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Declaration on Masonic Associations

by Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith


Clarification of the Church's position toward Freemasonry. Translated from the Italian by Fr. Bernard M. Geiger, O.F.M. Conv.

Larger Work

L'Osservatore Romano



Publisher & Date

Vatican, November 27, 1983

It has been asked whether the position of the Church in regard to Freemasonry has been changed by reason of the fact that there is no express mention of the same in the New Code of Canon Law [1983], as there was in the previous Code [1917].

This Congregation is able to reply that the circumstance indicated is due to an editorial policy which has been followed in regard to other associations as well, which have likewise not been mentioned, inasmuch as they are included in broader categories.

For this reason, therefore, the negative position of the Church in regard to Masonic associations remains unchanged, since their basic principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the teachings of the Church, and consequently, membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who belong to Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.

It is not within the competence of local [diocesan] church authorities to pass judgment on the nature of Masonic associations in such a way as to derogate from what has been established above; this is in line with the Declaration of this Congregation issued February 17, 1981. (Cf. Acts of the Apostolic See, 723/1981, pp. 240-241.)

The Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, in the course of the audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved the present Declaration, which was decided upon in the [previous] ordinary meeting of this Sacred Congregation, and has ordered its publication.

Rome, from the office of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, November 26, 1983.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Fr. Jerome Hamer, O.P.
Titular Archbishop of Lorium

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