"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Minnesota Rescinds West Virginia Resolution

The new Grand Master of Minnesota, Thomas G. McCarthy, has issued a very detailed edict concerning the resolution passed at last week's Annual Communication about West Virginia. For a series of well documented reasons, he has declared the resolution null and void. The edict is followed by a 13 page memorandum. I urge anyone interested in this ongoing saga to read the edict and memorandum in their entirety.

The Executive Summary reads in part:

1. The report of the Grand Master of West Virginia, as printed in the official proceedings of the annual communication of that sister grand lodge, contains information which, if true, could justify the Masonic discipline of Frank J. Haas and others.

2. The Grand Lodge of Minnesota has no means by which to evaluate the credibility of the competing parties to this dispute in the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, and thus has no means to determine the truth.

3. It was alleged, as a basis for the resolution that Frank J. Haas and others were not afforded due process or the right to appeal from the edict of the Grand Master. The proceedings indicate that such appeals, as well as a petition for reinstatement by Frank J. Haas, were duly considered at the 2008 Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia.

4. The information contained in the proceedings of the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia was not available to the voting members of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota present at the time the resolution was proposed and adopted.

5. As the Grand Lodge of Minnesota has no legitimate manner to determine the truth of the dispute, there are no instructions that the Grand Master can provide to the Grand Lodge of Minnesota Committee on External Affairs to enable that committee to comply with the instructions contained in the resolution adopted at the annual communication. The resolution is attached to this Memorandum as Exhibit A. The External Relations Committee has been charged with a task that is impossible to complete.

6. The resolution, itself, is so vague that it fails to give sufficient guidance to the External Relations Committee, the Grand Master or the Grand Lodge to comply with its terms.

The last five pages are quoted from the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia and include PGM Montgomery's explanation of the episodes involving Frank Haas' expulsion.

Again, I recommend reading this entire document.

I like Frank Haas, and I consider him a friend. I think he is a good man who tried very hard to right many wrongs in West Virginia. But Masonry has rules, and I cannot find fault with GM McCarthy's reasoning for rescinding the resolution of Minnesota.

If I read the report of WV's Grievances and Appeals Committee properly, they did not act on his petition for reinstatement because he had not yet been expelled for a year when they met in 2008. According to the report, he may repetition in 2009. Frank's civil case slowly creeps through the courts, but I suspect if the judge discovers that he has not yet completely exhausted the appeals process within the fraternity, it will undoubtedly be further delayed until he has done so.

Moreover, many have heard Frank's side of this situation, but few have heard PGM Montgomery's, until now. That's no way to fairly "judge with candor, admonish with friendship, and reprehend with justice." Either inside or outside of West Virginia.


  1. Wow. I thought there might never be a moment of sanity in this.

  2. Chris wrote:
    I cannot find fault with GM McCarthy's reasoning for rescinding the resolution of Minnesota.

    Other than the fact that, unless you do things differently down there, the GM has no authority to overturn something passed by a majority of the members of his Grand Lodge.

    If the resolution was incorrect in law, shouldn't that have been decided or pointed out before the vote?


  3. I wasn't there and I don't know Minnesota law. But he makes it clear—the resolution directed the GL committee on foreign relations to do something it couldn't do. And the resolution from the floor had no time to be properly gone over for errors.

  4. the resolution from the floor had no time to be properly gone over for errors.

    I guess you do things differently down there, Chris. Here, if a resolution is unclear or has questions surrounding it, it is referred to committee and we deal with it at the next Communication. We don't pass something and then look at it.


  5. I wondered where the GL of Minnesota derived its authority in this matter.

    Having read the attached report from the GL of West Virginia, following their Masonic Law, they may be within their rights to do what they did. Please, do not take this admonition on my part as a belief that I support how this was handled - far from it. The difficulty that I see with the way their law is written is that any man might be declared irregular by the GM. He can suspend him and should following GMs support the decision, he could go forever without a trial. This just seems to forego due process, as we're familiar with it.

  6. "And the resolution from the floor had no time to be properly gone over for errors."

    This is precisely why resolutions from the floor are not allowed in Indiana.

    We can complain about things that look perfectly reasonable to us being rejected by Jurisprudence as "not in proper form", but in all fairness, I've seen stuff in the preliminary proceedings over the years that was only there because Jurisprudence doesn't meet until the Sunday before Grand Lodge -- and was rightfully and thankfully rejected before it came to a vote.

    Disallowing resolutions from the floor only protects us from ourselves. Perhaps the GL of MN will learn something from this incident...

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