In a recent announcement, the Vatican has confirmed a ban on Catholics joining the secretive society of Freemasons. With an estimated global membership of up to six million, the ban comes as a response to concerns raised by a bishop from the Philippines regarding the increasing number of Freemasons in his country.
The ban was issued by the Vatican’s doctrinal office, known as the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith, and was countersigned by Pope Francis himself. The Vatican cited a 1983 declaration by Pope Benedict XVI, which stated that Catholics participating in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and are therefore unable to receive Holy Communion.
Freemasonry, a male-only society known for its symbols and rituals, has long been associated with conspiracy theories. Despite its secretive nature, the United Grand Lodge of England describes Freemasonry as one of the oldest social and charitable organizations in the world, boasting an impressive six million members globally.
Over the years, famous Freemasons have included prominent figures such as Prince Philip, Winston Churchill, Peter Sellers, Alf Ramsey, Rudyard Kipling, and Arthur Conan Doyle. However, the recent ban by the Vatican suggests a shift in the Catholic Church’s stance towards the society.
Interestingly, this announcement comes shortly after the same Vatican office made another statement regarding transgender individuals. Last week, the office declared that transgender people can be baptized and that they are eligible to serve as godparents and witnesses at Catholic weddings. This seemingly more inclusive stance on transgender issues is in contrast to their stricter position on Catholic involvement with Freemasonry.
With this ban in place, it remains to be seen how many Catholics will adhere to the new directive and if it will have any impact on the global membership of the Freemasons. As controversies surrounding secret societies and their influence continue to capture public interest, it is clear that the Vatican is taking a definitive stance on this matter.