The purpose of this letter is not to attack or offend either Father Clyde Harvey or Freemasons, but to remind Catholic Brothers and Sisters of the teachings of our great Church.
In the Trinidad Express Newspaper of Tuesday January 12th 2009, I noticed that Father Clyde Harvey attended a Masonic celebration. While I do not believe that the attendance of this “lime” is against Catholic dogma, I believe it is Father Harvey’s responsibility to explain his role in the event lest the faithful think that being a Catholic and a Freemason is acceptable.
The 1917 Canon Law 2335, explicitly states the penalty for Catholics involved in Freemasonry as excommunication. Some people believe that the 1983 Canon Law reflected a change in the Church’s opinion. A release from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dated 26th November 1983 and signed by our current Pope, the then Prefect, identifies that the church has not changed its position:
“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 enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.“
There is no doubt in my mind that Freemason Societies in Trinidad (and worldwide) do much charity, but should a Catholic Priest attend a gathering? In my mind, No! Not for his scruples, but for that of the Faithful.