Recently, an Ontario Catholic High School placed a large ad in a city newspaper insert announcing that it would make a charitable donation to the Shriners. The Shriners are Masons and it seems inappropriate that a Catholic institution should help support their work. Allegedly, at least one staff member at the school complained to the principal before the ad was published, but to no avail. To my knowledge, the incident caused very little controversy among the thousands of Catholics living in that city. This did not surprise me, but I believe it is a matter of great concern.
The vast majority of people know only two things about the Shriners: 1) They operate burn treatment centres for children and 2) They operate circuses. Most Catholics probably don’t know that the Shriners are Freemasons, that Freemasonry has been condemned many times by the Catholic Church, and that Catholics shouldn’t join “the Lodge.”
They don’t know these things because they have not been told. I’ve attended Mass nearly every Sunday for the past 20 years and I have heard exactly zero sermons on this topic. I’ve met Masonic Catholics who were blissfully unaware that Catholics shouldn’t join Masonry. About 10 years ago, a met a Catholic priest who was a Mason and remained in good standing with the Church (even though he was very outspoken in defense of “the Craft”). I have read in various places that there are Bishops and even Cardinals who are Freemasons. These allegations have become more credible since Pope Francis, during a recent interview, may have alluded to the existence of a Masonic lobby in the Vatican.
In any case, the Church’s official position vis-a-vis Freemasonry seems to have softened somewhat since Vatican II. Before that council, no less than eight Popes had condemned the Craft. Membership in Freemasonry was explicitly forbidden in the Code of Canon law up until 1983. After that, the Canon only forbade Catholic membership in “an association which plots against the Church,” without specifically mentioning Freemasonry. Because of the consequent confusion, in the same year, Cardinal J. Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) issued a declaration reaffirming the Church’s traditional position (without the penalty of excommunication).
Nevertheless, the murky waters of “the Spirit of Vatican II” still seem to cloud the Church’s position on Masonry. Many Catholic clergymen seem to believe that the conflict between Masonry and the Church is a thing of the past or that the Church only condemns “Continental” Masonry (such as the Grand Orient of France) and not the seemingly more benign English, Canadian and American Lodges. Some Catholic prelates often seem to make clever distinctions concerning the Church’s position on “forbidden” organizations. In the case of the Shriners, they might take the position that while joining the Shriners may be forbidden to Catholics, there is nothing in Catholic teaching that forbids Catholics from making donations to their “worthy causes.”
Here’s the problem: The “man on the street” is an unsophisticated thinker. If he never hears a sermon denouncing Masonry, if he sees Catholics joining the Lodge without being punished by the Church, and if he sees Catholic institutions making donations to the Shriners, he may come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church is, “Okay with the Craft.”
I have studied Freemasonry and related organizations such as Eastern Star. These are secret societies rooted in occult teachings such as the Jewish Kabbalah. They labour to build an anti-Christian, luciferian world order. Now, I’m not saying that every Mason is consciously doing this. Most Masons are decent fellows who genuinely believe that Masonry is what it pretends to be, a charitable fraternity. You see, the high level Masons keep the lower degree members (the vast majority) in the dark as to the true purpose of the Craft.
Let me conclude with the words of two great Popes. Pope Pius XII, on May 23, 1958, said, “the roots of modern apostasy lay in scientific atheism, dialectical materialism, rationalism, Illuminism, laicism, and Freemasonry -- which is the mother of them all…” Pope Clement XII wrote in 1738, “We have resolved and decreed to condemn and forbid such societies, assemblies, reunions, aggregations or meetings called either Freemasonic or known under some other denomination. We condemn and forbid them by this, our present constitution, which is to be considered valid forever.”