We, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference, at our plenary meeting held in Accra on 7 May 2009, in the exercise of our pastoral duty to guide the members of the Church to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ, and convinced of the irreconcilability of Freemasonry with the Catholic faith, hereby issue this Declaration in order to apply the provisions of Canon Law on sanctions for Catholics who join Masonic Associations.
We declare, in accordance with Church law, that:
1) Any Catholic who is a member of any Masonic Association and participates in its programmes, or promotes its views, or holds any 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 1347), that is:
- He is not allowed to receive Holy Communion and other sacraments (cf. Canon 1332).
- He is prohibited to act as sponsor in Baptism and Confirmation.
- He is not to be admitted as a member of parish or diocesan structures.
- He is to be denied funeral rites, unless he shows some signs of repentance before death (Canon 1184 §1, no. 3).
- 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).
2) Any Catholic who is a convinced member of a Masonic Association and notoriously adheres to the Masonic vision is already considered to have incurred automatic excommunication (cf. Canon 1364). This means that the censures described in Canon 1331 automatically take full effect on this person.
According to Canon 1331 §1, an excommunicated person is forbidden:
- To have any ministerial participation in the celebration of the Eucharist or in any other ceremonies whatsoever of public worship.
- To celebrate the sacraments and sacramentals and to receive the sacraments.
- To discharge any ecclesiastical offices, ministries, or functions whatsoever, or to place acts of governance.
According to Canon 1331 §2, if the excommunication has been imposed or declared, the guilty party:
- Wishing to act against the prescriptions of §1 is to be prevented from doing so or the liturgical action is to stop unless a serious cause intervenes.
- Invalidly places acts of governance which are only illicit in accord with the norms of §1 no. 3.
- Is forbidden to enjoy privileges formerly granted.
- Cannot validly acquire a dignity, office or other functions in the Church.
- Cannot appropriate the revenues from any dignity, office, function or pension in the Church.
3) Further, in virtue of Canon 455 §4, members of Masonic Associations are not allowed to be witnesses in Marriage and to be members of any associations of the faithful.
These guidelines have been issued by us, your bishops, out of the great pastoral solicitude that we have for you, and we trust that they will be received in the same spirit. In case of doubt about joining other associations, please contact your Bishop.
We commend Catholic members of Masonic Associations to your prayers, our dear faithful. While the Church’s teaching on this matter cannot be watered down, the personal and individual situation of a Catholic member of a Masonic Association should be considered, so that gradually he may freely follow these guidelines. It is recommended that such a person should see his Parish Priest or Bishop to receive personal and spiritual guidance on this matter.
Most Rev. Lucas Abadamloora
President, Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference