The principles and basic rituals of Masonry embody a naturalistic religion, active participation in which is incompatible with Christian faith and practice.
– Bishops’ Committee on Pastoral Research, 1980s
On March 1 2007, Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, the regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary made a statement that membership of Masonic organizations “remains forbidden” to Catholics, and called on priests who had declared themselves to be Freemasons to be disciplined by their direct superiors.
ALL QUOTES BELOW are from Catholic encyclopedia, Freemasonry
The Reality of Roman Catholic Christianity
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe.
Freemasonry is not Christian
It is evident, however, that even in this restricted sense of “unsectarian” Christianity, Freemasonry is not a Christian institution, as it acknowledges many pre-Christian models and teachers of “Humanity”. All instructed Masons agree in the objective import of this Masonic principle of “Humanity”, according to which belief in dogmas is a matter of secondary importance, or even prejudicial to the law of universal love and tolerance. Freemasonry, therefore, is opposed not only to Catholicism and Christianity, but also to the whole system of supernatural truth.
The Nepotism and Corruption called Freemasonry
It is a fact attested by experienced men of all countries that, wherever Masonry is influential, non-Masons have to suffer in their interests from the systematical preferment which Masons give each other in appointment to offices and employment. Even Bismarck complained of the effects of such mutual Masonic assistance, which is detrimental alike to civic equality and to public interests. In Masonic books and magazines unlawful and treacherous acts, performed in rendering this mutual assistance, are recommended and praised as a glory of Freemasonry.
The French Revolution was caused by Freemasonry
Thus, Freemasonry in the eighteenth century, as a powerful ally of infidelity, prepared the French Revolution. The alliance of Freemasonry with philosophy was publicly sealed by the solemn initiation of Voltaire, the chief of these philosophers, 7 February, 1778, and his reception of the Masonic garb from the famous materialist Bro. Helvetius.  Prior to the Revolution various conspiratory societies arose in connection with Freemasonry from which they borrowed its forms and methods; Illuminati, clubs of Jacobins, etc. A relatively large number of the leading revolutionists were members of Masonic lodges, trained by lodge life for their political career. Even the programme of the Revolution expressed in the “rights of man” was, as shown above, drawn from Masonic principles, and its device: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” is the very device of Freemasonry.
The anti-Christian New World Order of Freemasonry
The universal social republic, in which, after the overthrow of every kind of spiritual and political tyranny”, of “theocratical” and dynastical powers and class privileges, reigns the greatest possible individual liberty and social and economical equality conformably to French Masonic ideals, the real ultimate aims of this social work.
The following are deemed the principal means: To destroy radically by open persecution of the Church or by a hypocritical fraudulent system of separation between State and Church, all social influence of the Church and of religion, insidiously called “clericalism”, and, as far as possible, to destroy the Church and all true, i.e., superhuman religion, which is more than a vague cult of fatherland and of humanity; (2) To laicize, or secularize, by a likewise hypocritical fraudulent system of “unsectarianism”, all public and private life and, above all, popular instruction and education. “Unsectarianism” as understood by the Grand Orient party is anti-Catholic and even anti-Christian, atheistic, positivistic, or agnostic sectarianism in the garb of unsectarianism. Freedom of thought and conscience of the children has to be developed systematically in the child at school and protected, as far as possible, against all disturbing influences, not only of the Church and priests, but also of the children’s own parents, if necessary, even by means of moral and physical compulsion. The Grand Orient party considers it indispensable and an infallibly sure way to the final establishment of the universal social republic and of the pretended world peace, as they fancy them, and of the glorious era of human solidarity and of unsurpassable human happiness in the reign of liberty and justice.
The Documented Freemasonic Hatred of Christianity
Pike, as the Grand Commander of the Mother Supreme Council of the World (Charleston, South Carolina) lost no opportunity in his letters to excite the anti-clerical spirit of his colleagues. In a long letter of 28 December, 1886, for instance, he conjures the Italian Grand Commander, Timoteo Riboli, 33, the intimate friend of Garibaldi, to do all in his power, in order to unite Italian Masonry against the Vatican. He writes:
The Papacy . . . has been for a thousand years the torturer and curse of Humanity, the most shameless imposture, in its pretence to spiritual power of all ages. With its robes wet and reeking with the blood of half a million of human beings, with the grateful odour of roasted human flesh always in its nostrils, it is exulting over the prospect of renewed dominion. It has sent all over the world its anathemas against Constitutional government and the right of men to freedom of thought and conscience.
Freemasonry’s Naked Assault on Roman Catholic Christianity
Freemasonry goes farther and attacks Catholicism openly. The “Voice” (Chicago), for instance, in an article which begins: “There is nothing in the Catholic religion which is adverse to Masonry”, continues, for the truth is, that masonry embodies that religion in which all men agree. This is as true as that all veritable religion, wherever found, is in substance the same. Neither is it in the power of any man or body of men to make it otherwise. Doctrines and forms of observance conformable to piety, imposed by spiritual overseers, may be as various as the courses of wind; and like the latter may war with each other upon the face of the whole earth, but they are not religion. Bigotry and zeal, the assumptions of the priestcraft, with all its countless inventions to magnify and impress the world . . . are ever the mainsprings of strife, hatred and revenge, which defame and banish religion and its inseparable virtues, and work unspeakable mischief, wherever mankind are found upon the earth. Popery and priestcraft are so allied, that they may be called the same; the truth being, that the former is nothing more nor less than a special case of the latter, being a particular form of a vicious principle, which itself is but the offspring of the conceit of self-sufficiency and the lust of dominion. Nothing which can be named, is more repugnant to the spirit of masonry, nothing to be more carefully guarded against, and this has been always well understood by all skillful masters, and it must in truth be said, that such is the wisdom of the lessons, i.e. of masonic instruction in Lodges, etc.
In similar discussions, containing in almost every word a hidden or open attack on Christianity, the truly Masonic magazines and books of all countries abound. Past Grand Deacon J.C. Parkinson, an illustrious English Mason, frankly avows: “The two systems of Romanism and Freemasonry are not only incompatible, but they are radically opposed to each other” and American Masons say: “We won’t make a man a Freemason, until we know that he isn’t a Catholic.”
Roman Catholic Defense of Christianity
The action of the Church is summed up in the papal pronouncements against Freemasonry since 1738, the most important of which are:
* Clement XII, Constitution “In Eminenti”, 28 April, 1738;
* Benedict XIV, “Providas”, 18 May, 1751;
* Pius VII, “Ecclesiam”, 13 September, 1821;
* Leo XII, “Quo graviora”, 13 March, 1825;
* Pius VIII, Encyclical “Traditi”, 21 May, 1829;
* Gregory XVI, “Mirari”, 15 August, 1832;
* Pius IX, Encyclical “Qui pluribus”, 9 November, 1846;
* Pius IX, Allocution “Quibus quantisque malis”, 20 April, 1849;
* Pius IX, Encyclical “Quanta cura”, 8 December, 1864;
* Pius IX, Allocution “Multiplices inter”, 25 September, 1865;
* Pius IX, Constitution “Apostolicæ Sedis”, 12 October, 1869;
* Pius IX, Encyclical “Etsi multa”, 21 November, 1873;
* Leo XIII, Encyclical “Humanum genus”, 20 April, 1884;
* Leo XIII, “Præclara”, 20 June, 1894;
* Leo XIII, “Annum ingressi”, 18 March, 1902 (against Italian Freemasonry);
* Leo XIII, Encyclical “Etsí nos”, 15 February, 1882;
* Leo XIII, “Ab Apostolici”, 15 October, 1890.
These pontifical utterances from first to last are in complete accord, the latter reiterating the earlier with such developments as were called for by the growth of Freemasonry and other secret societies.
Clement XII accurately indicates the principal reasons why Masonic associations from the Catholic, Christian, moral, political, and social points of view, should be condemned. These reasons are:
* The peculiar, “unsectarian” (in truth, anti-Catholic and anti-Christian) naturalistic character of Freemasonry, by which theoretically and practically it undermines the Catholic and Christian faith, first in its members and through them in the rest of society, creating religious indifferentism and contempt for orthodoxy and ecclesiastical authority.
* The inscrutable secrecy and fallacious ever-changing disguise of the Masonic association and of its “work”, by which “men of this sort break as thieves into the house and like foxes endeavour to root up the vineyard”, “perverting the hearts of the simple”, ruining their spiritual and temporal welfare.
* The oaths of secrecy and of fidelity to Masonry and Masonic work, which cannot be justified in their scope, their object, or their form, and cannot, therefore, induce any obligation. The oaths are condemnable, because the scope and object of Masonry are “wicked” and condemnable, and the candidate in most cases is ignorant of the import or extent of the obligation which he takes upon himself. Moreover the ritualistic and doctrinal “secrets” which are the principal object of the obligation, according to the highest Masonic authorities, are either trifles or no longer exist.  In either case the oath is a condemnable abuse. Even the Masonic modes of recognition, which are represented as the principal and only essential “secret” of Masonry, are published in many printed books. Hence the real “secrets” of Masonry, if such there be, could only be political or anti-religious conspiracies like the plots of the Grand Lodges in Latin countries. But such secrets, condemned, at least theoretically, by Anglo-American Masons themselves, would render the oath or obligation only the more immoral and therefore null and void. Thus in every respect the Masonic oaths are not only sacrilegious but also an abuse contrary to public order which requires that solemn oaths and obligations as the principal means to maintain veracity and faithfulness in the State and in human society, should not be vilified or caricatured. In Masonry the oath is further degraded by its form which includes the most atrocious penalties, for the “violation of obligations” which do not even exist; a “violation” which, in truth may be and in many cases is an imperative duty.
* The danger which such societies involve for the security and “tranquility of the State” and for “the spiritual health of souls”, and consequently their incompatibility with civil and canonical law. For even admitting that some Masonic associations pursued for themselves no purposes contrary to religion and to public order, they would be nevertheless contrary to public order, because by their very existence as secret societies based on the Masonic principles, they encourage and promote the foundation of other really dangerous secret societies and render difficult, if not impossible, efficacious action of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities against them.
Of the other papal edicts only some characteristic utterances need be mentioned. Benedict XIV appeals more urgently to Catholic princes and civil powers to obtain their assistance in the struggle against Freemasonry. Pius VII condemns the secret society of the Carbonari which, if not an offshoot, is “certainly an imitation of the Masonic society” and, as such, already comprised in the condemnation issued against it. Leo XII deplores the fact, that the civil powers had not heeded the earlier papal decrees, and in consequence out of the old Masonic societies even more dangerous sects had sprung. Among them the “Universitarian” is mentioned as most pernicious. “It is to be deemed certain”, says the pope, “that these secret societies are linked together by the bond of the same criminal purposes.” Gregory XVI similarly declares that the calamities of the age were due principally to the conspiracy of secret societies, and like Leo XII, deplores the religious indifferentism and the false ideas of tolerance propagated by secret societies. Pius IX characterizes Freemasonry as an insidious, fraudulent and perverse organization injurious both to religion and to society; and condemns anew “this Masonic and other similar societies, which differing only in appearance coalesce constantly and openly or secretly plot against the Church or lawful authority”. Leo XIII (1884) says: “There are various sects, which although differing in name, rite, form, and origin, are nevertheless so united by community of purposes and by similarity of their main principles as to be really one with the Masonic sect, which is a kind of centre, whence they all proceed and whither they all return.” The ultimate purpose of Freemasonry is “the overthrow of the whole religious, political, and social order based on Christian institutions and the establishment of a new state of things according to their own ideas and based in its principles and laws on pure Naturalism.”
In view of these several reasons Catholics since 1738 are, under penalty of excommunication, incurred ipso facto, and reserved to the pope, strictly forbidden to enter or promote in any way Masonic societies. The law now in force pronounces excommunication upon “those who enter Masonic or Carbonarian or other sects of the same kind, which, openly or secretly, plot against the Church or lawful authority and those who in any way favour these sects or do not denounce their leaders and principal members.” Under this head mention must also be made of the “Practical Instruction of the Congregation of the Inquisition, 7 May, 1884 and of the decrees of the Provincial Councils of Baltimore, 1840; New Orleans, 1856; Quebec, 1851, 1868; of the first Council of the English Colonies, 1854; and particularly of the Plenary Councils of Baltimore, 1866 and 1884. These documents refer mainly to the application of the papal decrees according to the peculiar condition of the respective ecclesiastical provinces. The Third Council of Baltimore, n. 254 sq., states the method of ascertaining whether or not a society is to be regarded as comprised in the papal condemnation of Freemasonry. It reserves the final decision thereon to a commission consisting of all the archbishops of the ecclesiastical provinces represented in the council, and, if they cannot reach a unanimous conclusion, refers to the Holy See.
These papal edicts and censures against Freemasonry have often been the occasion of erroneous and unjust charges. The excommunication was interpreted as an “imprecation” that cursed all Freemasons and doomed them to perdition. In truth an excommunication is simply an ecclesiastical penalty, by which members of the Church should be deterred from acts that are criminal according to ecclesiastical law. The pope and the bishops, therefore, as faithful pastors of Christ’s flock, cannot but condemn Freemasonry. They would betray, as Clement XII stated, their most sacred duties, if they did not oppose with all their power the insidious propagation and activity of such societies in Catholic countries or with respect to Catholics in mixed and Protestant countries. Freemasonry systematically promotes religious indifferentism and undermines true, i.e., orthodox Christian and Catholic Faith and life. Freemasonry is essentially Naturalism and hence opposed to all supernaturalism. As to some particular charges of Leo XIII (1884) challenged by Freemasons, e.g., the atheistical character of Freemasonry, it must be remarked, that the pope considers the activity of Masonic and similar societies as a whole, applying to it the term which designates the most of these societies and among the Masonic groups those, which push the so-called “anti-clerical”, in reality irreligious and revolutionary, principles of Freemasonry logically to their ultimate consequences and thus, in truth, are, as it were, the advanced outposts and standard-bearers of the whole immense anti-Catholic and anti-papal army in the world-wide spiritual warfare of our age. In this sense also the pope, in accordance with a fundamental biblical and evangelical view developed by St. Augustine in his “De civitate Dei”, like the Masonic poet Carducci in his “Hymn to Satan”, considers Satan as the supreme spiritual chief of this hostile army. Thus Leo XIII (1884) expressly states:
What we say, must be understood of the Masonic sect in the universal acceptation of the term, as it comprises all kindred and associated societies, but not of their single members. There may be persons amongst these, and not a few, who, although not free from the guilt of having entangled themselves in such associations, yet are neither themselves partners in their criminal acts nor aware of the ultimate object which these associations are endeavouring to attain. Similarly some of the several bodies of the association may perhaps by no means approve of certain extreme conclusions, which they would consistently accept as necessarily following from the general principles common to all, were they not deterred by the vicious character of the conclusions.
“The Masonic federation is to be judged not so much by the acts and things it has accomplished, as by the whole of its principles and purposes.”
May the LORD God bless you in the name of St. Judas Maccabaeus.
Jason Nicholas Korning
SOURCE: Masonry (Freemasonry), by Hermann Gruber, The Catholic Encyclopedia (1910). from New Advent (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09771a.htm). This article was transcribed for New Advent by Bobie Jo M. Bilz. Dedicated to R. Michael Steinmacher, III.