What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is the world’s largest and oldest fraternal order and the most successful and widespread initiatic society in the world. Masonry is a universal, philosophical, and ethical institution composed of free-thinking men who work for the good of humanity. Its fundamental structure is based on a traditional and symbolic system of instruction that is carried out through a process of personal improvement. With more than 300 years of existence, Masonry’s ultimate objective is to encourage the moral and intellectual perfecting of men and peoples in search of obtaining universal brotherhood, or, more succinctly, Masonry is a formative school for men.
Masonry is a fraternity that unites its members in a bond of harmony, truth, and brotherly love; that works tirelessly toward the conquest of progress and liberty; that is dedicated to a study of the laws of nature with the goal of being useful to our fellowmen; and that contributes to the perfecting of mankind. It invites its members to tackle the fundamental questions of existence in harmony with nature and society, of which each Mason is a part.
Masonry seeks to teach its members the values of rectitude, personal responsibility, personal moral betterment, and, through these, the betterment of humanity. It accomplishes this task through the rituals of each degree. It develops a traditional, initiatic method founded on a rite (a collection and arrangement of degrees) and based on the teachings of ancient wisdom, to reveal the mysteries of human consciousness in a process of introspection that is realized in a fraternal, supportive, and convivial space.
The Order bases its principles on the ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. In Masonry, the virtue and dignity of the human being is exalted to promote solidarity and justice, and links are established to connect thought, speech, emotion, and action for the benefit of society.
Freemasonry proclaims as its fundamental principle a belief in the existence of the Grand Architect of the Universe, the origin of all things, and in the immortality of the soul, but it does not accept any difference among men other than merit or demerit and does not reject anyone for his beliefs or opinions. It respects the particular religious and political opinions of each of its members, who with absolute freedom may embrace the beliefs that best contribute to his enlightened conscience. Masonry extols the virtue of tolerance and for this reason dispels from its temples discussions of partisan politics and all religious sectarianism.
Masons are organized into fraternal communities called Lodges, which in turn are organized into a Grand Lodge, an institutional, regulating body, independent in each state or country, which exclusively governs in the territory in which the activity of its Lodges extend.
What is not Masonry?
Masonry is not a social club solely for fun, even though it cultivates brotherly love and fellowship. Masonic work has two primary aspects, one philosophic-symbolic and the other social, both necessary. It may be that a particular Mason may be more inclined toward one aspect than the other, but each is free to contribute to the work that he may prefer.
Masonry is not a benefit or insurance association, although it makes charitable donations and considers these practices as a duty.
Masonry is not an association to obtain personal benefits, since it does not procure its members advantages in business or politics. It is not a job placement agency, much less a trafficker in influence.
Masonry is not a secret society, since it does not deny its existence and what are its purposes and goals, and normally the names and addresses of Lodges are found enrolled in the public register of each Grand Lodge. More than 25,000 books on Freemasonry have been written, some of which may be found in your public library.
Masonry is not a religion, because it does not impose on its members any specific religious belief. Masonry does not have a position for or against any religion. Masons may practice the religion of their preference, so long as they respect the opinions of others.
Masonry is not a sect or denomination; it does not proclaim or accept dogmas of any type. It entirely respects the beliefs of its members, who can abandon Masonry at any moment, if they so desire.
Masonry is not atheistic, as it is a condition that all Masons believe, by their free and natural will, in a Supreme Being, which we call the “Grand Architect of the Universe.”
Masonry is not anti-Catholic, because it has a clear principle of respect toward all religious and philosophical beliefs that aspire to the improvement of the human being.
Masonry is not a center for witchcraft, Satanism, or occultist practices.
Masonry is not a political party, even though many of its members are or were involved in political or social events or movements of the greatest transcendence in human history. As an ideologically diverse association, it does not propose any specific action on society, but instead proposes values in society: values of tolerance, liberty, peace, philanthropy, and the defense of human rights.