After a Ghanian MP publicly stated that he was a Catholic and a Freemason, Bishop Joseph Osei-Bonsu went public to clarify the Church’s stance.
The MP, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, said that he hadn’t been sanctioned by the Church and that the President of Ghana is also a Catholic and a Mason. said “Freemasonry is a fraternal society that believes in God Almighty, and follows certain principles that guide a man’s life, and it does not run counter with my beliefs as a Catholic.”
In response, Bishop Osei-Bonsu told the Catholic Standard that it was unfortunate Afenyo-Markin “does not know the teaching of his Church on this matter.” God bless this man!
Many people regard Freemasonry as a benevolent and charitable organization, somehow similar to the Rotary and Lions Clubs, the Knights of Marshall, the Knights of St. John International or the Knights of Columbus. Undoubtedly, it is for this reason that some Catholics join this fraternity.
In recent times, the Member of Parliament for Effutu in the Central Region, Hon. Alexander Afenyo-Markin, on a live radio interview stated that he is a proud member of the Lodge, and his church, the Catholic Church, does not frown on its members joining the Brotherhood. He added, “I am a mason and I have not been sanctioned by the Catholic Church. Freemasonry is a fraternal society that believes in God Almighty and follows certain principles that guide a man’s life and it does not run counter with my beliefs as a Catholic” (https://newsghana.com.gh/is-afenyo-markin-a-true-catholic/)
It is unfortunate that the Honourable Member of Parliament does not know the teaching of his Church on this matter. Contrary to what Honourable Alexander Afenyo Markin believes, Freemasonry is not approved by the Catholic Church. Indeed, Catholics are forbidden to become Freemasons.
FREEMASONRY AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCHEXCERPTS FROM CAN A CATHOLIC BE A FREEMASON BY MOST REV. JOSEPH OSEI-BONSU BISHOP OF KONONGO-MAMPONG
The Catholic Church has opposed the Lodge nearly since the birth of modern
Freemasonry in 1717. Since the founding of the Grand Lodge of England, eleven
popes have explicitly condemned Freemasonry or Masonic principles. These popes are: Pope Clement XII (28 April 1738); Pope Benedict XIV (18 May, 1751); Pius VII (13 September 1821); Pope Leo XII (13 March 1825); Pope Pius VIII (24 May 1829); Pope Gregory XVI (15 August 1832); Pius IX (between 1846 and 1873); Leo XIII (15 February 1882; 20 April 1884; 1887; 15 October 1890; 18 December 1892; 20 June 1894); Pope Pius IX (1907); Pope Pius X (1907); Pope Pius XI (1924).
A recent condemnation of Freemasonry is contained in the “Declaration on
Masonic Associations” issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 26 November 1983, declared that Masonic principles are irreconcilable with the doctrine of Church, and that Catholic membership in Freemasonry remains forbidden.
The Church’s position is that Freemasonry is a religion in its own right with its own doctrines, which are not compatible with Christian beliefs. For this reason, one
cannot simultaneously be a Christian and be a Freemason. What it teaches about the following cannot be reconciled with Christian beliefs, i.e., God, Christ, the denial of the role of grace and Christ in salvation, morality, its attitude towards the Bible, eschatology, the masonic oaths and the notion of rebirth and enlightenment. For this reason, one cannot simultaneously be a Catholic and a Freemason, just as one cannot be a Catholic and be Muslim, a Hindu, a Shintoist or a practitioner of African Traditional Religion. One will have to make a choice between Catholicism and Freemasonry.
Let me conclude by drawing attention to the DECLARATION OF THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE ON SANCTIONS FOR CATHOLICS WHO JOIN MASONIC ASSOCIATIONS, issued on 7 May 2009. Among other things, it says:
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 an interdict (cf. Canon 1347), that is:
a. He is not allowed to receive Holy Communion and other sacraments (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)
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 take 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.
It is possible that some Catholics joined Freemasonry without knowing that it is forbidden to Catholics. Such people are advised to see their priests or their bishops who will assist them to renounce Freemasonry and avoid incurring the sanctions that will be imposed on them if they do not renounce Freemasonry.