in order that each person may be informed and form their own consciences about the issues presented.
Jenkins.  For those of you interested in the complete text of that paper, it was published in 1996 in The Jurist, Volume 56, pages 735-755. In response to this confusion, in November of 1983, the Congregation for the Doctrine of The Faith issued a declaration stating that the prohibition was still in force and that Catholic Masons were barred from receiving Holy Communion. The rules and laws that are articulated by the Holy Father become laws that Catholics must respect and follow because of the aforementioned authority from which they are derived. This document was significant because subsequent popes repeated the condemnations for the next two hundred years. Similar actions were taken by the bishops of England and Wales, and the French bishops were even allowed by the Vatican to have limited discussions between the Italian grand master and a priest who was an expert in Masonic affairs. The only thing that has tempered my contempt for the Church through the years is the fact that the vast majority of Catholics I have met, including members of my family, are just ordinary decent people. If more Masonic Lodges, especially Grand Lodges, would go out of their way to open up a dialogue with their detractors rather than constantly bashing them or even just ignoring them, perhaps doors of rapprochement would open up.
That is, a choice for a self-examined human life with a concsience, a life of the mind and moral imagination.
That seems a like a great idea to me, as the two biggest barriers to friendship are prohibited. However, that declaration did not quell the debate about that prohibition, and the debate continues.
Willful failure to follow the teachings of the Church has consequences for Catholics, including excommunication in the most serious cases.
Through the ages, all great literature and wisdom traditions, poetry, art and music is made of this same primal struggle material. Jenkins was one of my instructors at The Catholic University of America where I received my Juris Canonical Licentiate.
It is my purpose here tonight to address the foundational reasons for this centuries old prohibition, clarify the confusion created by the new Code of Canon law, and explain why the Roman Catholic Church through the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith continues that prohibition today.
In fact, all of the laws and all of the traditions of the Church have one goal, one end, and that end is the salvation of souls.
As Doevtoesky knew only too well, in the masses of men, the fear of freedom is vastly far greater than the fear of enslavement…on this side of the two Grand Inquisitors (church and state). During my preparation for this presentation, I had an opportunity to communicate with Msgr. Being a soldier in the US Army I have met many Masons and became friends with them in a less secretive fraternal organization known as US Partroopers. Jenkins about recent developments in this area since the publication of that paper, and those developments have been incorporated into this presentation. When I get out of the Army later this year I will join the K of C just like my great grandfather, my grandfather, and my father before me. As far as Masons go, I wish you luck (as long as your endevours are not against the church), and as for Catholic Masons, you can not serve two masters.



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