According to a recent response from the Dicastério for the Doctrine of Faith, it is still forbidden for Catholics to join the Masons. This response was given in light of a request from Bishop Dom Julito Cortes of Dumanguete in the Philippines, who expressed concern about the increasing number of Catholics in his diocese who were becoming members of the Masonic fraternity.
The Dicastério, in cooperation with the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines, has recommended a coordinated strategy to address this issue. The strategy consists of two approaches: theological and pastoral absorption.
From a theological perspective, it is clear that Catholic doctrine does not permit active affiliation with the Masonic Lodge. This rule has been established in previous declarations by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1983, as well as directives published by the Conference of Bishops in 2003. The recent note from the Dicastério reinforces these rules and clarifies that individuals who consciously register with Masonic societies and embrace their principles are subject to the provisions set forth in the aforementioned declarations. This prohibition also applies to clergy members who join the Masons.
In terms of pastoral approach, the dicastério recommends that Filipino parish priests conduct popular catechesis to educate the faithful on the incompatibility of Catholic faith and Masonic rituals. It is also suggested that the bishops prayerfully consider issuing a public statement on this matter.
The November 1983 Declaration was published in anticipation of the implementation of the new Code of Canon Law. This updated version replaced the previous 1917 Code and introduced several changes. Notably, it removed the explicit condemnation of Freemasonry and the threat of excommunication for its members, which was present in the old text. However, the Declaration, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) and Jérôme Hamer, Secretary of the Congregation, and approved by Pope John Paul II, reaffirmed that Catholics affiliated with Masonic lodges are “in a state of grave sin.”
The reaffirmation of the prohibition against Catholics joining Masonic lodges underscores the Church’s stance on the matter. It reflects the belief that Masonic principles and rituals are incompatible with Catholic doctrine and may lead Catholics astray from their faith. The Dicastério’s response to Bishop Cortes’ concern highlights the importance of maintaining doctrinal integrity and pastoral care within the Catholic community.
In conclusion, the Catholic Church continues to prohibit Catholics from joining the Masonic fraternity. This prohibition stems from theological considerations and is intended to safeguard the faithful from straying from Catholic doctrine. The response from the Dicastério for the Doctrine of Faith emphasizes the need for coordinated action within the Filipino Catholic community to address the growing number of Catholics affiliating with Masonic societies. By adhering to these guidelines, the Church aims to uphold its teachings and offer pastoral support to its members.