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Neela Kale Answers:
The Masons are a worldwide fraternal organization which originated in 18th century Europe. Membership includes ritual practice, charitable activity and adherence to a moral code; members seek to develop a broader sense of the self in relation to the divine. Masons must declare belief in a supreme being, but more specific views are not required. Hence Masons admit members of any religion, but many tenets of Masonry directly conflict with Church teaching. Masons hold a deistic rather than personal view of God, which precludes the Catholic understanding of God as Father, Son and Spirit. They also take a relativistic view of truth and religion, while Catholics believe that objective truth does exist and can be known through divine revelation. Masonry holds that the perfection of mankind is attainable through Masonic principles alone. For Christians, this disregards the need for salvation which comes through Christ. Additionally, the ritual elements of Masonic practice have a pseudo-sacramental character in conflict with the sacramental theology of the Church. Thus, the 1983 Declaration on Masonic Associations, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, states of Masonic associations that “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.”