From the excellent phat catholic apologetics blog which is well worth visiting for answers to many a query:
What is a Freemason? Can a Catholic be one?
Old handbooks of Freemasonry (or simply “Masonry”) define the organization as “a peculiar system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols,” or “a science which is engaged in the search after the divine truth.” In America, most people treat Freemasonry as if it were simply one of many fraternities that a man could join. But, Freemasonry is very much a religion. The practice of Freemasonry includes temples, altars, a moral code, worship services, vestments, feast days, a hierarchy of leadership, initiation and burial rites, names and symbols for God and heaven, a unique understanding of the requirements for salvation, liturgical texts, covenant oaths, religious doctrines — basically all of the elements of a formal religion. Members advance through degrees, which open up to them more and more of the secret Masonic beliefs and rituals. Many if not all of these doctrines and practices are at odds with the Catholic faith. Here are just three:
- Universalism: Freemasonry teaches that the only requirements for salvation are performing good works and believing in a deity of some kind. All religions are equally valid, and mention of Christ is forbidden in the lodge.
- False oaths: Every Masonic candidate must make an oath to freemasonry and its secrets, under pain of death or self-mutilation, and this while not even knowing all the “secrets” to which he is taking an oath.
- Anti-Catholicism: Most Masons of low degree never experience this, but once one advances to the 30th degree, the anti-Catholic nature of Freemasonry is revealed. Upon initiation to this degree, the person crushes with his foot the papal tiara and the royal crown, and swears to free mankind “from the bondage of Despotism and the thralldom of spiritual tyranny.” The history of the Masons, especially in Europe, is filled with aggression and political upheaval for the sake of suppressing Catholicism.
For this and many other reasons, Catholics have always been forbidden to join the Masons. According to the “Declaration on Masonic Associations” from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (Nov. 26, 1983), the principles of Masonic associations “have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and, therefore, membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful, who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion” (para. 3).
For more information about the Masons, see the following links:
- Can Catholics Be Freemasons?
- Catholics and Freemasonry: Irreconcilable Forever
- Is Freemasonry Incompatible with the Catholic Faith?
- The Masonic Religion
- Freemasonry and Christianity: Are They Compatible?
- FAQ’s on Freemasonry
- How Catholics Can Evangelize Freemasons
- New Advent Encyclopedia: Masonry (Freemasonry)
- The Three Degrees of Freemasonry
- What Are the Masons?