Some recent public discussion has raised the question of the relationship between Roman Catholics and their membership in the Freemasons organization.
The church’s position here is long-standing and well-developed, and formally dates back to Pope Leo XIII’s initial observations about Masonic philosophy in 1884. To minimize any possible confusion, it seems timely and appropriate to restate the church’s latest teaching.
In its “Declaration on Masonic Associations” (November 26, 1983), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed that:
The question has been raised whether the church’s position on Masonic associations has been altered, especially since no explicit mention is made of them in the new Code of Canon Law, as there was in the old Code.
. . . The church’s negative position on Masonic associations therefore remains unaltered, since their principles have always been regarded as irreconcilable with the church’s doctrine. Hence, joining them remains prohibited by the church.
Local ecclesiastical authorities do not have the faculty to pronounce a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations which might include any diminution (i.e., lessening) of the above-mentioned judgment.
Catholics are strongly encouraged to join other organizations (such as the Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Serra Club, etc.), which support the practice of the faith and perform so many commendable acts of service and charity for the communities around them.