The Freemasons


Why does the Church prohibit Catholics from becoming Freemasons?

I have read a book on the history of freemasonry and it appears to be a non-religious group, which has historically encouraged advancement in education, and science in particular. I read that great men such as Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Christopher Wren were members. How can this organisation be a bad thing?

Also, I am considering getting the masonic symbol of the beehive tattooed on my back because I like what it symbolizes. As a practicing Catholic, would I be allowed to do this? Or would it be inappropriate?


I’ll give you my opinion regarding using a Masonic symbol first…

There are only so many symbols in our world. Using one that the masons use doesn’t make you a mason or excommunicate you. However there could be an element of scandal here. For instance, a mason may see you with a beehive tatoo and take you for a member. An ex-mason or a knowledgeable Catholic may see it and suspect you to be a mason.

However the symbol of a beehive is not evil in itself. Take for instance the Star of David. Masons, Jews, college fraternities, Protestants, Governments, and yes the Catholic Church use the same exact symbol on things. It pretty much symbolizes the same thing for each group too. That is because it is ancient. Some Catholics will point to “Masonic” symbols and condemn them all. However if they see them on a Church they won’t bat an eye.

However, the Masons are an evil organization. I’m not saying everyone in that group is knowingly participating in evil. But nevertheless a quick search through Papal encyclicals will give you a treasure trove of Church condemnation and the reasons why. Also you can go to and do a search for “masons” and several explanatory books will come up.


IIRC, the beehive is also a Mormon symbol. It was used before the Civil War.

And in any case, I believe the Church frowns on (but does not necessarily prohibit) tattoos altogether.


The Masons may say they are not a religious organization, however they do have various rituals which are more of a religious nature than not.

The enimity between the Church and the Free Masons has an interesting history. One instance would be the formation of the Italian Nation, when the Papal States were seized and made a part of the new nation.

Another situation would be the resistance of the Masons among other anti-Catholic organizations against the immigrants coming into the country in the 19th century, many of whom were Catholics. We had things like job offers that said right out.“Irish need not apply.”

While the government was prohibited from establishing a national religion, it was taken to mean "no establishment of a denomination ". Thus the intertwining of government and school systems with a general protestant venue was still in existence in the early half of the 20th century.

That is basically why many of us much older than 60 grew up in what amounted to “Catholic Ghettos”. We had our own neighborhoods, our own schools, our own churches. We didn’t usually mix with non-Catholic kids. World War II when your foxhole mates might be anything, but Catholic started to change all that.


I believe the requirment to take an oath that places membership in the lodge above anything else in live is the part that goes against Catholic teaching.

That’s two mortal sins just to be a member. Not a good way to start out. Taking an unimportant oath according to your God, then the idea that the logde comes before anything else, would be accepting a second god.

Then there are the other parts that one must accept, like the requirement to accept all religions as equal including religions that don’t accept Christ as a person of the one God-head.


At the bottom of this thread you will find other threads that address the subject at length. Remember, just because prominent men have been a part of something doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a worthwhile organization - especially one which the Church has by its authority forbidden Catholics to join. Also, regarding your proposed tattoo, it seems to me that if you want a tattoo you already have the subject at hand in your signature line. :slight_smile:


There are already many threads on this and as another poster suggested you should join one of them as this question has been asked and answered many times.
The Church teaches that you cannot be a Catholic and a Freemason or you are committing a mortal sin and cannot receive Communion.
Getting a tatoo as someone else said does not make you a mason but it could cause scandal so I would advise against it.

The official Church teaching is found here:

Humanum Genus which is ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII ON FREEMASONRY APRIL 20, 1884. This is still valid.

and also a confirmation of this position issued by Cardinal Ratzinger (now our Pope) as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1983.


Dude… Freemasonry is the enemy. No joke.


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