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MASONIC PAPERS

by W.Bro. WILLIAM ALMEIDA DE CARVALHO 33


THE LAUSANNE CONGRESS


 

The first try, unsuccessful, to create a union among  the Supreme Councils was  the alliance treat closed in Paris on February 23rd, 1834, in which participated the Supreme Councils of  France, Belgium, Brazil, and a United Supreme Council of the Occidental Hemisphere, created by a mulatto of San Domingo - Count Roume of Saint-Laurent, council which vanished afterwards.

 

The second try to intend an international union and organization, foreseen and aborted in 1834, was the Convention that took place in Lausanne in Switzerland, in the period of 06 to 22 of September, 1875, having as main objectives the review and reform of the Grand Constitutions of 1786, the definition and proclamation of principles, and the elaboration of an Alliance and Solidarity Treaty.

 

Eleven Supreme Councils were present in this Convention: England (and Wales ), Belgium, Cuba, Scotland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Peru, Portugal, and  the host Switzerland. Scotland and Greece, which were represented by the same Bro. left before the event was over, reason why only nine countries signed the final documents. The Supreme councils of the United States ( Southern Jurisdiction )[1], Argentina, and Colombia gave their assent, but couldn't send representatives. The Chilean one sent a message stating that it would give its assent to the resolutions of the Conclave.

 

After many working meetings in commission, and eleven plenary sessions, the Conclave was over on September 22, 1875.

 

The following items were the ones basically discussed :

a) a review of  the Grand Constitutions of 1786, taking off all references to Frederick II, having as reference the Latin version[2], considered as the fundamental document of the A.A.S.R..;

b) the conclusion of a Union, Alliance, and Confederation Treaty of the Supreme Councils;

c) the proclamation of a solemn Manifest;

d) a Rite Principle Declaration, from which the five first paragraphs were included in the Alliance Treaty;

e) the adoption of a Scottish Monitor ( Tuileur ), determining for each degree, from the 1st to the 33rd, specifications on the Lodge decoration, the titles of the officials, the signs of  order and acknowledgement, the tokens, the batteries, the acclamations, the marches, the symbolic ages, the sacred and pass words, the jewels, the trestle-boards, the utensils, etc.

f) the presentation of a roll of the Supreme Councils regularly acknowledged in the world : The United States ( Northern and Southern Jurisdictions ), Costa Rica, England, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Scotland, Colombia, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Argentina, Switzerland, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Brazil did not appear in the list, and according to Prober "the Brazilian Supreme Council, in reality, one of the oldest in the world, was not included in the roll of the 22 'acknowledged' ones, probably as a punishment for not having participated".[3] The record of proceedings of the tenth session makes reference to the acknowledgment  of  Brazil : the Convention recognizes the existence of a Brazilian Supreme Council, but as there were two authorities wanting the title, the documents,  for both parts try to reach an agreement, would be sent by the Swiss Supreme Council. On the contrary, the issue would be  taken to the court created by the article VII of the Alliance Treaty, so that it could be judged.

 

A polemic point in the Lausanne Congress was the discussion about the Grand Architect of the Universe that became the core of the misunderstanding that separated the French from the Anglo-Saxon Masonry.

 

The 3rd article of the Alliance and Confederation Treaty stated that the Supreme Councils would meet in a general Convention in 1878, in Rome or in London, and in every ten years from that date on. However, as this Lausanne Convention was not legalized as it was forecasted, only in 1900, as an initiative of the French Supreme Council, that a new, but very modest Conclave got together in Paris. Again, the conclave that was supposed to get together in Brussels in 1902, started on June 10th, 1907, therefore, 32 years the Conclave of Lausanne, with the pompous title of First International Conference of the Supreme Councils. Only after this Conclave that regular meetings started to take place, that were only interrupted by the two World Wars : the 2nd Conference in Washington - 1912, the 3rd in Lausanne - 1922, the 4th in Paris - 1929, the 5th in Brussels - 1935, the 6th in Boston - September of 1939, the 7th in Havana - 1956, the 8th in Washington - 1961, the 9th in Brussels - 1967, the 10th in Barranquilha in Colombia - 1970, the 11th in Indianapolis in the U.S. - 1975, the 12th in Paris - 1980, the 13th in Washington 1985, the 14th in Mexico, the 15th in Lausanne - 1995, and the 16th will be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2000.

 

The 7th article of the referred Treaty created a court composed of five Sovereign Grand Inspector Generals, active members of five Supreme Councils, with the competence to judge, in lower court, differences that could come up among the Confederated  Supreme Councils, saving the right of appeal to the Confederation, that would decide, in higher court, the right of appeal, by majority of votes, in the nearest Conclave to take place. The five first Councils were designated, but with time, dead letter was left over. The U.S. was always against a Confederation with the hilarious argument that a Confederation existed once in their country, and it took a bloody war to get rid of it, and a Masonic Confederation wouldn't be welcome due to the disgust the Americans have for this name!

 

In the review text of the Grand Constitutions, the article II maintained the lifelong characteristic of the Supreme Council members, in other words, the Sovereign Grand Inspector Generals would  be named 'ad vitam'.

 

The article III limited in nine years the mandate periods for the duties they had been elected for.

 

The article V limited in 33 the number of active members of each Supreme Council.

 

The article X stated that none of the Sovereign Grand Inspector General wouldn't be able to grant any masonic degrees, diplomas, or patent.

 

The article XI annulled every Consistory and Councils of   Kadosh of the time. The degrees 30, 31,and 32 could only be granted in the presence of three Sovereign Grand Inspector Generals.

 

The article XVI annulled the articles XII, XIII, and XIV of the Grand Constitutions of 1786, which meant the Supreme Council would lose its sovereign authority over the Masonry, due to the impossibility to exercise sovereign masonic powers that Frederick II had the right to, and, also, the loss of the legitimate power to name a Sovereign Grand Inspectors General to establish a Supreme Council in the degree 33 in any country, respecting the Grand Constitutions prescripts.

 

The revised version of the Grand Constitutions of  1786 elaborated in Lausanne, were, in reality, followed by every Supreme Council, including the ones that didn't accept the referred Conclave officially. It is important to mention that, in 1880, the Supreme Councils of England and of Belgium denounced the Treaty.

 

Brazil didn't know how to stand in relation to the Lausanne Congress, staying in a dubious and confusing position, sometimes accepting and sometimes refusing it, and its rites maintained according to the legend of Frederick II, without any critical explanation, causing a confusion among the members of the philosophic degrees.

 

The Lausanne Congress had to define the A.A.S.R. principles, especially, the fundamental symbol of the G.A.O.T.U. There were two tendencies : 1) the Order tradition : spiritualist and Christian, against 2) the vision of the time : liberalist and scientific. There was a proposal to establish a commitment, as we can read about so much in the Treaty, as well as  in the Declaration of Principles and in the Manifest.

 

The continuation of the Conclave began to complicate, when in the session of the ninth day, the representative of the Supreme Councils of Scotland and Greece - Br. Mackersy - proclaimed he had to go back to his country. On September 13th, he sent a note to the Convention informing that he couldn't, in the name of the powers he represented, give his approval to the Declaration of Principles, because the statements seemed little spiritualist to him, especially the definition  reserved to the G.A.O.T.U. - Supreme Force, Creator Principle - expressions that were not compatible with the faith in a personal God. Curious enough, is the fact that the Supreme Council of England sent a circular letter on May 26th, 1876, to its  subordinated bodies, signed by its two representatives for the Lausanne Conclave, with an admonition to the Scottish representative saying that if he had stayed until the end  he wouldn't have made such a declaration, that the Conclave used expressions that did not go with a personal God. On the contrary, the issue the Conclave mostly insisted on was the one to put, as an absolute and fundamental principle of the A.A.S.R., the faith in the personality of God as the Author, the Creator, the Supreme Creator, the Grand Architect of the Universe, the Supreme Being.

 

In 1877, the Grand Orient of France (G.O.F) suppressed, for its Lodges, the obligation to work "the Glory of the Grand Architect of the Universe", and then, the begin of the schism that radically divided the French and English masonries began. Eventhough the A.A.S.R always maintained its Christian affiliation, and totally rejected the innovations of the G.O.F., we witnessed the Anglo- Saxon masonry that proposed a personal God for the Christians and for the Jews, instead of an impersonal Creator Principle, moving away. Regardless the radicalism of the GOF, the Lausanne proposal was more like the Anderson of 1723, than the one of 1738. The modern tendency is prone to give reason to the proposals of Lausanne and of Alex Horne. It asserts that whether God is seen as a personal God or as a Creator Principle or Force is an individual choice, be of a person or of a group of people.[4] Those who consider atheists the ones who bring God down to a impersonal Creator Principle - and here is where Pike stands - they shouldn't in order to be coherent, since we accepted the fact the Buddhists can be initiated in the masonry. And, as we know, the Buddhists were never prohibited to become masons.

 

The G.A.O.T.U. discussion had a temporary conclusion in 1877, in the meeting in Edinburg of the Supreme Councils of Scotland, Greece, the U.S. ( Southern Jurisdiction ), Ireland, and Central America. Due to the French pondering, the latter Councils demanded that the interpretation given by the Supreme Council of England to the definition of the G.A.O.T.U. would have to be acknowledged by the group of  Supreme Confederated Councils in Lausanne. After an exchange of notes, the two groups - the Edinburg one and the remaining ones - and under the conciliating pressure imposed by the Supreme Council of Switzerland, everyone gave in to the demands of the Edinburg group, in order to fulfill the unity of the A.A.S.R

To summarize, Lausanne maintains the Christian tradition of the A.A.S.R. in its various degrees , but in terms of principles goes towards a conciliating position between the deism and theism.

 

The main positive consequence of the Conclave of Lausanne was the one that opened the periodical meetings of a great part of the Supreme Councils, being called from then on Conferences. The only Supreme Councils that did not join these Conferences were those of England, Scotland, and Ireland. In the Brussels Conference in 1907, twenty Supreme Councils participated, including the two jurisdictions of the U.S., and a series of agreements  were accomplished due, more to a pragmatic consensus, than to the strength of a legal text. It was established the freedom each Supreme Council would have to adopt the revised version of the Constitutions of 1786, as proposed in Lausanne. French versions of Lausanne were published, mainly in Belgium, however, there is  a total ignorance of the Conclave by the English speaking countries, with the exception of those comments made by Albert Pike about the discussion of the G.A.O.T.U. In general, the U.S. masonry has no knowledge, whatsoever, of the Lausanne Conclave.

 

The main points of the Conclave were the review of the Constitutions of 1786, generally accepted until today, and the proclamation of a Creator Principle called G.A.O.T.U. The Creator Principle is found, up to today, in the main documents of the Grant Orient of Brazil and of the Supreme Council.

 

Another important point was that the Conclave permitted that all jurisdictions of the Scottish Rite to have identical Constitutions, despite the difference in rituals. The consensus wasn't established among the first three degrees : red or blue degrees? And here the division was between the Latins and the Anglo-Saxons : the Latins wearing a red overall of the Mason Master, and the Anglo-Saxons continuing with their blue ones. Brazil has followed the Anglo-Saxon tendency, especially after the rupture of Bhering in 1927, when we founded the Grand State Lodges.

 

The Scottish Monitor ( Tuileur ), edited in 1876 by the Swiss Supreme Council didn't have any compulsory characteristics. A unique document of references, precise and complete, made many, and,  most of the times, deep changes in relation to the tradition of the Scottish degrees. Needless to say, the Monitor puts on the masonic apron of the Mason Master in the rite's color, that is , red.

 

Another aspect of great importance was that the bodies present in the Conclave followed the deistic definition of the G.A.O.T.U., more like a Creator Principle than a Supreme Being. They say that the moto - Ordo ab chao - was reinforced in Lausanne to simply express the relief of the representatives for their capacity to put some order in the chaos that was a constant before the A.A.S.R.

 

The Latin-American masons as well as the French had a long persecution history from the Catholic Church and, therefore were thirsty for a slight "deistic" requirement that would put them ready before the anti-clerical attitudes common in those times. From a South-American point of view, the Lausanne Conclave represented a referential turning point.

 

Since 1875, the A.A.S.R., accepting sincerely more liberal principles and performing the reforms that the status of our civilization was demanding, stopped being what it had been up to that point, that is, a mystic association, mostly aristocratic and authoritarian, that, labeling itself as masonic, put itself, many times, against the real principles supported by the real masonry. Lausanne represented, even if it hasn't gone deep in Brazil yet, a true philosophic spirit, that had come to substitute the existent shapeless mass of mystic-religious doctrines and jesuitic-templaric legends, of all kinds, that for a long time diverted the masonic intelligences away from their true path of the Real Art. There isn't in the A.A.S.R. a  Grand Commander, absolute and eternal anymore, dictating absolute rules to be accomplished by a bunch of trained lambs. It is important now to make this liberational blow, started in Lausanne, to keep on oxygenating the structures of the Supreme Councils of the whole world. In this change of centuries, Internet can be a powerful instrument to give a more participative sense to the A.A.S.R.

 

If the society in the XVIII century was analogical, superstitious, and religious, and our society more analytical, rationalistic, and agnostic in the eyes of Michel Brodsky[5] P.M. of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, to our eyes Lausanne is more toward the modern society than to the traditional one, because it starts dismystifying the legend that Frederick II ruled the Grand Constitutions  of the A.A.S.R., it proposes a modern vision of the G.A.O.T.U., and searches for certain unity in our constant diversity.

 



[1]The Southern Jurisdiction of the United States voted favorably toward participating in the Conclave, it even assigned Bro. Ebezener S. Shaw from California as a representative, but he fell ill, and couldn't show up. He died on February 2nd, 1876. Albert Pike was in favor of the participation too, and even wrote a few articles but, right after he repented and decided not to participate in the Confederation ( this word had a terrible meaning in the U.S. in those times ), and that is how the incipient participation of the Southern Jurisdiction ended.

[2]Pyron is referred to the French version in 1813, with its first publication in 1832. The Latin version, considerably bigger than the French, appears in 1834, from the hands of Roume of Saint-Laurent, and it had three documents : 1) New Secret Institutions, 2) the Constitution itself and, 3) an Appendix in three articles describing the Order standard, the distinctive badges of the Grand Sovereign General Inspectors and the Grand Stamp of the Order.

[3]PROBER, Kurt, History of the Supreme Council in the Degree 33 of Brazil, vol. I/1832 to 1927, Livraria Editora Kosmos, Rio de Janeiro, 1981, pg. 162.

[4]HORNE, Alex, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, vol. 80, 1967, pg. 301.

[5]BRODSKY, M. L., Why Was the Craft De-Christianized? in Ars Quatuor Coranatorum, vol. 99, Annals of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge no.2076, London, 1986, pg. 152.