In spite of the many and repeated condemnations of Masonry issued by the Holy See, there still seems to be some doubt as to whether Catholics may become Masons.  It is frequently asserted that the various Masonic societies here in the Philippines are non-secretarian organizations which Catholics may join without injury to their Catholic faith.  This is false and We wish to reiterate in the strongest and most solemn terms of which We are capable the ruling decreed by the Holy See that a Catholic who knowingly and willingly becomes a Mason automatically incurs excommunication, may not receive any of the Sacraments of the Church and may not be buried in a Catholic cemetery.

A little reflection is enough to show the justice and reasonableness of this prohibition.  All assertions to the contrary not withstanding, Masonry is today what it has always been: a naturalistic religious sect which denies or ignores many of the truths contained in Sacred Scripture and defined by the Catholic Church as necessary for salvation.  For example, the official doctrine of Masonry denies, explicitly or by implication, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the strict sense.  According to Masonic teaching, Christ is a mere man; a great and wise man, indeed, but nevertheless only a man;  and hence, if He is called the Son of God, it can only be in a loose or metaphorical sense, not in the literal sense in which Christ Himself claimed to be the Son of God.

Hence, to subscribe to the official doctrine of Masonry by membership in that society is, in effect, to deny or doubt an essential truth of Catholic belief.

It is true that Masons believe in some kind of a supreme diety whom they call the Architect of the Universe; but this deity as described in the official books of Masonry is very far indeed from the Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, one nature in three divine Persons whom Catholics acknowledge and worship.  In fact, the term “Architect of the Universe” has been and is interpreted by Masons in many ways, some of which are not even Christian.  Moreover, this very vagueness as to the nature of God and our relations to Him is in itself a serious danger to religion, because it is a powerful inducement to religious indifferentism and ultimately to scepticism and even atheism.

But it is not only on doctrinal grounds that Masonry is unacceptable to Catholics.  The conditions of membership in this society, and its known practices, are in direct violation not only of Christian morality but even of the Natural Law.

Statement on Masonry

All Masons, for instance, are obliged to take a solemn oath to keep absolutely secret whatever they may subsequently be told regarding the doctrines and the duties of Masonry, under pain of the direct punishments not excluding death itself.  There are many objections to such an oath.  In the first place, it is clearly wrong to swear to keep secret something that ought not to be kept secret.  Secondly, the grave consequences of violating the oath, which include torture and destruction at the hands of the other members of the Masonic fraternity, are either seriously meant or not.  If not, the supreme majesty of God is invoked to witness to a trivial and ridiculous proceeding, an act which partakes of the nature of sacrilege.  If seriously meant, a power is attributed to the Masonic society,  the power of capital punsihment, which has been given by God to the State alone, and that under the severest limitations.  Finally, the absolute and unrestricted loyalty to a private organization implied by such an oath is directly contrary to the Natural Law,  which prescribes that our adherence to such voluntary societies is necessarily limited by our primary obligations to God, to the Church, to civil society and to the family.

In spite of Masonry’s outward profession of neutrality and even of friendship towards all religions, it is an historical fact confirmed by countless examples that the Masonic society as such has been and is consistently hostile to the Catholic Church, and even to many forms of non-Catholic Christianity; and in several cases priests have been prevented by Masons from hearing the confession and reconciling Masons on their death bed.  Masonry has consistently advocated and actively promoted the exclusion of Catholicism from any position of influence, however legitimate, in almost every walk of life.  So bitter and relentless is this hostility of Masonry to the Church, that a prominent Filipino Mason was widely applauded by  his fellow-Masons when he publicly asserted not long ago that the Roman Catholic Church is a greater enemy of the Filipino people than atheistic Communism.

To sum up — Catholics are forbidden to join the Masonic Fraternity.  Catholics who knowlingly and willinlgy become Masons are automatically excomunicated; they may not receive any of the Sacraments of the Church; they may not act as sponsors in Baptism and Confirmation; they may be excluded from acting as witnesses in Catholic marriages where such action would cause scandal, and finally Masons may not be buried in Catholic cemeteries.

Given this 14th day of January, 1954.

For the Catholic Hierarchy of the Philippines:

(Sgd.)+JULIO ROSALES, D.D.
Archbishop of Cebu

(Sgd.)+SANTIAGO C. SANCHO
Archbishop of Nueva Segovia

(Sgd.)+JAMES T.G. HAYES, SJ
Archbishop of Cagayan

(Sgd.)+PEDRO P. SANTOS
Archbishop of Nueva Caceres

(Sgd.)+JOSE MA. CUENCO
Archbishop of Jaro

(Sgd.)+RUFINO J. SANTOS
Archbishop of Manila

(Sgd.)+CESAR MA. GUERRERO
Bishop of San Fernando

(Sgd.)+LUIS DEL ROSARIO, SJ
Bishop of Zamboanga

(Sgd.)+MANUEL M. MASCARINAS
Bishop of Tagbilaran

(Sgd.)+MIGUEL ACEBEDO
Bishop of Calbayog

(Sgd.)+MARIANO A. MADRIAGA
Bishop of Lingayen

(Sgd.)+ALFREDO OBVIAR
Apostolic Administrator of Lucena

(Sgd.)+JUAN C. SISON
Auxiliary Bishop of Nueva Segovia

(Sgd.)+WILLIAM BRASSEUR, CICM
Vicar Apostolic of Montañosa

(Sgd.)+ALEJANDRO OLALIA
Bishop of Tuguegarao
Appointed Bishop of Lipa

(Sgd.)+VICENTE P. REYES
Auxiliary Bishop of Manila

(Sgd.)+MANUEL YAP
Bishop of Bacolod

(Sgd.)+GERARD MONGEAU, OMI
Prelate of Cotabato
Apostolic Administrator of Sulu

(Sgd.)+PEREGRIN DE LA FUENTE,OP
Prelature of Batanes-Babuyanes

(Sgd.)+WILLIAM DUSCHAK, SVD
Vicar Apostolic of Calapan

(Sgd.)+LINO GONZAGA
Bishop of Palo

(Sgd.)+ANTONIO FRONDOSA
Bishop of Capiz

(Sgd.)+FLAVIANO ARIOLA
Bishop of Legaspi

(Sgd.)+TEOPISTO ALBERTO
Bishop of Sorsogon

(Sgd.)+PATRICK SHANLEY, ODC
Prelature of Infanta

(Sgd.)MSGR. CLOVIS THIBAULT, PME
Apostolic Administrator of Davao

(Sgd.)MSGR. PATRICK CRONIN
Apostolic Administrator of Ozamiz

(Sgd.)GREGORIO ESPIGA, ORSA
Apostolic Prefect of Palawan

(Sgd.)REV. CHARLES VAN DEN OUWELANT, MSC
Apostolic Administrator of Surigao

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