jQuery Slider

You are here

Welby's Masonic Service at Canterbury Cathedral at Odds with the Christian Faith

Welby's Masonic Service at Canterbury Cathedral at Odds with the Christian Faith

By David W. Virtue, DD
January 10, 2017

The Archbishop of Canterbury is following the example of President Donald Trump's thumbing his nose at the US judicial system.

In blatant defiance of a recent ruling against Freemasonry by an ecclesiastical judge of the Church of England, Justin Welby is opening his archiepiscopal cathedral at Canterbury to a full-scale Masonic service on February 18, 2017.

Canterbury Cathedral agreed to hold the service of thanksgiving to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry after receiving a donation of £300,000 ($374,520) from the Masons for the restoration of the North-West Transept in the Cathedral.

This is in complete violation of the spirit of the ruling by Chancellor Geoffrey Tattersall (Queen's Counsel) who as the judge in the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Carlisle banned a family from having the Freemasons square and compass emblem engraved on the gravestone of a Freemason who died after devoting much of his life to the organization.

The set square and compass is a Masonic symbol and can be found on a number of large wooden tables at Liverpool Cathedral where Justin Welby was Dean before becoming Bishop of Durham and Archbishop of Canterbury.

While Welby was Dean of Liverpool he accepted a gift of £69,000 ($86,139) by the West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity, which was used to install a new elevator in the Lady Chapel in Liverpool Cathedral despite the uneasiness many felt about Welby's and the Cathedral's close association with Freemasonry.

The service at Canterbury Cathedral is expected to last about three hours and it is not clear whether Archbishop Welby has given his permission for the Masons to participate in full regalia.

Judge Tattersall's ruling delivered on 8 September 2016 was met with an angry response from the Masonic community. In his ruling, the judge stated that epitaphs on the gravestone "must be entirely compatible with the Christian faith."

Though Provincial Grand Master Keith Hodgson had argued that the Masonic symbol "can be seen in most cemeteries in this area," Judge Tattersall ruled that "no evidence has been produced to me that such symbol appears in any Church of England churchyards in the Diocese."

Tattersall's judgement was also questioned as he failed to disclose the symbols in prominent sections of Liverpool Cathedral and other cathedrals and did not disclose how he had arrived at the judgement that no such symbol has been used on any other gravestone. Liverpool Cathedral under Welby had permitted the symbol to be engraved on the elevator being donated.

Tattersall's ruling quoted at length from the report Freemasonry and Christianity: Are they compatible? -- a summary of the deliberations by the General Synod of the Church of England in July 1987.

In his ruling Mr Tattersall quoted the Synod report which stated that "it was "clear that some Christians have found the impact of Masonic rituals disturbing and a few perceive them as positively evil." Some believed that Masonic rituals were "blasphemous" because God's name "must not be taken in vain, nor can it be replaced by an amalgam of the names of pagan deities." It noted that Christians had withdrawn from Masonic lodges "precisely because they perceive their membership of it as being in conflict with their Christian witness and belief."

"The Synod's primary theological objection centred upon Freemasonry's use of the word "Jahbulon," which is the name used for the Supreme Being in Masonic rituals, and is an amalgamation of Semitic, Hebrew and Egyptian titles for God."

Conservative Christians are angered by Welby's willingness to "accept large bribes both at Liverpool and at Canterbury Cathedrals and compromise the very essence of the Christian faith when even the Roman Catholic church bans Freemasonry in its Canon Law," as a senior clergyman told VOL. "How can Welby expect his clergy to follow the law of the Church and accept discipline when he himself so dismissively treats such a significant issue when both General Synod and an ecclesiastical court have so clearly ruled on the issue," he said.

Welby's predecessor Dr Rowan Williams took a much firmer doctrinal position against freemasonry. However, in April 2003, Williams was forced to apologise to Britain's 330,000 Freemasons after he said that their beliefs were incompatible with Christianity and that he had rejected them from senior posts in his diocese.

The Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Reverend Robert Willis, has agreed to preside personally at this Service. The Cathedral has agreed that a special plaque will be placed in the Cathedral building to show the support given by the Freemasons, as well as a permanent engraving in the Stonework within the Tower.


Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Trinity School for Ministry
Go To Top