The Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith in the Vatican has proposed to put in place a “coordinated strategy” among individual bishops in the Philippines to address the rising number of Filipinos formally enrolled in Masonic lodges.
Responding to a letter from Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes concerning the continuous rise of Catholic Freemasons in his diocese, the dicastery has proposed several approaches to solve the problem.
Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the dicastery, emphasized that Catholics must be reminded that active membership in Masonic lodges is forbidden because of the “irreconcilability between Catholic doctrine and Freemasonry.”
Additionally, on the pastoral level, he proposed that Filipino bishops “conduct catechesis accessible to the people and in all parishes,” explaining the reasons why they are forbidden to become Freemasons.
The cardinal also advised the faithful to refer to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith’s declaration on Masonic associations in 1983 and the guidelines published by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in 2003 regarding this matter.
“Therefore, those who are formally and knowingly enrolled in Masonic Lodges and have embraced Masonic principles fall under the provisions in the above-mentioned Declaration,” said Cardinal Fernández. “These measures also apply to any clerics enrolled in Freemasonry.”
These suggestions received Pope Francis' approval, according to the dicastery's note made public on November 15.
Every Catholic has been prohibited from joining Masonic lodges since 1783, through Pope Clement XII’s decree “In Eminenti.”
Furthermore, the 1917 Code of Canon Law states that anyone who does so will be subject to excommunication and not be allowed to receive Holy Communion.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's doctrinal chief in 1983, who then became Pope Benedict XVI, signed the 1983 Vatican Declaration, which applies to "those who are formally and knowingly enrolled in Masonic Lodges and have embraced Masonic principles." The same principles apply to clerics who are members of Freemasonry.
Catholics "in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and are not permitted to receive Holy Communion," according to the 1983 document.
According to the organization’s website, approximately Freemasons have six million members worldwide.
Freemasonry has been met with animosity by the Catholic Church ever since 1738, when Pope Clement XII issued the papal bull In eminenti apostolatus specula, in which society was condemned.
The organization's website says Masonry is neither a secret club nor a religion. It teaches humanity to be kind, uphold chastity, value familial and friendship bonds, follow religious principles and supplications, help the weak, counsel the blind, elevate the destitute, shelter the orphan, guard the altar, support the government, instill moral values, encourage education, love one another, fear and beseech God, beseech him for mercy, and seek happiness.
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