Joint declaration of the CBCP on sanctions for Catholics who join Freemasonry

Joint declaration of the  CBCP on sanctions for  Catholics who join Freemasonry

July 6, 2002

Manila, Philippines

We, the members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, gathered at Tagaytay City for our 85th Plenary Assembly, in the exercise of our pastoral duty to guide the members of the Church towards a sincere discipleship of Jesus Christ, hereby issue this Joint Declaration in order to apply the provisions of Canon Law on sanctions for Catholics who join Freemasonry. We decree that:

1. Any Catholic who is publicly known to be a member of any Masonic Association and actively participates in its program and activities, 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 an interdict (cf. Canon 1374), that is:

a) he is not to be admitted to Holy Communion and other sacraments (Cf. Canon 1332);
b) is prohibited to act as sponsor in Baptism and Confirmation;
c) is not to be admitted as member of parish or diocesan structures;
d) is to be denied funeral rites, unless some signs of repentance before death have been shown (cf. Canon 1184, §1, no. 3);
e) where Church funeral rites are allowed by the bishop no Masonic services 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 Freemasonry, notoriously adhering to the Masonic vision, is already considered excommunicated latae sententiae (Cf. Canon 1364). As such, the censures described in Canon 1331 automatically take their full effect on this person. Canon 1331 states:

§1 An excommunicated person is forbidden:

1. to have any ministerial participation in celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice or in any other ceremonies whatsoever of public worship;
2. to celebrate the sacraments and sacramentals and to receive the sacraments;
3. to discharge any ecclesiastical offices, ministries, or functions whatsoever, or to place acts of governance.

§2 If the excommunication has been imposed or declared, the guilty party:

1. wishing to act against the prescription of §1 is to be prevented from doing so or the liturgical action is to stop unless a serious cause intervenes;
2. invalidly places acts of governance which are only illicit in accord with the norms of §1 no. 3;
3. is forbidden to enjoy privileges formerly granted;
4. cannot validly acquire a dignity, office or other functions in the Church;
5. cannot appropriate the revenues from any dignity, office, function or pension in the Church.”

3. Further, all the individual bishops, in virtue of Canon 455 §4, decided to strictly disallow in their respective jurisdictions these Masons from being witnesses in Marriage, and as members of any associations of the faithful.

These sanctions clearly manifest that the incompatibility between Christianity and the principles of Freemasonry touches on important matters of Christian life.

In the spirit of the Good Shepherd, we trust that these sanctions be received by men and women of good will as signs of our solicitude for their spiritual welfare.

Since Catholic Masons are members of the Church, they deserve the prayers and charity Christians owe to one another. While the Church’s guidelines should not be watered down, the personal and individual situation of a Catholic Mason should be considered, so that gradually he may freely follow these guidelines. It is recommended that a Mason see his parish priest or bishop to receive personal and spiritual guidance on this matter.

President, CBCP
July 6, 2002


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