DECLARATION OF THE CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF KUMASI (MAY 2017): FREEMASONRY IS FORBIDDEN IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
DECLARATION OF THE CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF KUMASI (MAY 2017):
FREEMASONRY IS FORBIDDEN IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Dear People of God and cherished Readers of the Good Shepherd Newspaper, following the recent events of a publication on the Social Media regarding Freemasonry, an international Association (Lodge) presumed by some as a benevolent and charitable organisation, we humbly wish to remind all that Freemasonry is forbidden in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi wants to inform all its numerous Faithful that Freemasonry is still up to today condemned, banished and as such incongruous to the Catholic Church.
Since the birth of Modern Freemasonry in 1717 in United Kingdom, the Catholic Church has a disparate for this Lodge and as such Catholics are banned from becoming members of Freemason. Since the Grand Lodge of England was founded, Eleven (11) Popes – Pope Clement XII (28 April 1739), Pope Benedict XIV (18 May 1751): Pope Pius VII (13 September 1821), Pope Leo XII (13 March 1825), Pope Pius VIII (24 May 1829), Pope Gregory XVI (15 August 1832), Pope Pius IX (Between 1846 and 1873), Pope Leo XIII (15 February 1882, 20 April 1884,1887,15 October 18900, 18 December 1892, 20 June 1894), Pope Pius IX (1907), Pope Pius X (1907) and Pope Pius XI (1924) – have explicitly condemned Freemasonry or Masonic Principles.
Some exceptions of what some of these Popes said as regards perpetual condemnation of Freemason:
Pope Clement XII: in his apostolic letter In eminenti of April 28, 1738, Pope Clement XII sets the criterion for Catholics to evaluate the gravity of the coming event. The Pope said, We consider it our duty to watch day and night, as a faithful servant of the household of the Lord, lest such men [Freemasons and other such groups] do not break into the house like thieves, and like foxes seek to destroy the vineyard, thereby perverting the hearts of the simple and piercing them with their poisoned arrows. We do hereby determine and decree the condemnation and prohibition of those societies called Freemasons or any other name they may go by, and do so by our present Constitution, valid in perpetuity.
Pope Clement XII further warned, Wherefore we prohibit most strictly and in virtue of holy obedience each and all of the faithful of Jesus Christ of whatever state, degree, condition, rank, dignity and prominence, be they lay or clerical, secular or regular, even those who are entitled to special mention, to dare or presume under any pretext or reason to enter the aforesaid societies of the Freemasons or whatever name they are called, or to propagate, support or receive them in their homes or to give them shelter or hide them, be enrolled among them, joined to them, present with them, or give them power or the means to meet, or to help them in any way – advice, encouragement or support – either openly or secretly, directly or indirectly, personally or through intermediaries, by any manner whatsoever.
Pope Leo XII, in his apostolic letter Quo graviora, March 13, 1826, quoted the above condemnation by Pope Clement XII and added, We categorically command that the Christian faithful completely stay clear from Freemason and their associates, societies, assemblies, meetings, gatherings or groups, under pain of incurring automatic excommunication for all transgressors, without further declaration being required; and from which no one can obtain the benefit of absolution, unless he be in danger of death, by anyone else except ourselves or the Roman Pontiff of the time.
Pope Benedict XIV, on March 16, 1751 published the Constitution “Providas” in which he inserted in full In Eminenti, the Bull which had been written by his predecessor Clement XII, in order to make it very evident that the condemnation of Freemasonry was irrevocable and was to be applied to the future as well as to the present.
Pope Pius VII – In his Papal bull a Jesu Christo promulgated in 1821 had this to say: Freemasons must be excommunicated for their oath bound secrecy of the society and conspiracies against church and state.
Pope Leo XII – In his apostolic constitution promulgated on March 13, 1825, Pope Leo XII decreed the prohibition of membership in Masonic Lodges in perpetuity.
Pope Leo XIII- Annum Ingressi was an apostolic epistle written by Leo XIII in 1902. It was addressed to the bishops of the world reviewing the twenty five years of his pontificate. It also urged resistance to Freemasonry.
The L’Osservatore Romano, the official Newspaper of the Vatican, in its English language Edition of 9th March 1981, had this to say: it is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgement on the nature of Masonic Associations which imply a derogation from what has been said by the previous popes and this is in line with the Declaration of this Sacred Congregation issued on 17 February 1981 (cf AAS 73 1981 pp. 240-241).
The Catholic Church has not changed its position with regard to the masonic associations since the inception of the 1983 Code of Canon Law (CIC/83).
Even though the New Code of Canon Law (CIC/83) which was promulgated on the 25th January, 1983 does not expressly mention masonic associations as was in Canon 2335 of the CIC/17, the tenor of Canon 1374 of CIC/83 clearly states that it is an offence for a person to join an association that conspires against the Church. This offence is committed merely by registration, independently from any offences that might be committed subsequently when the specific orders from that association are carried into effect. The offence is permanent since the anti-juridical situation continues as long as the offender’s adhesion to that association lasts. At least one of the objects of the association must consist in the commission of subversive acts against the church.
If a faithful should join a masonic association, he/she commits a grave act by reason of scandal which is malicious (Can 1318). The person falls into latae sententiae, that is an automatic penalty or excommunication (Can 1314). An excommunicated person is forbidden: to have any ministerial part in the celebration of the Eucharist or in any other ceremonies of public worship (Can 1331 §1,1°) and to celebrate the sacrament or the sacramental and to receive the sacraments (Can 1331 §1, 2°)
On the 26th November 1983, from the office of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, Joseph Card, Ratzinger reiterated that the unchanged position of the Church as regards Freemason. He said the masonic principles are irreconcilable with the church’s teaching.
Reason why the Church is against Freemasonry
In his Constitution, “Providas,” Benedict XIV enumerates six reasons which drove Pope Clement XII to strike Secret Societies; they are 1) the Interconfessonalism (or Interfaith) of Freemasons; 2) their secret; 3) their oath; 4) their opposition to Church and State; 5) the interdiction pronounced against them in several States by the Heads of such countries; and, 6) their immorality which the Pope characterizes thus: “Those Societies, according to men who are prudent and honest, are ill-famed, and to become a member thereof, would lead to evil and perversion.”
In conclusion, we invite all our Faithful to always contact their Parish Priests, the Chancellor of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Peter Kwame Sarpong of Tanoso Parish, the Vicar General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi –Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Louis Kofi Tuffuor of Asokwa Parish, and, if necessary, the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi – Most Rev. Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye at the Catholic Secretariat, Santasi-Anyinam, if you are confronted with any ambiguous doctrine in the social, electronic or print media.
May Mary our Mother intercede for us and the whole Church.
Please kindly read the appendix on the Declaration of the Ghana Bishops’ Conference sanctions for Catholics who join Masonic Associations.
Most Rev. Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye
ARCHBISHOP OF CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF KUMASI
Declaration of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference
on sanctions for Catholics who join Masonic associations
We, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, at our Administrative Board Meeting held at the National Catholic Secretariat on 7 May 2009, in the exercise of our pastoral duty to guide the members of the Church to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ, and convinced of the irreconcilability of Freemasonry with the Catholic faith, hereby issue this Declaration in order to apply the provisions of Canon Law on sanctions for Catholics who join Masonic Associations.
We declare, in accordance with Church law, that:
1) Any Catholic who is a member of any Masonic Association and participates in its programmes, or promotes its views, or holds any office therein, and refuses to renounce such membership despite at least one warning (cf. Canon 1347) is to be punished with and interdict (cf. Canon 1347) that is:
a. He is not allowed to receive Holy Communion and other sacrament (cf. Canon 1347) is to be punished with an interdict (cf. Canon 1332).
b. He is prohibited to act as sponsor in Baptism and Confirmation.
c. He is not to be admitted as a member of parish or diocesan structures.
d. He is to be denied funeral rites, unless he shows some signs of repentance before death (Canon 1184 § 1, no. 3)
e. Where funeral rites are allowed by the bishop, no Masonic service shall be allowed in the Church or cemetery immediately before or after the Church rites in order to avoid public scandal (cf. Canon 1184, § 1, no. 3, and Canon 1374).
2) Any Catholic who is a convinced member of a Masonic Association and notoriously adheres to the Masonic vision is already considered to have incurred automatic excommunication (cf. Canon 1364). This means that the censures described in Canon 1331 automatically takes full effect on this person. According to Canon 1331 § 1, an excommunicated person is forbidden:
I. To have any ministerial participation in the celebration of the Eucharist or in any other ceremonies whatsoever of public worship.
II. To celebrate the sacraments and sacramentals and to receive the sacraments.
III. To discharge any ecclesiastical offices, ministries, or functions whatsoever, or to place acts of governance. According to Canon 1331 § 2, if the excommunication has been imposed or declared, the guilty party: I. Wishing to act against the prescriptions of § 1 is to be prevented from doing so or the liturgical action is to stop unless a serious cause intervenes. II. Invalidly places acts of governance which are only illicit in accord with the norms of §1 no. 3. III. Is forbidden to enjoy formerly granted. IV. Cannot validly acquire a dignity, office or other functions in the Church. V. Cannot appropriate the revenues from any dignity, office, functions or pension in the Church.
3) Further, in virtue of Canon 455 § 4, members of Masonic Association are not allowed to be witness in Marriage and to be members of any associations of the faithful. These guidelines have been issued by us, your bishops, out of the great pastoral solicitude that we have for you, and we trust that they will be received in the same spirit. In case of doubt about joining other associations, please contact your bishop. We commend Catholic members of Masonic Associations to your prayers, our dear faithful. While the Church’s teachings on this matter cannot be watered down, the personal and individual situation of a Catholic member of a Masonic Association should be considered, so that gradually he may freely follow these guidelines. It is recommended that such a person should see his parish priest or bishop to receive personal and spiritual guidance on this matter.
Most Rev. Lucas Abadamloora
President, Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference
7 May 2009