The other day I saw a group of Shriners walking down in a parade and vaguely remembered something about the fact that we as Catholics aren’t supposed to be members. In my research I found that the Shriners are an organization of York Rite Masons, that all Shriners are Master Masons (but not all Masons are Shriners).
The most recent declaration by the Church, issued by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that was promulgated on Nov 26, 1983 states that “the Church's negative judgment in regard to Masonic associations 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 enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.” (1) A declaration written by a now famous individual, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI).
Moreover, this declaration goes on to say that “[i]t is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations.” (1)
Freemasonry is incompatible with Christianity because it promotes indifferentism. Indifferentism is the heretical belief that all religions are equally legitimate attempts to explain the truth about God which, but for the truth of His existence, are unexplainable. Such a view makes all truths relative and holds that God can be equally pleased with truth and error. Because Christians believe that God has definitively revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, and desires that all men come to the knowledge of this truth, indifferentism is incompatible with Christian faith. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." (John 14:6).
Freemasonry's teachings and practices also result in syncretism which is the blending of different religious beliefs into a unified whole. This is evidenced most especially by Masonry's religious rituals which gather men of all faiths around a common altar, and place all religious writings along side the Bible on the Masonic altar. This is also demonstrated by the Lodge's prayers and its unique names and symbols for God and heaven.
The Shriners have, and are doing, some fine work for the disabled and kids in need. I am not putting down these stellar works of mercy. I am simply stating that the ends don’t always justify the means. Just because they do great work doesn’t mean that they teach the truth. The truth is a rather important thing to possess.
References:Major portions of this text taken from www.scripturecatholic.com by John Salza