At its plenary assembly, the Ivory Coast Bishops’ Conference vigorously recalled that it is impossible for a Catholic to be a Freemason.
France, 1969. In the frenzy of a post-modern society that still wished to believe in the radiant spring promised to them a few months earlier during the revolution of May 1968, some churchmen celebrated the hope of better days to come. Thus, on June 22 of this same year – that witnessed Woodstock, the first steps on the moon, and General De Gaulle’s abdication – Rev. Fr. Michel Riquet, S.J., the famous Lenten preacher of Notre Dame de Paris, did not hesitate to write in the columns of a newspaper as serious as Le Figaro littéraire: “Yes, it is possible to be both Christian and Freemason.”
Ivory Coast, 2017. In an episcopal decree dated May 21 and read in all the churches in the country, the bishops clearly condemned Freemasonry. No ambiguity: for these pastors who care about the flock entrusted to them, it is impossible to be both Christian and a Freemason.
This unanimous stance came after the 107th plenary assembly of the Ivory Coast Bishops’ Conference that was held from May 16 to 21, 2017, at Bonoua, in the diocese of Grand Bassam. The Catholic bishops clearly recalled that the Catholic Faith is incompatible with the foundations and practices of this occult society and many others that are presently well-established in the country. “In its aspirations, its practices, and especially its foundations, the positions of Freemasonry are irreconcilable with the doctrines of the Catholic Church,” declared the bishop of Odienné, Bishop Antoine Koné.
The bishops’ declaration follows a dispute that developed starting last February, when the archbishop of Abidjan, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Kutwa, refused a Catholic burial to Magloire Clotaire Koffi, a Freemason grandmaster who had just passed away.
The Ivorian bishops thus took the opportunity to recall that the impossibility of reconciling the Christian Faith and Freemasonry is based on three principles: relativism, first of all, which is the “very heart of this incompatibility, because of its consequences on the contents of the Faith, moral action and affiliation with the Church.” The concept of the “Grand Architect of the universe” that is the Freemason idea of God is for them an empty container into which each person can put what he pleases: “It is exactly the opposite of the Christian conception of God.”
The second point concerns the divinity of Jesus, which the Freemasons deny: “The Church cannot tolerate the claim that Jesus is only a wise man,” declared the prelates.
And the last point, on the question of supernatural salvation, the bishops stated the following: “Freemasonry excludes any notion of salvation,” which is easy to understand since by its naturalism Freemasonry denies the very possibility of the supernatural.
Going on the offensive, the Ivorian episcopate encouraged Christians who are already initiated in Freemasonry to leave it with no further delay. According to the bishops, even if they are bound by occult pacts, Christians who have become Freemasons can and must free themselves: “[T]o the lay faithful, some of you have already become members of Freemasonry. Whatever the reasons that led you to make such a choice, whatever pacts have already been sealed and whatever degree you have reached in your obedience, we ardently exhort you to turn back…. Do not be afraid to break all the bonds that hold you captive. If Christ freed us, it was so that we might be free,” they declared.
The same warning was addressed to the heads of parishes and new communities: “We have learned, rightly or wrongly, that certain members of the clergy and consecrated persons flirt with Freemasonry or defend it, doubtless thinking it is a solution to their material and financial problems,” they added indignantly, and “it would be too bad if men and women of the Church, who are supposed to live with detachment and renunciation, were to end up like that!”
The Ivorian bishops also denounced the maneuvers that aim to seduce young priests: “You must do everything to resist the solicitations from the members of occult movements and other secret societies, who attack our future priests in order to corrupt them.”
Clement XII was the first pope to condemn Freemasonry in his bull In eminenti, a condemnation that was strongly repeated by the sovereign pontiffs all through the 19th century. In 1983, when the new Code of Canon Law excluded the mention of the automatic excommunication incurred by those who adhere to Freemasonry, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – with then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at its head – nonetheless made a point of recalling that “the Church’s negative judgment on Freemasonry remains unchanged. Catholics belonging to it are in a state of grave sin and cannot receive Holy Communion.”
Finally, in 2016, the Holy See intervened to relieve the former pastor of Megève in Haute-Savoie, who made no secret of the fact he was a Freemason, of his functions.
Almost 50 years later, the words of Fr. Riquet, quoted at the beginning of this article, seem to have disappeared forever into the foggy utopias of History’s great failures: no, as surely as two and two do not make five, one cannot be Catholic and Freemason!