Can Catholics Become Freemasons?
Cathy Caridi, J.C.L. - September 25th, 2008
Q: There’s a man running for office in my area whose campaign brochures describe his community involvement. They say that he is a member of a Catholic parish, and also that he is a member of a Masonic Lodge. I thought Catholics couldn’t become Masons. Has the law on that been changed? -Vicki
A: No, although many people wrongly believe that it has.
As we saw in the September 6, 2007 column, the Code of Canon Law that was promulgated in 1983 by Pope John Paul II replaced the earlier code of 1917. The 1917 code was thus abrogated-repealed and replaced, in other words-by the current code.
Canon 2335 of the 1917 code stated clearly that those Catholics who joined a Masonic organization or some other, similar group that plotted against the Church or against civil authority, incurred excommunication. The Church’s interpretation of Freemasonry’s main purpose was pretty clear: it was an association that plots against Catholicism. Membership in it was, therefore, obviously inconsistent with being a Catholic.