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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Catholics are forbidden from membership in Masonic lodges "because of the irreconcilability between Catholic doctrine and Freemasonry," the Vatican's doctrine watchdog has confirmed.
In a statement published Monday responding to a question from Msgr. Julito Cortes, bishop of Dumaguete, Philippines, Cdl. Victor Manuel Fernández, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, reiterated the ban on Catholics becoming Freemasons.
Noting that membership in Freemasonry is very significant in the Philippines and involves not only those who are formally enrolled in Masonic lodges, Bp. Cortes raised pastoral and doctrinal concerns to the DDF, asking for advice on dealing with the contagion.
Many Catholics who are Freemasons, as well as supporters of the cult, are personally convinced that there is no opposition between membership in the Catholic Church and Masonic lodges, the bishop explained.
Cardinal Fernández urged the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines to put in place a "coordinated strategy" reminding Catholics of the ban on Freemasonry and offering catechesis on the irreconcilability between Catholicism and Freemasonry.
The DDF's letter, cosigned by Pope Francis and Cdl. Fernández, categorically stated that "these measures also apply to any clerics enrolled in Freemasonry" and asked the bishops to "consider whether they should make a public pronouncement on the matter."
Despite the ban on clerics joining Masonic lodges, the DDF has failed to discipline priests, bishops and cardinals openly continuing to support Masonic causes.
In 2020, Church Militant reported that Fr. Michael Heinrich Weninger, a clerical staff member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue who was outed as a Freemason chaplain to three lodges, was using his position to recruit Freemasons in the Roman Curia.
The Austrian priest released his doctoral dissertation, Lodge and Altar: On the Reconciliation of the Catholic Church and Regular Freemasonry in Vienna, accompanied by Austrian Lodge Grand Master Georg Semler.
Father Weninger, who insists Catholics can join a Masonic lodge and "certainly not" be excommunicated, says he has presented copies of his book to Pope Francis, to Cdl. Christoph Schönborn of Vienna and to high-ranking officials in the Roman Curia.
Cardinal Schönborn responded with "nothing but goodwill," the Masonic priest bragged.
At the book's launch, Weninger narrated his experience of being repeatedly approached by Catholic Freemasons during his trips around the world: "They described to me their troubles of conscience and mental problems, whether they were actually excommunicated because of their membership [in the lodge]."
"And I told them with a clear conscience that they weren't," he stressed, claiming that around two million Catholics are Freemasons.
Earlier this year, Weninger revealed that there are Freemasons even among the cardinals, and there is also a lodge in the Vatican.
A 2013 book by Italian investigative journalists Giacomo Galeazzi and Ferruccio Pinotti described the extent of Masonic infiltration in the Vatican.
In Vaticano Massone: Un Patto Segreto e una Finta Inimicizia (Vatican Freemason: A Secret Pact and a Fake Enmity), the authors asked Grand Master Vincenzo Di Benedetto, head of the Most Serene Grand Lodge of Piazza del Gesù if there were Masonic lodges in the Vatican.
He replied without hesitation, "Yes, absolutely, regardless of whether you use the name [Freemason] or not."
In Oct. 2022, Msgr. Francesco Antonio Soddu, bishop of the diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia, outraged faithful Catholics after inaugurating a Masonic lodge along with the grand master of Italy's biggest Freemasonic organization.
Bishop Soddu joined Grand Master Stefano Bisi of the Grand Orient of Italy in the ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the GOI lodge in Terni, a city about 102 kilometers (63 miles) from Rome.
A diocesan press release said the bishop's presence at the Masonic lodge was "deliberately misunderstood," leading to "amazement, bewilderment and bitterness."
The statement from the diocese's curia elaborated that the bishop was not identifying himself or the Church "with an ideology different from Christian doctrine" but "instead had the sole purpose of witnessing faithfully to the gospel and to the Church, especially at this time of the Synodal Path that characterizes it."
In Oct. 2020, Italy's Grand Orient lodge's journal, Erasmus, acclaimed Pope Francis' encyclical Fratelli Tutti as being "close to the ideals that have constituted the very foundations of Freemasonry from the very beginning," Church Militant reported.
The commendation followed an endorsement from Spain's main lodge, the Gran Logia de España, which claimed that the encyclical "demonstrates how far away the present Catholic Church is from its former positions" and declared, "In Fratelli Tutti, the pope embraces universal fraternity — the great principle of modern Freemasonry."
Also in 2020, Italy's Grand Orient lodge's journal, Nuovo Hiram, extolled Pope Francis' Abu Dhabi "Human Fraternity" pact with Grand Imam Ahmad al-Tayyeb as "a turning point in civilization because it will open a new era" if applied.
Eight popes over the past 200 years have issued 20 legal interdicts condemning Freemasonry. Never have any of the pronouncements been revoked.