Are the International Order of Odd Fellows Masonic?

My deacon friend and I have an elderly gentleman undergoing private RCIA preparation in order to come into the Catholic Church.

We just found out that he is the leader of the local Odd Fellows fraternal organization.

I thought I heard that this group has ties to Free Masonry. Can anyone confirm whether this is the case? Is membership in the Odd Fellows likewise considered forbidden by the Catholic Church.

I am not interested in arguing whether the Church’s approach to Free Masonry is right or not, I trust the Church’s authority and simply want to do the right thing as we prepare our candidate for confirmation.

Former Mason and Catholic apologist John Salza was not sure on this, but he told me that I should ask the gentleman is he had to take any oaths.

I do not know if they are associated with the Freemasons, however, a Catholic cannot join their group either.


Could you give me a citation showing that one cannot belong to the Odd Fellows according to Catholic teaching. I would like to be able to point this gentleman to further study. Thanks.

I do not know of the IOOF is condemned by the Church, however, it has nothing to do with the Masons.

There might be many men who are members of both orgainzations, but it’s not like the Odd Fellows was a Masonic group.

Are you sure???
Consider Joining the Odd Fellows
A man or woman of good character, who is loyal to his or her
country and believes in a Supreme Being, the creator and preserver
of the Universe, is eligible for membership. Odd Fellowship
strictly forbids any interference with one’s religious beliefs or
political opinions. Most jurisdictions require candidates for the
adult lodges to be 16 years old. Junior Lodges and Theta Rho
Girl’s Clubs accept members 8 to 18 years old (some jurisdictions
have a minimum age limit of 10).

Here you go.

Q: I know that Catholics aren’t allowed to join the Masons. What is the standing of the order of Odd Fellows vis-à-vis the Church?

A: Under canon 1374 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, Catholics are forbidden to join societies that plot against the Church. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith applied this to Masons, indicating that Catholics who join Masonic organizations are engaged in serious sin and are to be banned from the Eucharist.

The Church has also judged that the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, the Orangemen, the Sons of Temperance, and the Communist Party are forbidden societies. Most Americans are familiar with the Masons and the Communist Party but less familiar with the others.

And here is how the Catholic Encyclopedia describes it.

Unfortunately, I cannot find links to the original decrees as they are more than 110 years old. I hope these well documented and footnoted secondary sources are sufficient.

Thank you. I might try to do some digging still. Because, I want to make certain that the Church in some authoritative way included the Odd Fellows in this canonical ban. Because, I have heard responses that say, for example, 'well, the Odd Fellows have changed since then, and it no longer is a group that plots against the Church, etc. I believe that the CDF under Ratzinger clarified the doubt over whether the Free Masons were still considered under the ban sometime not too long ago. However, it would be nice if the Church (either via the Holy See or a local bishop) could maintain a specific list. The bottom line is that I want to do the right thing and allow this man to be able to receive Communion in good conscience. But, telling him that he will need to drop out of the Odd Fellows (and he is the head of his local lodge :slight_smile: ) will become a “stumbling block” for him (but, one which we need to tackle if it is, in deed, necessary. Thanks for the help everyone.

The International Order of Odd Fellows is definitely not a Masonic organisation and it has no connection whatsoever with Freemasonry.

Peter Clatworthy
Grand Secretary
Grand Lodge of All England

I do not know whether the Church prohibits Catholics from joining the Odd Fellows but I would like to remind everyone that the Knights of Columbus and the Knights of St. Columba are both Catholic organizations which are similar to the freemasons. I mention this to show that the Church does not oppose groups similar to the Masons. Perhaps the Odd Fellows also fall into this category?

It’s just a Friendly Society. You pay so much a month and if you need false teeth they buy them for you. For goodness sake!

I met a man 7 or 8 years ago who was in the “Odd Fellows” He joked that they were the “poor man’s Masons or Elks” I would agree that they are “Good guys that do good things.” I don’t think they are affiliated with the Masons any more than they are with the Moose, Elks, Lions, Kiwanis etc.

His affect did change slightly when he found out I was a Knight though, I don’t know why.

They are in fact a branch of Scottish Rite Masonry (the Masonic Rite that is rabidly anti-Catholic.)

They are in fact a branch of Scottish Rite Masonry (the Masonic Rite that is rabidly anti-Catholic.)

**Saying that the Odd Fellows are part of Masonry will not make them so.

Though, as I might have mentioned, I’ve met men who were both.


Take your Ritalin and pay attention, they are what is known as a “sub-lodge” of COURSE they are not going to come out and tell an outsider what their “bloodline” is! Some attend both A Scottish Rite “Temple” as well, some just remain in in Odd Fellows (a Scottish Charter) as to your little sally about it being true because I say so…you are correct, it has nothing to do with what I say, it is simply a fact, sorry it upsets you so.:shrug:

Oh, please!

Surely we can have a reasonably intelligent conversation on a Catholic forum?

It is a non-Masonic Friendly Society. End thread. NEXT!


Ok, to help clarify things a bit, we need to become aware of the different uses of terminology.

From a Freemason’s (and Odd Fellows’) perspective, the Odd Fellows’ are not associated in any organizational means, therefore (and strictly speaking) the Odd Fellows are NOT a “masonic” organization.

The confusing part is, from the Church’s perspective, a “masonic organization” is not just those who claim to be ‘masons’ but rather all organizations that have similar broad characteristics. We see this in the Bulls condemning the Carbonari, which are always listed as being part of the condemnation of masonry, despite the fact that the Carbonari were not, again strictly speaking, masons. AS SUCH, as far as the Church is concerned, the Odd Fellows (as well as Rosicrucians of all flavors, Knights of Pythias, ect) ARE included in its prohibition against Masonry. IT must be remembered that the Church has formulated its ‘objections’ beyond the original prohibition which was pretty exclusive to Freemasonry itself, and now includes all such ‘societies’ that have similar characteristics (if not identical aims and philosophies).

This difficulty is one of the reasons that explicit mention of ‘masons’ was removed from the current Cannon Law; too many people were focusing on the strict title of Mason, and so felt free to associate with “non-Mason” groups which often had even more of an anti-catholic (from the Church’s perspective) philosophy.

At any rate, I have seen in these forums that there are some bishops/cardinals who have posted explicit lists of those organizations intended to be prohibited by the Canon. I would suggest a “search” to find them.

The Odd Fellows are not a part of the Scottish Rite, either Northern or Southern Jurisdictions.

However, as someone else has already mentioned, there is no reason a member of one could not join the other if so inclined, and there probably have been many who have done so.

IF we were to follow the ‘logic’ introduced (that members belonging to two distinct groups formed an organizational bonding of the two groups), then what are we to make of those Masons who are also active members in their Knights of Columbus bodies? Are we to conclude that the KoC are really, after all the hard work of Fr McGivney to establish otherwise, a branch of Freemasonry??? Simply because there are those men who feel capable of belonging to both organizations??

Another search of these very forums will reveal to you the presence of such men; of whom have not been censured by either organization…

The exception of the Knights of Columbus (and all the Catholic fraternal knighthoods, there are several worldwide) is in their constitutions as faithful and obedient Catholic organizations.

But surely the statement of Cardinal Ratzinger includes the Knights of St Columba, the Catholic Freemasons.

ALL FORMS of Freemasonry. You said it yourselves. In fact you stressed it.

Is that like a “fact” in a political-election-debate-sort-of-way?

Odd Fellows are “friendly” societies that originated in England, and came about as an organization that pooled its resources together to help each other out in time of need - as someone said earlier, if you needed some false teeth, the guys would help you out. If I’m not mistaken, they used to meet in pubs.

Ritalin? Sounds like you might need some lithium, Glorfindel. :thumbsup:

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