At its plenary assembly, the Ivory Coast Conference of Catholic Bishops reminded Catholics that they cannot belong to Freemasonry, as reported by Aleteia on its French-edition website (fr.aleteia.org):
“At the closing of their 107th plenary assembly, which was held from May 16 to 21, 2017, at Bonua in the diocese of Grand-Bassam, the Ivory Coast Bishops took a very strong stance on Freemasonry. Their statement comes after the controversy that erupted last February, when Jean-Pierre Cardinal Kutwa, Archbishop of Abidjan, denied religious funerals for Magloire Clotaire Coffie, a high ranking freemason, Grand Master and founder of the Ivory Coast’s Grand Lodge (an emanation of France’s Grand Lodge), who died in a traffic accident on January 29.
“A showdown ensued between the Ivory Coast Church and the family of the deceased who attended Mass regularly; and with the political power, since Alassane Ouattara, the Ivory Coast president, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Congo’s president, and Ali Bongo Odimba, the president of Gabon, cosigned the funeral invitation, showing the great influence Magloire Clotaire Coffie held.
“The declaration of the Ivory Coast Bishops reminds us the three main reasons why the Church refuses dual membership, as was reiterated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1983: 1) Masonic relativism, 2) Their denial of Christ’s divinity, 3) Their indifference towards God’s Mercy.
“Far from limiting themselves to the realm of theology and morals, the Bishops formulated a series of precise recommendations that signal the pressure Freemasonry exerts on the local Church. The youth and the students are invited to block the way to the infiltration of the brothers in universities and to beware of the grants that are generously offered.
“The ruling classes and intellectuals are urged not to consider Freemasonry as a social ladder, at the risk of committing ‘ignoble acts’, whose nature is not defined in the Bishops conference text. As for parish leaders and leaders of new communities, they must remain vigilant and turn down important subsidies that individuals with known Masonic ties may offer. And finally, priests and seminarians, the first targets of Masonic lodges, must defend relentlessly their priesthood at the cost of social or material losses, at times heavy.”
Following is the entire text of the Ivory Coast Bishops:
To the faithful of the Catholic Church of Ivory Coast.
Dear sons, dear daughters, may the grace and peace of God the Father and of Christ Jesus be upon you!
Nowadays, the problem presented by esoteric movements is a theological and pastoral question that preoccupies the Church in Ivory Coast to the highest degree.
The fact is that many Christians, through ignorance, through curiosity or by a desire to climb the social ladder, allow themselves to be seduced by the theories developed within these secret societies, while others continue to wonder whether they are compatible with the Catholic faith.
Among these esoteric movements, Freemasonry deserves that we shed some light upon it considering the amalgams that are circulated in respect to its compatibility with the Catholic faith.
In January of 2018, during our 108th plenary session, we will publish a pastoral letter on this topic.
Before this deadline, we your Archbishops and Bishops of Ivory Coast, faithful to our mission of promoting and protecting doctrine and morals that are in keeping with our faith, wish to warn and inform all Christians, without further delay, to dispel any ambiguity or confusion as far as compatibility to the Christian faith is concerned. We must explain clearly the Church’s position on this secret society so as to avoid any error that is likely to mislead Christians.
Let us be reminded that the stand taken by the Church on Freemasonry has remained unchanged and unequivocal throughout history. It has condemned from the onset all forms of Freemasonry. Today, the stand of the Church remains unchanged, because the principles of Masonry have always been considered as being incompatible with Church doctrine. From whence, the joining to these associations of Catholic faithful remains forbidden by the Church. Therefore, as stipulated by the November 26, 1983 declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “The faithful who belong to Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin; they may not receive Holy Communion”; neither can they receive the honors of a Christian burial.
The Church’s constant stand, as well as the numerous magisterial and unequivocal condemnations that ensue from it, are based on a number of deep incompatibilities between the Christian faith and the principles of Freemasonry.
In a general way, relativism constitutes the backbone of Freemasonry’s principles. Thus it can be understood that the tendency to relativize everything constitutes the very crux of this incompatibility, because of the consequences upon the substance of the faith, the moral behavior and one’s allegiance to the Church. In the process, Truth is relativized and the very idea of Revelation is denied.
One of the direct consequences of this relativization, including that of the Truth, is the conviction amongst Freemasons that the objective knowledge of God as a Being cannot exist. «In masonic rituals, the concept of “Great Architect of the Universe” is central. And this “Great Architect of the Universe” is actually an empty recipient, into which everyone is free to place his representation of God, the Christian, the Muslim, the Confucian, as well as the believer in traditional religions. This is in contrast to the Christian concept of God who reveals Himself, who enters into dialogue with man, and of man’s response, who addresses God in calling Him Father and Lord, as stated by the Second Vatican Council.
The divinity of Christ constitutes another stumbling block within the question of how we view God and Revelation. The Christian Faith asserts that in Jesus, God has revealed Himself to man fully and definitively. This is shown clearly in the profession of our faith, the Nicene Creed, where we proclaim that «Christ is God, born of God, light from light, true God from true God; begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father». Freemasons attribute to Christ all manner of positive qualities, but they bypass what is essential, that is, Jesus is the Son of God, He is God made man. The Church cannot condone the affirmation according to which Jesus was only a wise man, since He is more than this for the Christian: he is the Messiah, the Son of the living God as St. Peter will testify (Matthew 16, 13-19).
Freemasonry excludes all thought of salvation. For Masons, man builds his own self. He does not need God to change his heart and find happiness. Christians adopt a completely different perspective. The Gospel is the happy proclamation of our salvation. Christians await and receive salvation through the merciful grace of God, in the person of Jesus who is precisely the Saviour (Jesus means “Lord and Saviour”). “For it is by grace that you are saved through faith; and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2, 8). Christian Faith teaches that, in Jesus Christ, God has dwelt among men to save them (John 3, 16).
Owing to these profound points of divergence between Freemasonry and the very principles of the Christian Faith, we can state clearly that the fact of adhering to it calls into question the foundations of Christian existence.
For these reasons, we, your Archbishops and Bishops, the spiritual guides of the Catholic Church of Ivory Coast, wish to appeal strongly to you as regards the unceasing solicitations of Freemasonry:
Some of you have already joined Freemasonry. Whatever the reasons that led you to making such a choice, whatever the pacts you have already agreed upon and the degree to which you have sworn allegiance to, such or such obedience, we exhort you strongly to turn back, the way the prodigal son did (Luke 15, 11-32). Do not fear breaking all ties that keep you bound. For “if Christ has freed us, it is so that we be truly free” (Galatians 5, 1). Return to Christ, the one and only source of your self-development, of your equilibrium, of your freedom and of your salvation. For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4, 12).
An analysis of the mode of operation of Freemasonry shows that you are the privileged target of this secret society. In fact, members of this brotherhood infiltrate insidiously our universities and schools of higher education, where the elite of tomorrow is being formed. In giving in to the generous offers that are made to you, you compromise your relation with the Lord.
We are aware of the difficulties that await you in covering the costs of your studies and in finding work after having completed your different formations. We believe that all hope is not lost for you. Your imagination and your creativity will allow you, with the help of the Lord and the help of men of good will, to undertake activities that will generate some income.
The quest for knowledge, for success and power, the desire to belong to a respected elite, are temptations widespread in today’s world. These lead many of our fellow citizens, and especially your ruling classes and intellectuals down dead-end paths. The allegiance that some of them give to Freemasonry lead them to committing ignoble acts. Let us not forget that all success and all power is above all a gift of God, and outside of Him, any form of political or social ascension always ends in downfall and total disarray. For Christ said: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul” (Mark 8, 16).
Ever since the first centuries, the Church has lived through the gift of its faithful. This generosity deserves to be encouraged because of the urgency and the importance of announcing the Gospel to all. Yet, we call upon the vigilance and the discernment of parish priests, of those in charge of institutions and of the new communities, as regards certain offers that are made for the realisation of different projects. Some ill-intentioned people, wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing, sometimes take part in your meetings. Their hidden intention is to destabilise the Catholic Church. Christian wisdom and prudence call for a lucid examination of where these gifts originate, gifts that are extraordinarily generous that your structures could well benefit from. We beseech you thus to do all you can not to become unconsciously compromised by esoteric sects and similar associations.
We hear, rightfully or not, that some members of the clergy and of the consecrated make out with Freemasonry or praise it, hoping to find the solution to their material and financial problems, thinking they might find a means to a rapid promotion. It would be unfortunate and sad that men and women of the Church, who should be living in detachment and renouncement, should come to this.
We stress that propositions for easy gain cannot in any case edify you and guarantee your dignity as Christians. This is what Paul the apostle railed against, with precision and clarity, when he spoke of the demons who would succeed in conquering the minds of the leaders of the Church (Thessalonians 3, 7-10).
You, dear sons, constitute the promise of the clergy to come. Your spiritual, human, intellectual and doctrinal formation preoccupies us, and we wish to bring it the greatest care for the benefit of God’s people.
We exhort you to become increasingly aware of the nobleness of the choice you made in working at the Lord’s field. This is why you must set everything in motion to resist the solicitations coming from adepts of esoteric movements and other secret societies who solicit our future priests for the purpose of corrupting them. St. Paul rightfully says: «If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with His words, he is puffed up with conceit...» (Timothy 6, 3-4).
We may not close without first invoking, upon all of you, the Spirit of Our Lord, who will make you strong, the followers of Christ, Bishops, priests, consecrated people and the lay faithful in facing all the esoteric groups and associations who work at the impossible task of making the Catholic Church disappear. Christ Jesus, Master and Founder of the Church, upon handing Peter the keys to the Kingdom, told him: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16, 18).
May Mary, the humble servant of the Lord present us to Her loving and adorable Son! May God bless you and keep you in His Spirit and in His Church.
Given at Benoua, in the diocese of Grand-Bassam, on May 21, 2017.
Your fathers, the Archbishops and Bishops of Ivory Coast.