As explained in the document, the Most. Rev. Julito Cortes, Bishop of Dumaguete in the Philippines expressed concern about the continuous rise in the number of enrollments in Freemasonry by the faithful and asked for guidance on how to address this problem.
“Membership in Freemasonry is very significant in the Philippines,” the document states. “It involves not only those who are formally enrolled in Masonic Lodges but, more generally, a large number of sympathizers and associates who are personally convinced that there is no opposition between membership in the Catholic Church and in Masonic Lodges.”
In order to respond to this problem, the Dicastery involved the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in a two-pronged approach.
First, the bishops are to remind the faithful that active membership in Freemasonry is forbidden because of the irreconcilability between Catholic doctrine and Freemasonry. This is in accordance with the 1983 document issued by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith entitled, “Declaration on Masonic Associations” in which the faithful are told that those who enroll in Masonic associations “are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.”
Second, the Dicastery proposed that the Philippine bishops “conduct catechesis accessible to the people and in all parishes regarding the reasons for the irreconcilability between the Catholic Faith and Freemasonry.
It was also suggested that the bishops consider making an official pronouncement on the matter.
Although many people believe enrollment in the Masons is for networking and business opportunities, this is a fraternal organization that has a formal religious system which includes belief in God as the Grand Architect of the Universe, the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. Masons believe man can achieve salvation by their own good works and do not require members to believe in Jesus Christ. All religious writings are considered to be on par with the Bible (Book of Mormon, the Vedas, Zend Avesta, the Sohar, the Kabbalah, Bhagavad-Gita, the Upanishads, etc.) because Masons generally view all religions as plausible attempts to explain the truth about God.
The Church has issued 14 documents condemning freemasonry beginning in 1738 when Pope Blement XIUI declared that all Catholic Masons were automatically excommunicated. In 1751, Benedict XIV issued another condemnation of Masonry citing five reasons - secrecy, oaths, indifferentism, anti-Catholicism and immorality. In 1766 Clement XIII said that Masonry duplicates Manichean and Gnostic heresies and Pope Leo XII condemned it 1825 because it denies the divinity of Christ.
In the 20th Century, the 1917 Code of Canon Law reconfirmed that Catholic Masons are automatically excommunicated and Pius XII called Masonry the "mother root" of modern apostasy in a pastoral letter.
Cardinal Ratzinger reaffirmed this condemnation in 1983.
Masonry is considered to be a grave evil, as is its affiliate organization known as the Order of the Eastern Star. This is a lodge open to women who are related to Masons and Master Masons, such as their wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, etc.
Those who have been involved in Freemasonry cannot present themselves for Communion unless they have sincerely repented of this sin in sacramental confession and quit the lodge.
The website of Msgr. Stephen Rossetti includes prayers the laity can use to renounce freemasonry and any generational sin associated with it.
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