I was prompted to contemplate a thawing in Catholic-Masonic relations upon reading this Associated Press article today titled Pope insists conscience, not rules, must lead faithful
Here we read:
Pope Francis said Friday that Catholics should look to their own consciences more than Vatican rules to negotiate the complexities of sex, marriage and family life, demanding the church shift its emphasis from doctrine to mercy in confronting some of the thorniest issues facing the faithful.”
“He said the church must no longer sit in judgment and “throw stones” at those who fail to live up to the Gospel’s ideals of marriage and family life.”
“On thorny issues such as contraception, Francis stressed that a couple’s individual conscience — not dogmatic rules imposed on them across the board — must guide their decisions and the church’s pastoral practice.”
“We have been called to form consciences, not replace to them,” he said.
“He insisted the church’s aim is to reintegrate and welcome all its members. He called for a new language to help Catholic families cope with today’s problems. And he said pastors must take into account mitigating factors — fear, ignorance, habits and duress — in counseling Catholics who simply aren’t perfect.”
“It can no longer simply be said that all those in any irregular situations are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace,” he wrote. Even those in an “objective situation of sin” can be in a state of grace, and can even be more pleasing to God by trying to improve, he said.
Could it be that the many changes that Pope Francis has made to the Catholic Church pave the way for a reconsideration of its opposition to Freemasonry?
Ever since 1738 the Catholic Church has prohibited membership in Freemasonry. For a complete overview of the historical rulings by the Church see The Catholic Church and Freemasonry
Posted by Greg Stewart on Freemason Information.
Looking at a Pope who has not been in office for a great length of time, you can see some far reaching reforms and adjustments that have already been made. Would it be a fantasy to surmise that somewhere down the line this Pope might relax the ban against the Craft?
The Atlantic in an article titled Will Pope Francis Break the Church? offers these observations on the pontiff.
The Church is not yet in the grip of a revolution. The limits, theological and practical, on papal power are still present, and the man who was Jorge Bergoglio has not done anything that explicitly puts them to the test. But his moves and choices (and the media coverage thereof) have generated a revolutionary atmosphere around Catholicism. For the moment, at least, there is a sense that a new springtime has arrived for the Church’s progressives. And among some conservative Catholics, there is a feeling of uncertainty absent since the often-chaotic aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, in the 1960s and ’70s.”
“That unease has coexisted with a tendency to deny that anything has really changed since the former cardinal and archbishop of Buenos Aires became pope. From the first unscripted shocker—his “Who am I to judge?” in response to a reporter’s question about gay priests—many conservative Catholics have argued that the press is seeing what it wants to see in the new pontiff.”
“Francis is clearly a less systematic thinker than either of his predecessors, and especially than the academic-minded Benedict. Whereas the previous pope defended popular piety against liberal critiques, Francis embodies a certain style of populist Catholicism—one that’s suspicious of overly academic faith in any form. He seems to have an affinity for the kind of Catholic culture in which Mass attendance might be spotty but the local saint’s processions are packed—a style of faith that’s fervent and supernaturalist but not particularly doctrinal. He also remains a Jesuit-formed leader, and Jesuits have traditionally combined missionary zeal with a certain conscious flexibility about doctrinal details that might impede their proselytizing work.”
“But there are times when Francis himself seems to desire something more than just a change in emphasis. Even as he has officially reaffirmed Church teachings on sex and marriage, he has shown a persistent impatience—populist, Jesuit, or both—with the obstacles these teachings present to bringing some lapsed Catholics back to the Church. His frustration has emerged most clearly on the issue of divorce and remarriage: he has repeatedly shown what seems to be tacit support for the idea, long endorsed by Walter Kasper and other liberal cardinals, to allow Catholics in a second marriage to receive Communion even if their first marriage is still considered valid—that is, even if they are living in what the Church considers an adulterous relationship.”
“The problem for Francis is that Kasper’s argument is not particularly persuasive. Describing Communion for the remarried as merely a pastoral change ignores its inevitable doctrinal implications. If people who are living as adulterers can receive Communion, if the Church can recognize their state of life as nonideal but somehow tolerable, then either the Church’s sacramental theology or its definition of sin has been effectively rewritten. And the ramifications of such a change are potentially sweeping. If ongoing adultery is forgivable, then why not other forms of loving, long-standing sexual commitment?”
“This, then, is the place where Francis’s quest for balance could, through his own initiative, ultimately fall apart, bringing the very culture war he’s downplayed back to center stage. And it’s the place where his pontificate could become genuinely revolutionary. His other moves are changing the Church, but in gradual and reversible ways, leaving lines of conflict blurry and tensions bridgeable. But altering a teaching on sex and marriage that the Church has spent centuries insisting it simply cannot alter—a teaching on a question addressed directly (as, say, homosexuality is not) by Jesus himself—is a very different thing. It would suggest to the world, and to many Catholics, that Catholicism was formally capitulating to the sexual revolution. It would grant the Church’s progressives reasonable grounds for demanding room for further experiments. And it would make it impossible for many conservatives, lay and clerical, to avoid some kind of public opposition to the pope.
Could this mean that Catholic Freemasons might be granted the right to receive communion and hold positions of lay leadership in the Church? Certainly Freemasonry does not seem to be on Pope Francis’ top ten list of changes yet to come. But if the mood, the emphasis away from doctrinal purity, persists then perhaps some sort of reconciliation can take place between the Church and Freemasonry. And if that comes to past we will be in a new day of peace and harmony.