June 25, 2013

The First Reaction of the Orthodox Church Against Freemasonry

Ecumenical Patriarch Paisios II - A Forgotten Episode

By Protopresbyter Vasilios A. Georgopoulos,
Aristotle University in Thessaloniki

When referring generally to the attitude of the Orthodox Church against the syncretistic and occultic system of Freemasonry, normally there is reference to the positions of both the Inter-Orthodox level (1930) and to the unanimous decisions of the condemnation of Freemasonry by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece in the years 1933, 1972, 1996.

But the negative attitude of the Orthodox Church against Freemasonry was expressed much earlier, during the dark years of the Turkish occupation, by Ecumenical Patriarch Paisios II, from Nikomedia, during his third Patriarchate (1744-1748).

In our article we want to remind our Orthodox brethren of this very important but sadly forgotten event.

The eminent historian of the Great Church of Christ, Manuel Gedeon, informs us that Ecumenical Patriarch Paisios II in 1744/45 was informed of the establishment of a Masonic Lodge in the Galata district of Constantinople: "Regarding this he issued a synodic letter on the establishment of this company."[1]

Speaking of the same event, one of the eminent hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne in the 20th century, Gennadios Arabatzoglou of Heliopolis and Theira (1883-1956) states that the Ecumenical Patriarch was informed of the presence of Masons in Constantinople by Neophytos of Smyrna, when some Masons moved from Smyrna to the City.[2]

The condemnation of Freemasonry by Patriarch Paisios is not based on hearsay. There was an action, documented in a responsible manner, based on one of the first Masonic texts printed in those years. This event is confirmed by the Masonic space referring to the renunciation of Freemasonry by Paisios II, based on the fact that in his hands "he had received copies of a Greek Rite with the title Freemason Apprentice."[3]

This stance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on this issue was the stance of a responsible and worthy Orthodox Hierarch, and he is added to the list of Ecumenical Patriarchs who in the wintry years of the nation were constantly vigilant to defend the Orthodox faith from the various dangers coming from everywhere.


1. Μανουήλ Γεδεών, Πατριαρχικοί Πίνακες, Εν Κων/πόλει 1885-1890, σ. 641.
2. Ηλιουπόλεως Γενναδίου, "Εξέχουσαι Εκκλησιαστικαί προσωπικότητες του Οικουμενικού Πατριαρχείου μετά την άλωσιν. Ο Οικουμενικός Πατριάρχης Παΐσιος ο Β’", στο Περ. Ορθοδοξία, 25, 7 (1950) σ. 258.
3. Ν. Λάσκαρι, Εγκυκλοπαίδεια της Ελευθέρας Τεκτονικής, εκδ. Στοάς Όμηρος, εν Αθήναις 1951, σ. 374.

Source: Orthodoxos Typos, 21 June 2013. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.