World Conference Of Regular Masonic Grand Lodges

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Development of Freemasonry and their Conferences in a Historical Review

M. W. Bro. Rüdiger Templin
Grand Master of the United Grand Lodges of Germany

The latest social and individual development of the population for example in East Europe and Africa resulted in a chance for Freemasonry to offer a mental and social home even in difficult times. Here people were used to think and live within collective norms. Individual thinking and such a development was a real good that was neither requested nor supported, really it was generally not wanted.

In times after the political changes, citizens were asking about the goals of the craft. Especially they have been interested in the position of the modern freemasonry in the today’s society which bears a potential for social conflicts, and it was expected that their members did not close their eyes or look away from these problems.

In the common world a way to a wider acceptance of Masonic ideas seems achievable in a better way if freemasons, bearing a more modern and timely opinion, took position to actual, cultural and social problems reflecting regional aspects in their public engagements as fields of ethical and social Masonic concern. This should be pointed out by contributions to the actual social developments, as has already characterized the pre-thinker of the speculative Freemasonry nearly 300 years ago!

The being and concern of freemasonry, namely the development and the seeking perfection of the individual was not disclosed to the public and had formerly to be and has still to be made clear to interesting people. The brother concerned with the humanistic and ethic ideas of values is then in a position to fill in the social forming process with this attitude.

Freemasonry is a humanistic oriented philosophy with ethic ideals which have to be brought into certain perfection in order to be able to represent these ideals progressively in the public.

“It is not freemasonry direct being active in the public but it is the capable brother who is in a position to attend social processes”, as Bro.Tom Jackson pronounced.

Although freemasonry does not represent any politics in today’s world. Within and outside their lodges freemasonry can and must contribute to the social discussion, to the discourse of values, to questions of the time being and thus to improve the civil society.

However, the grade of reception of Masonic facilities including their customs and values is still far away from the public attention which can be gained by Masonic grand events for example in Italy, France, in the Netherlands or even by active support and journalism through media and authorities as has been in the 275th anniversary events 2012 in Hamburg.

However, what we do need in general is a “today’s Freemasonry”.

Looking this way, it is certainly eligible to point out the traditional and historical importance of the earlier social influence of freemasons, and from the point of historical development, to make clear the progressive character of freemasons already at that early time.

Increasing acceptance of Masonic topics with ethical and humanistic issue can be seen as the result of positive and active public relations.

Helpful in supporting those processes might be scientific conferences including Masonic research groups and lodges like Quatuor Coronati, philosophical conferences and Institutions for interested people in different countries, as just done for Europe in Budapest.

The desired and offered support is welcome as an effective promotion to establish infrastructural Masonic processes.

For this development several university towns can be taken into consideration where scientific conferences and discourses with the inhabitants have been helpful to explain Masonic goals and philosophy, as done in England, Germany, Italy.

In the East European states the motion for liberty and freedom of the eighties and nineties has lead to fundamental social and political changes all over Europe.

In 2010 Joachim Berger was describing the development of Masonic network between 1850 and 1935 in Europe. During this period masonry were profiling itself in more or less three main streams:
• the Scandinavian-Prussian Freemasonry with Christian believe,
• the English, Dutch and German Freemasonry with a humanistic - tolerant, deistic dominated craft,
• the Romanic Craft with more cosmopolitics in freemasonry (France, Italy, Belgium, Swiss).
This described processes of freemasonry became the root of different activities, founding platforms for international meetings and structures with the goal of informal conferences in Europe and later on in Latin-America:
• The Bureau International De Relations Masonniques (BIRM 1903 - 1921) in Geneva,
• The Association Masonnique Internationale (AMI 1921 -1950) in Geneva

Summarizing nowadays, we can observe, that in a few East European countries freemasonry is present in the society, freemasonry is respected as a social-cultural factor in many regions as recently seen in Romania, and the acceptance of freemasonry is growing.

The changes described are the mandatory follow-ups of dynamic processes of the social changes as explained in this part of Europe as well as in lot of countries in Latin-America (Brazil, Cuba) or Africa.

The Sinaia Protocol Conferences, meetings held up in Romania since 2000 to support East European Grand Lodges, was thereafter developed to the European Masonic Forum (EMF) during the meeting in Rome in 2006 by a support of UGLsG (Alfred Koska, Klaus Horneffer).

At the IX. World Conference of the Grand Lodges in Washington D.C. in May 2008 was pointed out that the follow-up meetings of SPC and finally the EMF in Prague of 2007 made clear that a platform for an informal exchange of thoughts has come into existence for our continent. This platform is appropriate to discuss problems of inner European jurisdictions among brethren in a structural, cooperative, and solution oriented way.

Given by talks on that basis and conducted with a proposition on which representatives of younger and older European jurisdictions meet, differences of opinion can be solved more easily, and hence separations can be avoided.

Consensus in variety and in these questions which closely concern regularity and acceptance were reached in Prague in a way that the principles of regularity were interpreted and valued as objective criteria, whereas questions for recognition were interpreted and valued as individual, i.e. subjective decisions of each sovereign Grand Lodge. A dependency or even a paternalism given by historical and present Grand Lodges were refused in order to save the own just gained sovereignty.

Consequently the initiative goal of an informal meeting with stress on problems of the East European Grand Lodges has mutated into a meeting with a total European subjects. Therefore it can be recognized that the switch points are set for a future cooperation of regular Masonic organizations on our continent.

Since the meeting in Prague in 2007 this platform has emerged to a new informal basis of all European Grand Lodges with a special weighting for regular continental Grand Lodges, the European Grandmaster Meeting (Paris 2009, Brussels 2011, Geneva 2013).

During the last five years it became necessary having a platform for discussion on urgent local changes as seen in France. Those meetings of interested Grand Lodges resulted in a helpful instrument for managing conflict situations in a special region of Europe.

That makes necessary to have a permanent European meeting as well as a Grand Masters World Conference for exchanging experiences and questions of the craft in the civil society of today, to have a better understanding for the different development and for a modern world wide freemasonry and probably prevent desastrous development as shown in fig.1.

In Germany it is primarily our concern to decrease reservations coming from history and clerical movements rather than the promotion of a mass movement.

In the East European states the motion for liberty and freedom of the eighties and nineties has lead to fundamental social and political changes all over Europe. This struggle for independence and freedom, for self-determination and for liberalism has enabled the renaissance of Masonic and civil goals and has lead to reactivation and to new foundation of Masonic structures.

We still know that cultures with different ethnic, historic and religious ideas, grown for the first time on a voluntary and amicable basis socially and culturally, want to live together, which is only possible by respecting one another as citizen and partner in a tolerant way.

In nearly all lodges the experience of the worldwide brotherhood is sought by permanent fraternal contacts with lodges in close neighbourhood or in wider distance in foreign countries and to other Masonic systems.

That’s the way in which amicable fraternal relations come into existence between lodges in different countries to experience the brotherly love and the chain of brotherhood.

Once I read a notice in the St.Nikolai Church in Cottbus, East Germany:

your Jesus Christ is Jewish,
your pizza is Italian,
your coffee is Brazilian,
your numbers are Arabic,
your Car is a Japanese,
your democracy is Greece,
your holydays are in Turkey,
your letters are Latin,
and your neighbour only a foreigner ?

This makes clear the basis of tolerance and democracy. That’s why besides this tolerance the freedom of thoughts and moral courage grant a peaceful and stabile cohabitation in a democracy and for a joint cooperation of people with a different understanding, with different cultural and ethnic development.

Following the tradition of the European enlightenment freemasons admit themselves to ethic values inside their community of initiation and symbolic work in proven ways of practical exercises of value oriented behaviour.

Such meetings promote fraternal partnership in the worldwide and do not remain without any influence in our relation to the society of today.

As is written from the Basic Principals of 1723 into our minds, the inscription of the crest of the Duke of Montagu reads:

“We shall be recognized in what we are doing.”