General Question

Caravanfan's avatar

Why are Catholics forbidden to join the Freemasons?

Asked by Caravanfan (13522points) November 15th, 2023

As an atheist, I’m not allowed to join the Freemasons (because Freemasons require a belief in a higher power). That’s fine, I have no interest.

But why are the Catholics, who obviously do believe in a higher power, so opposed to members joining the Masons?

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21 Answers

Forever_Free's avatar

The Church continues to prohibit membership in Freemasonry because it believes that Masonic principles and rituals are irreconcilable with Catholic doctrines.
The current norm is states that “faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion” and membership in Masonic associations is prohibited.
The Catholic Church has difficulties with Freemasonry because it is indeed a kind of religion unto itself. The practice of Freemasonry includes temples, altars, a moral code, worship services, vestments, feast days, a hierarchy of leadership, initiation and burial rites, and promises of eternal reward and punishment.

Caravanfan's avatar

@Forever_Free Ah, the last bit makes some sense to me in a religious twisted sort of way. Okay, thanks.

I wonder what the Catholic church thinks of Santeria?

MrGrimm888's avatar

Conflicts of interest.
Both require that followers have no higher power…

gorillapaws's avatar

I asked Chat GPT and these two points seemed to be the most salient:

“Secrecy and Oaths: Freemasonry involves the taking of oaths and vows that are often secret and binding. The Catholic Church opposes such secret oaths, especially if they conflict with one’s obligations to the Church or are perceived as a form of allegiance that supersedes loyalty to the Church.”

and also

“Historical Conflicts: In the past, Freemasonry has been associated with anti-clerical and anti-religious movements. Some branches or historical instances of Freemasonry have been seen as hostile toward the Church and its teachings. This historical conflict has contributed to the Church’s distrust and prohibition.”

“In 1738, Pope Clement XII issued a papal bull called “In Eminenti Apostolatus Specula” which was the first explicit papal condemnation of Freemasonry, forbidding Catholics from joining Masonic lodges due to the perceived conflicts with Catholic teachings and the potential for influence on members that could be contrary to the Church’s beliefs.”

“Subsequent popes have upheld and reaffirmed this prohibition, with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issuing a statement in 1983 reiterating the incompatibility of Catholicism and Freemasonry.”

I can’t vouch for the accuracy, but it does seem like there’s some good avenues to explore if you wanted to verify the statements independently.

Caravanfan's avatar

@gorillapaws Thanks. As an atheist it is all rather odd to me. But I guess it makes some internal sense.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If they join the Free Masons the Catholic church won’t get their money any more. The Free Masons will.

Caravanfan's avatar

@LadyMarissa yeah, I saw that. It didn’t say why though.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Besides they have the Knights of Columbus . . .

Caravanfan's avatar

@Tropical_Willie Huh. I do know that there was a big political movement in the 1800s with the antimasons.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

I have read several of the “technical reasons” but I believe it really had to do with the fact that freemasonry was just a threat to the church. Masonry has a strong family orientation with its members. That’s something the church would like to have a monopoly on. I know a number of masons and they’re all good people.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Blackwater_Park “I know a number of masons and they’re all good people.”

I do too. I play D&D with a bunch of them every other Saturday. They keep encouraging me to join, but I’m agnostic, (leaning more atheist), though I certainly appreciate and respect many religions and the value of fellowship and I still consider myself Christian, to a degree. I respect the philosophies of Christ.

Caravanfan's avatar

Masons are fine. Catholics are fine. I play DND with Catholics, Masons, Jews, atheists, and pagans. We all get along

JLeslie's avatar

I think it’s also about keeping membership and money in the Catholic church.

Poseidon's avatar

The reason Catholics are not permitted to become Freemasons is because the RC Church considers Freemasonry to be incompatible with Catholic Doctrine.

For much more information about this and the reasons etc, please visit the link below:

elbanditoroso's avatar

Then there’s the conspiracy theory that Masons and Jews are in cahoots to take over the world.


jca2's avatar

The Catholic church seems to have two goals – making/preserving money and populating more Catholics.

Forever_Free's avatar

^^ A common goal of most organizations. “Make more money and make yourself a bigger following”

jca2's avatar

@Forever_Free Yes, but the Catholic church seems to be especially greedy.

SnipSnip's avatar

Irreconcilable differences in the mason’s philosophy and catholic doctrine. There is plenty of material to read on the subject.

Forever_Free's avatar

@jca2 Agreed, but they do not corner the market on this. I have worked for and known many greedy public and private firms. We have also had an ex President in that category.

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