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Freemasonry and Brotherhood

First International Masonology Simposium

23 October 2009, Ankara


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StarRed Special Project 2012 Turkey
The Centenary Celebrations 1909-2009

MW Bro Remzi Sanver
On the 23rd of October 2009 an international Masonology Symposium was assembled in Ankara under the title of “Freemasonry and Brotherhood”. The symposium was sponsored by the Grand Lodge of Turkey within the framework of The Centenary Celebrations. The Grand Lodge of Turkey did not intervene in the academic aspects of the symposium asides from determining the title, in other words, the subjects discussed were shaped independently from the Grand Lodge. In fact, the term “Masonology” is reminiscent of such an independence. It is obvious that Freemasonry is a research topic of academic historiography and furthermore the academic inspection of Freemasonry is not limited with its own historical dimensions. In the second half of the 20th Century disciplines like philosophy, sociology, law, psychology and political science have included Freemasonry in their areas of research. Although this happened in distinct aspects, it has become a field of attraction in many universities where research centers have been established to inspect this discipline all over the world. Consequently, the term “Masonology” has been proposed with a meaning of “researching Masonic history by scientific methods”, today, it has turned into “researching Masonry, with all its aspects, by scientific methods”. The purpose here is not to prove that Freemasonry is a science but the concept of Freemasonry is being inspected by many Mason or non-Mason scholars using scientific methods.
MW Bro M. Remzi Sanver, Grand Master



by W Bro John Belton

© No part of this paper may be reproduced without written permission from the The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Turkey. HTML code is property of PS Review of Freemasonry. Project Co-Editor: W Bro Tony Pope. All rights reserved ©

The paper will review some incidents of international masonic diplomacy, past and present, and reflect in the light of the current state of play whether today's widely adopted policies are in fact serving the craft well or not. Once upon a time such diplomacy and battles were fought in private by letters sealed with red wax but today the Internet and the pdf format provides a previously undreamed of transparency to events and correspondence. Maybe alternative strategies could offer a more equitable approach which ordinary brethren could feel were worthy of the moral standards of freemasonry; these will be explored.
So when the Master asks the Junior Warden why he leaves the East and go to the West there may be a lesson in the Junior Wardens response "To seek for that which was lost, which, by your instruction and our own industry we hope to find". Maybe the 21st century, a largely post colonialist world and the example of the European Union and European Human Rights Convention are examples we as masons cannot ignore.



Over the years as a result of travelling and visiting and through my membership as the Founding Senior Warden of Internet Lodge I have got to know many brothers in many countries. In Greece, Lebanon, Georgia in the USA, Washington DC and Italy among many. Thus I have followed their anxieties, their miseries as the leviathans of the masonic world battle out their game of international politics, diplomacy and recognition. Eventually I asked myself the question; to whose benefit was all this being done? And I was forced to the conclusion that it was certainly not for the benefit of individual brothers.


Writing on this subject is not one of the popular topics of masonic researchers or masons, in some ways it is a subject on which opinions are not expressed, almost a taboo subject. Thus I suspect that far too many of us know much less that we should[1], and probably simply take the official views expressed as both correct and the only way forward.


When I see the effect upon individual masons I am prompted to ask if whether current masonic practices regarding recognition and associated matters are actually still fit for purpose in the 21st century? This brings a second question to mind; whether there might not be alternative strategies which might fit the values and standards of our societies in the 21st century rather better than those of the 18th, 19th or 20th centuries?


In England[2] one of the questions asked when opening a lodge in the third degree


WM to JW        What inducement have you to leave the East and go to the West?

JW replies         To seek for that which was lost, which, by your instruction and our own industry, we hope to find


Hence the title of this paper. But before we move on allow me one more quote. An Entered Apprentice is questioned about that degree before being Passed to the Second Degree. He is asked where he was made a mason and then “When?”. He responds “When the sun was at its meridian” and the Master then asks “In this country Freemasons Lodges are usually held in the evening; how do you account for that which at first view appears a paradox? The Candidate responds:


“The earth constantly revolving on its axis in its orbit about the sun and Freemasonry being universally spread over its surface, it necessarily follows that the sun must always be at its meridian with respect to freemasonry.”


For me that very complex sentence has always spelt out a vision of an essentially universal masonic fraternity, something that we should strive to make inclusive rather than arbitrarily divisive and excluding in nature.


Now I offer my disclaimer. All the views expressed are mine, or of those who have been published elsewhere, they are not indicative of any views or any opinions of any Grand Lodge anywhere. If examples are quoted it is purely to demonstrate certain points. The author has endeavoured to remain objective at all times, if I fail to do so then my apologies.



The Netherlands 1731 – 1770


In 1731 a special lodge was held in the Hague to initiate Francis Duke of Lorraine, later Co-Emperor of Austria and Emperor of Germany. The Grand Master of England, Lord Lovell, deputed Dr Desaguliers as Master and others including the British Ambassador at the Hague to deliver the first two degrees. The lodges were later closed down and did not reopen until 1744 and by 1755 there were about 8 lodges all English except for one Scottish one and at least 5 chartered by the (Netherlands) Union Mother Lodge. In 1756 an invitation went out to all the lodges to constitute a Grand Lodge and later that year 14 of them met and elected a Grand Master.


That however was not the end of the story for in 1762 the new Grand Lodge issued its own Constitutions and then from 1762 till 1769 no less that 8 English Lodges were consecrated, the last one on February 3rd 1769 after which all activity by England in creating new lodges ceased.


On 25th April 1770 the Provincial Grand Master for foreign Lodges[3] received a letter from the Grand Master of the 'National Grand Lodge of the United Provinces of Holland'. It requested they be acknowledged as such by the Grand Lodge of England and seeking agreement that the Grand Lodge of England did not in future constitute any new Lodge within the Holland jurisdiction. The request was acceded to. Some of the English Lodges joined the new Grand Lodge but by 1813  five were still on the roll of the Grand Lodge of England.


So we have the principle of territoriality appearing at a country level together with the agreement that after a Grand Lodge is established other Grand Lodges will not erect more lodges and also that existing lodges of other jurisdictions may continue to practice should they choose to do so.[4]


Gould goes on to say “..from this early date England initiated the policy in these matters (of allowing lodges to continue under English governance after a new Grand Lodge is formed) – ever since maintained by her – which is now the cause of querulous complaint on the part of the Grand Lodge of Quebec. This is a matter we shall return to later.



Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction & the GL of Massachusetts 1783


There seems to be a theme that the Doctrine of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction was enunciated by the GL of Massachusetts in 1783 – however the facts of this seem unclear at best, especially as it was not formed as a US Grand Lodge until 5th March 1792. The American War of Independence / Revolutionary War lasted from 1775 to 1783 and also that in 1784 Africa Lodge  #459 was chartered. Where references are available there would seem to be a desire to demonstrate that the ETJ doctrine was established before the founding of Africa Lodge. This effectively allowed the American Grand Lodges to sideline recognition of Prince Hall Affiliation lodges for 200 years!


What it did determine was that in one 'territory' only one Grand Lodge would be considered to be regular and recognised. This matter will recur in this paper



The Battle between the Antients and the Moderns 1751 – 1813 and the International Compact 1814


The Grand Lodge of England formed in 1717 found itself faced with serious competition in 1751 with the formation of the Most Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons, now commonly known as the Antients. They were mainly masons of Irish Lodges whom the Grand Lodge did not want admitted to its lodges. They has the charismatic Lawrence Dermott as Grand Secretary and later the Duke of Atholl as Grand Master. After a rocky start the Antients made rapid progress both in England and the colonies of the British Empire and importantly were recognised by the Grand Lodges of Scotland and of Ireland, who then did not recognise the Moderns (1717) Grand Lodge. Eventually practical and political motivations brought about a union in 1813 and a realisation codified through the International Compact of 1814 that matters had got badly out of hand in the past and that better order was needed  for the foreseeable future to avoid recurrent conflict between the Home Grand Lodges.


There have been other Grand Lodges before and after that of the Antients. The Grand Lodge of York (circa 1712 to 1740 and a revival called The Grand Lodge of All England (1761-1792), The Grand Lodge South of the River Trent (1779-1789), The Grand Lodge of Wigan (1823-1866 and one lodge till 1913). None of these ever became large enough to pose a threat to the control of the United Grand Lodge of England. And to this day there are a number of other Grand Lodges, two female, two co-masonic and a couple of male only ones and a few other lodges , for example one each from the Grand Orient de France and the Grande Loge de France. When the Grande Loge de France, never recognised by UGLE, recently erected a lodge in London it found itself still accused of invading UGLE's territory – a somewhat strange thing to happen.



Open Territory – a decision of genius (circa 1819)


In the 19th century much of our atlases were coloured red to represent the British Empire, and in many of the colonies there were lodges with charters from England, Ireland and Scotland, a mixture which approximated to the origin of those who went out to colonise various parts of the globe.


The definition of Open Territory is simple. In territories where there is NO Grand Lodge then that territory shall be considered to be Open, that is any Grand Lodge is free to erect lodges under its own warrants. Thus was peace and good masonic order maintained in the territories of the British Empire from then till today, a period of 150 years – or maybe not quite as we shall see later.


The origins ought to be simple to find and one might expect that such an important mutual decision would be subject of a treaty of exchange of letters. Not so. I have traced a couple of potential flashpoints.

In 1818 there was an incident between Lodge #35 IC and the English Provincial Grand Lodge.


2 July, 1818 – Read a Complaint from Lodge No. 35 Jamaica desiring the G.L. opinion on the allegiance during or if any, to the Provincial G.L. held under the G.L. of England in that Island.  Ordered That the Secretary inform No. 35 that no jurisdiction of any Lodge can be exercised over their Lodge save this Grand Lodge, that it be recommended that the Members shall take their Blue Degrees in the Lodge they are entered in.[5]

And at the later date of 1826 the (English Constitution) Provincial Grand Master for Upper Canada tried to get the Duke of Leinster's Lodge #283 to become an English Lodge by accepting an English Warrant. There was a suggestion made from England to the Duke of Leinster that “Irish overseas lodges would be better protected if placed under English control”.[6]


Grand Lodges of Quebec and Scotland quarrel 1870 -1880 and on.


Canada remained the British foothold in North America after the War of Independence and was composed of provinces, equivalent in style to the states of the USA. The first Grand Lodge was the Grand Lodge of Canada  which also included the territory of the state of Quebec, which was, and still is staunchly francophone. When the Dominion of Canada was formed in 1867 a group of Grand Lodge of Canada lodge in Quebec decided to create the Grand Lodge of Quebec which was formed in 1869 and by 1880 all remaining GL of Canada lodges were absorbed.


The Grand Master of Quebec speaking in 1870 said:


“The union with this Grand Lodge of the three remaining lodges, the St Paul's Lodge No.374 RE, the Elgin No.348 RS and the St Lawrence No.640 would be hailed with great rejoicing”[7]


However by 1871 he felt it necessary to reinforce his position:


“A convention of representatives of three private lodges, duly authorised, and regularly assembled, without let or hindrance, from a Grand Lodge in and for the said territory; but it has become a very generally accepted rule that a majority of the private lodges situated therein should take part in the said convention, or acquiesce in its actions”.[8]


In April 1874 there were letters to the Grand Masters of UGLE and Scotland but by 1874 although still in a hopeful vein. Matters had not progressed by 1876 because there is reference to a committee which had not met “on account of the non-cooperation of said private lodges. Eventually the Grand Lodge of Scotland withdrew recognition, declare the Province of Quebec to be “unoccupied masonic territory” and to then in 1878 to proceed to erect two new lodges in Montreal, Lodge Argyle and Lodge King Solomon.[9] None of the Scottish Lodges remain today while an English one does.


In 1876 UGLE offered a qualified recognition, qualified by its remaining lodge was to continue to operate, and this was initially rejected by Quebec. Scotland offered an unqualified recognition in February 1877 which was accepted. Hindsight of over a century being an exact science it is now possible to see the interplay of ego, ignorance, distance and lack of any mediation. UGLE did not put a foot wrong, Quebec made the mistake of demanding that Lodge Elgin change allegiance to them, and Scotland while she could have withdrawn recognition was in error in declaring Quebec to be 'open territory'. While it might have been technically possible to declare a free for all this was only a technicality. The reality is that at such a distance and against a Grand Lodge universally recognised on the continent Scotland did not have a strong hand. Condemnation was universal and typical, and on the strong side was that from Missouri “The action of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in this matter is little remover from childish folly'.[10]


The original Lodge Elgin, and the other two, surrendered their Scottish warrants in 1881 and joined the Grand Lodge of Quebec. Lodge Elgin became #7 (a then vacant number) and was allowed to continue to wear its Scottish regalia and use its Scottish ritual. It has since gone dark. Lodge Argyle took the number #65 and no longer works while King Solomon became #69 and is still working.



The Greek Question


Greece today possesses two recognisable Grand Lodges, the Grand Lodge of Greece and the National Grand Lodge of Greece together with one old English lodge formed in 1861, Star of the East #880 EC which meets at Zante on the isle of Zakinthos. English connections with Greece have been long and worthy. Most curiously in 1823 the Duke of Sussex became Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Greece and continued as such for many years[11]. Just as in many countries the relationship between the Grand Lodge and Scottish Rite is often close and thus often fraught, it was similar in Greece then as now.


The cause of this schism seems shrouded by a lack of clarity and a lack of any substantive evidence or agreement on the cause. There are numerous opinions and scenarios which go from the simple to the somewhat more fanciful. Thus I have found it best to stick with known events and dates.


1976    Start of the York Rite in Greece

1981    New Grand Master elected

1985    Circular 07/85 issued (not seen)

1986    Seven lodges leave the Grand Lodge of Greece and form the National Grand Lodge of Greece

1993    UGLE decided to remove its  recognition from the Grand Lodge of Greece and instead   recognise the National Grand Lodge of Greece as did Ireland and Scotland among others.


The appointment of a new Grand Master in 1981 led to pressure on the Supreme Grand Chapter and in April 1985 a circular was issued which included penalties for brethren who continued to participate in Chapter meetings. By May 1986 the situation had deteriorated so badly that 7 lodges left the Grand Lodge of Greece and founded the National Grand Lodge of Greece in June 1986, and by 1988 the number of lodges had grown to 28. In 1993 UGLE decided to remove its  recognition from the Grand Lodge of Greece and instead recognise the National Grand Lodge of Greece as did Ireland and Scotland among others.


Now we arrive at a general philosophical point. How is it that brothers who are recognised today as part of the greater family of freemasonry are suddenly consigned to purgatory the next because of some rule which is applied whenever it is felt convenient and at the whim of some foreign organisation. It seems that the rightness of any Grand Lodge only 'being able' to recognise one Grand Lodge in a territory unless the Grand Lodges in those territories agree may be conceptually flawed. Most often the 'winner takes all' leads to actions which might be described at best as being unbecoming to freemasonry and at worst as deceitful and corrupt. The temptation to ensure that ones own side wins the game must truly be overwhelming!


And a practical one. It has of course been part of the essence of being human that we fall out now and again. While in all these cases individual enmities may have a role to play and certainly ego is rarely absent there should always be cause to reflect upon the difficulties in determining the reality of rightness or wrongness in situations in lands which are distant, where the language fluency is absent, social mores poorly understood and thus whatever information comes forward is by definition always partisan – for one side or the other.


In 1999 UGLE decided to reverse the 1993 decision and it is at this point that it is interesting to pick up the story in detail. The matter was aired at length in the UGLE Quarterly Communication of September 1999 In the preamble to the proposition to withdraw recognition from the National Grand Lodge of Greece the minutes give the following position statements:


  1. (recap from June 1996)..That the grounds for our withdrawing recognition from the Grand Lodge of Greece may no longer apply but whilst that is good news, it does not alter the convention  which requires us to ensure that a Grand Lodge we recognise agrees to our recognising a second Grand Lodge working in the same area.... In the fullness of time I hope that we will be in a position to recognise both the Grand Lodge and the National Grand Lodge of Greece, but that is not the current position.”[12]


            The Past Grand Secretary Commander Higham in proposing the rejection of the resolution said:

“If (the resolution) is passed it will suggest that our Grand Lodge is capricious and inflexible. I find it difficult to believe that our friends in the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland will be able to understand why the resolution was passed when the reason for it, the National Grand Lodge of Greece's lack of agreement, has disappeared” The motion was then carried.[13]


Of course between recognition in 1993 and de-recognition in 1999 the Cyprus lodges of the Grand Lodge of Greece, though now unrecognised and irregular had not gone away but added to the mix where a new District Grand Lodge with four new lodges belonging to the now recognised National Grand Lodge of Greece.


Of course after 1999 that position was reversed. Higham was right , the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland saw no reason to change – and so it stays to this day.


By the March 2000 meeting the minutes note :


“..and more remarkably, the two Grand Lodges are strongly requesting this Grand Lodge to decide, sooner rather than later, which of the two Greek Grand lodges to recognise, as the two continue to be irreconcilable. The Board (of General Purposes) is now giving urgent consideration to this request.


At the following meeting, in June 2000 a motion was proposed “That the Grand Lodge affirms its established practice of not recognising a second Grand Lodge in a territory without the consent and agreement of both the Grand Lodges concerned”. The resolution was put and Cdr Higham rose “I am against this resolution, because I believe it to be unnecessary, dangerous and possibly mischievous” and he went on to say:


“The convention is dangerous in that a Grand Lodge seeking recognition should not be allowed to impose conditions as part of its application. It should certainly not be allowed to impose conditions which affect our relations with other Grand Lodges we already recognise. The convention should be simple and not twisted.” and “..if we approve this resolution we shall be creating the first Masonic charter for dogs, who will have rights to fight over the manger while they are still outside the stable door.”[14] [The resolution was carried and Cdr. Higham failed to carry the day].


The then current Grand Secretary went on to say:


“I have looked at it simply as a matter of what is best for the people that we as Grand Lodge, are here to represent; namely our members.

You heard the District Grand Master of our District of Cyprus, that is where our main interest lies.

The next group is in Zante. There is no doubt that that Lodge wishes us to re-recognise the Grand Lodge of Greece.”[15]


In hindsight we may choose to reflect at length upon Higham's words. Clearly although recognition was restored to the Grand Lodge of Greece all was certainly not well in the home camp, or at least in Cyprus it certainly was not for in October 2006 four lodges of the Grand Lodge of Greece formed the Grand Lodge of Cyprus. This new Grand Lodge was consecrated by the Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Greece, Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and the Grand Lodge of Austria and Bro Tom Jackson Secretary General of the World Conference of Grand Lodges present. Two of the GL of Greece lodges joined the District of UGLE in May 2006.


Since then there are further developments, a Grand Lodge of Greece Lodge has been formed in to meet on the island of Cyprus, a Grand Lodge of Turkey Lodge, Lefkosa 1001 has met in Kyrenia, and Bellapais Lodge 9847 UGLE has had a warrant issued in March 2009.


It is perhaps interesting to reflect that presumably in spite of the best of intentions the application of traditional strategies has at every stage simply exacerbated and complicated the situation. After almost two decades the situation seems more complicated. The open territory of Cyprus was shared harmoniously between UGLE and the Grand Lodge of Greece until 1993 – a simple situation of two Grand Lodges being present. Today the situation is that there are now lodges of FIVE Grand Lodges on the Island and a considerable amount of disharmony and possibly more to come. We are fifteen years plus into this situation. Clearly the matter is ongoing so I shall not comment, readers may draw their own conclusions..


What of the strategies employed? Are they serving Grand Lodges? – doubtful, ; is it serving the brothers? – there is no evidence for that. Is it serving egos of individuals? Impossible to answer but it is a question that does seem to raise itself repeatedly.


Clearly what is or is not open territory seems variable according to the desire of the parties involved. One can be regular but not recognised and be accused of violating another's territory even though there is no Grand Lodge. Accusations of incursions are even made where the invading Grand Lodge has never been recognised. Sadly it seems if the parties want to abandon common sense than the pot can always be stirred!


Within 30 minutes of flight one can be in Lebanon where there has been a struggle between the Grand Lodges of New York and District of Columbia recently. Again the question has been one of what is open territory with a claim that having a District Grand Lodge there grants it US style Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction. Such a claim is of course contrary to the principle that gave peace to the (United Kingdom) Home Grand Lodges for 150 years.


There remains the question of whether it is possible to recognise more than one Grand Lodge in a territory. In Higham versus the UGLE Quarterly Communication that answer was that the status quo should prevail. But are there alternatives



 Grand Lodge of South Australia


At the October 2001 conference of the Grand Lodge of South Australia a couple of interesting propositions were put and carried


7. Visitors from Prince Hall lodges.
This Conference recommends that the Association permit any Prince Hall Mason to visit lodges of the Association, provided he produces proof of good standing in a lodge warranted by a Grand Lodge of Prince Hall Affiliation, and passes the tests usually imposed on an unknown visitor to prove that he is a Mason regardless of whether his Grand Lodge has been recognized by the Association.

This was carried.

8. Discretion when visiting lodges of other jurisdictions. 
This Conference recommends that if a member of the Association visits a Lodge of a jurisdiction which is recognized by the Association, and there encounters a visitor (lawfully present in the Lodge) who belongs to a jurisdiction not recognized by the Association, the said member should be permitted, at his discretion, to remain in the Lodge he is visiting and fraternally associate with that visitor from an unrecognised jurisdiction on the occasion of that visit to the Lodge.

This was carried.[16]

These two points while not necessarily new do illustrate a more pragmatic approach to masonic relations, and one based on a more masonic ethos. Both points also serve the purpose of making the process of visitation  from and to lodges in other jurisdictions simpler and more logical. Item 7 was carried and Past GM Casson comments that “We believed it was ethically correct and the masonic thing to do.”[17]


Their principle of recognition is perhaps well summarised  as follows:


Quoting James Anderson “...whereby Masonry becomes the Centre of Union and the means of conciliating friendship among persons that might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.”[18]


At a more detailed organisational level the Fraternal Relations Officer would make a recommendation to the Grand Master and the principles to be applied would be:


“We would establish that the Grand lodge seeking recognitions met the basic requirements of a similar structure to ours, belief in a Supreme Being, male only membership, and not in conflict with any 'regular' Grand Lodge”.[19]


Thus it was that they were able to recognise both the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy and the Grand Orient of Italy – simply they decided they were both regular within their definition and recognised each of them. In doing this they saw no need to seek the agreement of the other.


This action places the ownership of the decision purely in the hands of the Grand Lodge making the decision. There is no looser (in that traditionally the one loosing recognition goes to limbo) and thus attempts to influence the process by the competing Grand Lodges no longer have any relevance.


The Internet.


It was true that matters of international diplomacy were of little interest to brothers except those actively involved in the battle and of course those brethren who suddenly became unrecognised (and at the same time probably irregular as well). That probably remains equally true today as a century ago but there is one major difference. The advent of the Internet, scanners and the PDF Portable Document Format. In any battle of wills there is usually one side or one person who desires that a situation is fully explained – normally within days of any major happening the documents are in either public or private circulation on the Internet.


What was once private is today very much more public. Thus battles and disagreements are now open to much greater scrutiny than ever before. This should act as a check on ego and ignorance, but whether that will be the case – only time will tell.



Europe and European Society


In November 2007 there was a Conference of Grand Masters and Grand Secretaries held in London. This, in my opinion, could have been the opportunity to acknowledge that far from improving, the panorama of recognitions across 'regular Grand Lodges'  had actually deteriorated.


Politicians have realised that the first half of the twentieth century with two World Wars was a disaster for Europe, and that to repeat that again was not acceptable. Thus today we have the European Union and the  European Convention on Human Rights, and the long list of forty seven countries that are signatories to the convention is also a reflection of the number of countries that feel their values of a good society to be.. It is now part of the legal framework of many countries and some shibboleths have been challenged. I believe the freemasonry needs to acknowledge that Europe has made the decision that its future is “jaw, jaw not war, war”.


There have been moves by some state organisations to require freemasons to register their membership as part of employment, while not requiring anyone to declare their membership of say Rotary or Lions or the local golf club. In a case in Italy  in 2005 this was found to be contrary to Article 14 (Prohibition of Discrimination) and Article 11 (Freedom of Association) of the FCHR.[20]


The Council of Europe is the sponsoring body and the convention became open for signature in November 1950. Forty seven countries are members of it.

Article 11 reads as follows:


Article 11 – Freedom of assembly and association

Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.


But of course such legislation can have unexpected consequences for on 2nd October 2001 the case of Balsamo versus Grande Loge Nationale Francaise (GLNF) was heard in a court in Nice France, and the finding of the court appealed on 18th April 2002. Bro. Balsamo had been told by the GLNF that he could not visit a body which the GLNF did not consider to be recognised. In doing so the Grand Lodge relied upon “article 4, last but one paragraph” of its constitutions which states that “any brother will refrain from participating to meetings, tyled meetings or other activities not open to the general public of a masonic association not recognised by the Grande Loge Nationale Francaise”.


The Nice Higher District Court, and at appeal upheld in the Court of Appeals of Aix en Provence, found this requirement of “Article 4, last but one paragraph”, “in its current wording, constitutes a violation of the freedom of association and an unjustified discrimination”.[21] Such cases all contribute to the body of findings and are precedent across all signatory countries. The implications of this court case are yet to become clear but it is obvious that they are at variance  with traditional masonic practices of recognition and visitation.


There was a time when freemasonry was at the cutting edge of civil rights and liberties in Europe. We must wait and see how Grand Lodges deal with the rights of the citizens of the signatory countries to the ECHR.




This whole subject of recognitions has a long history and as one reads and comes to understand it, is not something which freemasonry is going to feel very proud of. It is possible that we have allowed a man made set of rules to become so ossified that they are now damaging the Craft, that we have fallen into the trap that Albert Mackay fell into when drawing up his list of Landmarks – Number 25 read “These Landmarks may never be changed”.


It seems that three points are worthy of serious consideration, and if adopted could well bring a greater sense of logic and fairness, fraternal goodwill and commonsense to events.


  1. The “when in Rome” visitation rule. Simply that when visiting a lodge in another jurisdiction who is regular to them is OK for the visitor – even if his Grand Lodge does not recognise some of the brethren present. This is anyway a ruling not much observed.

  2. Open Territory. If applied with commonsense this rule might enable a greater degree of harmony to be achieved between Grand Lodges

  3. Willingness of a Grand Lodge granting recognition to recognise more than one Grand Lodge in a territory without those in the territory being consulted. This brings masonic foreign policy back to the Grand Lodge making the decision instead of leaving it in the hands of potential opponents with all the issues of deception and deceit.


It seems clear to me that we do now live in a post imperialist world, and in a Europe that seeks another alternative to war to deal with such issues. In as much as I have always argued that attitudes within lodges should reflect those in the outside society of the day so I would suggest that recognition and the accompanying masonic diplomacy should also reflect the values aims and style of outside society.. We are exhorted to be good members of society, thus epitomising the masonic ideals and values – so let us expect that Grand Lodges too should should apply the same principles


I leave it to you to decide how you feel on such matters but if this leaves you better informed then there is a benefit for the international brotherhood


Let me finish with a story upon which we may all reflect, a very Turkish tale from a character of great wisdom and a fabled folk hero of the common man and of common sense – Nasreddin Hodja.


Why did the Hodja ride on the donkey backwards?

One day when Hodja was going to the mosque with his mullahs, he decided to ride on his donkey backwards. The mullahs asked, “Why are you riding on the donkey backwards? You must be very uncomfortable.”

He answered “If I sat facing forward, you would be behind me. If you went in front of me, I would be behind you. Either way I would not be facing you. So, this is the most logical way!”


[1]     One good source on this topic is Philip John Buta's The God Conspiracy at The Pietre Stones Review of Freemasonry viewed October 2009 at

[2]     The quotes are taken from Emulation Ritual published by Lewis Masonic

[3]     The post of Provincial Grand Master for foreign lodges was an internal one of the Grand Lodge of England for the purpose of managing the various lodges scattered overseas and equivalent to that of Grand Chancellor

[4]     Robert Freke Gould in his History of Freemasonry Volume III published by Thomas Jack 1897 edition, London pp 201 – 209 goes into this in much more detail for all matters related to recognition are almost never simple and straightforward.

[5]     Extract from the Minutes of the Grand Lodge of Ireland of the meeting of 2nd July 1818

[6]     FL Pick & GN Knight, Pocket History of Freemasonry revised by F Smythe 8th Edition 1992 p169

[7]     Extracts from the Proceedings of Grand Lodges against the invasion of the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Quebec by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. GL of Quebec 31 Jan 1880 p35

[8]     Ibid p36 

[9]     The Centre for Research into Freemasonry at Sheffield University maintains an online search facility of George Draffen's Scottish Masonic Records which allows the database to be searched (and also Lanes Masonic Records), This is an invaluable research tool and can be found at

[10]    Extracts from the Proceedings of Grand Lodges against the invasion of the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Quebec by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. GL of Quebec 31 Jan 1880 p20

[11]    Andreas Rizopoulos, Duke of Sussex: Grand Master in Two Countries, Heredom Volume 16, 2008 pp 85-100

[12]    Quarterly Communications of United Grand Lodge (of England) September 8, 1999 p462

[13]    Ibid p466

[14]    Quarterly Communications of United Grand Lodge (of England) 14 June 2000 pp566-567

[15]    Ibid p577

[16]    Grand Lodge of South Australia. Minutes of the October 2001 Conference viewed at September 2009

[17]    R Casson PastGM GLSA. pers comm. It is interesting to note that formal recognition between the two Grand Lodges has only taken place with the PHA Grand Lodges in Connecticut, Ohio, Massachusetts and Indiana.

[18]    A W Martin Understanding Freemasonry, 2003. In Chapter 22 'Fraternal Relations' pp115-118 Bro Martin is a well respected member of the fraternity in South Australia and a past Fraternal Relations Officer of the Grand Lodge.

[19]    R Casson PastGM GLSA pers comm.

[20]    Chamber judgement Grande Oriente D'Italia di Palazzo Guistiniani v Italy (No.2) (Application No. 267400/02). An outline of this case can be read in MQ Issue 22 p35 of July 2007 and was viewed in October 2009

[21]    The full finding of the French courts in this case are attached as Appendix 1. In summary and in addition essence of the decision of the court was that any Grand Lodge may determine who it admits to membership of its lodges, may determine who it admits to its meeting but may not tell its members what they do outside its lodges.

Short Biography of the Speaker


Was initiated in 1980 into an English Lodge and in 1998 became the founding Senior Warden of Internet Lodge 9659 UGLE [] and also belongs to lodges in Scotland and in Alberta, Canada. His research interests have majored on the post 1945 decline of Freemasonry across the English speaking world and include papers in AQC and Heredom. Other topics have included Revolutionary Fraternalism linking London to the Italian Risorgimento and the American Civil War. He has spoken widely around the world and at both International Conferences on the History of Freemasonry. Over the past decade he has been a regular contributor to masonic magazines on topics of current interest or controversy often relating to the role of freemasonry in society and the adaption of freemasonry to changes within society. His inaugural address as the Master of the Internet Lodge 9659 (UGLE), “The Missing Master Mason”, on the subject of falling numbers within Freemasonry has been reprinted full in Harashim; in a special edition of the newsletter of the Southern California Lodge of Research; the Illinois Lodge of Research and in abstract in Pennsylvania, Western Australia and circulated electronically around the world. Among his publications, one can cite Belief not Required (1999, The Square); Our Decline has almost stopped? (2000, The Square); Who shall we Blame? (2000, Philalethes); Freemasons - An Endangered Species?, (Ars Quatuor Coronatum, 2001, with Kent Henderson); Those Missing Master Masons (2006, Grand Lodge of Scotland Yearbook). He is currently starting work on a collaborative paper on the origins of freemasonry. By training John Belton was a scientist and later a marketing professional for a multinational pharmaceutical company, travelling extensively in the Middle East and Turkey.

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