Odd Fellowship vs Masonry

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I understand that Catholics are prohibited from joining the Masons (per Pope John Paul's II letter dated 26 Nov 1983/revised Code of Canon Law). But, are Catholics prohibited from joining the Independent Order of Odd Fellows - a less religiously based ideology?

-- Pete Sellars (pvsfine1@slip.net), January 21, 2001



Here's a Link for info on masons, I think the relevant part is:

Historically, one of Masonry's primary objectives has been the destruction of the Catholic Church; this is especially true of Freemasonry as it has existed in certain European countries. In the United States, Freemasonry is often little more than a social club, but it still espouses a naturalistic religion that contradicts orthodox Christianity.

I couldn't find anything on the Order of Odd Fellows. Sorry. If they aren't religiously based though I don't know why it would be a problem. What do they stand for, or do? It sounds like more of a fun club by the name, do beer and bowling play heavily in their philosophy?


-- Someone (ChimingIn@twocents.cam), January 22, 2001.


Hello, Pete.
Yours has turned out to be a difficult question to research and answer! I have tried to do my best, but I should preface my answer by saying that it is unofficial advice from one layman to another.

I would say that, if you have the choice between the Odd Fellows and a Catholic fraternal organization (for example, the Knights of Columbus), it would be much better to go with the Catholic group. If you don't have a choice, you will probably be safe with the IOOF (Odd Fellows) -- though that was not always the case.

Here are some facts I was able to find for you through research:
"The latter half of the 19th century saw a proliferation of secret societies modeled after Freemasonry. These bodies usually charged lower dues and appealed to the poorer classes of workers and farmers. They included the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), the Knights of Pythias, and the Sons of Temperance. Their degree systems were frankly patterned after Masonic models. In 1894 Catholics were forbidden to join these oath-bound societies, but the ecclesiastical penalties were less severe than those attached to Masonic membership. Later, under certain conditions, Catholics could even maintain nominal membership in the Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias in order to preserve insurance benefits."

[From the Catholic Encyclopedia, pre-1920 article on "secret societies"]:
"The order of Odd-Fellows was formed in England in 1812 as a completed organization, though some lodges date back to 1745; and it was introduced into America in 1819. In the 'Odd-Fellows' Improved Pocket Manual' the author writes: 'Our institution has instinctively, as it were, copied after all secret associations of religious and moral character.' The 'North-West Odd-Fellow Review" (May, 1895) declares: 'No home can be an ideal one unless the principles of our good and glorious Order are represented therein, and its teachings made the rule of life.' In the 'New Odd-Fellows' Manual' (N.Y., 1895) the author says: 'The written as well as the unwritten secret work of the Order, I have sacredly kept unrevealed,' though the book is dedicated 'to all inquirers who desire to know what Odd-Fellowship really is.' This book tells us 'Odd-Fellowship was founded on great religious principles' (p. 348); 'we use forms of worship' (p. 364); 'Judaism, Christianity, Mohammedanism recognize the only living and true God' (p. 297). The Odd- Fellows have chaplains, altars, high-priests, ritual, order of worship, and funeral ceremonies."
"The decree of the [Vatican] concerning the Odd Fellows, Sons of Temperance, and Knights of Pythias, though not declaring them to be condemned under censure, says: 'The bishops must endeavour by all means to keep the faithful from joining all and each of the three aforesaid societies; and warn the faithful against them, and if, after proper warning, they still determine to be members of these societies, or do not effectually separate themselves from them, they are to be forbidden the reception of the sacraments.' A decree of Jan. 18, 1896, allows a nominal membership in these three societies, if in the judgment of the Apostolic [papal] delegate, four conditions are fulfilled: that the society was entered in good faith, that there be no scandal, that grave temporal injury would result from withdrawal, and that there be no danger of perversion. The [papal] delegate, in granting a dispensation, usually requires a promise that the person will not attend any meetings or frequent the lodge-rooms, that the dues be sent in by mail or by a third party, and that in case of death the society will have nothing to do with the funeral."

I cannot find a record, Pete, that the above policy was ever rescinded. However, I also cannot find a single negative thing about IOOF in many likely places where I looked (i.e., organizations/sites that do not hesitate to speak out against Freemasonry). Therefore, I suspect that in the past half-century, the IOOF has undergone a change in character and practices, possibly making it safe for a Catholic to join. But I would be on the lookout for improper activities and shades of the old "secret religious society" mentality and practices.

The good news about IOOF I found is this: "Their motto, 'Friendship, Love, and Truth,' has guided the group for more than a hundred years in their support of eye research, senior citizens, and education. In fact, the international organization has contributed more than $365 million dollars to the various causes they support."

God bless and guide you.

-- J. F. Gecik (jgecik@desc.dla.mil), January 22, 2001.

Dear Friends, --I'm sure I read many years ago the Odd Fellows were in the same category as the Masons. The Church has forbidden Catholics membership in most of these, even if all didn't oppose religion as such, or faith in Christ and His Church. My recollection is they almost all require secret oaths, a characteristic of all ancient secret societies, according to Church teachings. This is strictly opposed to Catholic doctrine. Some of these oaths incorporate clauses, seriously intended or not, bringing down a curse upon the member that betrays his oath, and/or violent, extreme penalties. Of their very nature, they are against Catholic teachings.

I don't know if this prohibition (it wasn't pronounced ex cathedra, I'm sure) has since been relaxed by the Church. Maybe one of our other people here can tell me.

-- eugene c. chavez (chavezec@pacbell.net), January 22, 2001.


Strong work, chief.


-- Someone (ChimingIn@twocents.cam), January 22, 2001.

May the Lord bless "Frank the Chimer."

St. James, pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, beloved mother of God, pray for us.

-- J. F. Gecik (jgecik@desc.dla.mil), January 22, 2001.

To whom it may concern:

I happened upon this Q & A website while conducting personal research on my Order. I am Lutheran (Missouri Synod) and I am a third degree member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. I am unfamiliar with the codes and restrictions on Catholics joining fraternal organizations, but I thought I would add what I know to the discussion for what it's worth.

To be an Odd Fellow, you must believe in a Superior Being, the Creator of the Universe. For me, this Being is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit I worship in church. The Order does not disclude any religion, but atheists are not allowed.

The meetings are accompanied by informal social activities. At my lodge we play billiards, darts, euchre, and playstation games, we chat and learn about each other, and we drink soft drinks and eat snacks. Alcohol consumption is not allowed.

Our lodge sponsors little league baseball teams. As a free service to the community, we design and build ramps for handicapped people at their homes.

I do not feel at liberty to give you specific information on what goes on in our meetings, but I can tell you that we discuss benevolence to charitable organizations in our area as well as national and international charities. Each meeting is opened with prayer and the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and closed with the Lord's Prayer and a benediction.

Our degree work is biblically based and strives to define the meaning of our commitment to Friendship, Love, and Truth as well as urging our brothers to live their lives according to our Validiction. It tells of our duty to "...visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan..."

I cannot tell you definitely if there are Catholic members in my lodge, as religious affiliation is not a dependant factor in eligibility. I can only tell you that my grandfather, who is Catholic, has visited several times.

Basically, Odd Fellowship is a chance to "work with others to build a better world". The focus is not on religion, the focus is on helping others and fraternity with other men. If a brother is sick, we are obliged to visit them, if a brother is unemployed, we are obliged to report available jobs to him.

I hope this information is helpful to you. It has been my pleasure to share it with you. Odd Fellowship is a good thing in my opinion and I am proud to be a member. I have learned to be a more compassionate human being because of my involvement.

In Friendship, Love, and Truth, Joshua M. Smith Member, Harmony Lodge No. 19 Fort Wayne, Indiana

-- Joshua Mark Smith (josh21@rexnet.net), June 11, 2001.

Dear Joshua,
If your own conscience is clear, that's the important thing. Your membership fits criteria you seem to see as compatible with faith in God. Historically, these kinds of societies were very militantly against the Catholic Church. So you can understand why they were forbidden to us. Adding to that the words Superior Being and Creator of the Universe, as catch-all designations for the one true God, fall short of acknowledging Our Lord. Christ commanded His people to recognize Him in the world.

I'm friends with a fine man who is a Shriner. His terminology is about the equal of an Odd Fellow's. He can't even say religion, but prefers ''metaphysics''. The wonderful thing about Americans is, we can join such clubs with malice towards none. In Europe, though, immense evils have been brought about through Free Masonry. Our own country has seen the KKK; which in the early years of its spread was seen as a benevolent brotherhood. It has shown itself to be malevolent and ungodly. Some people would disagree with me. Let there be peace on earth to men of Good Will. The Peace of Christ be with you, JMS--

-- eugene c. chavez (chavezec@pacbell.net), June 11, 2001.

bump for Rod Rodriguez.

Pax Christi. <><

-- Anna <>< (Flower@youknow.com), February 24, 2003.

Freemasonry is Luciferian.

What LOTR is to some, The Wizard of Oz is to others. San Diego is the author's (Baum) Emerald City, and the yellow brick road is the broad path to destruction.

That's enough from the far side for one night.

-- Emerald (emerald1@cox.net), February 25, 2003.

Emerald, Did you get your sn from the Wizard of Oz? You'll have to explain that to me!

Anyway, I bumped this thread for Rod Rodiguez, who in another thread asked many questions about Catholicism. I think someone has him fearing that he is going to hell if he is Catholic, and that we are masonic! His questions are near the end of the "An ex-Catholic asks question--and gets answers" thread.

I would sure be glad if someone could give him some answers to his many questions, as my son is home sick from school today, and my daughter was home sick yesterday, so I haven't had the time to answer so many questions. I did bump up a few old threads for him, including this one.

Thanks, Emerald!

Pax Christi. (Your slightly older sister in Christ,)

-- Anna <>< (Flower@youknow.com), February 25, 2003.

(...slightly older, not wiser!)

-- Anna <>< (Flower@youknow.com), February 25, 2003.

Hi Anna; hey, I can handle that. I have four sisters, all older. I looked but couldn't find the thread. But at any rate... Rod, we aren't masonic; in fact we are the arch-enemy of all things masonic. If it ever looks confusing, just remember, it is only confusing because we are their prime target.

-- Emerald (emerald1@cox.net), February 25, 2003.

Thanks, Emerald,

His question pertains to some link between masonry and the pope's ring.

Also refers to the Two Babylons. Is this a book? He is sincerely searching. Left the Church when he was 16.

If I can find that thread "Ex-Catholic asks questions," I will bump it for ya.

So, are you the baby of the family?

Pax Christi.

-- Anna <>< (Flower@youknow.com), February 25, 2003.


-- Emerald (emerald1@cox.net), February 25, 2003.

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