Masonic Grand Lodge of England (London), the Mother of All Lodges, which celebrates its tricentennial this year
(Rome) The Vatican has refused accreditation to the Lebanese ambassador to the Holy See for his membership in a Masonic lodge.
"I am a Mason, but not active"
Johnny Ibrahim, who currently serves as the Lebanese Consul General in Los Angeles, has been appointed Ambassador for the Holy See by his country's government. As the Vaticanist Franca Giansoldati reported yesterday, the reason his nomination was rejected by the Holy See attributed to his Freemasonry.
Johnny Ibrahim is said to be associated with the Masonic Grand Orient of France. He himself confirmed his lodge members, but assures us that he is not active. This is similar to how Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen explained himself last year. In three television debates, the two candidates of the Federal presidential ballot met each other. Each time his opponent confronted him with his lodge membership. Van der Bellen denied it twice, the third time he admitted it by saying that he had been active "only" for a few years, then ten years passively, and finally lapsed.
The Grand Orient of France is one of the world's largest Masonic organizations. The refusal of accreditation for Ibrahim equals a renewed condemnation of Freemasonry.
1717 - 2017: 300 years of Freemasonry
The lodges are celebrating their 300th anniversary this year. In 1717, the first Grand Lodge was built in London. A short time later, the Church pronounced the first condemnation because the worldview of the lodges was incompatible with Christianity. In recent decades, attempts have been made several times, especially in German-speaking countries, to lift the sentence. When the new Codex Iuris Canonici (CIC) was published in1983 and no explicit mention of Freemasonry was found in it, the matter was considered finished, the promoters of the Catholic-Mason reconciliation jubilated. Then came a damper.
Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, who co-authored the CIC, is said to have rushed to Pope John Paul II to voice his concern that some Church leaders see a "rapprochement" with Freemasonry. He is said to have told the pope:
"If Your Holiness cancels the canonical ban on Masonry, the next conclave will look like a Lodge."
Whether it actually happened that way can not be proven. The fact is that the then prefect of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, made it clear in the same year that in relation to Freemasonry there is no change in the ecclesiastical position. Due to the change of canon law, a Catholic, anyone initiated in the lodge, no longer automatically incurs excommunication. Instead, the CIC Canon 1374 demands that a "just punishment" be imposed upon the declaration of a lodge membership.
However, Cardinal Ratzinger made it clear that Catholics who belong to a Lodge are still not admitted to the sacraments, not because they are excommunicated, but because they are in a state of grave sin.
The Lebanese government will have to nominate another diplomat for ambassador to the Holy See. Lebanon is the country with the largest proportion of Christians in the Middle East.