Lest you think we were too hard on the Papal Bulldog in our recent post, consider this: As recently as 1983, the pre-Pope Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the following document, forbidding Catholics to become Masons, saying that to do so would place them in a "state of grave sin."
Declaration on Masonic Associations
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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 is 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 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.
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 Feb. 17,1981.
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, Nov. 26, 1983
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect
Father Jerome Hamer, O. P. Titular Archbishop of Lorium, Secretary
Sin | Inquisition | Joseph Ratzinger