French priest sacked for being a Freemason

GRENOBLE, France - A Catholic priest at the posh French ski station of Megeve has been stripped of his functions at the request of the Vatican for being a member of a Masonic lodge, his parish said on Friday, May 24.

Father Pascal Vesin of the Sainte-Anne d'Arly-Montjoie parish was ordered by the bishop of Annecy, Yves Boivineau, to halt his functions due to his "active membership" of the Grand Orient de France, a large Masonic organisation.

A statement from the parish said the move had been "made at Rome's request."

It said the bishop had asked Vesin earlier to forsake Freemasonry, which he had refused to do.

In March, the Holy See's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asked for priest's departure. Three members of the diocese of Annecy then met him but Vesin said he would not quit his membership of the Lodge.

Freemasonry of all types -- regular or irregular, legitimate or "diverted" -- has been condemned by many popes.

Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that arose from the loose grouping of medieval masons, or stone workers, in the building industry. Early organizational forms included lodges and craft guilds.

Critics have likened it to a secret society as certain aspects are kept private. -