Philippines: The Church Says “No” to Freemasons

April 11, 2023
Freemasons at a meeting in Bicol region, Philippines

The Conference of Bishops of the Philippines (CBCP) has just issued a statement reminding the faithful of the impossibility of a Catholic being a part of Freemasonry. A welcome clarification, as it appears that Freemasons in the archipelago had been participating in the preparatory work for the Synod on Synodality.

The declaration of the Filipino bishops is part of the context of the synod organized in the archipelago, as everywhere else in the world. The debate is indeed more and more lively on the participation of “Catholic Freemasons” in synodal consultations.

“We thought that the teachings of the Catholic Church on the matter had evolved. Since several participants in the Synod are Freemasons, we thought that the Church had relaxed its rules on joining Masonry and participating in activities of the Catholic Church,” explains Gloria Buencamino.

For this parishioner from Quezon City, the episcopal development is surprising, because in some churches, “Catholic Freemasons help the priest distribute communion; in our parish alone we have two and they were delegated to the Synod on Synodality. They are good and pious Catholics,” she says.

As we can see, the confusion is great, maintained by the Freemasons themselves. Frank Munez hosts a lodge in Manila. For this 61-year-old Mason, there is no opposition between Catholicism and Masonry: “It is above all a fraternal community. What's wrong with that? We have nothing against God, in fact, we encourage our members to be men of faith and good citizens,” he told Ucanews.

Suffice to say that the CBCP's warning came at the right time: the Filipino prelates recalling that “since 1954 and until today, the Philippine Church has always taught 'the incompatibility' between the fact of being Catholic and belonging to Freemasonry, because of the serious errors contained in Masonic principles and philosophy.”

Thus, the Church's position on Masonic sects remains unchanged “due to beliefs, practices, and rituals incompatible with the doctrines of the Church.”

The bishops' letter refers to the 1983 statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which recalled the ban on Catholics joining Masonry, stating that it was a “grave sin” for the faithful.

It remains to be hoped that this vigorous episcopal statement will dissipate the confusion among the faithful of the archipelago, and will cause them to look a little more closely at the result of the synodal consultations in which certain “Catholic Freemasons” might have participated.

When will a similar position be taken by the episcopates of the Old Continent?