Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
The Question Box
by Father I.J. Mikulski
(From the Dec. 2, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. Will you explain who the Masons are and why the Catholic Church does not allow Catholics to be members? Will that change?
A. The fraternal order we know today originated in London in 1717 with the first Grand Lodge of Freemasons. Its stated principles and formal rituals can be considered its creed and liturgy. It really is a naturalistic religion at variance with Christian faith and practice.
Grand Orient Masonry, as it spread through Europe, became atheistic and even hostile to Christianity. The full force of the prohibition against membership in the Masons was re-stated in a declaration issued by the Doctrinal Congregation on November 26, 1983, with the approval of Pope John Paul II.
“The Church’s negative position on Masonic associations remains unaltered since their principles have always been regarded as irreconcilable with the Church’s doctrine. Hence, joining them remains prohibited by the church. Catholics enrolled in Masonic associations are involved in serious sin and may not approach Holy Communion. Local ecclesiastical authorities do not have the faculty to pronounce a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations which might include a diminution of the above mentioned judgment.”
That’s a clear position statement, you will agree. Careful reading of that short paragraph should take note of these two comments.
1. Local bishops are not authorized to grant dispensations from the prohibition. 2. The statement does not mention excommunication for Catholics who join the Masons.
In 1985, two years after that statement, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) released a similar position paper lest there be any misunderstanding among U. S. Catholics.
The NCCB found Freemasonry “irreconcilable” with all Christian denominations because “the principles and basic rituals of Masonry embody a naturalist religion, active participation in which is incompatible with Christian faith and practice. Those who knowingly embrace such principles are committing a serious sin.”
Our Eastern Orthodox cousins and some Protestant denominations concur with the Catholic rejection of Freemasonry as a naturalist religion incompatible, and in some countries hostile, to our Christian creed. Over the years eight different popes have issued 17 pronouncements about the Masons, not without reason.
Q. The speaker waved his Bible overhead and said that his edition was the King James version “direct from God.” He didn’t explain what he meant but he kept saying it. Maybe you can explain what the fuss is about over his King James Bible and the Catholic Bible.
A. If the speaker meant to say that his King James Bible came directly from God you could easily dispute that. Every English Bible, and there are many, must be a translation made by someone familiar with the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek editions.
There are some excellent English editions and some English editions of such poor quality it’s embarrassing to be seen with one.
The Revised Standard Version, a new edition of King James, is excellent. The New American Bible was completely re-done for Catholic liturgies It’s superb. The New Jerusalem Bible is the favorite for British Catholics. It has a lot of cross-references in the footnotes. Those are top drawer favorites, the result of top quality scholarship. As a convert remarked, “That’s our stuff,” so use it and respect it.
Q. What is the Catholic teaching on the eternal after-life for such non-Catholics as Moslems and Mohammedans? This may be too involved if we are not familiar with their theology which they certainly defend sometimes violently. What awaits them?
A. It’s not complicated at all. The Catholic Church takes no position on the eternal consignment of anyone. With a sigh of relief, we leave the judging, both the present and the final judgment, to God who alone understands our motives.
We are accountable for our decisions and our actions. Why not? It’s the mark of maturity to be accountable.