temple

 

Stones have no hope of being anything but stones. But when they assemble they become a temple. Saint Exupéry

The men build too many walls and not enough bridges. Isaac Newton

 

THE CALL OF BRATISLAVA to unite all Freemasons

  1. The Importance of the Confederation project
    1. Original purpose and significance of modern Freemasonry
    2. Freemasonry was born united
      1. Causes of the split
      2. Nature of the split
      3. Stumbling blocks
    3. Reunite while respecting differences
      1. Objective: Bridging the gap
      2. Condition for success: Respect
      3. Means: Sign and distribute The Call
    4. 21st Century paradox
  2. Description of the Confederation project
  3. Building unity is essential, great and beautiful
  4. Concerns expressed during discussions prior to publication of this project: See the Forum.
  5. Origin of The Call of Bratislava to reunite all Freemasons
    1. History: three phases
    2. How did you come up with the name The Call of Bratislava
    3. Biography of the author
      1. Secular
      2. Masonic
      3. Reflections:
        1. What is the purpose of a Masonic lodge?
        2. The word, art and symbolic thought
        3. The initiation of women and Co-Masonry
        4. Initiatory character of reflections on societal issues
  6. Acknowledgements
  7. Documentation
    1. Freemasonry: Universal, you say? by Julian Rees (UGLE). Read and take part
    2. Anderson's Constitutions and its amendments
    3. Confederation project

 

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outil
Mains


The Call of Bratislava to unite all Freemasons

Modern-day Freemasonry perpetuates ancient initiatory traditions. It was also created to promote the values of freedom of thought and universal brotherhood, while respecting individual differences among men.

Anderson's Constitution of 1723, a document revered by all Masonic movements, explains:

A Mason is obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist or an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient times Masons were charged in every country to be of the religion of that country or nation, whatever it was, yet it is now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves: that is, to be Good men and True, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denomination or Persuasion they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the Centre of Union and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among persons that must have remained at a perpetual distance.

We, the Masons, are striving to achieve this ideal.

In the name of James Anderson, we are asking our elected leaders to overcome their differences and join together to build a bridge over the gap that has divided Masonic obediences for nearly a century.

At this time, we are also voting to create a World Confederation of Masonic Obediences where all will be free, independent fraternal organisations, enjoying equal rights. We, the Freemasons, want to make this a reality.

loge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A. The Importance of the Confederation Project

1. Original purpose and significance of modern Freemasonry

tableauModern Freemasonry came into being in the early 18th Century during The Age of Enlightenment; arising from the decision of four London lodges to join together. Many of those wise lodge members belonged to the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge, founded in 1660 as an Academy of Sciences and Philosophy.

As strong believers in both faith and science, the members of the lodge were not interested in developing an entirely new religion, or creating conflicts with those to which they belonged. Instead, they sought to establish a safe place where they could seek knowledge in total freedom, a place where neither the Church, nor the king, nor anyone else could interfere.

All initiation procedures passed on to new members of the society a knowledge of previous generations, including their metaphysical beliefs, as immutable truths both to integrate them and help them to survive. The authors of the Constitution believed that at the moment when civilisation became planetary, knowledge could not and should not be considered absolute. A critical examination of all knowledge accumulated, in the absence of any dogma, was a necessary condition for the liberation of human creativity and the unification of humanity in a common effort.. The world has become so complex that only the combination of all forces gave them – and offers us – hope to meet the challenges of time.

With this in mind, all Masonic lodges and obediences should strive for unity while respecting diversity. "A free Mason in a free lodge!" We must close the gap that has divided Freemasonry into two main streams for more than a century: "reserved" (its supporters call it ''mainstream'') and "open" (what they like to refer to as "a-dogmatic")2.

Has St. John, particularly appreciated by Freemasons, not written: In my Father's house are many mansions?

2. Freemasonry was born united

a) Causes of the split

Following publication of the Constitution, the Masonic movement rapidly spread throughout Britain, to France, on to America and the rest of the world. Its oldest forms found a new vigour. However, in expanding, it inevitably adapted according to the local contexts. Its fundamentals have remained the same and all Freemasons recognise the Constitution as the basis of their movement. Yet after several decades this evolution has created a split between two main streams of the movement.

b) Nature of the split

Freemasonry today is divided into two major streams referred to as "open" and "reserved." While both have the same initiatory goal, consider symbolic thought as highly important, use very similar rites and are organised in the same manner, they communicate very little.

To read the opinion of Julian Rees, an eminent member of the United Grand Lodge of England, on this split: Click here

c) Stumbling blocks

Relations between "open" and ''reserved'' obediences deteriorated in the face of two major stumbling blocks:

  • The initiation of women, or rather receiving Sisters in the men's lodges, because even today the United Grand Lodge of England recognises feminine initiation,
  • Belief in God or any other representation expressing the religious principle of a single creator (the idea of the oneness of the world's origin may be embraced or challenged by scientists today). To the founders of modern Freemasonry, the Great Architect of the Universe was a symbol (in Masonry, "everything is symbol") but later it became the designation of faith, its synonym. The symbols are open; the signs define, specify, restrict, close, but also separate...

These two issues, all-important as they may be, have little to do with the Confederation project as set forth on this site.

The goal of this project is neither to convince the obediences to initiate women or to continue not to do so, to welcome women into their Temples or not, nor to settle the question of whether Freemasons must be believers or cannot be.

Compared with the Confederation project, these issues, like other conflicts of lesser importance, may remain open. They should not stand in the way of its creation.

Everyone believes that obedience "recognized" by UGLE are homogeneous whereas "open" current is diversified. In reality, the United Grand Loge of England (UGLE) which rejects any racism is very different from some North American obediences that do not recognize Prince Hall Grand Lodge, composed of black Americans. Be an atheist does not prohibit to belong to the "regular" lodges in Central Europe, while it seems impossible in United States. Etc. If the "regular" obediences are able to "recognise" each other despite these differences, why could they not do similarly to the "open" obediences?

 

3. Reunite while respecting differences

ecusson--This proposed inter-obedience collaboration aims to achieve:

  • Realising the Masonic motto "bring together what is scattered" in the name of "universal brotherhood",
  • Strengthening the credibility of Freemasonry, in the eyes of its members as well as public opinion, through greater adherence to these principles,
  • Confirming the Freemason's initiatory nature, as neither a church, political party, professional association, economic interest group, charitable organisation nor any other secular entity,3
  • Enriching all Confederation members through its findings relating to the initiatory nature of Freemasonry, from obediences created from 1723 to nowadays, including lodges and obediences in Europe, the United States and elsewhere,
  • Further development of ''open'' and ''reserved'' obediences so that even during an era of ''globalisation'' with the overlapping of civilisations across the planet, thanks to its diversity, Freemasonry remains fully capable of contributing to "the betterment of man and society".
a) Objective: Bridging the gap

The goal of the Confederation is certainly not to standardise its membership, much less to create a new "super-obedience".

Tipping the scales of relationships between the obediences is not necessary to achieve this goal.

What is needed is persuading the two streams' leaders to communicate with each other as Freemasons and allow researchers to study all obediences by participating in their rites work, regardless of their membership affiliation. Doing so will promote mutual understanding and may inspire further comprehension of Masonic practices and theoretical knowledge.

Having accepted these two principles, each obedience will continue to operate according to its own traditions and convictions.

Each lodge will make its own decisions with regards to visitors by following the rule, discussed below.

b) Condition for success: Respect

The Confederation project serves as a call to bridge the gap that divides Masonic movements, and nothing more.

The Anderson's Constitutions stemmed from its authors' need for freedom in scientific, philosophical and esoteric research, and represents a tremendous appeal for tolerance. Written in 1723 following several decades of religious wars, it deserves great admiration:

A Mason is obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist or an irreligious Libertine. (Note: In the 18th Century, "Libertine'' meant "Ignorant.") But though in ancient times Masons were charged in every country to be of the religion of that country or nation, whatever it was, yet it is now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves: that is, to be Good men and True, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denomination or Persuasion they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the Centre of Union and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among persons that must have remained at a perpetual distance.

Let us be worthy of our predecessors! Out of respect for our ancestors and future generations of Freemasons, bring the Chain of Union ritual to life:

This chain that links us in time and in space,
Comes to us from the past and reaches into the future.
Through it, we are connected to the lineage of our ancestors,
for it unites Freemasons of all rites and in all countries.
We want to spread the truths that we have learned outside the Temple.

c) Means: Sign The Call of Bratislava to unite all Freemasons:
  • Post a link to this site in your obedience and others, both in your own country and elsewhere,
  • Invite your Brothers and Sisters to spread the word,
  • Draw the attention of your obedience's Presidency to the project,
  • Enrich the site's Forum with your own opinions,
  • Make a plank about the Confederation in your lodge,
  • Contribute to the lodge's online forums, which are growing in number,
  • Write an article for your local Masonic publication.

Prove that one individual can make a difference.

Thank you for tour interest and support.

Sending you my warmest fraternal greetings. Peter Bu

 

4. 21st Century paradox

Wars have been waged for centuries in the name of faith. Even today, terrorists try to justify their attacks in this way. But since no church excommunicates the others, or closes its doors to believers of other faiths, despite all of these bloody conflicts, the Freemasons could more readily follow this example since they have never carried out fratricidal war.

The disagreements between obediences that stemmed from political and religious differences in the late 18th Century became deeper in the 19th Century until being frozen in 1929 in their present-day form. These conflicts contradict the ideals of the founders of modern Freemasonry: "Bring together what is scattered" and the establishment a universal brotherhood of "honest people."

Both streams have defined their laws and comply with them, as they should, but haven't they forgotten that any law must be read, commented upon and understood in the concrete terms under which it should be applied? Otherwise, we would have no need for courts, judges, prosecutors and lawyers; only prison guards and executioners would suffice! Churches claim to represent divine law, but nevertheless take into consideration the circumstances in which their believers have broken the law.

Any sincere Freemason ought to feel ashamed about the gap between ''mainstream'' and the ''others,'' which dates back a long time to another era. Instead, the world must come together and Freemasons should set the example.

To read a statement on this split by Julian Rees, an eminent member of the United Grand Lodge of England, Click here.

 

B) Confederation project

Muse_de_Cluny_-_la_cour_4__gargouille_-_PB

 

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.

Saint Augustin

Fear the reader of only one book!

Seneca

To read the continuation, click here

 

..........................................................................................

http://modern-freemasonry.com was created to promote the free exchange of ideas on Freemasonry.  

This free-flow of ideas was prevented by 50,000 contributions that had nothing to do with Freemasonry, wanting only to use this site for advertising.

I've cleared all this pollution to enable relevant conversation to resume.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts in the FORUM on topics that interest the Freemasons.

 

C. Building unity is essential, great and beautiful

 

Symboles-maonniques---photo-PB-3

Faced with the challenges confronting humanity,
in this era of "globalisation" stemming from:

  • The population explosion,
  • The waste of raw materials, energy and other natural resources,
  • Pollution of the environment,
  • The loss of biodiversity,
  • Highly uneven distribution of wealth among men and nations,
  • Out of control financial speculation,
  • The many wills of hegemony on the international level,
  • Weapons of mass destruction,
  • All other means to terrorise adversaries,
  • The threat of world war,
    humanity needs to unite its forces in fraternity.

We, the Freemasons, seek to set the example.

To offer the world our ideal of universal brotherhood

that binds us in time and space, comes from the past and reaches towards the future.
through this ideal, we are connected to the lineage of our ancestors,
Through whom Freemasons of all rites and all countries must unite.

We ask our elected leaders to overcome their differences and build a bridge
over the gap that divides the Masonic obediences.

Uniting our forces to act more effectively,
individually, each one where he lives, in his area of business,
and collectively, as the Freemasons.

....

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the 'Universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Albert Einstein

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

Walt Whitman

 

[Go back to summary]

 

D. Concerns expressed during discussions prior to publication of this project: See the Forum below.

E. Origin of The Call of Bratislava to reunite all Freemasons

Bratislava_-_temple_de_Humanizmus-_P_Bu1. History: three phases

In 2007 and 2008, the Grand Lodges and the Czech and Slovak Grand Orients carried on lengthy discussions about the nature of their organisations. They created a study group that compared their rites and were very surprised to find they had no fundamental differences. In reviewing their respective practices and those of some of its members, it seemed likely that their obediences mutually recognised each other as authentic Masonic organisations. These young obediences, newly created after the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), following half a century of inactivity imposed by the enemies of Freemasonry, were too weak and could not achieve their goals. Most of them agreed to merge into a Masonic organisation under the auspices of the United Grand Lodge of England.

I participated in these debates and, little by little, made the first version of my Confederation proposal. Initially it only covered Central Europe. It was widely debated by my Slovak and Czech Brothers. I rewrote it, made revisions, translated it into French, then enriched it with the contributions of some 30 French, Swiss and English Brothers and Sisters. This sequence of thoughts led to the second draft, once again discussed, and then a third and a fourth, which is now open to wider debate.

2. How did you come up with the name The Call of Bratislava?

Here is an excerpt from a novel, which was quite unexpected, that explains: 

I would have liked to be alone. Alas, Peter entered the Festive Board and sat down between Gilbert and me. He is a Parisian from the Grand Orient and a native of Slovakia. He is one of those Masons living in utopia; the kind Theo calls "our particle accelerators." The more foolish their dreams, the more their passion gives them wings and energy. Peter wants us to sign a solemn appeal to universalism that is embodied in a European Masonic organisation that would include all obediences in Europe, even the coyotes. Gilbert refused. On principle. Since the initiative for this project comes from a member of the Grand Orient of France, it is bound to fail, he said.
As for me, I'll sign, even if a petition is not the way lodges operate. I suggested it be named "The Call of Bratislava" since it comes from elsewhere – certainly not from the Grand Orient of France – because everything we’ve proposed in the last thirty years has failed. I agree with Gilbert on this point. He immediately made fun of me, making his feelings known straight away. That I become the strong one in a little lodge in Provence, yes, congratulations, he agreed, but if I step into the big business of inter-obedience affairs, certainly not.
Everyone has his place. They are not within my reach. He did not say why. It was annoying and even humiliating for Peter and me. No action should come from us. We should go and negotiate in London, where they told us that we don’t exist.
Peter wasn’t bothered either. He wants – and he will get – 20,000 signatures, he reassured us. Including those of our Sisters, of course. With mine anyway. And if we happen to go the way of the English, we will go.
Then Louis Jamet entered the banquet room and Gilbert seemed surprised. From his point of view, I’m not on the same level as Louis Jamet, the university professor. So what were we going to do together? Peter left immediately, trying to be discreet. Gilbert settled in.

Excerpt of a "Masonic crime novel" The Luberon Case by Jean Verdun, former Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of France, published by Luc Pire, Belgium, or see http://www.jeanverdun.com/luberon.htm, Episode 12, page 209.

This passage came as a shock to me. The idea for the petition came from Jean Verdun, and in speaking with him, I certainly never claimed to have obtained 20,000 signatures, any more than Jean promised to sign it. But I'm glad he decided to mention the project in his book and am pleased with the good impression that I made on him during our first, and thus far only, meeting.

If the great Freemason Jean Verdun endorses my proposal for a World Confederation of Masonic Obediences,
If this idea has received an equally favourable opinion of some other well-known sources
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE)
The "mainstream" Swiss obedience ALPINA,
The Grand Lodge of France (GLF)
The Grand Orient of France (GODF)
The Grand Women’s Lodge of France (GWLF)
The Czech Grand Lodge (CGL)
And dozens of other Brothers and Sisters,
Then a glimmer of hope shines on this project.

[Go back to summary]

3. Biography of the author :

a) Secular resume

Peter avec ses parents 300 dpi

Born 26/05/1940 in Bratislava, Slovakia, married, two children.
Studied at Theatre University, History and Theory Department, Bratislava, Czechoslovakia (1957-62).
PhD thesis on Stanislavsky’s theories of art of actor , The Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava (1963-68) then 3rd Cycle Studies on Politics and Culture in the USSR at The Sorbonne Institute of Slavic Studies, (1968-72).
Literary Adviser and Tour Coordinator for many theatre companies in France and abroad (1972-81, 1986-2008), Projects and Research for the Pompidou Centre, Paris (1979-80), the French Ministry of Culture (1980-81), Slovak Republic Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1999-03) etc., Theatre Programme Manager at the Rennes Maison of Culture, (1982-84), Cultural Exchange Project with Slovakia as part of Marseille’s application to be European Cultural Capital of 2013 (2007-08). Marseille won the competition and shares this title with the Slovak city Kosice.
Artistic Director of numerous theatre festivals, and mime in particular, as well as street theatre performances in France and abroad (1976-2006), Gaukler in Cologne (1976), Mimes and Clowns at the “In” Festival in Avignon (1977), Mimes and Clowns, De Blauwe Zaal, Utrecht (1977), Paris - Barcelona - Modena (1982), Outside/Inside at Tours (1983-1986), Mimos in Perigueux (1987-2002), Paris – Forum Festival (1989), Ideklic at Moirans in Montagne (1990-1994), Mimica No Acarte, Lisbon (1990), Bratislava - Brno - Prague (1991), Teatro Europeo, Torino (2003-2006).
Theatre Critic in Czechoslovakia and France (1960-82), Editor of the journal Gestures dedicated to physical theatre (1992-2002).
Writer of the Play All This Nonsense About Women ("Toutes ces âneries sur les femmes", www.aneries-sur-les-femmes.fr), in collaboration with Benoit Vitse, (2010-11).

b) Masonic resume

Initiated 17/05/1991 at the lodge La Bonne Foi in the Orient of Saint Germain en Laye, GODF, Companion 20/03/1992, Master 30/04/1993. In autumn 1995, admitted to the 4th Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in the Europe lodge in the Orient of Prague, then in the 14th and 18th Degree atThe Enneade, the Orient of Saint Germain en Laye, same rite.

On 8/05/1993 he created the lodge Humanizmus in Bratislava. He was Worshipful Master for three years then Couvreur. In 1999 appointed by his lodge Worshipful Master of Honor. 21/03/2009 Humanizmus became the Lodge No. 1 of the Grand Lodge of Slovakia.

Published writings in Masonic journals of the Grand Orient of France (GODF) Slobodomurár (Freemason, Grand Lodge of Slovakia) and elsewhere. Confederation Project, 2007-2011.

Lighting the fire of Freemasonry in Slovakia:

In 1992, Jacques Orefice, GODF Deputy Grand Master for External Affairs, invited me to help our Brothers in Prague in their efforts to restart Freemasonry in Czechoslovakia, which was on the point of being divided into two states. I quickly found myself alone with the task of rebuilding the movement in Slovakia.

It was not easy to rekindle the flame of Freemasonry after half a century of slander and prohibition, first by a World War II fascist regime, then another Stalin-like totalitarian regime and with the Catholic Church continually throwing their 2 cents in to the mix. Any remaining trace of Freemasonry had been erased. However, Freemasonry had existed on this land for nearly two centuries.

To rebuild, I took the following steps :

  • Gradually lowered the level of mistrust among authorities and the public by organising press conferences, giving interviews to radio, TV and newspapers,
  • Lead public debates,
  • Built personal relationships and carried on correspondence with some 200 laymen who expressed interest,
  • Translated the rites
  • Designed and having a stage designer friend build the very beautiful tools necessary to equip a Temple,
  • Secured a Masonic library for the lodge in French, English, German, Italian, Russian and Hungarian (the texts in Slovak and Czech could not be found),
  • Searched for publishers willing to produce books on Masonry, the first being the great classic Masonic Symbolism by Jules Boucher, published in 1998 in Czech, and Freemasons, Builders of Light by Daniel Beresniak, printed in 2002 in Slovak,
  • Organised and conducted, under the auspices of the GODF and in the company of French, Belgian, Austrian and Czech delegations, the lighting of the fires at the Respectable Lodge Humanizmus (Humanism) on 8/05/1993, followed by the initiation of the first four Slovak Brothers the next day,
  • Found sites for our regular meetings,
  • Directed the lodge for three years,
  • Continue to help the lodge operate,
  • Built a website and hosted it until spring 2008,
  • Provided for exchanges between Humanizmus and lodges in France, Austria and Hungary.

In 2009, the Humanizmus lodge left the GODF to contribute to the creation of the Grand Lodge of Slovakia, under the auspices of the UGLE. (A detailed history was published in The Chain of Union, GODF, Paris, No. 18-19.)

My workload in Slovakia largely explains why I have held only one elective office in my mother lodge, La Bonne Foi in Saint Germain en Laye, the position of Grand Expert from 1999 to 2001. In 2008, I was elected to the National Commission of Reflection on Sustainable Development.

 

c) Reflections:
       
 
 
 
 

F. Acknowledgements

I would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank all of the Brothers and Sisters who helped me to draft the Confederation from 2007 to 2011 with all of their hard work and devotion, comments and suggestions.

I also wish to thank in advance all those who will read this document, sign The Call of Bratislava to reunite all of the Freemasons, to spread the word to other Brothers and Sisters and contribute to debate on this project and the direction of modern Freemasonry.

A Brother who wishes to remain anonymous funded in part the translation of documents (15%). On behalf of all Masons, I thank him immensely for the purity of his intentions and his generosity. .

If you would like to help our efforts, please make a donation.
Paypal guarantees safe, fast and secure payments.

Mains

 

G. Documentation

1. Freemasonry: Universal, you say? by Julian Rees (UGLE)

2.Anderson Constitution and its amendments

 

book

Anderson and Desaguliers Constitution, 1723, Chapter 1:

In 1723: A Mason is obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist or an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient times Masons were charged in every country to be of the religion of that country or nation, whatever it was, yet it is now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves: that is, to be Good men and True, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denomination or Persuasion they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the Centre of Union and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among persons that must have remained at a perpetual distance.

In 1738, the Rev. Anderson published a second version of his Constitution with a slightly revised viewpoint regarding Masons and religion in Chapter 1. Freemasons did not identify themselves with Christianity, but Noachism (a reference to Noah), considered a "natural religion" incorporating all humanity and spanning all individual obediences. The idea of a "natural religion" was a common theme throughout the 18th Century’s Age of Enlightenment.

A Mason is obliged by his tenure to observe the moral law as a true Noachide; and if he rightly understands the Craft, he will never be a stupid Atheist or an irreligious Libertine, nor act against conscience. In ancient Times, the Christian Masons were charged to comply with the Christian usages of each country where they travelled or worked; being found in all nations, even of divers religions. They are generally charged to adhere to that religion in which all men agree (leaving each Brother to his own particular opinions); that is, to be good men and true, men of honour and honesty, by whatever names, religions, or persuasions they may be distinguished; for they all agree in the three great articles of Noah, enough to preserve the cement of the lodge. Thus Masonry is the Centre of Union, and the happy means of conciliating persons that otherwise must have remained at a perpetual distance.

(N.B.) Isn’t this ironic? The joining together with Christianity did not prevent Pope Clement XII from launching his first anti-Masonic attack, In eminenti apostolatus specula,the same year.

In 1742, the so-called "modern" Grand Lodge of England published a new version that was very similar to the original Constitution of 1723.

A Mason is obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist or an irreligious Libertine. In ancient times Masons were charged in every country to be of the religion of that country or nation, whatever it was. But today, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves, it is now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that religion in which all men agree. It consists of being Good men and True, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denomination or Persuasion they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the Centre of Union and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among persons that must have remained at a perpetual distance.

In 1753, several British lodges that had in 1717 accused the obedience of ''negligence'' would form the root of the alienation suffered by the Freemasons, building a rival so-called "ancient" Grand Lodge.

Three years later, by making himself the spokesman for the "old" and "modern" conflict, the Irish Freemason Laurence Dermott published a pamphlet entitled Ahiman Rezon. He accused the "moderns" of removing the prayers from their rites stated in the Old Duties, and taking the Christian faith out of Masonry, among other claims. It is a fact that "speculative" Masonry made an appearance in Edinburgh around 1637, having developed a Mason Word initiation ritual and symbolic catechisms that no longer involved prayers. In 1723, Anderson had aligned the religious positions of these speculative Masons with the "natural religion" he regarded as universal and multi-confessional. But the tone of this "speculative" Masonry, inaugurated by Mason Word and a proponent of natural religion, was not theological: it was philosophical more than anything due to its members’ adhesion to a symbolic type of hermeneutics.

A Mason is obliged by his Tenure to believe firmly in the true Worship of the eternal God, as well as in all those sacred Records which the Dignitaries and Fathers of the Church have compiled and published for the Use of all good Men: So that no one who rightly understands the Art, can possibly tread in the irreligious Paths of the unhappy Libertine, or be induced to follow the arrogant Professors of Atheism or Deism; neither is he to be stained with the gross Errors of blind Superstition, but may have the Liberty of embracing what Faith he shall think proper, provided at all Times he pays a due Reverence to his Creator, and by the World deals with Honour and Honesty ever making that golden Precept the Standard-Rule of his Actions, which engages, to do unto all Man as he would they should do unto him: For the Craft, instead of entering into idle and unnecessary Disputes concerning the Different Opinions and Persuasions of Men, admits into the Fraternity all that are good and true; whereby it hath brought about the Means of Reconciliation amongst Persons, who, without that Assistance, would have remained at perpetual Variance.

As a result of these tensions, in 1815 the United Grand Lodge of England published a new, and to date, the latest version of the Constitution that became the "indisputable basis" of the "Masonic order":

 

A Mason is obliged, by his tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the art he will never be a stupid Atheist or an irreligious Libertine. He, of all men, should best understand that God seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh at the outward appearance, but God looketh to the heart. A Mason is, therefore, particularly bound never to act against the dictates of his conscience. Let a man's religion or mode of worship be what it may, he is not excluded from the order provided he believe in the Great Architect of heaven and earth, and practise the sacred duties of morality, the strong bond and sweet brotherly love unites Masons and virtuous men of all faiths. They learn to consider human error with compassion and try to demonstrate, through the purity of their conduct, the high superiority of faith that they profess. Thus Masonry is the centre of union between good and true men, and a happy means to reconcile friendship between those who should otherwise remain far apart from each other.

Most Freemasons only know the first version from 1723 and still respect it today.

3. The Confederation Project

 

[Go back to summary]

 


Notes

1Decoding information takes effort, and this effort allows us to better understand the meaning of what we decipher. The alchemists proceeded in the same way, for the same reasons. Umberto Ecco confirmed this in opening his brilliant Foucault’s Pendulum, "the least read bestseller in the world" by citing Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim’s work De Occulta Philosophia: "Only for you, children of doctrine and learning, have we written this work. Examine this book, ponder the meaning we have dispersed in various places and gathered again; what we have concealed in one place we have disclosed in another, that it may be understood by your wisdom".

2''Open'' obediences are accessible to all who respect Masonic ideals but want complete freedom of thought; ''closed'' or ''reserved'' share the same fundamentals but operate under almost unchanging rules and only include those who do not question.
Should we clarify that this distinction does not imply any value judgments? To be viable, any society needs ''conservatives'' as well as ''progressives.'' Respect for tradition is as important as the ability to innovate. Considering Freemasonry and the countries where it operates, the two attitudes are justified and should be able to coexist.

3These organisations exist elsewhere and anyone can join without going through Freemasonry. However, the initiatory nature of Freemasonry does not exclude the lodges from charity or societal debates because they contribute to the initiation process. (This view is developed further.)

4However, bringing the two streams of the Masonic movement together does not imply that the Confederation must accept any group that bears the name ''Freemasonry'' without having anything in common with the European initiatory tradition: See the terms of membership outlined further on.