Freemasonry and Its Condemnations by the Orthodox Church
“Masonry [is that religion] around whose altars the Christian, the Hebrew, the Moselm, the Brahman [Hindu], the followers of Confucius and Zoroaster, can assemble as brethren and unite in prayer...” (Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (Charleston, SC, The Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United Stated, 1906), pg. 226.)
Consider this quote from a more contemporary Masonic thinking, taken from the current manual of instruction used by Masons in the state of Kentucky (Kentucky Monitor by Henry Pirtle, pg. 95): “Masonry makes no profession of Christianity... but looks forward to the time when the labor of our ancient brethren shall be symbolized by the erection of a spiritual temple... in which there shall be but one altar and one worship; one common altar of Masonry on which the Veda, Shastras, Sade, Zend-Avesta, Koran, and Holy Bible shall lie untouched by sacrilegious hands, and at whose shrine the Hindoo, the Persian, the Assyrian, The Chaldean, The Egyptian, the Chinese, The Mohammedan, the Jew, and the Christian may kneel and with one united voice celebrate the praises of the Supreme Architech of the Universe.”
In the journal Le Temple, published in Paris, the official organ of Scottish-Rite Masonry, in the article “The Union of the Churches” (no. 3, Sept. Oct., 1946), masonry itself gives the following acknowledgement of its success:
“We are asked why we enter into disputes of a religious nature, to what extent questions of the union of the churches, ecumenical congresses, etc., can present any interest for masonry...Even if we attempted to forget that masonry has a religious origin, all the same the very fact of the existence of religions would call forth in us a constant endeavor to bind in unity all mortals, in that unity of which we always dream. The problem raised by the plan of the union of the churches that confess Christ closely interests masonry and is akin to masonry, since it contains in itself the idea of universalism. And let us be permitted to add that if this union...stands on the right path, for this it is obliged to our Order.”
The only reasonable deductions one can make from the refusal of the Ecumenist Jurisdictions to repudiate any association with Masonry and condemn it as contrary to Orthodox Christianity is that they are members of the fraternity, don’t wish to be forced to leave it by being exposed, and won’t condemn it because they don’t wish to condemn themselves and what they believe in. It goes without saying that the Ecumenism of the hierarchs of World Orthodoxy corresponds exactly to the teachings and practice of Freemasonry, and this coincidence proves no wonder if they are masons themselves (which is in fact the case, as will be seen further on below).
We should also not forget the actual facts about freemasonry, and the decisions of the Church against her. Here follow some very forceful examples:
From The Rudder (1950 English Masterjohn translation), p. 550
THE APHORISM AGAINST FREEMASONRY
by Cyprianus, Archbishop of Cyprus
Cyprus, February 2nd, 1815
“Wherefore, clad in the sacred vestments of epitrachelion and omophorion we say, If any man preach unto you any other gospel than that which we have preached unto you, even though an angel from heaven, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1,8,9) As many as are befitting, that pursue after such a diabolic and lawless employment of Freemasonry, and all they that follow unto their infatuation and unto their error, let them be excommunicated and accursed by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. After death, they shall be unpardoned, indissoluble, and bloated. Groaning and trembling, as Cain, shall they be upon the earth. (Gen. 4:14). The earth shall cleave and swallow them up, as Dathan and Abiram (Num. 16, 31-32). The wrath of God shall be upon their heads, and their portion together with Judas the betrayer. As angel of the Lord will prosecute them with a flaming sword and, unto their life’s termination, they will not know of progress. Let their works and toil be unblessed and let them become a cloud of dust, as of a summer threshing floor. And all they indeed that shall abide still unto their wickedness will have such a recompense. But as many as shall go out from the midst of them and shall be separated, and having spat out their abominable heresy, and shall go afar of from their accursed infatuation, such kind shall receive the wages of the zealot Phineas; rather let them be blessed and forgiven by the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Only unconfused and undivided Trinity, the One God in nature, and by us His servants.”
This is the APHORISM of the NATIONAL MARTYR, Cyprianus, Archbishop of Cyprus, who in the year 1821, during the Greek revolution against Turkey, shed his blood in defense of the liberty of his Greek homeland from Turkey. Likewise, Archbishop Hierotheus of Patras, Greece, published two comprehensive encyclicals against Masonry, one on October 5, 1897, and another on August 22, 1899.
The Russian Orthodox Church’s Attitude towards Freemasonry was very forcefully proclaimed by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) the Presiding member of the Sremski-Karlovcy Synod in Yugoslavia, who is at the head of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia.
On August 15, 1932, the Metropolitan issued a Pastoral letter to the faithful, entitled ‘An Encyclical on Freemasonry, Theosophy, and Allied Systems’, from which we quote some excerpts and its conclusions and the decrees the ROCA adopted concerning Freemasonry and related sects:
THE COUNCIL OF BISHOPS OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OUTSIDE OF RUSSIA TO ALL THE FAITHFUL OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN DIASPORA
15/28 August 1932
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (I John iv. 1.)
If there was ever a time when these holy words of the beloved disciple of Christ, St. John, could find their most prophetic application, it is certainly ours.
Our troubled period is very poor in prophets. On the other hand, it abounds in false prophets. The world is becoming poorer in the “Spirit of God,” but waxes rich in the “spirit of error.”
“That old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan (Rev. 20:2) has poisoned and infected the hearts of men with many false doctrines, heresies, and sects, which he uses to seduce those whose faith is not solid, those who are not instructed in the knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, turning them away from faith in God, in the Church of Christ...
[There follows a closely documented examination of the general and higher level Masonic doctrines and aims from various Masonic sources and Constitutions. It also shows the ties of Freemasonry with revolutions against Christian States and the Church. It exposes clear connections of Freemasonry to the Russian Revolution. Finally, the conclusions state:]
“Freemasonry is a secret international organisation to struggle with God, Christianity, and all National Governments, and especially Christian Governments.
“In the international organization the first place of influence and importance belongs to the Jewish membership.
“Because of this, and other important reasons it is forbidden for all Orthodox Christians to become Freemasons.
In view of what has been stated above, the Holy Council decides to:
(1) Condemn Masonry as a doctrine and an organization contrary to Christianity.... (2) Condemn equally all the doctrines and organizations having an affinity with Masonry, like Theosophy, Anthroposophy, all forms of “Christian gnosticism” [which would include such things as “Christian Yoga,” “Christian Zen, etc], and the YMCA. (3) Recommend to the diocesan bishops and to chiefs of missions to furnish their clergy with all information which may serve to enlighten the faithful regarding the above-mentioned erroneous doctrines and organizations.... (4) Recommend to pastors the necessity of questioning every person presenting himself for confession with a view to finding out whether or not that person is a member of a Masonic organization and whether or not he shares its doctrines. If it appears that the person is a member or shares its teaching, explain to him that participation in these organizations is incompatible with the name of Christian, with being a member of the Church of Christ. That he must take a firm decision to break with Masonry and with doctrines related to it; and if he does not do so, not to admit him to Holy Communion; and if he should refuse to repent, to excommunicate him from the Holy Church.
After having given you our pastoral recommendations concerning the enemies of God and of our salvation, we would remind you of the exhortations of the Holy Apostle: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.... Building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 3, 20, 21.)
“Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?.... We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the True God, and eternal life.” (I John v. 4-5, 19-20.) Amen!
President of the Council of Bishops Of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia,
[Taken from: Rev. P. Kohanik-Christian Orthodox Light on Speculative Freemasonry, 1948, Passaic, N.J.; St. Nectarios Educational Series No.24 Excerpts from the Encyclical on Freemasonry, Theosophy, and Allied Systems]
FREEMASONRY: THE OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE CHURCH OF GREECE (1933)
St. Nectarios Educational Series, No. 22
It is clear from the following statement that Orthodox Christians must disavow the Masonic movement and resign from it if they have joined it in ignorance of its goals. Pike, in his Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry tells us that “Every Masonic Lodge is a temple of religion; and its teachings are instruction in religion.” (p. 213) “Masonry, around whose altars the Christian, the Hebrew, the Moslem, the Brahim, the followers of Confucius and Zoroaster, can assemble as brethren and unite in prayer to the one God who is above all the Baalism.” (p. 226) “Masonry, like all religions, all the Mysteries, conceals its secrets from all except the Adepts and Sages or Elect and uses false explanations and interpretations of its symbols to mislead those who deserve only to be misled.” (p. 105 )
Patriarch Athenagoras and Archbishop Iakovos have frequently quoted or rephrased the following from Chapter 10 of the above work. “No human being can with certainty say, in the clash and conflict of hostile faiths and creeds, what is truth, or that he is surely in possession of it, so every one should feel that it is quite possible and another equally honest and sincere with himself, and yet holding a contrary opinion, may himself be in possession of the truth.” One needs only to read the Christmas 1967, statement of Patriarch Athenagoras or Archbishop Iakovos’ sermon at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, January 19, 1969, to realize that they continually expound Masonic doctrine which is opposed to sound Orthodox teaching. The very ecumenical movement’s founders and chief exponents are members of the Masonic order which inspires them and gives them their guidelines. Is it no wonder then that Orthodoxy becomes unimportant to these people?
Read and reread this statement in order to understand the correct Orthodox opinion in this matter.
The Official Statement
The Bishops of the Church of Greece in their session of October 12, 1933, concerned themselves with the study and examination of the secret international organization, Freemasonry. They heard with attention the introductory exposition of the Commission of four Bishops appointed by the Holy Synod at its last session; also the opinion of the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens, and the particular opinion of Prof. Panag Bratsiotis which was appended thereto. They also took into consideration publications on this question in Greece and abroad. After a discussion they arrived at the following conclusions, accepted unanimously by all the Bishops.
“Freemasonry is not simply a philanthropic union or a philosophical school, but constitutes a mystagogical system which reminds us of the ancient heathen mystery-religions and cults–from which it descends and is their continuation and regeneration. This is not only admitted by prominent teachers in the lodges, but they declare it with pride, affirming literally: “Freemasonry is the only survival of the ancient mysteries and can be called the guardian of them;” Freemasonry is a direct offspring of the Egyptian mysteries; “the humble workshop of the Masonic Lodge is nothing else than the caves and the darkness of the cedars of India and the unknown depths of the Pyramids and the crypts of the magnificent temples of Isis; in the Greek mysteries of Freemasonry, having passed along the luminous roads of knowledge under the mysteriarchs Prometheus, Dionysus and Orpheus, formulated the eternal laws of the Universe!
“Such a link between Freemasonry and the ancient idolatrous mysteries is also manifested by all that is enacted and performed at the initiations. As in the rites of the ancient idolatrous mysteries the drama of the labors and death of the mystery god was repeated, and in the imitative repetition of this drama the initiate dies together with the patron of the mystery religion, who was always a mythical person symbolizing the Sun of nature which dies in winter and is regenerated in spring, so it is also, in the initiation of the third degree, of the patron of Freemasonry Hiram and a kind of repetition of his death, in which the initiate suffers with him, struck by the same instruments and on the same parts of the body as Hiram. According to the confession of a prominent teacher of Freemasonry Hiram is “as Osiris, as Mithra, and as Bacchus, one of the personifications of the Sun.”
“Thus Freemasonry is, as granted, a mystery-religion, quite different, separate, and alien to the Christian faith. This is shown without any doubt by the fact that it possesses its own temples with altars, which are characterized by prominent teachers as “workshops which cannot have less history and holiness than the Church” and as temples of virtue and wisdom where the Supreme Being is worshipped and the truth is taught. It possesses its own religious ceremonies, such as the ceremony of adoption or the masonic baptism, the ceremony of conjugal acknowledgement or the masonic marriage, the masonic memorial service, the consecration of the masonic temple, and so on. It possesses its own initiations, its own ceremonial ritual, its own hierarchical order and a definite discipline. As may be concluded from the masonic agapes and from the feasting of the winter and summer solstices with religious meals and general rejoicings, it is a physiolatric [nature-worshipping] religion.
“It is true that it may seem at first that Freemasonry can be reconciled with every other religion, because it is not interested directly in the religion to which its initiates belong. This is, however, explained by its syncretistic character and proves that in this point also it is an offspring and a continuation of ancient idolatrous mysteries which accepted for initiation worshippers of all gods. But as the mystery religions, in spite of the apparent spirit of tolerance and acceptance of foreign gods, lead to a syncretism which undermined and gradually shook confidence in other religions, thus Freemasonry today, which seeks to embrace in itself gradually all mankind and which promises to give moral perfection and knowledge of truth, is lifting itself to the position of a kind of super-religion, looking on all religions (without excepting Christianity) as inferior to itself. Thus it develops in its initiates the idea that only in masonic lodges is performed the shaping and the smoothing of the unsmoothed and unhewn stone. And the fact alone that Freemasonry creates a brotherhood excluding all other brotherhoods outside it (which are considered by Freemasonry as “uninstructed”, even when they are Christian) proves clearly its pretensions to be a super-religion. This means that by masonic initiation, a Christian becomes a brother of the Muslim, the Buddhist, or any kind of rationalist, while the Christian not initiated in Freemasonry becomes to him an outsider.
“On the other hand, Freemasonry in prominently exalting knowledge and in helping free research as “putting no limit in the search of truth” (according to its rituals and constitution), and more than this by adopting the so-called natural ethic, shows itself in this sense to be in sharp contradiction with the Christian religion. For the Christian religion exalts faith above all, confining human reason to the limits traced by Divine Revelation and leading to holiness through the supernatural action of grace. In other words, which Christianity, as a religion of Revelation, possessing its rational and superrational dogmas and truths, asks for faith first, and grounds its moral structure on the super-natural Divine Grace, Freemasonry has only natural truth and brings to the knowledge of its initiates free thinking and investigation through reason only. It bases its moral structure only on the natural forces of man, and has only natural aims.
“Thus, the incompatible contradiction between Christianity and Freemasonry is quite clear. It is natural that various Churches of other denominations have taken a stand against Freemasonry. Not only has the Western Church branded for its own reasons the masonic movement by numerous Papal encyclicals, but Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian communities have also declared it to be incompatible with Christianity. Much more has the Orthodox Catholic Church, maintaining in its integrity the treasure of Christian faith proclaimed against it every time that the question of Freemasonry has been raised. Recently, the Inter-Orthodox Commission which met on Mount Athos and in which the representatives of all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches took part, has characterized Freemasonry as a “false and anti-Christian system.”
The assembly of the Bishops of the Church of Greece in the above mentioned session heard with relief and accepted the following conclusions which were drawn from the investigations and discussions by its President His Grace Archbishop Chrysostom of Athens:
“Freemasonry cannot be at all compatible with Christianity as far as it is a secret organization, acting and teaching in mystery and secret and deifying rationalism. Freemasonry accepts as its members not only Christians, but also Jews and Muslims. Consequently clergymen cannot be permitted to take part in this association. I consider as worthy of degradation every clergyman who does so. It is necessary to urge upon all who entered it without due thought and without examining what Freemasonry is, to sever all connections with it, for Christianity alone is the religion which teaches absolute truth and fulfills the religious and moral needs of men. Unanimously and with one voice all the Bishops of the Church of Greece have approved what was said, and we declare that all the faithful children of the Church must stand apart from Freemasonry. With unshaken faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ “in whom we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His Grace, whereby He abounds to us in all wisdom and prudence” (Ephes. 1, 7-9) possessing the truth revealed by Him and preached by the Apostles, “not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in the partaking in the Divine Sacraments through which we are sanctified and saved by eternal life, we must not fall from the grace of Christ by becoming partakers of other mysteries. It is not lawful to belong at the same time to Christ and to search for redemption and mora1 perfection outside Him. For these reasons true Christianity is incompatible with Freemasonry.
“Therefore, all who have become involved in the initiations of masonic mysteries must from this moment sever all relations with masonic lodges and activities, being sure that they are thereby of a certainty renewing their links with our one Lord and Savior which were weakened by ignorance and by a wrong sense of values. The Assembly of the Bishops of the Church of Greece expects this particularly and with love from the initiates of the lodges, being convinced that most of them have received masonic initiation not realizing that by it they were passing into another religion, but on the contrary from ignorance, thinking that they had done nothing contrary to the faith of their fathers. Recommending them to the sympathy, and in no wise to the hostility or hatred of the faithful children of the Church, the Assembly of the Bishops calls them to pray with her from the heart in Christian love, that the one Lord Jesus Christ “the way, the truth and the life” may illumine and return to the truth who in ignorance have gone astray.”
Reprinted from: Borichevsky, Rev. Fr. Vladimir S. and Jula, Rev. Fr. Stephen N., Masonry or Christ?, Ch. V.
Evidence of Masonry in Ecumenist Jurisdictions
On the official website of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Greece (http://www.grandlodge.gr/Famous_gr_home.html) is a listing of famous known Masons from 1800-1950. They name as Masons with their lodges of initiation:
Ecumenical Patriarchs Meletios II [Metaxikis] Basileios III, and Joakeim III, Alexandrian Patriarch Photios (Georgios Peroglou), Jerusalem Patriarch Benedictos (Basileios Papadopoulos). Furthermore, Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras is named as a Mason by several Masonic sources:
“Some Bishops in the various Eastern Orthodox Churches oppose Freemasonry, but the Orthodox Church itself has no position on the matter. Indeed, two of the most outstanding leaders of the Orthodox Church within the last generation - Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople and Patriarch Benedict of Jerusalem - were Freemasons.”
The Truth About Freemasonry: A Master Mason Responds With Truth to Anti-Masonic Lies; The Rev. Baron Dr. Lloyd Worley, Fellow of the Philalethes Society, Associate Regent, York Rite Sovereign College (2644 11th Ave. #D-109, Greelely, CO 80631); copyright 1986, 1992, 1995.
In one contemporary Greek Newspaper, “Christian News”, this is found:
“In Paris, a book entitled The Sons of Light was published, in which it is stated that Patriarch Athenagoras is a Freemason. On page 313, the Patriarch is called a Freemason. Since the Patriarch has not come forward to deny this, the scandal persists in the consciences of Christians who have read such frightful news in the daily Athenian press and in publications coming from America–a scandal not so much because of what the journalists report, but because the Patriarch himself, who seems indifferent about the matter or does not wish, for reasons best known to himself, to come forward and deny this report” (see Cristianikh Spiqa, No. 268 [January 1964]).
The leading Masonic Periodical of Greece not only states Patriarch Athenagoras’s successor, Demetrios, is a Mason, but places him prominently on the cover of one of its issues:
Other Ecumenist bishops have appeared in Masonic photographs from time to time, such as the former Greek New Calendar Archbishop of Australia Seraphim, who appears with the Masonic-connected Lion’s Club below:
It would appear, in fact, that many bishops of World Orthodoxy have capitulated. For example, the new calendar Greek religious newspaper, Orthodoxos Typos (December 9, 1988), openly laments:
“The leadership of many local new calendar Churches -- that is, bishops, other clergy,theologians, etc. -- have been overcome by Masonry. Well-known church leaders are accused of being Masons. And when they are asked if they are Masons, they avoid answering. A recent example is [the new calendar Archbishop] Iakovos of America, who, despite the challenge made by Orthodoxos Typos (Apr. 29, 1988) [that he answer this question], evaded taking any position on the subject of Masonry, although various periodicals accuse him of having joined its ranks. The usual response to this matter is, “But Freemasonry is not a religion, nor does it purport to be one.”
It does not appear to be limited to the Greek Patriarchates.
In the June 1986 issue of The Word Magazine, the official publication of the North American Archdiocese of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, on p. 24 (under “Dialogue”), we find to be denied the assertion that Freemasonry among Orthodox Christians is anti-canonical and “incompatible with the Church teachings”. The official respondent, Fr. Joseph Antypas of Detroit, after asserting that Masonic membership is compatible with Orthodox Christian doctrine and church membership, assures us that “Throughout the years of my ministry I have known many Masons who were good [Orthodox] Christians.”
We should not forget though that in the rites of Freemasonry, the personality of Jesus Christ, as well as His Divinity, and His Gospel’s doctrines are all conflated with the personalities or symbols of the Jewish Kabbalah, the Essenes, the worship of Isis and Osiris, Mithra, Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, the Mahdi of Islam, etc., all in such a way that Christ, ‘divinity’, and Christianity are redefined or understood symbolically so as to correspond to Freemasonry and a pantheistic or natural or rationalistic deism. Therefore, a Freemason may well speak of himself ‘sincerely’ as a Christian but mean a Mason. He may well profess his ‘whole-hearted belief in Christianity’ and understand that to imply, in fact, Christ’s Masonic Gospel, because Freemasonry teaches him that Christ was a Freemason and taught its doctrine within His Own misunderstood system of ‘symbols’. He may well speak of the divinity of Christ, but understand by divinity or by Christ a principle of nature or a kabbalistic Adam Qadmon, or other cunning subtle Christ-denying meanings that Freemasonry teaches him to impute to his religions terms and rites.