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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Grand Orient de France Officially Co-Masonic

Word has come from France today that the Grand Orient of France (GOF), that country's largest Masonic obedience with approximately 50,000 members, has officially voted at its annual assembly to accept female members and become a co-Masonic organization. In April, the GO's then Grand Master Pierre Lambicchi told L'Express Magazine, "We are not statutorily a mixed obedience." That has now officially changed. Lambicchi was succeeded at this meeting by the new Grand Master, Guy Arcizet.

Two years ago, six women were initiated into Grand Orient lodges largely as a test of the rules. In addition, an existing Mason within the Grand Orient underwent transsexual surgery and became a female. "Olivia Chaumont" was recognized as a sister within the Grand Orient in January 2010. This was considered a drastic innovation at that time, and previously the GO directed brothers who became women to existing mixed or feminine Masonic orders.

France has several such organizations, and 17% of that country's Masons are female. They do not have the Order of the Eastern Star in France, while female Masons have existed there since at least the 1780s, and possibly as early as the 1740s.

On April 8, 2010, the GO's Supreme Court of Masonic Justice decided that their lodges were free to initiate women without violating the General Regulations of the obedience. Nevertheless, 56% of the assembled members voted at their 2009 convention last September to remain a male-only institution. Female Masons have been allowed to visit GO lodges since 1974. Apparently, the majority opinion has changed this year.

This now leaves the Grande Loge de France (GLdF) and the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) as the largest male only Masonic obediences in that country. The GLNF in particular has been steadily increasing in popularity, but both will undoubtedly now see defectors from the GOF over the new policy. And the feminine grand lodges in France will undoubtedly see this as an encroachment on their staked out territory by the largest obedience in the country.

The Grand Orient de France does not require a belief in a Supreme Being, nor are lodges required to have a Volume of Sacred Law on its altars. The GO frequently issues public policy opinions, attacks perceived public influence by organized religious groups (especially the Catholic church), and often meets as an official group with French government officials. They recently joined with the equally irregular Grand Orient of Belgium and female Masonic groups to open an office in Brussels to influence government policies of the European Union. Their activities are completely in opposition to mainstream Freemasonry's longstanding rules and practices.

The GLNF is the French grand lodge that is considered regular and recognized by the overwhelming number of mainstream Anglo/US derived grand lodges around the world.

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UPDATE

Here are a few more items I found today:

The Grand Orient de France met this year in Vichy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of its dissolution in that city by the government of Marshal Philippe Petain during World War II.

The decision to admit female Masons in the GOF is up to each individual lodge's choice, which is a common theme in the GOF. This also applies to the choice of whether to include an open VSL in a lodge.

There are at least ten Masonic allegiances of varying importance in France. The GOF has just under 50,000 members. The GLNF has about 38,000 members, and the Grand Lodge of France (GLF), has 28,000. Le Droit Humain (DH) is a Co-Masonic obedience which claims 15,000 members, and the Grande Loge Feminine de France (GLFF), represents some 14,000 women. It should be noted by all of us in the US that every one of these grand lodges in France have steadily increased their membership over the last six years, which is the last time I checked these figures.

7 comments:

  1. BTW, there's no irony at all that the GOF's annual communication meets this year in Vichy...

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  2. This is a positive development. Obediences such as the Grand Orient of France are succeeding in keeping Freemasonry relevant in the 21st century.

    The (at the time) revolutionary ideas associated with Freemasonry; the brotherhood of men, religious toleration, freedom of speech and inquiry, have, to a large extent, been realized in much of the world (at least the West).

    For Freemasony to remain relevant and have a purpose,(other than being one of many charities), it needs to continue espousing progressive values throughout the world.

    Much of the world's population continues to be denied the freedoms that we in the West take for granted. There is much to be done, and the Grand Orient of France, once again, takes the lead.

    Freemasons have been in the forefront of societal change for centuries, long before the GOdF eliminated the requirement of a belief in deity for membership.

    Freemasonry in Latin America is only one area in which Masons were actively involved in politics. It can also be argued that Freemasonry played a role in the American Revolution as well.

    Thank you again for posting important Masonic developments such as this.

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  3. France has a very different history and culture than the US. And in spite of more than 200+ years of female Masonry in that country, only 17% of French Masons are women. Not an insignificant number, but still not a tidal wave.

    My personal belief is that a co-Masonic group changes the dynamic of the gathering into something I am not interested in. I am all for female Freemasonry as a separate organization, and see no problem with it. And I have no problem with meeting with female Masons in an education/seminar/study situation. But I am absolutely against a co-Masonic lodge experience.

    That's just me.

    As for the GOF meddling in religion and politics as an official lobbying group, as it does in France and the EU, and woefully in Africa, that is so wrong it beggars the imagination. And the African situation shows how mixing Masonry and politics can be downright toxic and even deadly.

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  4. I congratulate our highly esteemed brethren at the Grand Orient of France for their visionary leadership and enlightened ideology.

    Freedom of conscience and freedom of thought are essential elements in the overal happiness of each individual. The Grand Orient of France has always been at the forefront of supporting both.

    The Grand Orient of the United States offers the same freedoms to American Freemasons.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Wonderful news! Mind you, I am personally not surprised that this stage has finally been reached as friends in GOdF have been telling me for some time it was inevitable.

    Patrick Cawley [Leo from MFoL]

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