Cardinal calls for 'permanent' Catholic dialogue with Freemasons

(Image: Courtesy Wikipedia)Freemasons' Hall, London, c. 1809

The Roman Catholic Church has for centuries banned its faithful from being Freemasons, yet an Italian cardinal recently urged dialogue with the group after a meeting with it.

Following a confidential meeting in Milan, Cardinal Francesco "Coccopalmiero reportedly said he believed "an evolution in mutual understanding" had taken place between masonry and the church over the past 50 years, the National Catholic Register reported on Feb. 15.

For almost 300 years, Catholics had been forbidden from joining the Masons, and the Vatican had issued almost 600 negative pronouncements against the secret society during that time said the Catholic publication.

Freemasonry has always been religious in character, though it subscribes to no particular orthodoxy, according to Brittanica.

"To become a Freemason, the applicant has to be an adult male and must believe in the existence of a supreme being and in the immortality of the soul," says Britannica.

"The teachings of Freemasonry enjoin morality, charity, and obedience to the law of the land. It is not, however, a Christian institution, though it is often taken to be such."

The Register carried a photo of Bishop Antonio Staglianò greeting Stefano Bisi, grand master of the Grand Orient Freemasonic Lodge, at the Ambrosianum Cultural Foundation in Milan on Feb. 16.


The Catholic publication reported that a 1983 document from the Catholic Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith stated Masonic principles "have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church."

In November, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed that stance, quoting the 1983 document that "active membership in Freemasonry by a member of the faithful is prohibited because of the irreconcilability between Catholic doctrine and Freemasonry."

The 85-year-old Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmiero while addressing the Milan meeting on the theme: The Catholic Church and Freemasonry, reportedly said he believed "an evolution in mutual understanding" had taken place between masonry and the Church over the past 50 years.

"Things have moved on, and I hope these meetings don't stop there," said the retired Italian prelate, according to the Rome daily newspaper Il Messaggero, quoting sources present at the meeting that was closed to the press.

Cardinal Coccopalmiero, who served as an auxiliary bishop in Milan under Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini (1927-2012), said he wondered "if it's not possible to think about a permanent discussion, even at the official level, so we can better deal with each other."

The Register said Cardinal Martini was known to be close to the Freemasons, who paid a warm tribute to him as a "man of dialogue" when he died.

Copyright © 2024 Ecumenical News