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Religion of Thursday, 21 March 2013

Source: Daily Dispatch

Catholics cannot join the Free Masons

“Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC), has reiterated the Church’s position on Catholics joining the Free Masons, saying it goes with an interdict spelt out in the Canon Law.

That is, Catholics who join Masonic societies are:

• Not allowed to receive Holy Communion and other Sacraments (cf. Canon 1332);

• Prohibited to act as sponsor in Baptism and Confirmation;

• Not to be admitted as a member of Parish or Diocesan structures;

• To be denied funeral rites, unless he shows some signs of repentance before death (Canon 1184 & 1, no. 3) and

• Where funeral rites are allowed by the Bishop, no Masonic service shall be allowed in the Church or cemetery immediately before or after the Church rites In order to avoid public scandal (cf. Canon 1184 & 1, no. 3 and Canon 1374).

He said this when he addressed the first Public Lecture organized by the Catholic Knighthood Forum at the Christ the king Parish Hall at Cantonments in Accra on the topic:

Can a Catholic Join Masonic Society?

The Knighthood Forum is made up of the leadership of Knights of St. John International and their Ladies Auxiliary and Knights and Ladies of Marshall.

Bishop Osei-Bonsu, who is Bishop of Konongo-Mampong Diocese, said “any Catholic who is a member of any Masonic Association and participates in its programmes, or promotes its views, or holds an office therein, and refuses to renounce such membership despite at least one warning (cf. Canon 1347) is to be punished with an interdict (cf. Canon 1374).

He said the ‘Freemasonry was a religion in its own right, with doctrines that were irreconcilable with Christian doctrines, adding that what it teaches cannot be reconciled with Christian beliefs.

“For this reason one cannot simultaneously be a Catholic and a Freemason. One will have to make a choice between Catholicism and Freemasonry”, he added.

Bishop Osei-Bonsu said many people regard Freemasonry as a benevolent and charitable organization, somehow similar to the Rotary and Lions clubs, the Knights of Marshall, the Knights of St. John International or the Knights of Columbus.

Undoubtedly, it was for this reason that some Catholics join this fraternity. “Nevertheless, Catholics are forbidden to become Freemasons”.

He said the Catholic Church had opposed the lodge (Freemasonry) since the birth of modern Freemasonry in 1717.

The lodge has been explicitly condemned by eleven Popes.

Bishop Osei-Bonsu said it was possible that some Catholics joined Freemasonry without knowing it was forbidden to Catholics, “such people are advised to see their Priests or Bishops who will assist them to renounce Freemasonry and avoid incurring the sanctions that will be imposed on them if they do not renounce Freemasonry”.

Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle. Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra and Guest of Honour at the function, urged Catholics to be proud of their faith, adding that though the Church was often criticized, it was because the world was looking for a spiritual leadership from the Church.

He said because the world expected much from the Church, it comes under heavy criticism for some of its weaknesses.

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