I have heard that since 1983 Catholics are permitted to join the
Freemasons. Is this true? (JA, Port Saint Lucie)
Catholics do not join
the Freemasons! There was some confusion about this when John Paul II
issued his new Code of Canon Law in 1983. The old Code, canon
2335, mentioned “Masonic societies” by name among other prohibited
“organizations that plot against the Church or legitimate civil society.”
The new Code, canon 1374, says only “organizations that plot against
the Church,” with no mention of Masonry, and no mention of plots against
“legitimate civil society.”
An authentic interpretation of the new Code
was given by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and the Sacred Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith shortly after, in November 1983.
Declaration on Masonic Associations
It has been asked whether there has been any
change in the Church’s decision in regard to Masonic associations since the
new Code of Canon Law does not mention them expressly, unlike the previous
This Sacred Congregation is in a position to
reply that this circumstance in due to an editorial criterion which was
followed also in the case of other associations likewise unmentioned
inasmuch as they are contained in wider categories.
Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in
regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have
always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and
therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enroll in
Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy
It is not within the competence of local
ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic
associations which would imply a derogation from what has been decided
above, and this in line with the Declaration of this Sacred Congregation
issued on 17 February 1981 (cf. AAS 73 1981 pp. 240-241; English language
edition of L’Osservatore Romano, 9 March 1981).
In an audience granted to the undersigned
Cardinal Prefect, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II approved and ordered the
publication of this Declaration which had been decided in an ordinary
meeting of this Sacred Congregation.
Rome, from the Office of the Sacred
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 26 November 1983.
Joseph Card. RATZINGER
+ Fr. Jerome Hamer, O.P.
Titular Archbishop of Lorium
Some claim that American Freemasonry is not
as violent or anti-Catholic as its European counterparts in France and
Italy. The claim is partially correct. I have known men who were Masons
for little more than career reasons. Many were regular attendees at
Protestant churches—although there seems to be a tendency to let Lodge
attendance substitute for church attendance. Some of them do excellent
Nonetheless, Freemasonry remains
incompatible with Catholicism for it espouses a “brotherhood of all men,”
sometimes without God, often without Christ, and never with the Church. If
anything, its religion is something like the Interfaith Initiative of
Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, with the same nonsense about “all religions
sharing the same core values.” The American Freemason Albert Pike’s
instruction of Freemasonry is titled Morals and Dogma, certainly
substitution for true religion. I’ve been told by a Master Mason that the
“G” inside their insignia stands not for God, but for the “Grand Architect
of the Universe,” who or what-ever that might be (others say it is “G” for
geometry!)—and that the “sacred book” on the Lodge table is whatever book is
considered sacred where the Lodge meets. It might be the Upanishads,
the Koran, or the Bhagavad Gita just as well as the King
There is another problem in that some of the
degrees of Masonry require desecration of Catholic symbols; for example to
pierce a papal tiara with a sword. There is also the requirement to take
blood curdling oaths, which acknowledge that the oath taker will be subject
to horrible mutilation if he should disclose and of the secret mumbo jumbo
of the Lodge to outsiders. If the oath taker is serious he is violating the
Commandment not to kill—and if it is take as whimsy it is blasphemy; calling
on God to witness a joke.
American Freemasonry may be a bit tamer than
its European counterparts, but it still supports a mindset that is
incompatible with the Catholic Faith. Do not join!
Pope Clement XII, Pontifical Constitution
In Eminenti, April 28, 1738.
Pope Benedict XIV, Constitution Providas,
March 16, 1751.
Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, August
Pope Leo XIII, Humanum Genus, April
An overview of the literature can be found
on the Internet at
Recently the Vatican’s Council on Peace and Justice issued a decree calling
for globalization of the economy under the auspices of the UN. Are
Catholics required to believe such teachings?
First of all, “the Vatican” is not the same as “the Pope.” Foolish
statements sometimes get issued by bureaucrats without the full advanced
knowledge of the Pope. “The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the
Global Economy” of October 24th may or may not be such a document.
Several of the post-Vatican II Popes have issued their own documents on
economics that may respectfully be said to be a little “off.” The July 2008
encyclical Caritas in veritate is a case in point.
As Catholics, we know that the Holy Father
teaches infallibly when he instructs the entire Church as head of the Church
in a matter of faith or morals. Vatican I put it this way:
[W]hen the Roman Pontiff speaks Ex
Cathedra, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and
teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he
defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole
Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed
Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to
enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such
definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent
of the Church, irreformable.
We must ask what part of economics is a
matter of faith or morals. None of it is a matter of faith—God has revealed
nothing to us about supply and demand, or the minimum wage. But some part
of economics is directly related to morality. Even with nothing more than
the Natural Moral Law we know that people have rights to life and property.
It clearly would be within the purview of the Pope (or those working for
him) to address the moral questions associated with these rights. For
example, the Pope might affirm the right of a man to earn his daily bread,
to feed his family, or to own a piece of land. What the Popes, as Popes,
(and his associates) do not have is any special insight into how these needs
may best be met. The question of how society may best produce the bread for
the man to feed his family, or how title to land should best be acquired is
simply not a question of faith or morals. The question of how a society can
produce sufficient bread for itself, while conserving the scarce resources
needed for other things, and insuring that everyone receives an adequate
amount for himself is technological and economic, not religious.
The Church has no special competence to
predict the outcome of keeping interest rates artificially low, legislating
a high minimum wage, increasing regulation, or printing money not backed by
a valuable commodity. The Church is in no position to rule on the capital
theories of one economist versus another, nor to prescribe foreign aid as
the best way of helping less developed countries. These are matters of
cause and effect, and have not been revealed by God as something to be
believed or practiced.
In recent years Modernist churchmen have
come to perceive socialism as somehow compassionate and beneficial for the
masses. They preach what can be described as “ought-to-doxy”; that is they
list a number of things that ought-to-be, and assume that what ought to be
can be made to be by government decree. If wages are low the “ought-to-dox”
answer is to pass a minimum wage law. If some do not own a home the
“ought-to-dox” answer is to pass a law requiring the relaxation of credit
standards. If people lose money on investments the “ought-to-dox” answer is
to regulate or penalize the investment companies. If one group of people
earn more than another the “ought-to-dox” answer to the perceived problem is
to legislate the redistribution of income.
The great fallacy of “ought-to-doxy” is that
one cannot simply legislate economic conditions into existence. Indeed such
legislation often produces the opposite effect. Minimum wage laws increase
unemployment as businesses learn to live without workers who must be paid
more than they produce.
We have seen the terrible anguish of the poor, enabled by legislation to buy
homes they could not afford, only to lose them for nonpayment of their
We have seen the massive taxpayer bailouts necessary to pay off bad loans
backed by government agencies.
We have seen the utter incompetence of the government to regulate the
and the investment disasters that stem from investment in firms (Enron, for
example) deemed safe because of their regulation.
We have seen the waste and corruption that accompanies foreign aid.
Aside from its requiring theft from the “makers” in order to give to the
“takers,” it is clear that redistribution of wealth reduces production,
harming the “takers” at least as much as the “makers.”
Documents about what ought to be are often
identified by their use of euphemisms. How can anyone be against “Justice
and Peace,” a “sustainable” economy, or the “global common good”? The
October 24th document is filled with such entries.
Among the October document’s most obnoxious
ideas are the creation of a global central bank, and the global management
and taxation of finance—at least initially under the auspices of the U.N.
Central banking allows governments to create money out of nothing,
decreasing the value of the money, inflating prices for everyone, and
allowing misguided government projects to be funded without the pain of
raising taxes. Created money is not wealth, something which only productive
individuals and firms create. Assets that are taxed become less productive,
and what has not been produced cannot be redistributed.
The new Catechism calls for disarming people
and nations, while arming the United Nations.
A recent encyclical repeatedly called for redistribution of wealth and for “for
a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of
economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept
of the family of nations can acquire real teeth.”
It is hard to imagine any agency that is
more anti-Christian than the U.N. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the
Child requires governments to interfere with parents’ ability to raise their
own children: how they are educated, what they eat, with whom they
associate, their practice or non‑practice
of religion, how they may be disciplined, and whether or not they may engage
in sexual behavior. The government must require prospective parents to
obtain a revocable parenting license, provide state-run day care, prosecute
parents who violate the convention, and seize the children of violators.
Something called United Nations Agenda 21
seeks to regulate virtually every aspect of human life on earth, ostensibly
in the name of protecting the environment. If ratified by the Senate,
Agenda 21 threatens to decrease the human population of the earth through
abortion, contraception, and starvation. Parental rights, property rights,
water rights, mining rights, navigation rights, and fishing rights will be
sharply curtailed; use of electrical and other forms of energy will be
strictly regulated and very expensive. I am not making any of this up. It
is available on line, in a document as thick as a telephone book.
Remember UN Agenda 21—you have not heard the last of it.
According to Saint Thomas:
It is written (Acts 5:29): “We ought to obey
God rather than men.” Now sometimes the things commanded by a superior are
against God. Therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things.
Joyous Rosh Hashanah?
Why do Jewish people observe the joyous feast of Rosh Hashanah before
the Day of Atonement? Isn’t it customary to “fast before the feast” and not
vise-versa? (M.A.H., Boca Raton)
The description of Rosh Hashanah in the Bible (Leviticus 23: 24-25)
is not particularly joyous:
The seventh month, on the first day of the
month, you shall keep a sabbath, a memorial, with the sound of trumpets, and
it shall be called holy. You shall do no servile work therein, and you
shall offer a holocaust to the Lord.
begins the civil year, and perhaps the
customs of the gentiles have entered into its celebration. Philip Birnbaum,
in A Book of Jewish Concepts, says: “Since early times Rosh
Hashanah has been regarded as a day of reflection and repentance....”
The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) on the tenth day of the month is
preceded by the entire month of Elul with its prayers for forgiveness and