Freemasonry and the Orthodox Church - Printable Version
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Freemasonry and the Orthodox Church - Basil 20 - 30-01-2008
Can anyone tell me whether freemasonry is OK while practising the Orthodox faith. I know that the Catholic church has no problems now, and I am both a Christian as well as a member of a number of masonic degrees.
Re: Freemasonry and the Orthodox Church - John Mark - 30-01-2008
Basil 20 Wrote:Can anyone tell me whether freemasonry is OK while practising the Orthodox faith. I know that the Catholic church has no problems now, and I am both a Christian as well as a member of a number of masonic degrees.
With regards to the Orthodox Church I do not know their position. However I am Catholic and I am 100% certain that Freemasonary is in no way tolerated by the Roman Catholic Church. Moreover successive Popes have written encyclicals condeming it; notably Clement XII and Leo XIII and as I understand it Catholics are excommunicated if they become Freemasons.
- admin - 31-01-2008
A quick google found me documents from the Orthodox Churches of Cyprus, Greece and Russia declaring that membership of freemasonry was incompatible with Orthodoxy.
An example, from the ROCOR says...
Quote:All clergy is duty-bound to question those who come to Confession whether they are members of Masonic Orders, and in case it will appear that they are Masons and believe and share Masonic teachings, they should be informed that membership of the Masonic Organization is incompatible with Orthodox Christianity, and that such should immediately resign from Masonry, otherwise they will be deemed unworthy to receive Holy Communion, and their further impenitency will bring them to excommunication from the Orthodox Church.
- Basil 20 - 02-02-2008
It is true that in the past Freemasonry was condemmed by the Roman Catholic Church but having spoken to my parish priest before I was confirmed (RCIA) I posed this question to him. His reply was that it was Ok and the then Archbishop (now Cardinal Pell) had no theologal problems with it either. From what I have been told his father was a freemason. The only stipulation was that if I was a member of the masonic fraternity on the continent it would not be acceptable. This I believe was due to the heavy political involvement which may underly it. Certainly something which is not tolerated in English speaking lodges throughout the world.
I am also interested as in Melbourne (Australia) there is a very strong Greek lodge, Lodge Gregorious which is made up of predominantly men of Greek origin, and likewise a great proportion of them would belong to the Greek Orthodox Church.
- John Mark - 04-02-2008
I accept what you say but I would refer you to the following Papal Encyclicals...
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His Holiness Pope Clement XII
Quote: We therefore, having taken counsel of some of Our Venerable Brothers among the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and also of Our own accord and with certain knowledge and mature deliberations, with the plenitude of the Apostolic power do hereby determine and have decreed that these same Societies, Companies, Assemblies, Meetings, Congregations, or Conventicles of Liberi Muratori or Francs Massons, or whatever other name they may go by, are to be condemned and prohibited, and by Our present Constitution, valid for ever, We do condemn and prohibit them.
His Holiness Pope Leo XIII was most insistent that all Catholics should avoid Freemasonry in any form.
I would also refer you to the document Quaesitum est which clarified the Church's position and was issued in 1983 by the then Cardinal Ratzinger now HH Pope Benedict XVI which states that
Quote: 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.
Yours In Christ,
Freemasonry - ianaird - 12-05-2008
Having been a mason since 1980, I was very interested in this thread, and it was most unexpectedly that I found this question on the Forum,..... I can only say that I have never heard any religious controversy in any lodge that I have attended either here or abroad - indeed the discussion of any topic related to Relilgion or Politics is strictly forbidden in all Lodges to avoid any possibilities of conflict between members. On the contrary, Lodges accept all colours, races and religions as equals - in my own town's lodges, we have Sikhs, Muslims, Unitarians, Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, Zoroastrians, Jews and Hindus - and all attend Lodges together.
All races and creeds are treated with equal favour - because the national religion here in Anglican, and Anglican Bible is present during lodge ceremonies, but we also display the Gitas, the Gathas, the Veda, the Torah and the Koran, each of which is the godly revelation accepted by millions of men. Masons ceremonies are in no way religious or even quasi-religious, if you accept that the short prayers that are used can be seen as valid in common with all religions that respect a superior entity, and that in that commonality we can all worship god within our own creeds and within our hearts.
Over the last 30 years, and as recently as last week, I have often been present at ceremonies where priests, ministers, rabbis and even bishops of many branches of Christianity have participated in the ceremonies - not as sectarian holy men, but as equal secular participating freemasons repeating the ceremonies that try to teach a commonailty of ethics to all who are initiated into the brothehood.. I have actually never been at a meeting where an Muslim Imam was present, nor a Hindu Brahman for that matter, but if they wanted to join, they would be welcomed as equals with all other people.
To grasp the fundamental objections to Freemasonry and to check their modern validity, perhaps we should briefly review the history of the craft.
In the Middle Ages, stonemasons building the great cathedrals of Europe moved from place to place to follow their occupation. To protect their skills and to recognize fellow masons, they devised system of signs and passwords - a sort of union card - and their worksheds were called lodges.
With the decline of cathedral building, some lodges admitted non-working or honorary masons - why they did this is unclear. Over time, honorary Masons outnumbered working masons. The tools, symbols, signs, grips and passwords of the masons created what we know as speculative Freemasonry, which usually defines itself as "a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." PECULIAR in old English means "unique" not peculiar! ALLEGORY means in story-form, and in Lodges, the ceremonies take the form of "plays" and stories that teach particular ethical principles. SYMBOLS are used to remind masons of points and principles of ethics.
Medieval masons were premoninantly Catholics, like most of Europe. But under the influence of deism, all traces of specific religion were excised from speculative Freemasonry. A Mason is obliged to obey the moral law; and to respect all people as equals regardless of wealth or rank. If asked about their personal religion, most masons would tell you the truth. Religion is NOT freemasonry and freemasonry is NOT a religion.
Anyway, as new member you might want to tell me to "go away", but this note is based on my personal experience of the organisation as a caring fraternity of men aged 21 to 100 or more, and many women too. The organisation is a major charitable benefactor to masons and non-masons alike, donating millions of pounds every year to support those less fortunate then themselves. Until the advent of the UK National Lottery, British Freeasons were said to be the single greatest contributors to UK charities supporting the poor and needy.
I am sorry if this note breaks the rules, or contradicts heart-felt beliefs in hearts hardened aginst Freemasonry, but no mason would argue about religious beliefs, no mason would ever kill or maim for masonic principles, no mason would ever refuse to help another human being - the same cannot be said for members of many actual Religions.
- John Charmley - 13-05-2008
Thank you for this information. I am not sure that the Church has a position on this, but will no doubt be put right if it has!
Part of the problem for the RC Church was that in the nineteenth century many Freemasons were associated with opposition to it.
I can't see that should apply now or to the non-Chalcedonian Orthodox.
- Fr Gregory - 13-05-2008
Any suggestion that an Orthodox Christian can also be a Freemason presupposes a profound ignorance of Orthodoxy or of Freemasonry.
Masons often, of course, say that there is nothing in their secret rituals that is in conflict with Christianity ? but then have to admit that, because of the blood-curdling (and secret) oaths they have taken, they are unable to make those rituals available for theological scrutiny. Those who have scrutinized the rituals (and I have authorized copies of all of them) disagree.
Any society which treats with equal sanctity the texts of every religion ? so that the Bible can be replaced by the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita or any other volume of scripture on the altar of a Masonic lodge ? is heretical.
The rituals of Freemasonry are fascinating, but are also unChristian and participation in them is contrary to the teachings of the Orthodox Church.
Any fraternity that proclaims (as Freemasonry does in the ritual of the Royal Arch) that ?the Sacred and Mysterious Name of the True and Living God Most High? in ?Jehovah Jah-Bul-On? (and then explains the latter part of that name by reference to the religion of ancient Chaldea, to Baal and to the ancient Egyptian title, On) is hardly Christian. A fraternity that focuses in its Third Degree on the raising of the body of the murdered Hiram Abiff would seem to overlook the central theological reality that Christianity is concerned with only one ?raising from the dead?.
That here are those who call themselves Orthodox who are happy to swear vain oaths on the Bible in secret rituals to gain the right to participate in exotic quasi-religious ceremonies hardly proves that Orthodoxy and Freemasonry are compatible.
I am happy to debate these matters ? but only with those who are prepared to disclose the text of the rituals they seek to defend. Alas, they may then be subjected to the prescribed penalties (presumably symbolic!) which, in the case of the First Degree is ?that of having my throat cut across, my tongue torn out, and with my body buried in the sands of the sea at low-water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours? and in the case of the Third Degree is ?that of having my body severed in twain, my bowels taken thence, and with my body burned to ashes, and the ashes thereof scattered to the four winds of Heaven, that there might remain neither track, trace nor remembrance among man or Masons of so vile and perjured a wretch as I should be?.
Thanks for the Feedback - ianaird - 13-05-2008
Freemasons do not claim that the order is Christian in general, although there are a few distinct side degrees that are open only to Christians such as K-T & R-C.
Craft Freemasonry is not a religion and prayers during initiatory rituals and for the opening and closing a lodge are not forms of worship. They describe the Deity as "Great Architect" or "Grand Geometrician", or "Most High" as descriptive metaphors and not proper names of god as there is no "god of Freemasonry" though this idea may have originated in popularist publications in the 1990's. They require any member to profess a belief in Deity, but do not dictate what members believe about the Deity.
The Royal Arch Degree's metaphor is a trans-religous aliteration for names of the Deity. It allegedly transliterates as "Jehovah-Baal-Osiris" i.e. 3 names fo god taken from other traditions.
It is true that a similar word is found in some versions of these degrees (Masonic rituals and the keywords actually vary the world over) but it is not a secret God, nor a secret name for God. It may be considered a poor linguistic attempt to present the name of God in three languages, such as 'Dios-Dieu-Gott' might be represented in Spanish, French & German.
This is an ineresting thread and I am puzzled that it generates such fire in the belly. Freemasonry makes no claim to be a religion, does not act as a religion, places primary emphasis on an individual's civil, moral or religious duties BEFORE freemasonry (1st degree), encourages an individual's own religion, and teaches a system of ethics compatible with all najor world religions. It abhors violence, conflict and dispute. From a Civil viewpoint, the laws of the land in which a mason resides come before all masonic considerations. From the moral standpoint, personal attitudes are strengthened by masonic lectures. From a religious perspective, we are encouraged to participate in our own religious ceremonies - indeed, any candidate who appears to think that by joining Freemasonry he would be adopting a religion, and who cannot be deflected from that attitude, is actually discouraged from joining any Lodge. Freemasonry is not something to be feared, or fought by religion as it makes no attempt to compete with, deny, distort or otherwise influence either any religion or any of its adherents.
If Freemasons are supposed to be anti-Catholic, then I have never experienced this - I am as welcome as a Catholic, lapsed or active, as I would be a a member of any other religion. Freemasons are not anti-any-religion. For that matter, there are too many Cathiolc and anglican ministers who are masons, to believe that any fundamental conflict persists. Freemasonry has been deliberately de-Christianised 200 years ago, to enable men of all faiths to come together without conflict.
If I have caused any of you grief by these thoughts, then I apologise - I had hoped that in the Orthodox Church I might find an environment that cherishes man, with all his defects and his foibles, that encourages his to use the mind given to him by hos god, to be accepted just as the omnipotent, omniscient god who made him intended him to be - as we were all born and will die in the lonesome state, having lived the best life that we could together, within the brotherhood of mankind.
"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." - Blaise Pascal, Pensees (1660)
- admin - 13-05-2008
I would want to say both that while it is the universal position of the Orthodox Churches that Freemasonry is not compatible with membership of the Church (and therefore it is not a position that the British Orthodox Church is able to unilaterally defer from), nevertheless you are entirely and completely welcome here.
I am sure that there are many other issues on which members of the forum disagree with the stated position of Orthodoxy, but as long as you are able to appreciate that Orthodoxy does take a negative view of Freemasonry, while also appreciating that we wish to be open to all who wish to learn about Orthodoxy - whatever their personal positions on various issues - then I hope that you will find other matters on which we find ourselves in agreement, and even in which Orthodoxy might be a source of light and life to you.
general conversation - Walter - 14-05-2008
(1) Does Masonry with its gorgeous vestments and elaborate ceremonial fill the gap left by the disuse of such things in traditional protestantism? This may also be true of the Gorsedd in Wales, many of whose wondrously-attired Bards are in everyday life nonconformist ministers. More seriously, the official indifference of Masonry to dogmatic Christianity fosters a kind of sub-Pelagian benevolence -- yes, awfully good chaps and full of good works, but do they really have space or time for the Grace of God?
(2) If the "prayers" used in Masonic ceremonies aren't acts of worship, what are they?
(3) Can anything beat the set speeches in Masonic ritual for sheer verbosity, pomposity and utter boringness?
RE: Thanks for the Feedback - G.E.Hoostal - 07-02-2013
(13-05-2008, 09:03 AM)ianaird Wrote: They require any member to profess a belief in Deity…It allegedly transliterates as "Jehovah-Baal-Osiris" i.e. 3 names for god taken from other traditions…It may be considered a poor linguistic attempt to present the name of God in three languages, such as 'Dios-Dieu-Gott' might be represented in Spanish, French & German… Freemasonry…makes no attempt to…deny…any religion…’
But Deity means the state of someone, anyone, being God. There is only one true God, & since ‘God’ is a title, it can be used without qualification only among people who all agree Whom or whom it means. For the true Christian, it means Father, Son, & Holy Spirit (the Trinity one in essence & undivided), i.e. Jehovah, Jesus Christ, & the Spirit which originates with the Father, proceeding through the Son, if you like. For others, it means SOMEONE ELSE, thus a false god.
Baal is certainly one of these false gods; there are extensive Scriptures proving it: the Lord said to him: thou shalt destroy the altar of Baal… (Jud 6:25) … their fathers forgot my name for Baal. (Jer 23:27) And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria: they prophesied in Baal, and deceived my people Israel. (Jer 23:13) And the Lord of hosts that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee: for the evils of the house of Israel, and the house of Juda, which they have done to themselves, to provoke me, offering sacrifice to Baalim. (Jer 11:17) For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Juda: and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem thou hast set up altars of confusion, altars to offer sacrifice to Baalim. (Jer 11:13) And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. (II Kgs 17:16) He served also Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked the Lord the God of Israel, according to all that his father had done. (I Kgs 22:53) And I will stretch out my hand upon Juda, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and I will destroy out of this place the remnant of Baal, and the names of the wardens of the temples with the priests: (Zep 1:4) And all that generation was gathered to their fathers: and there arose others that knew not the Lord, and the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they served Baalim. And they left the Lord the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt: and they followed strange gods, and the gods of the people that dwelt round about them, and they adored them: and they provoked the Lord to anger. Forsaking him, and serving Baal and Astaroth. And the Lord being angry against Israel, delivered them into the hands of plunderers: who took them and sold them to their enemies… (Jud 2:10–14) And the king said to him: Doth not Bel seem to thee to be a living god? Seest thou not how much he eateth and drinketh every day? 6 Then Daniel smiled and said: O king, be not deceived: for this is but clay within, and brass without, neither hath he eaten at any time. (Bel 5, 6) and the king said: I see the footsteps of men, and women, and children. And the king was angry. Then he took the priests, and their wives, and their children: and they shewed him the private doors by which they came in, and consumed the things that were on the table. The king therefore put them to death, and delivered Bel into the power of Daniel: who destroyed him, and his temple. (Bel 19–21) There is immense danger in worshiping false gods!
Regarding Masonry denying a religion, it does, because it admits non-Christians, & it tells all it admits they will go to heaven, but Jesus did not say, ‘I am A way, A truth, and A life: all men come to the Father, through Me or not’, but, Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me. (Jn 14:6) In this way, it says Jesus Christ lies & thus it denies His divinity & goodness, subsequently denying the true faith.
RE: Freemasonry and the Orthodox Church - kirk yacoub - 07-03-2013
Quite simply: if you are a Freemason you cannot be a Christian, if you are a Christian you cannot be a Freemason. It's as straightforward as that!