Friday, September 05, 2008
Grand Orient of France Rejects Women - For Now
The Grand Orient of France held its annual communication in Lyon this year, and major change was in the air. A 59 year old cardiologist from Marsailles, Lambicchi Pierre, was elected Grand Master, succeeding Jean-Michel Quillardet (above), who served in the position for the last three years.
But the biggest issue at the meeting was not agreed upon—namely, the question of whether or not to allow Grand Orient lodges to initiate women. The nearly 1,100 delegates voted on the subject seven times,, before at last opting to bump the issue to next year's Congress. The result is that the Grand Orient remains a men-only fraternity for at least another year, and the eight GO lodges that initiated women in 2008 were suspended for their actions (although they are allowed to continue operating while they appeal the decision). There is some concern within the organization that suspending the lodges could land the Grand Orient in court on charges of discrimination.
The Grand Orient of France is the largest Masonic body in France, but is not recognized by mainstream and Prince Hall grand lodges in the US, nor by the United Grand Lodge of England, as regular. The Grande Loge Nationale Francaise is the grand lodge overwhelmingly recognized by Anglo Saxon-derived Freemasonry.
The French press covered the meeting here, and here.
A couple of updates from other articles.
• The Grand Orient of France claims 50,000 members in approximately 1,200 lodges.
• Five lodges were suspended that initiated female Masons in the last year, not eight (stories seem to differ, but seem to settle on five). Their future will be voted on next September.
• The new Grand Master Pierre Lambicchi (above) has two daughters in their thirties, one of whom has "joined the Masonic movement". He has expressed no opinion on the matter publicly.
• The Grand Orient of France regularly takes public stands on political issues. The Grand Master is known politically to be a Socialist, and wants the fraternity to take a public position against a French criminal record database called EDVIGE, which compiles personal information; and he seeks the fraternity to have a dialogue on the question of euthanasia.