The Church And Freemasonry: Kuffuor And The Catholic Church In Perspective

Feature Article Former President Kufour
Former President Kufour

On Wednesday, 26th of April, 2017, news broke that Former President John Agyekum Kufuor had been appointed Senior Grand Warden of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE). The report said he was appointed by Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, the longest serving Grand Master. Eventually the lodge announced on its Facebook page that "Congratulations to Right Worshipful Brother, His Excellency John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor, PGSwdB, former President of the Republic of Ghana, who has been appointed Senior Grand Warden by the Grand Master, His Royal Highness, The Duke of Kent.”

The debate therefore became very topical on social media about free masonry and the church with President Kuffour a well-known Catholic in view. later on Friday named some prominent Ghanaians alleged to be members of the masonry. Popular names such as Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene; Dr Alex Tweneboah, the ex-President of the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA); Otwasuom Osei Nyampong VI, Kamenahene of the Akwamu; Prof. Christopher Ameyaw-Ekumfi, the current Board Chairman of the Ghana Infrastructural Investment Fund as well as John Henry Martey Newman, a Ghanaian Historian, Administrator, Lawyer and also the Chief of Staff of Ghana under President John Atta Mills are all names linked to the 'cult'.

Though there have been attempt to make the cult look good in the eyes of many, it appears many also have a different view of their activities. For instance the 'Masonic Lodge of Education' reported on its website that " Freemasonry is a voluntary, fraternal organization, composed of men of good will, good character and good reputation, whom in most jurisdictions around the world, believe in an Almighty Creator and practice the spirit of universal brotherhood to man. They are loyal to their country and devote their time to the principles of friendship and fellowship. Their focus is to be of service to all mankind. Freemasonry fulfills a part of themselves that they intrinsically felt was missing. Whether it be the social, the philosophical, the spiritual, the historical or simply a sense of community with others; you will find within Freemasonry that part of you which you seek."

Indeed the motto of Free Masonry as has been embossed on their logo is "Making Good Men feel Better, Since Time Immemorial".

Though reports that "The United Grand Lodge of England claims to be the oldest Grand Lodge in the world, by descent from the first Grand Lodge formed in London in 1717," Wikipedia on the other hand says "Freemasonry or Masonry consists of fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons, which is from the end of the fourteenth century." Wikipedia however adds that "the basic, local organisational unit of Freemasonry is the Lodge."

So I tried to find out what the church's position on Free Masonry is? According to my brother at the Pedu Catholic Seminary who will soon be ordained Catholic priest, "Free Masonry is a RELIGION. Just as you cannot be a faithful Christian and a faithful Muslim at the same time, so in the same way you can't be a Catholic Christian and a Masonry. Both have different set of principles. You can't even compare.”

"Remember that NO ONE can serve two masters equally. You either CHOOSE to be a Christian or a Muslim. In like manner you either CHOOSE to be a Catholic or a Masonry. You can't be both. Its simple, yet very difficult for some people." This is a corroboration of the most recent condemnation of Freemasonry as it is contained in the “Declaration on Masonic Associations” issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 26 November 1983. This document, which was written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) and approved by Pope John Paul II, declared that Masonic principles are irreconcilable with the doctrine of Church, and that Catholic membership in Freemasonry remains forbidden

It is important to note that as early as 1738, the Catholic church had condemned Masonry and had ordered excommunication as a means of punishment to its members who join the (Free Masonry) cult.

This constitution was the first public written attack by the papacy against Masonry. In 'In Eminenti' the principal objections to Freemasonry given were: that it was open to men of all religions; that there were oaths taken; that Masons denied clerical authority, and that Masons met in secret. Pope Clement forbade Masonic membership by Catholics and directed the "Inquisitors of Heretical Depravity" to take action against Catholics who became Masons or assisted Freemasonry in any way. He ordered excommunication as punishment for those who defied his ban (Pope Clement XII, In Eminenti , 28 April 1738).

According to Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, "Many people regard Freemasonry as a benevolent and charitable organization, somehow similar to the Rotary and Lions Clubs, the Knights of Marshall, the Knights of St. John International or the Knights of Columbus. Undoubtedly, it is for this reason that some Catholics join this fraternity. Nevertheless, Catholics are forbidden to become Freemasons."

Most Rev. Osei Bonsu concluded his talk on "Can a Catholic be a Freemason?” delivered at the Forum of Catholic Knights in Ghana on March 6, 2013 at Christ the King Parish in Accra by saying, "It is clear from the foregoing that Freemasonry is a religion in its own right, with doctrines that are irreconcilable with Christian doctrines. What it teaches about the following cannot be reconciled with Christian beliefs, i.e., God, Christ, the denial of the role of grace and Christ in salvation, morality, its attitude towards the Bible, eschatology, the masonic oaths and the notion of rebirth and enlightenment. For this reason, one cannot simultaneously be a Catholic and a Freemason. One will have to make a choice between Catholicism and Freemasonry" (Published by Marshall, 31st December, 2014).

My brother the seminarian therefore concluded his chat with me on this note: "As Pope Clement XIII recommended in his "In Eminenti", the punishment is total excommunication. And what is important to note is that the position of the Church remains unchanged as was stated by by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) in the ‘CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH DECLARATION ON MASONIC ASSOCIATIONS’ that “The Church’s position is that Freemasonry is a religion in its own right with its own doctrines, which are not compatible with Christian beliefs. For this reason one cannot simultaneously be a Christian and be a Freemason, just as one cannot be a Christian and at the same time be a Muslim, or a Hindu, a Shintoist or a practitioner of African Traditional Religion.”

The Writer is a Student Leader, Youth/Political Activist and a Journalist.

KWasi Frimpong SayItRight
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