The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, with Pope Francis’s endorsement, has restated the longstanding prohibition for Catholics against joining Freemasonry.

This reaffirmation comes as a response to concerns from Bishop Julito Cortes of the Philippines about the increasing number of Catholics involved with Freemasonry in his diocese.

Freemasonry, a secretive society with an estimated six million members worldwide, is known for its oath-bound nature and rituals that are incompatible with Church teachings.

The Vatican document, signed on November 13, emphasizes the “irreconcilability between the Catholic faith and Freemasonry.” It reiterates that Catholics who are “formally and knowingly enrolled in Masonic Lodges and have embraced Masonic principles” are committing a grave sin and are barred from receiving Holy Communion.

This stance is consistent with the Church’s position since Pope Clement XII’s formal condemnation of Freemasonry in 1738.

The Vatican’s guidance, while addressed to the situation in the Philippines, serves as a global reminder of the Church’s stance. Cardinal Victor Fernández, Prefect of the Dicastery, noted in the document that the measures against Freemasonry also apply to clerics. The Vatican suggests that bishops worldwide, particularly in the Philippines, should implement a “coordinated strategy” to educate the faithful about the Church’s position on Freemasonry.

This directive follows the 1983 “Declaration on Masonic Associations” by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), which declared that “the faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin.”

Editorial credit: Kevin Hellon /
Get our inspiring content delivered to your inbox every morning - FREE!