The Clarification concerning status of Catholics becoming Freemasons was a February 1981 letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reiterating the Church's prohibition on Catholics becoming Freemasons. The letter was followed in 1983 by Quaesitum est, issued by then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who had become the Congregation's prefect in November 1981.

Its purpose was to clear up confusion that had stemmed from an earlier interpretation of Canon law. The confusion arose from a private letter written in 1974 to the US Bishops which was interpreted by some within the Church and within Freemasonry to allow Catholics to join Masonic lodges as long as the lodge did not directly plot against the church.

The document stated that the traditional prohibitions and penalties on Catholics becoming Freemasons still applied. The document specifically mentioned excommunication as a penalty. It also stated that the 1974 letter was in no way a judgment on the character of Masonry, nor could it imply a derogation from Catholic norms.


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