Anti-Catholic


Some anti-Masons have taken up the claim that Freemasonry is anti-Catholic. Two of the most notable of these are authors Paul Fisher and William Whalen. The charge is sometimes 'tossed in' by anonymous internet posters as well (even, oddly enough, by some of those who are apparent 'fundamentalist' Protestants with an equal loathing of the Catholic Church). 

Most of those today seeking information about Freemasonry are too young to remember the strong anti-Catholic feelings which permeated many countries during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Anti-Catholicism was particularly rampant in the United States during the 1800-1960 period. Charges of 'popery' were hurled indiscriminately. In 1830, a Catholic nun's convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts was burned and pillaged. US Protestant ministers would preach fearful sermons warning of the great evils of the Catholic Church and of how the Pope wanted to rule the country.  Fear and loathing of Irish and German (Catholic) immigrants fueled the fire of hatred and proclamations by the Pope that the US public school system should be abolished in favor of Catholic schools moved many to feel that Catholics and Catholicism simply didn't mix with the concepts of a democracy such as that developing/developed in the United States.

In fact, for nearly 200 years, the US was simply unwilling to elect a President who was of the Catholic faith because of fears which, in the 21st century, seem preposterous. Freemasons - particularly in the United States - mirrored the angst of the entire country and were neither immune from nor unrepresentative of the prevailing sentiments.

One internet gadfly takes great relish in quoting the then-Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite (an appendant body of Freemasonry composed of a portion of Masons in the Southern and Western United States) when he wrote that election of John Fitzgerald Kennedy would have grave consequences because of Kennedy's Catholic beliefs. What is ignored, however, was that this position was quite widely felt and strongly supported by the overwhelming majority of non-Catholics in the country at that time. (We should note that this applied not only to Kennedy. The population of the United States had not elected a Catholic in nearly 200 years and anyone of that faith was thought to be 'unelectable' - not just Kennedy!) Children of the 1950s and 1960s with a White/Anglo-Saxon/Protestant (WASP) background can surely remember well that choosing a boyfriend or girlfriend who was Catholic subjected them to family ostracism and very vocal criticism. 

The fact: Freemasonry today is no more anti-Catholic than it is anti-vegetarian. Freemasonry is composed of men with the same fears, wants, and wishes of the general population and thus individual Masons may exhibit certain characteristics, mirroring that of the general population. Because of Papal pronouncements against Freemasonry (Masons are decried as being "Humanist" - whatever that means), those of the Catholic faith are greatly under-represented compared to the population as a whole - and as a result, views held by individual Masons would have been reflective of that biased selection. As an organization, however, Freemasonry takes no position whatsoever on any religion and in fact encourages toleration in all its members. 

 

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