Monday, May 24, 2010

On Masonry and the Catholic Church

Bishop: No politics in denying burial rites to Nantes

LUCENA CITY, Quezon, Philippines – (UPDATE) Bishop Emilio Marquez, head of the Diocese of Lucena, on Sunday, explained that the Church denial of Catholic burial rites for the late Quezon Gov. Rafael Nantes was in accordance with Vatican laws and was not motivated by politics.

In his homily during a mass at the Saint Ferdinand Cathedral here, Marquez revealed that Nantes was a “born again Christian” and a “Freemason” and thus, under the Church Code of Canon laws 1184 and 1185, Catholic burial rite was to be denied, "unless some signs of repentance before death have been shown.”...

“There is no politics in the decision of the Church. I just implemented the Church laws,” said the bishop, known here as an arch-critic of Nantes.

Marquez said the Diocese was forced to issue the clarification in order to dispel confusion and avoid any misunderstanding that might arise from the prohibition that the Church issued last week on the celebration of mass at Nantes wake at the Quezon Medical Convention Center here.

Marquez said: “The local Catholic church in the Diocese of Lucena mourns with the people of Quezon. The fact is we sent our condolences to the family of Governor Nantes immediately after we received the sad news of his tragic death.”

“We did not in any way forbid prayers for the eternal repose of his soul or to bless the mortal remains of the governor,” Marquez said...

Note, here are the texts of canons 1184 and 1185:

Can. 1184

§1. Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals:

1/ notorious apostates, heretics, and schismatics;

2/ those who chose the cremation of their bodies for reasons contrary to Christian faith;

3/ other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.

§2. If any doubt occurs, the local ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment must be followed.

Can. 1185 Any funeral Mass must also be denied a person who is excluded from ecclesiastical funerals.

So canons 1184 and 1185 already settles the issue.

But just for further reference on Masonic associations, here is the declaration of the Vatican CDF issued on November 1983 by then Cardinal Ratzinger. Note that this declaration has been specifically approved by the then reigning Roman Pontiff, John Paul II.
It is the latest statement by the Church to date. I quote partly, with emphasis:

Declaration on Masonic Associations

...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..."

The aforementioned declaration thus follows:

Clarification concerning status of Catholics becoming Freemasons

On 19 July 1974 this Congregation wrote to some Episcopal Conferences a private letter concerning the interpretation of can 2335 of the Code of Canon Law which forbids Catholics, under the penalty of excommunication, to enroll in Masonic or other similar associations.

Since the said letter has become public and has given rise to erroneous and tendentious interpretations, this Congregation, without prejudice to the eventual norms of the new Code, issues the following confirmation and clarification:

1) the present canonical discipline remains in full force and has not been modified in any way;

2) consequently, neither the excommunication nor the other penalties envisaged have been abrogated;

3) what was said in the aforesaid letter as regards the interpretation to be given to the canon in question should be understood—as the Congregation intended—merely as a reminder of the general principles of interpretation of penal laws for the solution of the cases of individual persons which may be submitted to the judgment of ordinaries. It was not, however, the intention of the Congregation to permit Episcopal Conferences to issue public pronouncements by way of a judgment of a general character on the nature of Masonic associations, which would imply a derogation from the aforesaid norms.

Canon 2335 in the older version of the canon law reads as follows:

Persons joining associations of the Masonic sect or any others of the same kind which plot against the Church and legitimate civil authorities contract excommunication simply reserved to the Apostolic See.

The current and revised 1983 version however, removed the previous provision an replaced it with Canon 1374, as follows:

A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; one who promotes or takes office in such an association is to be punished with an interdict.

Following the promulgation of the new Code, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the (erstwhile) new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a new declaration:

(1) the new Canon 1374 has the same essential import as the old Canon 2335, and the fact that the "Masonic sect" is no longer explicitly named is irrelevant;
(2) the Church's negative judgment on Masonry remains unchanged, because the Masonic principles are irreconcilable with the Church's teaching ("earum principia semper iconciliabilia habita sunt cum Ecclesiae doctrina");
(3) Catholics who join the Masons are in the state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion; and
(4) no local ecclesiastical authority has competence to derogate from these judgments of the Sacred Congregation.

My further comment is that the rule on automatic excommunication of Freemasons seems to have been more open to situational considerations with the effect of the new canon law. To be more specific requires the explanation of a good canon lawyer. Secondly, I am of the opinion that there is no real issue with Mass being "denied" to Gov. Nantes. The prohibition was merely reiterated. There is nothing in the report that says it was even requested by the immediate family. Add the fact that Nantes is a "born-again Christian" -- specifically a Protestant who does not believe in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the first place, and has already disassociated himself by choice from the Catholic Church.

May the soul of the late Gov. Rafael Nantes rest in peace. Amen.


Anonymous said...

Eerie. I just read this article and you come up with a similar one. What do you call it when things and events converge? Great timing? Synchronicity? Serendipity? or the Bermuda Triangle?
- TE

WillyJ said...

More like Twilight zone.

Again that is a clear application of canon 1184 (sec 1), as well as canon 1378 (automatic excommunication towards the offense of illicit conferment/receipt of holy orders). Plain and simple, no need to consult a canon lawyer. The Archdiocese is in no position to overturn established Church laws. It is obvious that the "woman-priest" was not unaware of this and showed no signs of repentance, thus the attendant proscription.