Freemasonry: A Group the K of C must stay clear
The Knights of Columbus are an old Catholic lay organization with thousands of members world-wide. It seems however they are losing their Catholicity (in the name of Ecumenism) even to the point of participating in ceremonies at a Masonic temple. Some Knights see the danger, and in this article one knight voices a warning and a reminder as to who the Freemasons really are.
It is with sadness that I note again the participation of the Knights of Columbus in the "Sunrise Service" at the Scottish Rite (Masonic) Temple. I am sad because this activity shows that there is a serious lack of understanding on the part of the Knights as to what they are doing. They may think they are simply being ecumenical, doing what Vatican II wishes and following the lead of their bishops. But there is no ecumenism in this since the Decree on Ecumenism states: "The ecumenical movement means those activities and enterprises which, according to various needs of the Church and opportune occasions, are started and organized for the fostering of unity among Christians." (Abbott, p.347, emphasis mine). Now since Freemasonry does not include in its creed a belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, it has no official connection with Christianity. Its members are free to choose their belief, be it Judaism, Hinduism, etc. Freemasonry itself is a religion of naturalism which sets itself in opposition to the revealed truths of the gospel.
But the objection is often raised that American Freemasonry is different than European Masonry in respect to its treatment of the Catholic Church. In an excellent book on this subject, Paul Fisher states: "To believe (Freemasonry) is different in the United States than elsewhere is to ignore totally two-and-one-half centuries of historic evidence, current Masonic documents, and the wording of rituals attendant to Masonic initiation ceremonies." (Behind the Lodge Door)
It is also quite often thought that the Vatican has now authorized Catholics to join the Masons. While it is not expressly stated in the New Code of Canon Law, strictures against Catholic membership were published by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the form of a declaration (which then actually modifies the Code). This declaration bears the approval of Pope John Paul II. Among other things the declaration states that Masonic membership is a serious sin that denies to Catholics "the right to approach Holy Communion." Also stated is that "the Church's negative position on Masonic associations... remains unaltered", because Freemasonry's principles "have always been regarded as irreconcilable with the Church's doctrine". According to Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the SCFD, Catholic affiliation with the Masonic Fraternity "remains prohibited by the Church." (The Wanderer, Dec. 15, '83). Why then do bishops and priests practice this fraternalism with Freemasonry? Quite possible they mistakenly think they are fulfilling the wishes of Vatican II on Ecumenism. These condemnations are in line with those of the Catholic Church since the foundation of modern Freemasonry in 1717. No less than seven Sovereign Pontiffs condemned Freemasonry in all its forms prior to the definitive condemnation of Pope Leo XIII in the encyclical Humanum Genus of 1884. Among other things, Pope Leo stated: "As our predecessors have many times repeated, let no man think that he may for any reason whatsoever join the Masonic sect if he values his Catholic name and his eternal salvation as he ought to value them." Unusually strong words which should make any Catholic stop and ponder. Again, in regard to the distinction between one form of Freemasonry and another, the Holy Office declared in 1946: "Scottish Rite Masonry falls under the condemnation decreed by the Church against Masonry in general, and there is no reason to grant any discrimination in favour of this category of Masons." And in 1949: "Since nothing has happened to cause any change in the decisions of the Holy See in this question, the provisions of Canon Law remain in full force for every kind of Masonry whatsoever." Therefore we may profitably contemplate the words of St. Paul: "Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness?... Wherefore go out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing." (2 Cor. 6. 14-17).
The Scottish Rite in the United States has long been associated with anti-Catholicism as evidenced in its magazine New Age. Also there is an historical connection with the Ku Klux Klan and its policy of racial segregation. Whalen states: "By 1987, decades after most American institutions had accepted racial integration, only four of the forty-nine Grand Lodges could count even one black member in their jurisdiction." (Christianity and American Freemasonry, William Whalen, Our Sunday Visitor Press, p. 24). It is most peculiar to me why the Knights of Columbus would want to associate itself in any way with such an organization, let alone in a "religious" enterprise.
In point of fact, the only reason there might be Catholic association or cooperation with Freemasonry would be if somehow Freemasonry had changed. That this is emphatically not so was recently demonstrated. Between 1974 and 1980 the German Catholic Bishops studied whether in fact Masonry had changed. The bishops came to the conclusion that there was no change in Freemasonry and that "the thorough investigation of the rituals and essence of Freemasonry as well as of its present-day, unchanged self-definition, show that: simultaneous membership of the Catholic Church and of Freemasonry is impossible." If we make a study of American Freemasonry, we find that Albert Pike, the late Sovereign Grand Inspector of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, considered as American Freemasonry's most eminent philosopher, held the opinion that "Masonry teaches, and has preserved in its purity, the cardinal tenets of the old primitive faith, which had a basis of truth; all have overlaid the truth with error." (Morals and Dogma, p. 161). Here from the mouth of their chief philosopher we find that Masonry considers that the Catholic Church has also "overlaid the truth with error." With all the foregoing evidence, it must be painfully obvious that it would be highly imprudent to say the least to cooperate or associate in any way with Freemasonry. For the Knights of Columbus to schedule a "service" with Freemasons in a Scottish Rite "Cathedral" on Easter Sunday morning (or any other morning) is a grave scandal. For me such an action leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, especially when I realize the beautiful Catholic principles of the order, and it makes me question the reason for my membership, let alone the idea of recruiting others for membership.
Now in all this we do not conclude that we should hate Freemasons, etc. Actually, most Freemasons join the lodge "for business or social reasons and rarely participate in Masonic activities." However, "Masonry deserves to be judged by its basic principles and by its dedicated members, not by the majority who give little thought to the religious aspects of the lodge." (Whalen, p. 12). But in Christian charity we do our best to instruct them to the Catholic light and oppose them in their error. We do not share with them in their error nor even appear to condone their error nor do we compromise our holy faith. Rather we should strive to convert them by our good example and firmness and adherence to true Catholic principles. What else is this but to be a true Knight of Columbus?