Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
DECLARATIONCONCERNING STATUS OF CATHOLICSBECOMING FREEMASONS
On 19 July 1974 this Congregation wrote to some Episcopal Conferences a private letter concerning the interpretation of can 2335 of the Code of Canon Law which forbids Catholics, under the penalty of excommunication, to enroll in Masonic or other similar associations.Since the said letter has become public and has given rise to erroneous and tendentious interpretations, this Congregation, without prejudice to the eventual norms of the new Code, issues the following confirmation and clarification:1) the present canonical discipline remains in full force and has not been modified in any way;2) consequently, neither the excommunication nor the other penalties envisaged have been abrogated;3) what was said in the aforesaid letter as regards the interpretation to be given to the canon in question should be understood – as the Congregation intended – merely as a reminder of the general principles of interpretation of penal laws for the solution of the cases of individual persons which may be submitted to the judgment of ordinaries. It was not, however, the intention of the Congregation to permit Episcopal Conferences to issue public pronouncements by way of a judgment of a general character on the nature of Masonic associations, which would imply a derogation from the aforesaid norms.
Rome, from the Office of the S. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 17 February 1981.Franjo Cardinal SeperPrefectFr. Jerome Hamer, O.P.Titular Archbishop of LoriumSecretary
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
DECLARATION ON MASONIC ASSOCIATIONS
It has been asked whether there has been any change in the Church’s decision in regard to Masonic associations since the new Code of Canon Law does not mention them expressly, unlike the previous Code.This Sacred Congregation is in a position to reply that this circumstance in due to an editorial criterion which was followed also in the case of other associations likewise unmentioned inasmuch as they are contained in wider categories.Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.It is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations which would imply a derogation from what has been decided above, and this in line with the Declaration of this Sacred Congregation issued on 17 February 1981 (cf. AAS 73 1981 pp. 240-241; English language edition of L’Osservatore Romano, 9 March 1981).In an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II approved and ordered the publication of this Declaration which had been decided in an ordinary meeting of this Sacred Congregation.Rome, from the Office of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 26 November 1983.Joseph Card. RATZINGER
+ Fr. Jerome Hamer, O.P.
Titular Archbishop of LoriumSecretary