Freemasonry Greek Orthodoxy

The majority of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Churches are critical of Freemasonry, even though the largest Orthodox body in the United States, the Greek Archdiocese of North and South America, has never issued an official statement on this subject. However, the Bishops of the Church of Greece unanimously adopted the following pronouncement on Freemasonry in their session of October 12, 1933:

"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

"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 labours 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...It possesses its own religious ceremonies... 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 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 state deputy Carmen R. Capone, William F. Marm, John M. Vegh, Raymond F. Merkel, Dr. Regis J. Ging and William B. Jones: for the Shriners, Illustrious Potentate William G. Haile, C.E. Palmer, J.S. McCans, John A. Hollingsworth, Walther H. Sarraf and James A. Weiland.

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 super-religion, looking on all religions (without excepting Christianity) as inferior to itself... 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, while Christianity, as a religion of Revelation, possessing its rational and super-rational dogmas and truths, asks for faith first, and grounds its moral structure on the supernatural 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 reason 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 Interorthodox 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'."1

The Assembly of the Bishops of the Church of Greece accepted the following conclusions that were drawn from the investigations and discussions by its President, His Grace Archbishop Chrysostom of Athens, in the above mentioned session:

"Freemasonry cannot be at all compatible with Christianity as far as it is a secret

1Ekklesia, No. 48, December 4, 1933, tr. Rev. Fr. Krivoshein, Orthodox priest at Oxford, quoted in Walton Hannah, Darkness Visible (London: Augustine Press, 1955), pp. 70-73.

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 connection with it, for Christianity alone is the religion which teaches absolute truth and fulfils 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 It is not lawful to belong at the same time to Christ and to search for redemption and moral 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 Saviour which were weakened by ignorance and by a wrong sense of values "1

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