note from the Librarian:
As a Roman Catholic Freemason in a Mother Lodge with other Catholic members, I find this 1911 comment regarding Scottish Masonic Jurisprudence an insight into the changes that have occurred in both the Catholic Church and Freemasonry since its writing.
from the book "Digest of Scottish Masonic Jurisprudence"
compiled by R.E. Wallace James, 1911
A Roman Catholic is not by reason of his religion rendered ineligible for the degrees of Masonry. Is it, however, wise to accept him when, no doubt, he will be obliged, when death is imminent, to renounce Freemasonry?
Freemasonry does not undertake to interfere with any man`s religious belief, provided he believes in God, the Supreme Intelligence; but the Pope, and through him the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church, have denounced the Masonic Fraternity, and forbidden any of its member joining the same. On this account, if the applicant is a Roman Catholic, I should deem it advisable to not receive his application.
He may feel that the decree of the Pope should not control his private actions, that being a man he is entitled to join any organisation he desires, and that he is not bound to the confessional; but on the other hand he takes a vow with us that he will not reveal our secrets. This vow brings him in direct conflict with his church, and it is a serious matter for a man born and brought up a Roman Catholic, and even though he may have drifted away from his religious views not to make confession when sickness and liability of death comes; and we ought not to allow a man to be placed in a position where he will in the ordinary course of events prove faithless to his church or violate his vow.
A petitioner for the degrees of Freemasonry who is a Roman Catholic should be informed that the policies and rules of his church prohibit his taking such a step; that the vows of Freemasonry will not permit him to divulge Masonic secrets at confession or elsewhere; if he is then willing to promise allegiance to the Order, `religious belief` does not constitute a basis for rejection.