Volume 3, Chapter
of Sacred Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith
“Membership of Masonic Associations”
Osservatore Romano – 9 March 1981
On 19 July 1974 this Congregation wrote to some Episcopal Conferences
a private letter concerning the interpretation of can.2335 of the
Code of Canon Law which forbids Catholics, under penalty of excommunication,
to enroll in Masonic or other similar associations.
Since the said
letter has become public and has given rise to erroneous and tendentious
interpretations, this Congregation without prejudice to the eventual
norms of the new Code, issues the following confirmation and clarification:
1) the present
canonical discipline remains in full force and has not been modified
in any way;
neither the excommunication nor the other penalties envisaged have
What was said
in the aforesaid letter as regards the interpretation to be given
to the canon in question should be understand – as the Congregation
intended – merely as a reminder of the general principles
of interpretation of penal laws for the solution of the cases of
individual persons which may be submitted to the judgment of Ordinaries.
It was not, however, the intention of the Congregation to permit
Episcopal Conferences to issue public pronouncements by way of a
judgment of a general character on the nature of Masonic associations,
which will imply a derogation from the aforesaid norms.
the Office of the S. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
17 February 1981.
* * * *
by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith provides
a striking testimony to the soundness of Mgr. Lefebvre's implacable
opposition to Freemasonry during the post-conciliar decades, when
too many other bishops were anxious to embrace it as a benificent
organization. It also makes clear beyond any possible trace of ambiguity
that the profession of the Catholic Faith is not compatible with
membership in any association.
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