when catholics could be masons by nico fassino at pillar catholic
For hundreds of years, the Catholic Church has prohibited its members from joining Masonic lodges.
Freemasonry has been denounced by numerous popes, beginning with Pope Clement XII in 1738, on the grounds that it promotes religious indifferentism.
But after the Second Vatican Council, many Catholics around the world suddenly became confused about whether it was permissible for Catholics to become Masons.
In fact, there was a seven-year stretch in the 1970s when the English-speaking Catholic world was taught by its bishops that, although it was not encouraged, it was in fact permitted to become a Mason, as long as certain conditions were met.
Then, at the end of those seven years, these Catholics were suddenly informed that joining the Masons was actually still forbidden under pain of excommunication – and always had been.
That period in history is all but forgotten today. But a survey of Catholic newspapers from the time period offers a glimpse into the confusion that surrounded the subject of Masonry in the American Catholic world 50 years ago.
Changes anticipated: 1971-1974
While work was underway on the revised Code of Canon Law in Rome in the early 1970s, it became clear that there was widespread anticipation that the Church would soon change her teaching on Catholic participation in Freemasonry.
In August 1971, National Catholic News Service – the news service of the U.S. bishops – issued a lengthy report which predicted that the Church would soon modify her teaching on the matter.
Headlined, “Catholic-Masonic Relations Enter Friendly New Era,” the report included commentary from leading experts in Rome, including Fr. Jean Beyer, SJ – Dean of Faculty of Canon Law at the Gregorian University in Rome and a consultor to the Vatican Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law. The syndicated story ran in official diocesan newspapers throughout the nation.
Two years later, in June 1973, National Catholic News Service again reported that Church officials were expecting and planning for a change in Church teaching.
The article, headlined “Church ban on Freemasonry expected to be relaxed,” revealed that the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales had sent letters to all priests in their country, informing them that some “relaxation” in the ban on Freemasonry was expected soon.
According to the letter from the English hierarchy, “it seems probable that each national bishops’ conference will be left to decide whether Masons will have to resign membership in being received into the Church, and also whether requests from laymen [to] join the Masons may be granted.”
This news was widely printed in official diocesan newspapers throughout the country and continued to be discussed in newspapers and clerical journals between the summer of 1973 and spring 1974.
The growing consensus — as promoted by the U.S. bishops’ news service — was that the old prohibition would soon be changed.
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Note regarding the main image: it was found at this site and is obviously taken more recently than the 1970″s!!