It has come to my attention that many Catholics who are otherwise faithful Catholics are unaware of the official position of the Catholic Church that not only are faithful Catholics not to associate (to become members) of any Masonic associations (including Shriners) but they are not to participate in Communion if they do join a masonic group. The seriousness of this association is so severe that we are to avoid receiving the Eucharist as if they had performed a mortal sin.
Below is the entire document explaining the Church’s position on this situation written because of the many confusions on why the most recent Code of Canon law seemed to have changed its position from the previous years and centuries.
This document can be found at the Vatican website located at the address below or one can simply do a Google search with the terms “Masonic Associations Vatican” the first link should be the actual document in question, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19831126_declaration-masonic_en.html
This most recent and official declaration on this subject was written by Joseph Card. RATZINGER who later became Pope Benedict XVI and was ratified, ie accepted, by Saint Pope John Paul II. Please pay particular attention to the highlighted areas.
DECLARATION ON MASONIC ASSOCIATIONS
It has been asked whether there has been any change in the Church’s decision in regard to Masonic associations since the new Code of Canon Law does not mention them expressly, unlike the previous Code.
This Sacred Congregation is in a position to reply that this circumstance in due to an editorial criterion which was followed also in the case of other associations likewise unmentioned inasmuch as they are contained in wider categories.
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.
It is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations which would imply a derogation from what has been decided above, and this in line with the Declaration of this Sacred Congregation issued on 17 February 1981 (cf. AAS 73 1981 pp. 240-241; English language edition of L’Osservatore Romano, 9 March 1981).
In an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II approved and ordered the publication of this Declaration which had been decided in an ordinary meeting of this Sacred Congregation.
Rome, from the Office of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 26 November 1983.
Joseph Card. RATZINGER