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Philippine bishops warn against 'Catholic-Freemasons'

Members of the Freemasons group allegedly participated in synodal consultations
Freemasons are seen during a gathering in the Bicol region of the Philippines on Jan. 16, 2023

Freemasons are seen during a gathering in the Bicol region of the Philippines on Jan. 16, 2023. (Photo: Roel Deuda)

Published: March 28, 2023 11:16 AM GMT
Updated: March 30, 2023 06:43 PM GMT

Filipino bishops have clarified their position on a canonically banned fraternity called Freemasons after allegations surfaced that a growing number of its members participate in church activities.

The Commission on the Doctrine of Faith of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines issued a statement on March 24 to reiterate their stance on the Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines.  

The Philippine hierarchy, “as early as 1954 up until the present” has always defended the Catholic magisterial position on “the unacceptability of Masonry, given its serious errors” both in its philosophical tenets and practices, the commission said.

The bishops’ clarification came against the background of several Catholics questioning the alleged participation of Masons in diocesan and national synodal consultations held from April to September 2022 in the country.

The consultations are preparatory stages and part of Synod on Synodality to be held in Rome in October 2024. Pope Francis launched the global exercise in October 2021, asking Catholics in every diocese to participate actively so the Church could listen to the realities of its members.

In Catholic-majority Philippines, Church members claimed they assumed the church’s position on Freemasons changed when they found some participated in the synod process.

“Nothing has changed”

“We thought the Catholic Church’s teachings have changed. Since several participants in the synod were Freemasons, we thought the Church has relaxed the rules on its membership and its participation in activities of the Catholic Church,” Quezon City parishioner Gloria Buencamino, 43, told UCA News on March 26.

Buencamino claimed some “extraordinary” ministers who helped the priest distribute communion during Mass in their parish were also Freemasons.

“In our parish alone, we have two of them and they were delegates to the Synod on Synodality. They are good and pious Catholics. Personally, I was surprised to see the CBCP has released the pastoral guidelines,” Buencamino added.

But the bishops’ commission clarified that “nothing has changed” and asserted that those joining  Masonry will incur canonical penalties.

“Yet, given the sensitivity and delicateness of the issue in the Philippine setting, it has also shown ‘openness,’ in the exercise of pastoral circumspection, towards Catholics who may have unwittingly in good faith sought membership in Masonic associations with the best of intentions,” said the commission chairman, Bishop Jose R. Rojas of Libmanan.

Church ban continues

However, the Catholic Church’s position remains unchanged on masonic associations whose beliefs, rituals, and customs were “irreconcilable” to the doctrine of the Church.

The bishops’ letter quoted a 1983 declaration from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that prohibited Catholics from joining the fraternity and said those continuing in it are in “grave sin.”

The bishops also explained that the 1983 Code of Cannon Law does not explicitly prohibit Catholics’ membership in the Masonic association, unlike the 1917 canon law. 

However, the new code omitting the name Masonic association does not mean its acceptance, they said.

“The omission was simply meant to extend the application of the prohibition of membership to other associations, whose principles — like those of masonic associations — are perceived to be irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church,” the statement said quoting the Vatican declaration. 

The bishops however did not explain the presence of members of Masonic associations at synod proceedings in dioceses and parishes.

Masons can be Catholic?

But pastoral priorities need to show “openness to the situation of individual Catholics” on a case-to-case basis to determine “if such Catholics deserve a less stringent approach [as otherwise required by Canon Law], particularly if their joining the association is not necessarily tantamount to a formal renunciation of the Catholic faith,” the statement said.

Filipino Masons said they do not see anything wrong in being Catholic and Freemason.

US-based Filipino Catholic and Freemason Edward Cruz, 56, told UCA News that on All Souls Day, he attended Mass in Catholic Church and Masonic Lodge in South San Francisco.

He also claimed about 20 years ago Father William Justice, (who would later become Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco) commissioned him to distribute Eucharist during the Mass, which he still does.

“Freemasonry makes good Catholic men better,” said Cruz who moved to the US in 1999.

Freemason and lawyer Frank Muñez, 61, from Quezon City of Manila said the Masonic association is like a fraternity that can help establish business connections and to build a wider clientele.

“It’s a fraternity. What’s wrong with it? We are not denying God’s love. In fact, we encourage our members to be men of faith and good countrymen. During calamities, we help our poor brothers and sisters,” Muñez told UCA News.

Muñez also cited his brethren physician Greg Macasaet who died of Covid-19 after serving several Covid patients.

“Yes, he offered his life for a greater cause. And you know what was his first request when his fellow doctors announced he had Covid, he looked for a priest for confession,” Muñez added.

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18 Comments on this Story
RUIYI TENG
I agree with the rest of the Masons that joining this fraternity of men is not a declaration of faith against the catholic church, in masonry we are encouraged to be a good christians, the only thing that perhaps other people thought that being a mason is unchristian, is because in masonry any religion is accepted, muslims, hindus, or any religion for as long that you believe in God or your Creator then you may become a mason, atheists are not accepted in masonry
SHIRLEY SOTES
I have a brother in law..when he became a Mason has different character to the extent he don't respect my mother, a devoted Catholic...our God Almighty is a jealous God, why Masons accept all other sorts of God.NSES
RAFAEL MONTERROSO
Dear Ruiyi Teng, I want to tell you that Jesus messsage is we have Our Eternal Father Who Is Love, so why would you need someone else for being a better Catholic? Remember Luke 11 "The Lord’s Prayer. 1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name,". I only love one Father and hope you too dear Ruiyi Teng.
DWIGHT
They warn about freemasons, yet are amazingly tolerant with cash-grabbing, influence-peddling demagogues who ignores their guidelines and promise that money will rain if they buy his umbrellas, all in the name of the Catholic Church.
RICHARD N ABELLA
I am a mason n a catholic.I believe in God n i see nothing bad being a mason. Those saying na we are anti christ, only God knows who is who.
JOHANNES TAN
Freemasons should not be allowed to participate in any priestly and ministerial office. The time will come, the Vatican will be infiltrated from within. They are under extreme oath and induction like the Jesuits. You can't tell for sure their real allegiance.
LEO ESCARPE
Catholics who are members of freemason should quit being a member otherwise quit of being catholic. U cannot serve two masters at the same time. For the divil will behave like an angel in order to mislead the faithful. Whatever they acts is different from the Church doctrine against freemasonry period.
BILLY
Freemasonry is not a religion, it's a Fraternity
THE CARPENTER
Self Serving Agenda
 There has been recent statements coming from the Philippines Grand Lodge, where they have misinterpreted the 1983 Code of Cannon Law & the 1983 declaration as released in their recent statements in their website, as a reply to one bishops sermon in one of their provinces and of this article. Noticing how they immediately jumped to issue a statement to their constituents. The real reason? is just to mainly to protect their diminishing membership, which is only 0.0002% somewhere between 37-55 million filipino males aged 19-64, from that you have to filter those who are really active so it would be lower, many masons are leaving their masonic membership, why? they have discovered upon joining, members eventually are peer pressured to use masonry as an escape from their families and wives, to drink til their bellies bust and copulate with their mistresses. One question though? where is making good men better there? to be fair, there will be days, or events solely for family, charity, medical missions and for a night for their legal wives. But on the other hand, somebody has to warn the families of the mentioned escape, especially in their coming annual communications this April. 

They also have made further statements, that more masonic temples are being built in their provinces, this is just because of lower priced real estate compared to their main city states, but these are projects of the same members from another lodge who were already members from a different jurisdiction, one can surmise, this is to pursue various political & personal mercenary motives, hiding under charity giving. Another note to mention of the diminishing membership of Caucasian North American & European Freemasonry, to which is now being taken over actively by filipinos some who are already members in the Phils. The Decline of the caucasian population is alarming, so they are exerting to jump on the chance to re-interpret and twist the facts from the updated 1983 canon and its declarations, its a simple self serving agenda. One that the Catholic faith in the philippines and of the the world must take drastic actions. The excerpts under “Masons can be Catholic” from the article is a subtle tactic to attach masonry to the values of catholicism of helping others, but it's a ruse nonetheless.

 This self serving agenda of Philippine Masonry re-interpretation of the 1983 Canon says it all, and it constitutes a ruse, veil, plot against the Church or against legitimate civil authority and its values.
 Another Ruse against the Church?

 From their rituals that is being innocently claimed as allegorical, Their lead character Hiram Abiff that was to be slain by ruffians, and “risen” as a raising ritual on the 3rd degree, the highest of all their degrees as they claim, hmmm just a thought, that if it does have any resemblance of replacing the Catholics’ Jesus Christ’s resurrection?
DOUG
The Catholic Church is so backwards. They think a Mason is participating in a religion. Nothing can be farther from the facts. Yes, to be a Mason you must believe in a Supreme Being. That can be the God of Christianity, Buddha, any of many Indian God's etc.
ANDRE
Freemasonry as being warned/predicted is against the the true teachings of Jesus as revealed in the BOOK OF TRUTH since Last Nov.10 2010.. Indeed.it was warned that there was a forced resignation of the True Pope..Pope Benedict by a false prophet..Pope francis ..He was endorsed b 11 cardinals who were masons and elected last March,2013 cos he was a mason and a Jesuit from Argentina. HE ADVOCATED same sex marriage..,moral obligation to be vaccinated..modernising the catholic church by forming one world religion thus gradually deleting the catholic church..His premise after his successful in forming one world Religion..he will envite the anti christ to head the vatican in forming one world govt. To introduce the microchips..mark of the beast...Please read and be discern in the BOOK OF TRUTH ad prophecied and all are fulfilled...ask for the gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit
JOSEPH FORD
Its 2023. Come on. The crusades are over. The catholic church killed enough non-catholics in the several catholic inquisitions. The vatican turned a blind eye on the Holocaust. We let the priests rape kids once in a while. The only question we should answer I think is: why be catholic?
DOMINGO
Catholicism is not defined by the sins of its members. It is not defined by temporal fads and scoops.
JOHN
Philippine freemasonry in the present time, also thrives on endless filing of petty unmasonic cases between themselves that takes most of their administrative time, they are like spoiled brats in aprons, who cares only for their fame, Envy, Greed, & Lust are their top most favorite sins, that drives mercenary and financial abuse to unsuspecting petitioners, who’s blinded with the distinction & false prestige thru various forms, and the cycle of entry repeats when raised, paying it forward from within, its a toxic way to acquire membership, and a quick turn off too to those enlightened and then leave, their doctrines are shallow verses only for lip service, there is really no brotherly love, no faith, and not even truth, they constantly lie to each other, to their families and to themselves the way it best serves them. Some of their lodges are just extensions of their high school or college fraternity, so to reminisce and enhance hazing as compared to other countries, claim the knight templars as forefathers, steal verses from the old testament, and plagiarize it to craft imaginary stories to call their own, as their masonic studies are always at quarrel with each of their neighboring appendants.
LOGAN
Some Masonic tenets that are irreconcilable with Catholic teachings include::: God is the great architect of the world. but He leaves it on its own and has not revealed Himself in history. The Masonic God is a god of Deism. They believe that God exists but their god does not meddle in the affairs of man. Remember how the Greek gods of Olympus also behaved. God did not reveal Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. He has no place in Masonic philosophy. They say that he was just a good man. Equality and respect for religions, eh? That's what Masonry teaches so much so that it puts all religions and all religious deities on one equal plane.::: Freemasonry is promoted as the foundation of all religions. Freemasonry is in FACT a religion of Naturalism, a system of belief that makes human nature and human reason supreme in all things. One religion is as good as any other.::: There is no objective truth in morals and doctrine. That would be bigotry. Since all religions are equal, not one single religion possesses the truth and that all truth is relative according to Masonry. They reject objective, absolute truth and believe that a personal enlightenment is important. So where does that put the dogmas of the Catholic faith? Dumpster. Don't you see that this is all the work of Modernism?::: Man's perfection is not to be found in his love for a personal God but only in the development of his natural powers. Man has an immortal soul but has no supernatural destiny.:::The initiation ritual of Freemasonry describes an initiate as one who is in darkness and seeks the light. And that light can only be found in the Lodge. A Catholic who is baptized and confirmed cannot be described as someone in darkness. But for Freemasonry, any person who has not learned the teachings of the Lodge is lost and in darkness. Can that be compatible with Christianity in general and with Catholicism in particular?::: Therefore, the ultimate goal of Freemasonry is to lead a Catholic away from God’s grace especially manifested in the Sacraments instituted by Christ through His Church. Masonry denies Christ’s Divinity and therefore His role as our Savior and His Church's work of continuing His mission on earth.
WELSIE LOPEZ
This is the height of ignorance and hypocrisy. Why does the Catholic hierarchy condemn a fraternity, whose aim is philanthropy and brotherhood? The Vatican SHOULD firat FOLLOW the Ten Commandments, apecific mention on IDOLATRY, before passing judgment on others. IF Catholics are really Christians as they claim to be, then they MUST follow what is written in the Holy Bible; that is, THOU SHALT NOT MAKE GRAVEN IMAGES. THOU SHALT NOT WORSHIP THEM. THOU SHALT NOT HAVE OTHER GODS.
WELSIE LOPEZ
NEITHER religion NOR any organization can offer salvation. FOR by Faith you have been saved thru Grace, and NOT of good works, lest NO man should boast. Religion is one, Faith is another.
DENNIS
Jesus is a Mason but he is not a Catholic. Who do you want to put your faith in? Jesus or the man in Rome?
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