Hey, Father! What is the Church’s position on being a Catholic and a Freemason?
What is the Church’s position on being a Catholic and a Freemason?Jim in our diocese
Hello Jim, and thank you for your question. Many people wonder about the relationship between being a Catholic and participation in Freemasonry. There is a complicated history, and the short and simple answer is that Catholics are not allowed to join the Masons. The most recent 1983 Code of Cannon Law implicitly regulates that a Catholic must not belong to the Masons (Cannon 1374).
At its heart, Freemasonry is technically another religion with rituals, altars, moral codes, and a theology. Those kinds of claims are contrary to the God of Revelation whose Son became human, died on the cross, rose from the dead, sent His Spirit upon us, and left us sacraments and a Church. Sprinkled throughout the history of the Masons, is plenty of anti-Catholic actions and policies.
Most people, however, do not see that side of Freemasonry. They see a fraternal group of men in their community who seek to carry out charitable deeds. I suspect that is probably why most of their members join. Good intentions, though, do not overcome the deeper reality of a false religion and an anti-Catholic history.
In 1882, the young American priest, Blessed Father Michael McGivney, saw the attraction and the need for fraternal groups like the Masons. He gathered the men of his parish and founded the Knights of Columbus. The group would stive to serve these needs while remaining authentically Catholic in its teaching of religion.
There are some that hold on to different conspiracies about the Masons and see them as having secret control of different facets of society. To be sure, there is a complicated history that people point to in support of these ideas. I would not encourage putting much stalk into those ideas. In general, I understand the local Masons in our communities to be men of good intentions who desire to work together for charitable causes. It is unfortunate that they hold and promote false theology while doing so, making it impossible for the Church to allow Catholic men to join.
I would humbly and earnestly implore a Catholic man involved in the Masons to leave. Catholics should remind their sons, grandsons, and fellow Catholics that membership in the Freemasons is not permitted. Instead, get involved with your local Knights of Columbus and invite other Catholic men to join you. Enjoy fraternity, performing charitable deeds, and good theology with the Knights of Columbus.
Father Michael Meinhart is pastor of St. Louis Parish in Nokomis.