In the 1983 revised Code of Canon Law, there is not mention of Freemasonry. It is not explicit in Can. 1374 whether Freemasonry is one of the associations prohibited to Catholics.

Can. 1374 A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; however, a person who promotes or directs an association of this kind is to be punished with an interdict.

Is it correct for a Catholic [or a Freemason] to believe that the ban on Catholics becoming Freemasons may have been lifted?


No, it is not correct to entertain this belief, as demonstrated by a few specific instructions issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In fact, their letter Declaratio de associationibus massonicis ("Declaration on Masonic Associations") was published in 1983 as a response to exactly this question.

It appears that the decision not to list the Masonic associations in the new Code was an editorial decision. Apparently the editors decided that if they listed specific groups, they might create the mistaken impression that only the groups in the list were forbidden. Instead, they decided to describe the groups more generally.

Here is the text of the (authorized English translation of the) letter:


It has been asked whether there has been any change in the Church’s decision in regard to Masonic associations since the new Code of Canon Law does not mention them expressly, unlike the previous Code.

This Sacred Congregation is in a position to reply that this circumstance is due to an editorial criterion which was followed also in the case of other associations likewise unmentioned inasmuch as they are contained in wider categories.

Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.

It is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations which would imply a derogation from what has been decided above, and this in line with the Declaration of this Sacred Congregation issued on 17 February 1981 (cf. AAS 73 1981 pp. 240-241; English language edition of L’Osservatore Romano, 9 March 1981).

In an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II approved and ordered the publication of this Declaration which had been decided in an ordinary meeting of this Sacred Congregation.

Rome, from the Office of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 26 November 1983.

Joseph Card. RATZINGER Prefect

  • Excellent! So therefore the other question related but not duplicate. No voting to reflect what you thought of the question? – user13992 Jul 23 '14 at 18:49
  • Before voting, I want to see whether people generally feel this is a duplicate or not. The question isn't precisely a duplicate, but the meat of the Declaration is quoted in the accepted answer for that question, so it might be considered duplicate-y. – Matt Gutting Jul 23 '14 at 18:52
  • non sequitur ... you have answered ... – user13992 Jul 23 '14 at 19:43
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    This is a duplicate question by the standard used on all SE sites: there is an answer on that other question which is also a relevant answer to this question. – Ward - Reinstate Monica Jul 23 '14 at 20:05
  • @Ward then why the may in: This question may already have an answer here:? – user13992 Jul 23 '14 at 21:11