Tuesday, February 21, 2012

GLNF Deemed Irregular by North American Grand Masters

The Conference of Grand Masters of North America is going on this week in Atlanta, and there are major issues in the Masonic world that the GMs will be discussing: the situation with the Shrine in Michigan and Alabama, the Grande Loge Nationale Française with its embattled GM François Stifani, and the Grand Encampment's Rectified Rite, just for starters.

The first news to leak out is from the Commission on Information for Recognition, chaired by William Holsinger, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of California. According to the LML in English website, the Commission found that the Grande Loge Nationale Française has engaged in irregular behavior worthy of losing its recognition. It is VERY important to understand that this does NOT mean, as the LML website states, that the North American Grand Lodges have yanked recognition of the GLNF. The Commission cannot do that, and neither can the Conference. Only individual GLs can pull their recognition (as the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia did, to a certain extent, last week, joining 32 other worldwide GLs that have derecognized or severely limited their relations with the French GL). The Commission only reports on the regularity of other GLs and issues an opinion that North American GLs are free to follow or ignore. Nevertheless, if the rumor is true, this is very bad news for Stifani and the GLNF.

A new obedience is forming from the hundreds of lodges Stifani has either suspended or who have refused to pay their Grand Lodge assessments. The Union des Loges Régulières Françaises (ULRF) is forming the Grande Loge Unie de France (United Grand Lodge of France) that will either strike out on its own, or will merge back with the GLNF once Stifani is gone and the troubles are settled (if that is possible).

For the long version of what has been transpiring in France, read the ULRF's version here.

In the meantime, no word has leaked out yet in reference to the Shrine and the RER. More as it becomes available. The final Report on Recognition will be read later this week.

2 comments:

Ben Goldslaats said...

Your headline is false. The Conf. of Grand Masters of No. America DID NOT deem the GLNF irregular. In fact, after hearings on the matter, they made the conscious decision to state "the GLNF is still considered to be regular." Let me transcribe the pertinent wording from their Report:

"Although the GLNF is still considered to be regular, there is a question to them meeting the standards for recognition. After much consideration, the Commission is of the opinion a reasonable course of action to consider is to suspend fraternal relations with the GLNF until such time a resolution to their crisis is achieved."

The question about the GLNF meeting the standards for recognition has to do with the actions of their former Grand Master Stifani, who has been removed from office by the French attorney assigned to oversee the GLNF.

So, the Commission clearly stated that they consider the GLNF to be regular. Commission members said that they hope the Report will help bring about a positive resolution to the GLNF's problems and prevent the formation of one or more grand lodges, thereby further widening the split between the GLNF and the ULRF lodges.

The Commission members (and others present) heard from Alan Englefield of England who said the U.G.L.E. did not withdraw recognition of the G.L.N.F. for the same reason, but only "suspended fraternal relations." This is the same approach taken by Grand Master Crociata of the District of Columbia, who said in a letter of 16 Feb. that his Grand Lodge was "holding official fraternal relations between the GLNF and the Grand Lodge of Washington, DC in abeyance,” and that "this action does not affect our long-standing recognition of the GLNF." There is a difference between "recognition" and "fraternal relations." One does not equal the other.

You wrote that "this is very bad news for Stifani and the GLNF." I disagree. Stifani has been removed. So, he's already had his "bad news." But, it’s good news for the GLNF, as it sends a message that if they fail to get their act together, or if they elect a Stifani puppet to the Grand Mastership, they it's curtains for the GLNF, as far as North American recognition goes. A number of European visitors who want the survival of the GLNF applauded the Commission’s course of action.

Lastly, you wrote "the final Report on Recognition will be read later this week." You posted that at 1:37 PM, Tuesday, 21 February. That was also incorrect. The Report had already been read and approved by the Conference before 10:00 AM that day. The Conference ended that afternoon. A copy of the report could have been sent to you before lunch.

The Commission's printed Report is available and will soon be up on the Conference website. So, rather than rely on bad reporting from the website "Le Myosotis Ligerien (LML) in English," why don't you pick up a phone and make a couple of calls? Get a reliable reporter, and stop reporting inaccurate rumors.

Chris Hodapp said...

Ben, thanks for the clarification. No one has sent me the text of the report from the Commission, in spite of several requests I sent out. If you have a copy, feel free to send it to hodapp@aol.com so I don't mischaracterize anything else. One of my purposes in relaying the story was to correct the misconceptions that the French had, which was that 52 grand lodges yanked recognition of GLNF. That's what is being reported on many French sites, including François Koch at L'Express. I did make it clear that the Commission cannot take any action apart from reporting its findings.