Why Catholics Cannot Be Masons
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Why Catholics Cannot Be Masons

John Salza

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eBook - ePub

Why Catholics Cannot Be Masons

John Salza

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Many good Catholic men have been deceived into becoming Masons. In this powerful little book, a Catholic attorney and former 32nd degree Mason, John Salza, clearly shows why joining Masonry (including the Shriners) means embracing a false religion.Having authored Masonry Unmasked for general readership, here John Salza writes specifically for Catholics, showing why the Church has always condemmed Freemasonry, and continues to condemn Freemasonry today (despite mistaken claims to the contrary.) He explains Masonic doctrines, history, rituals, oaths and curses, showing that Masonry is totally incompatible with Christianity and the Catholic Faith.He answers the questions: Who is the god of Freemasonry? How does Freemasonry view the Holy Bible? What are the self-curses of Freemasonry? Why does Freemasonry appear to be compatible with the Christian Faith? What have the Popes said about Freemasonry? Are Catholics involved in Freemasonry excommunicated? How does a Catholic exit Freemasonry?Packed with facts and very well documented, Why Catholics Cannot Be Masons is a brief but potent revelation by a man who has been there - and then returned to the One True Faith. John Salza has appeared on EWTN, and he hosts Catholic radio programs on Relevant Radio and EWTN Radio. He is the author of several apologetics books including: The Biblical Basis for Purgatory, The Mystery of Predestination, and The Biblical Basis for the Papacy.

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A Harmless Fraternal

“Remember that Christianity and Masonry are essentially irreconcilable, such that to join one is to divorce the other.”
—Pope Leo XIII1
Many people believe that Masonry—also called Freemasonry—is a harmless fraternal organization devoted to making good men better and to helping society at large. They see little difference between Masonry and fraternities such as the Knights of Columbus. Like the Knights of Columbus, Masons conduct fundraising activities, donate money to charities and hold social events for their members and families. Masons are often upstanding citizens who profess a love for God and neighbor. Many prominent men of society have also been Masons. In light of these characteristics, many people—including some Catholic priests—do not understand the reason for the Catholic Church’s opposition to Freemasonry. Why is that?
Primarily it is because the general public has no idea what Freemasonry teaches inside its lodge rooms about God and salvation. When a man becomes a Mason, he is required to swear oaths of secrecy, promising never to reveal the teachings of the Lodge. The Mason swears these oaths at an altar, on the Bible (if he is Christian), and under symbolic penalties of mutilation and death. He is repeatedly warned that if he ever revealed the teachings of the Order to non-Masons (whom Masonry terms “profanes”), he would be worthy of the death penalty and “the contempt and detestation of all good Masons.”2
Because most Masons take these warnings seriously, they do not reveal Freemasonry’s secret religious teachings to non-Masons. Instead, when discussing their organization with “profanes,” Masons focus on the positive aspects of Masonry, such as its social or charitable activities. They concentrate on how much good Masonry does and not on what Masonry teaches. Thus, the public’s understanding of Freemasonry comes almost exclusively from what it sees and hears from Masons. This understanding invariably excludes any knowledge of Masonry’s explicit teachings about its deistic understanding of God, its belief in salvation by works, and its most sublime religious doctrine—the resurrection of the body.
The Catholic Church, of course, knows better. As the spotless Bride of Christ who is guided by the Holy Ghost, she knows when error threatens the souls of her members. She knows when heretical teaching seeks to undermine Catholic truth. This is why no fewer than 12 Popes have individually issued two dozen condemnations of Freemasonry since 1738 on the grounds that Masonry’s teachings are incompatible with the Catholic Faith. (See Appendix A for a list of these pronouncements.) The Church has declared that any Catholic who joins Freemasonry puts himself in a state of grave (that is, mortal) sin and cannot receive the Eucharist.
Many “Catholic” Masons in the United States are quick to dismiss the perennial teachings of the Popes as not relevant to their personal situations. They pretend that the Church’s repeated condemnations apply only to European Masonry, but not to their American lodges or rituals. Some even contend that the Popes’ condemnations were politically motivated. In other words, they convince themselves that the Vicars of Christ were ignorant and made rash judgments against Masonry. This is a most serious error.
The Church is clear that her condemnations apply to Freemasonry wherever it exists, both in America and abroad.3 Further, the Church has specifically dismissed any distinctions among the various versions and degrees of Freemasonry because they all inculcate the same religious errors.4 As this book demonstrates, the Popes’ condemnations of Freemasonry are based on the unchanging truths of Catholic faith and morals. This means they apply to all Catholics. These condemnations are especially relevant today as we struggle under what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the day before he was elected Pope, called a “dictatorship of relativism.”
When evaluating the weight of these condemnations, Catholics must remember that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and the successor of St. Peter. Through the power of the keys, Jesus Christ confirms in Heaven what Peter and his successors bind or loose on earth. (See Matthew 16:18-19).5 This means that Christ protects from error the Pope’s official teachings on faith and morals, and Catholics must accept the truth of these teachings in order to have a genuine hope of eternal life. To disregard the Popes’ consistent teachings and their authority over Catholics is to disregard Christ Himself and imperil one’s own salvation. As Pope Boniface VIII affirmed: “We declare, say, define and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”6
This book explains the doctrinal basis for the Popes’ repeated condemnations of Freemasonry. It highlights the reasons why the Church’s prohibitions are based on Catholic faith and morals. It helps “tear away the mask from Freemasonry 
 to let it be seen as it really is.”7 It explains Why Catholics Cannot Be Masons.
Note: In this book we are using quotation marks around the word “Catholic” in the term “Catholic Mason” because if a Catholic has accepted the teachings of Masonry, knowing their contradiction to Catholic teaching yet embracing them anyway, he is in fact no longer a Catholic.


The History and
Purpose of Freemasonry

From Operative to
Speculative Freemasonry

Before we address the theology of Freemasonry, let us briefly review some background on the organization. Most Masons trace the origins of Freemasonry back to the ancient stonemasons’ guilds that built the great cathedrals of Europe. Because these highly skilled craftsmen were independent contractors and not indentured servants, they were known as “free masons.”
According to Masonic tradition, free masons began to organize themselves into lodges, where they would meet and share trade secrets. Over time, the free masons began admitting philosophers, merchants and other non-masons into their lodges. These were called “accepted” masons. Eventually, the “Free and Accepted Masons” changed from an organization of “operative” masons—those who built physical structures, to “speculative” masons—those who build the “spiritual temple,” a Masonic metaphor for the soul. The Masonic Bible, a popular teaching tool used by Freemasons, says that building the “spiritual edifice” of the Mason is the “supreme end of Freemasonry.”1 The terms “Masonry” and “Freemasonry” came to be used interchangeably, and they are used interchangeably today.
The date that marked the formal transition from operative to speculative Freemasonry occurred on June 24, 1717 during the heart of the Enlightenment period. On this date, four Masonic lodges in London founded the Grand Lodge of England. Masons generally view this event as the birth of modern Freemasonry. The Grand Lodge of England developed the blueprint for the Masonic rituals and ceremonies that are used today in the United States and throughout the world.
The Goal of Freemasonry Is to Lead
Its Members to Heaven
By building the spiritual temple of the individual Mason, Freemasonry believes it leads its members to Heaven. The Masonic Bible says, “By the practice of Freemasonry, its members may advance their spirituality, and mount by the theological ladder from the Lodge on earth to the Lodge in heaven.”2 Albert Mackey, a prominent Masonic author, also says that Freemasonry provides Masons “with the means of advancing from earth to heaven, from death to life—from the mortal to immortality.”3
Henry Wilson Coil, another popular Masonic author, says that many Masons get to Heaven with “no other guarantee of a safe landing than their belief in the religion of Freemasonry.”4 Freemasonry advances the spirituality of its members through its secret moral and doctrinal teachings which are symbolized by the working tools of the old operative Masons. These include the Square, Compass, Level, Plumb and Trowel. The universal symbol of Freemasonry is the Square and Compass (which sometimes includes the letter G in the middle).

The Structure of Freemasonry

The basic organizational unit of Freemasonry is the Blue (or Symbolic) Lodge. Each Blue Lodge comes under the authority of the Grand Lodge. In the United States, there are fifty-one Grand Lodges (one for each state and the District of Columbia). The chief officer of the Blue Lodge is called the “Worshipful Master.” In the Blue Lodge, the candidate studies for and receives the three Masonic degrees called “Entered Apprentice,” “Fellowcraft” and “Master Mason.”
A Master Mason in good standing may join either the Scottish Rite or the York Rite of Freemasonry. These are optional Masonic organizations that elaborate on the religious teachings of the Blue Lodge. In the United States, a 32nd degree Scottish Rite or York Rite Mason may join the “Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine”—known as the “Shriners.”5 The Shriners are known for their red hats, circuses and parades and sponsorship of hospitals.6 While not all Masons are Shriners, all Shriners are Masons. According to Freemasonry’s own estimates, there are approximately 6 million Masons worldwide, with 4 million of them in the United States.
While each Grand Lodge is sovereign and independent, the Masonic ritual that the Grand Lodges practice is essentially the same. The ritual is the same because Freemasonry is built upon certain unalterable principles called “Landmarks.” Landmarks are the universal teachings of Freemasonry handed down through Masonic ritual and oral tradition. Albert Mackey says that the “doctrine of Freemasonry is everywhere the same. It is the Body which is unchangeable—remaining always and everywhere the same.”7 Freemasonry’s Landmarks include its belief in God as the Great Architect of the Universe, covenant oaths, the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body.


An Introduction to the
Errors of Freemasonry

Freemasonry Denies the Uniqueness
of Jesus Christ and His Church

While Freemasonry claims that it can build the spiritual temple of its members, it denies any need for Jesus Christ or the Catholic Church. Masonry ignores the teachings of Jesus Christ, who declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6). Instead, Masonry believes that any Mason, no matter what religion he professes, will share eternal beatitude with God. Thus, Freemasonry denies the infallible dogma repeatedly proclaimed by Popes and Councils throughout the centuries: “Outside the Church there is no salvation.” (See Appendix B for a list of these pronouncements.)
Restated positively, this dogma means that all salvation comes from Jesus Christ, the Head, through membership in the Catholic Church, which is His Mystical Body. The Catholic Church alone possesses the means of salvation (the Seven Sacraments and the infallible Magisterium), and both Christ and the Catholic Church are necessary for salvation. Of course, this does not mean non-Catholics have no chance to be saved. If someone is invincibly ignorant of the need to be a member of the Catholic Church and seeks God with a sincere heart, he may still have the possibility of salvation, by God’s grace.1 That is, there may be a way in which he can “invisibly” be inside the Catholic Church (in which case he would not truly be a “non-Catholic”). God does not punish those who are not guilty of deliberate sin. God’s mercy is as infinite as His justice.
Nevertheless, although the salvation of such a person may be a possibility, this does not necessarily mean a “probability” or even a “good possibility.” The possibility may be quite remote. In light of this reality, Catholics must hold to what they know with certainty: A person must enter the Catholic Church through Baptism in order to be saved.2 Jesus said, “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5); “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16). Our Lord also warned us: “Enter ye in at the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad ...

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