From a priest…
I have a parishioner who wants to help children with dyslexia and has found an opportunity with the Children’s Dyslexia Center in ___.
It is affiliated with the Scottish Rite Freemasons. My parishioner wants to know if he, a Catholic, is permitted to affiliate with Freemasonry in this way. He’s not joining them, but I am uncertain on how I should guide him. Please help.
Catholics cannot be Freemasons. Period.
Freemasonry is not just an organization of civic minded gentlemen (and ladies, these days) who wear cute outfits and do nice things for the community.
While many Freemason groups (especially in North America) do indeed do good things for the community, the organization as a whole is ordered against orthodox Christian belief, and against the Catholic Church in particular. Freemasonry in it’s most serious form is an enemy of the Catholic Church.
Now many good and reasonable non-Catholic folks join the Freemasons without ascribing to (or even understanding) the profoundly anti-Christian, anti-Catholic basis of Freemasonry itself. They remain good people, with generally good hearts.
In many places in North America, where Freemasonry doesn’t usually manifest in its more virulent forms (as it does in Europe), the Masons do many laudable things, things that might even cause a Catholic to wish to support.
Catholics, while forbidden to join the Freemasons, are not forbidden by Church law to associate with Freemasons. One may have Freemason neighbors. One may invite them to dinner and go over to their houses for dinner. If the Freemasons are helping to build a neighbor’s barn, one may even cooperate closely by handing the mason nails, holding up a post, or providing delicious lemonade to the thirsty mason builders. Prudence is needed.
There are many hospitals and other care facilities, as well as schools and educational institutions founded and operated by Freemasons. The “Shriners” are a type of Freemasonry. They have excellent children’s hospitals. That said, all things being equal, if there are also available a similar Catholic facilities, a Catholic should be inclined to support “our own”. Right?
That not being the case in this situation, one can – prudently – work with the Freemasons on a good work, such as assisting children with dyslexia.
The intention is to help children, not to help Masonry.
It is good, before doing so, that this person has consulted his pastor. I encourage that conversation to continue. If, while working for the Freemasonic charity, there begins to be evidence of pressure to join the Masons, or any dastardly events, one’s cooperation with the Freemasons should be reconsidered. It would be a good idea constantly to review the content of the Faith by using a good catechism in order to instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish the sinner, etc. Prudence is needed.
Wearing a scapular, a Miraculous Medal, or St. Benedict Medal whilst engaged in work with the Masons would also be a good idea.