Newsletter of the District of Asia

 September-October 2000

The Philippine Bishops at war with Freemasonry
By Fr. Vicente Griego SSPX

First Act

“Tolle, lege! – Take it! And read!”  These words which sparkled the conversion of a St Augustine, were also very instrumental in the conversion to Catholic Tradition of H.E. Bishop Salvador Lazo, Bishop-Emeritus of San Fernando Diocese, La Union, Philippines.  It was only after his retirement, in 1995, that he found time to read, now that he was freed from all the administrative work involved in running a diocese, and from all the reports required by a Bishops’ Conference.  The results of this reading, especially of reading the encyclicals of the Popes and books by or about Archbishop Lefebvre can be summarized in his simple remark:  “I’ve been lied to for thirty years!” 

Freemasonry was an issue the bishop really discovered and studied in depth.  He was stunned when he realized the parallel between the Masonic teaching as exposed by Pope Leo XIII in the encyclical Humanum Genus, of 1884, and many of the key ideas and doctrines officially taught by the Second Vatican Council, particularly on religious liberty and the New Mass.  It became even clearer when he came across a little booklet by John Vennari (editor of the Catholic Family News, MPO Box 743, Niagara Falls, NY 14302, USA) on the Masonic Blueprint for the subversion of the Catholic Church, The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, published by TAN books.

“What we must ask for, what we should look for and wait for, as the Jews wait for the Messiah, is a Pope according to our needs… Lay (your snares) in the sacristies, the seminaries and the monasteries…  You will have preached a revolution in tiara and in cope, marching with the cross and the banner, a revolution that will need to be only a little bit urged on to set fire to the four corners of the world…”  (pp.10-11, Philippine Edition)

Bishop Lazo, knowing that his days were coming to their end, that he would soon have to “give an account of his stewardship” (Lk 16, 2), wanted to share the graces he had received with his fellow-bishops of the CBCP  (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines).  He concentrated his efforts to open their eyes by sending them regularly large excerpts of his findings in various books.  This is how, not long before his death, which occurred on April 11, 2000, he asked the priests of the Society of St Pius X to distribute John Vennari’s booklet to all the Bishops of the Philippines.

With the gracious permission of Mr. Vennari, we produced a Philippine edition of the booklet, inserting in it a rather recent statement by the Bishops of the Philippines on the issue of Freemasonry.  This edition came out in June 2000 and was sent, on June 26, to all the Bishops of the Philippines, as a post-mortem apostolic gesture of Bishop Lazo.  Take note of the date: June 26. 

Here is that Statement of the Catholic Hierarchy of the Philippines.


IN SPITE of the many and repeated condemnations of Masonry issued by the Holy See, there seems to be some doubt as to whether Catholics may become Masons. It is frequently asserted that the various Masonic societies here in the Philippines are non-sectarian organizations which Catholics may join without injury to their Catholic faith. This is false and We wish to reiterate in the strongest and most solemn terms of which We are capable the ruling decreed by the Holy See that a Catholic who knowingly and willingly becomes a Mason automatically incurs excommunication, may not receive the Sacraments of the Church an d may not be buried in a Catholic cemetery.  

A little reflection is enough to show the justice and reasonableness of this prohibition. All assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, Masonry is today what it has always been. A naturalistic religious sect which denies or ignores many of the truths contained in Sacred Scripture and defined by the Catholic Church as necessary for salvation. For example, the official doctrine of Masonry denies, explicitly or by implication, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the strict sense. According to Masonic teaching, Christ is a mere man; a great and wise man indeed, but nevertheless only a man; hence if He is called the Son of God, it can only he in a loose or metaphorical sense, not in the literal sense in which Christ himself claimed to be the Son of God.   Hence, to subscribe to the official doctrine of Masonry by membership in that society is, in effect, to deny or doubt an essential truth of Catholic belief.  

It is true that Masons believe in some kind of a supreme deity whom they call the Architect of the Universe; but this deity as described in the official books of Masonry is very far indeed from the Al­mighty God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, one nature in three divine Persons whom Catholics acknowledge and worship. In fact, the term " Architect of the Universe" has been and in interpreted by Masons in many ways, some of which are not even Christian. Moreover, this very vagueness as to the nature of God and our relations to Him is in itself a serious danger to religion, because it is a powerful inducement to religious indifferentism and ultimately to skepticism and even atheism.  

But it is not only on doctrine grounds that Masonry is unacceptable to Catholics. The conditions of membership in this society, and its known practices, are in direct violation not only of Christian morality but even the Natural Law.  

All Masons, for instance, are obliged to take a solemn oath to keep absolutely secret whatever they may subsequently be told regarding the doctrines and the duties of Masonry, under pain of the direct punishments not excluding death itself. There are many objections to such an oath. In the first place, it is clearly wrong to swear to keep secret something that oath not to be kept secret. Secondly, the grave consequences of violating the oath, which include torture and destruction at the hands of the other members of the Masonic fraternity, are either seriously meant or not. If not, the supreme majesty of God is invoked to witness to a trivial and ridiculous proceeding, an act which partakes of the nature of sacrilege. If seriously meant, a power is attributed to the Masonic society, the power of capital punishment, which has been given by God to the State alone, and that under the severest limitations. Finally, the absolute and unrestricted loyalty to a private organization implied by such an oath is directly con­trary to the Natural Law, which prescribes that our adherence to such voluntary societies is necessarily limited by our primary obligations to God, to the Church, to civil society and to the family.  

In spite of Masonry's outward profession of neu­trality and even of friendship towards all religions, it is an historical fact confirmed by countless examples that the Masonic society as such has been and is consistently hostile to the Catholic Church, and even to many forms of non-Catholic Christianity; and in several cases priests have been prevented by Masons from hearing the confession and reconciling Masons on their death bed. Masonry has consistently advocated and actively promoted the exclusion of Catholicism from any position of influence, however legitimate, in almost every walk of life. So bitter and relentless is this hostility of Masonry to the Church, that a prominent Filipino Mason was widely applauded by his fellow‑Masons when he publicly asserted not long ago that the Roman Catholic Church is a greater enemy of the Filipino people than atheistic Communism.  

To sum up, Catholics are forbidden to join the Masonic Fraternity. Catholics who knowingly and willingly become Masons are automatically excommunicated, they may not receive any of the Sacraments of the Church; they may not act as sponsors in Baptism and confirmation; they may be excluded from acting as witnesses in Catholic marriages where such action would cause scandal, and finally Masons may not be buried in Catholic cemeteries. 

Given this 14th day of January, 1954. 

For the Catholic Hierarchy of the Philippines:

Archbishop of Cebu

Archbishop of Cagayan

Archbishop of faro

Bishop of San Fernando

Bishop of Tagbilaran

Bishop of Lingayen

(Sgd.)+JUAN C. SL50N
Auxiliary Bishop of Nueva Segovia

Bishop of Tuguegarao
Appointed Bishop of Lipa

Bishop of Bacolod

Prelature of Batanes‑Babuyanes

Bishop of Palo

Bishop of Legaspi

Prelature of Infanta

Apostolic Administrator of Ozamiz

Apostolic Administrator of Surigao

Archbishop of Nueva Segovia

Archbishop of Nueva Caceres

Archbishop of Manila

Bishop of Zamboanga

Bishop of Calbayog

Apostolic Administrator of Lucena

Vicar Apostolic of Montaďtosa

Auxiliary Bishop of Manila

Prelate of Cotabato
Apostolic Administrator of Sulu

Vicar Apostolic of Calapan

Bishop Capiz

Bishop of Sorsogon

Apostolic Administrator of Davao

Apostolic Prefect of Palawan

(From The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, by John Vennari, Philippine Edition, pp. 68-74)

Second Act

On June 29th, 2000, Brigadier General Josefino Manayao, of the Philippine Army, was killed by the Communists, in an ambush, in Jones, Isabela Province (North of the Philippines).  Manayao was publicly a member of the freemasony, while at the same time, claiming to profess the Catholic faith (which is very common in the Philippines).

Third Act

Was Bishop Lazo’s post-mortem apostolate fruitful?  God knows.  Whether because of this booklet or not, here is what happened in any case.

BY ANSELMO ROQUE Philippine Daily Inquirer Central Luzon Desk

CABANATUAN CITY: Why was Brig: Gen. Josefino Manayao denied the final rites by the Catholic Church before burial on Tuesday?

Residents here posed this question after Manayao a known Mason, was accorded military honors but was refused a funeral Mass by the diocese.

Manayao, commander of the 502nd Infantry brigade, was killed, along with 12 soldiers, in an ambush by the communist New People's Army in Isabela on June 27. Msgr. Michael Veneration, vicar general of the Cabanatuan City diocese, explained that it was not local practice but a universal policy of the Catholic Church that was observed in Manayao's case. According to him, the Catholic Church all over the world prohibits giving of sacraments and Catholic rites to members of the Free and Accepted Masons, a society made up of persons who are united for fraternal purposes and who uses secret signs as a means of recognition. 

"It's in the canon law of. the Church," Veneracion said.  Manayao's wife; Cornelia, said she was hurt by Cabanatuan Bishop Sofio Balce's denial of the Church's final rites for her late husband. She had asked two Army chaplains to convey her request to Balce.  "We. are members of the Catholic Church and we help when we are needed. Bishop Balce and my husband are friends," Cornelia told the INQUIRER.  She said she was told that the bishop would be holding Masses for "the repose of the soul" of her late husband for nine days.

Manayao was the first elected worshipful master of the Capitan Pepe Masonic Lodge 293 and a past grand Masonic lecturer, according to his brother Masons here.  On Tuesday; his body was taken to Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, about 20 kilometers from here, for a last visit to the camp where he had been assigned and for a memorial service offered by fellow officers and soldiers.  He was brought back here and given the last rites by his fellow Masons in a memorial park chapel.  Veneracion said Balce denied the Manayao family's request for final rites by "articulating the position of the Church regarding the prohibition."

"I knew that it pained the bishop as he was close to the Manayaos but he denied the request not as personal decision but to uphold Church law," Veneracion said.  Contrary to reports, he said the law has not been lifted.  In fact, this provision was reiterated during the plenary council of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines in January 1991, Veneracion said.  "There is really, a discrepancy of principles and beliefs between the Catholic Church and the Free and Accepted Masons," he said.  And Church authorities here will maintain what has been ordered by higher authorities in Rome, he said.  

(Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 6, 2000, p.1 and p.4.  – PDI is the second largest Daily in the Philippines.)

Fourth Act

The public debate continued for more than a month.

Of course, such a stance by one Bishop was not very ‘Conciliar’, was rather a reminiscence of ‘pre-Vatican II” days.  So, ‘some’ people tried to oppose this courageous bishop to the Bishops’ Conference.  Thanks be to God, the CBCP held together. 



THE CATHOLIC Bishops Conference of the Philippines has reiterated the Church position banning communion' and funeral rites for Catholics who became Masons.  

The CBCP's reiteration of its position on Freemasonry was also in reaction to adverse public reaction to the withholding of funeral rites for slain Army Col. Jose Manayao.  

It also comes on the heels of the Vatican's affirmation of the Church ban against giving communion to divorced and remarried couples.  

Manayao, the first elected worshipful master of the Capitan Pepe Masonic Lodge 293, was killed in an ambush by communist New People's Army rebels on June 29 in Jones, Isabela.  

He ,was buried with military honors in his home province of Nueva Ecija, but was refused Church rites by Cabanatuan Bishop Sofio Balce.  

"These penalties reflect the serious irreconcilable points between the Christian faith and the philosophy of Masonry," said Palo Archbishop Pedro Dean, chair of the CBCP Commission on the Doctrine of the Faith.

Some Masonic tenets that are irreconcilable with Catholic teachings include:

• God is the great architect of the world. but He leaves it on its own and has not

revealed Himself in history.

• God did not reveal Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

• Jesus' divinity has no place in Masonic philosophy. They say that he was just a good man.

• There is no objective truth in morals and doctrine. That would be bigotry.

• One religion is as good as any other.

• Man's perfection is not to be found in his love for a personal God but only in the development of his natural powers. Man has an immortal soul but has no supernatural destiny.

"Catholics who want to join any associations need first to study deeply its, philosophy.

In the case of Freemasonry, the decision of a Catholic to join it must first take into account the reasons why the Church has kept a negative judgment toward it," Dean said.  

Dean said the CBCP declared in 1990 that any Catholic publicly known as a. Mason may not be given communion nor be allowed to stand as a sponsor in baptisms, confirmations and weddings.  

A Mason, the CBCP said, may also not be admitted into religious organizations and may be denied funeral rites unless signs of repentance before his death is shown.  

"Where funeral rites are allowed by the bishop, no Masonic services shall be allowed in the Church or cemetery immediately before or after the Church rites in order to avoid scandal," the CBCP said in its declaration.  

In 1993, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement, approved by Pope John Paul 11, that membership in Masonic associations remained forbidden.  (Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 20, 2000)

Fifth Act

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