Lodge System


Are Catholic’s forbidden to join the Lodge system, like the Elks Lodge, or the Rotary Lodge? I know that Catholic’s are forbidden to join the Mason’s or the Shriners.


Any help on this?


Absolutely not a problem to join the Elks, Moose, Rotary…

The joining of secret societies, such as the Masons, is forbidden for good reason.

we understand by a secret society, a society with secrets, having a ritual demanding an oath of allegiance and secrecy, prescribing ceremonies of a religiouscharacter, such as the use of the Bible, either by extracts therefrom, or by its being placed an altar within a lodge-room, by the use of prayers, of hymns, of religious signs and symbols, special funeral services, etc.

Secret societies are those organizations which completely conceal their rules, corporate activity, the names of their members, their signs, passwords and usages from outsiders or the ‘profane.’ As a rule, the members of these societies are bound to the strictest secrecy concerning all the business of the association by oath or promise or word of honour, and often under the threat of severe punishment in case of its violation. If such secret society has higher and lower degrees, the members of the higher degree must be equally careful to conceal their secrets from their brethren of a lower degree. Incertain secret societies, the members are not allowed to know even the names of their highest officers.



I read that the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches have always forbidden membership in the Masons or the animal lodges. This non-Catholic source said that all lodges are historically part of the great Masonic family. I heard that the Elks lodge performs strange rituals, oaths, and obligations, which can be considered contrary to scripture. The Catholic Church has forbid Catholics from joining the Mason or the Shriners, but it’s been more difficult finding information from a reputable Catholic source forbidding Catholics from joining the animal lodges. It’s been my understanding that the Elks lodge does hold secrets, has rituals and demands and oath. I hear they have some strange ceremonies too, but I’m not sure if they are of a religious nature. Any help here?


(I know this is an old thread, but the topic remains relevant nonetheless…).

Even before Vatican II, when the Church’s statements against Masonry were more strongly stated, I do not believe there was ever a problem with the Elks - many prominent Catholics (JFK, for example) were Elks, and about 2/3 of our local K of C council are Elks as well. Actually, I believe some of our KC charter members from 1908 were also Elks at the time (our local Elks lodge is older than our KC council).

The Elks were never part of the “Great Masonic Family” - they were founded as “the Jolly Corks,” a drinking club, to get around the Sunday “Blue Laws” that forced the public saloons to close. They eventually morphed into a fraternal society, and do a lot of good works.


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