Catholics and Masonic Organizations

Recently at our weekly scripture study group the question arose “Are Catholics allowed to be affiliated with Masonic organizations” – None of us knowing the answer, each of us did a brief study during the week, and we traded notes at our next meeting.

While the information I originally came across indicated that Catholics should avoid association with Masonic organizations, others received quite different responses. One member stated that a Parish Priest claimed that the Church has softened it’s position on the Masons, and that membership in those organizations are not necessarily bad. Another statement was that our Chief of Police is Catholic AND the leader of the local chapter (?, order?, I’m not sure what each is called)

I investigated further and searched our Diocese web site (via their Google link) and found no documentation for or against association with the Masons. There was a (Google) link allowing me to shop online at a Freemason web site for discounted items (this did not seem good!). I checked the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and found nothing. Finally at the Vatican web-site I found a document from 1983 that states any involvement by a Catholic with Masonic organizations was “grave sin”. Seeing that there is no later document softening this view, I am assuming that this is still the Catholic Church’s position.

Please let me know if I am correct and how do I discuss this position with others in my Parish without appearing judgemental or righteous.

Thank You.

See this article; scroll down to Cardinal Ratzinger’s Declaration. Catholics should not be masons.

It is a mortal sin (First Commandment) to be a Freemason.

You are correct.

As for trying to not appear judgmental or righteous, act in humility, knowing we are all subject to reproach from God for some fault or other. At the same time, it would be a fault if you did not approach those you know are misguided and correct them for the sake of their salvation. Spiritual works of mercy include admonishing the sinner and instructing the ignorant.

“Excuse, me, I have something on my heart I must share with you, and I hope you will benefit by this. I recently learned that after some confusion on the issue, the Catholic Church had confirmed some time ago that it was never acceptable to join the Masons or any similar organization, and that Catholics who are members are not allowed to receive Holy Communion while they are members. It is a serious issue that has an excommunication associated to it, and if you care about your Catholic Faith, you should research this matter for yourself. But be aware that there has been some confusion, and there are still some Catholics, even priests, who may think it is ok now, even though it is not. Thank you for letting me share my concern.”

Here is some additional information you may already know.

Can a Catholic be a member of the Freemasons without penalty from the Catholic Church?

In the Code of Canon Law of 1917, membership in the Freemasons was expressly forbidden under pain of penalty such as excommunication. When the Code of Canon Law of 1983 was published, it omitted any reference to such penalty for membership. But also in 1983, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a clarifying declaration on the present state of such membership for Catholics today.

The foundational principles of Freemasonry are contrary to the doctrines of the Catholic Church. As a result, Catholic members of Freemasonry are in a state of grave sin, simply by virtue of membership. If one is in a state of grave sin, receiving Holy Communion is not an option. Therefore, a Catholic Freemason is banned from receiving Holy Communion. This continues as long as membership in the Freemasons continues.

Reference: The Jurist, 56 (1997) 735-755; "The Evolution of the Church’s Prohibition Against Catholic Membership in Freemasonry."
The SCDF Declaration is dated November 26, 1983 and appears in AAS 76 (1984) 300 (AAS is the Acta Apostolicae Sedis Commentarium officiale, Rome)

The link someone else provided was really good, too.


Thanks for the insight, it will be very usefull.

Any thoughts on who to approach at the Diocese regarding a Google link to a Masonry retail website?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit