Tuesday, July 05, 2011

France: 30% of GLNF Lodges Vote To Break With Stifani

The situation with the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) and its embattled Grand Master François Stifani took unusual twists in the last week.

• The hearing in which the Paris Court of Appeal would examine financial reports, scheduled for the end of June, has been postponed until September 8th, because of records submitted late to the court by GLNF.

• In the wake of the GL of Massachusetts and perhaps more U.S. grand lodges temporarily suspending fraternal relations with the GLNF, along with more than a dozen European GLs (including the United Grand Lodge of England cautioning its members not to visit GLNF lodges), Stifani emailed preemptive letters to U.S. jurisdictions on June 29th. Apparently to attempt to curry favor with American Masons, he extensively quotes Pennsylvania Past Grand Secretary Thomas Jackson from a speech apparently given at this year's World Conference of Grand Lodges in Columbia.

• On June 30th, a list was released of 581 GLNF lodges that have voted "To suspend temporarily our Masonic links with the Grande Loge Nationale Française, until such time as a Masonic body that respects the criteria of universal regular Freemasonry shall have been established once more on French territory." The list of lodges that have severed ties is not anonymous, and the decisions required a 2/3 vote of each lodge's members.

That's 1/3 of the approximately 1,665 GLNF chartered lodges, and the number is expected to climb as more internal votes continue this week.

3 comments:

Chris said...

I figured this would happen. There will now be another grand lodge in France, I fear, formed from the remnants of the GLNF. It's already difficult enough to visit a lodge in France; now it will be almost impossible.

W.Bro. Chris Hansen, WM
Goliath Lodge #5595 UGLE (speaking only for himself, tho.)

The Millennial Freemason said...

I really don't know any details as I've been a Mason for a little more than five years but why isn't the Grand Lodge of France recognized by the majority of Grand Lodges? It seems to meet all the necessary requirements and also seems to be the least political of all of them? Am I missing something?

Nick

Chris Hodapp said...

The short answer is that the GLNF was strongly sponsored by the UGLE after WWI, and heavily pushed for recognition from the Anglo-US grand lodges.

Apart from not being especially rigorous in preventing irregular Masons from visiting its lodges (which is common across Europe), the Grand Loge de France is completely regular, from what I have been able to discern over the last decade: male only, requires a belief in the GAOTU, open VSL on the altar, traceably regular in its origin, no politics or religion discussed in lodge.

Others may disagree, but I think there is a small opening here for the GLdF to again make its case for recognition by U.S. and other regular GLs. A new Chancellor has been installed this year to make an outreach to other GLs again, now that the infamous Minnesota episode of 2001 has drifted into the distance. He is well known to many U.S. Masons through the Philalethes Society and online discussion lists (along with being a very well-spoken, well-traveled and well-respected gentleman, who has an excellent command of English and its nuances).

GLNF could survive this madness, but GM Stifani seems hell-bent on a scorched Earth policy, and the breakaway members are screaming for investigation of the financial records of the GLNF and all of its numerous corporations and entities. The longer he clings to his position, the more lodges he loses and the more uncomfortable questions get asked.

There is also a political element to French Masonry. The GLNF is politically Right and the Grand Orient de France is politically Left. That's what another part of this fight has been about, with Stifani sending letters officially pledging support of the Grand Lodge to President Sarkozy. It's the sort of thing the Grand Orient has done for decades with Left-leaning administrations (many of their grand officers have long been associated with the French defense industry), and Stifani clearly wanted the same kind of cachet with Sarkozy. But it clearly violates rules of regularity and recognition--hence his belated claim that the letters were forged with an electronic copy of his signature, once the UGLE went ballistic over it.

To my knowledge, the GLdF has remained politically neutral.