In an exclusive interview published on “la Lumière” link journalist, François Koch, of the French current affairs weekly “L’Express” reveals that Claude Charbonniaud, former Grand Master of the GLNF, often referred to as one of the 3 ruffian Fellow craft (along with François Stifani and Jean-Charles Foellner), wants François Stifani to depart.
86 year old Charbonniaud, with more than 50 years of Freemasonry behind him, he who came to the GLNF from the irregular and unrecognised Grand Orient de France, rose through the ranks to occupy the ultimate position for a full 10 years until 2002.
Ever since the beginning of the crisis 21 months ago in December 2009 Charbonniaud has been strangely silent. But with the loquacious Stifani it is always difficult to get a word in edgewise !
In a “no-holds barred” interview Charbonniaud washes his hands of the self-proclaimed spiritual guide who claims to rule over 45000 Brethren.
Our comments appear at the end of the interview.
The interview :
Why do you accept now to speak out publicly and for the first time ?
I do so because I can no longer remain silent in the face of the evolution of the crisis. I have already had the occasion to declare that our belonging to Regular masonry was a fundamental aspect of the existence of our Obedience. There is no question of not respecting its requirements.
Several European grand Lodges have already sounded the aklarm and today we must admit the possibility if not the probability of the withdrawal ofour recognition as a regular Grand Lodge. The aggravating circumstance being the suspension announced and envisaged by the UGLE that we always consider historically as the Mother Grand Lodge.
Concerning my position, I reply clearly that I would cease to belong to a grand Lodge not recognised by the family of regular Grand Lodges.
Did you approve Jean-Charles Foellner’s promotion of François Stifani to replace him as Grand Master in 2007 ?
I disapproved of the project when I heard of it, my position was known. It was a question of principle and it was not directed at François Stifani whom I hardly knew at the time.
But, after all, it was up to he who was promoted to demonstrate that Jean-Charles Foellner was right in his choice. Unfortunately it wasn’t the case.
Isn’t there a structural fault within the GLNF with the designation of the candidate to the Grand Mastership by the Sovereign grand Committee (SGC) ?
It is certain that the rules covering the designation of members of the SGC by the grand Master and its functioning need to be reviewed. The current situation demonstrates the need. Who could be guarantor of the reliability of the capital vote for the designation of the candidate to the grand Mastership ? The least that can be said is that there will be doubts about the results the moment new National grand officers are named since they are automatically members of the SGC.
How can you explain the Grand Master’s deviations as they are denounced by his opponents ?
There are no explanations for these deviations. Having exercised the functions of Grand Master for 10 years I think François Stifani was surprised and transformed by his discovery of the importance of the office and its responsibilities. The extent of powers and the honours given to the head of the Order can have their effects. Certain ambitious temperaments fail to resist to the test and this is quickly felt by the style of government which becomes unsupportable.
Another danger was menacing François Stifani in his management, that of not accepting the constraints of our rules which forbid all participation in his official status in discussions of a political or religious nature. Hence his decision to do so under a diluted form by intervening in “societal” problems, which is nonetheless a violation of our principles.
Do the links between the GLNF and certain African states explain in part François Stifani’s will to remain at his post ?
No, I don’t believe so. His title of Grand Master enables him to be close to Powerful Men. No-one is totally insensible to the frequenting of Highly responsible people, all the more when they are Heads of State and Grand Master and by definition share with us the same spiritual values and the taste for fraternity.
Do you want François Stifani to depart the Grand Mastership ?
Yes, I declare so without hesitation for I feel that his presence will be an obstacle to the outcome of all tentative to reconciliation and re-establishment of order. A management is appreciated because of its results, the present one is deplorable, disorder within, close to disintegration, rejected from without and a serious menace of the withdrawal of recognizance.
How are you experiencing this situation of interminable crisis ?
Need I say that I’m feeling it very badly, I share entirely the deception and anguish of the Brethren. I would not want to end my Masonic life on this failure and I will do all that is in my power to help our Grand Lodge to rise up again.
After the departure of Jean-Claude Tardivat would you too resign from the GLNF ?
No, that is out of the question. Even if I approve of the terms of Jean-Claude Tardivat’s letter of resignation, who was one of my closest collaborators and whose advice I appreciated as well as his actions for the management of the order and its international relations.
NO, Claude Charbonniaud, three times NO !!!
For 21 months you have said nothing, you have sat idly by, but always very close to the action, and you have watched François Stifani and his band of fawnicators destroy what thousands of Brethren who came before us have taken almost a century to build. You have continued to enjoy the trappings of high office (don’t think we didn’t see you sipping the bubbly on Air Bongo One on your way to install yet another totally undemocratic African dictator as Grand Master of that farce that they pretend to be a Grand Lodge in Gabon).
You have the gall to pretend you hardly knew François Stifani when it was proposed he succeed Big Moustache as Grand Master of the GLNF. He had occupied almost every major post in the Province that was and is your stronghold. He had been a member of the SGC for years, that same SGC that you chaired for 10 whole years.
The surreptitious modifications to our Constitutions, Statutes and By-Laws that have enabled François Stifani to reign over the GLNF like one of those central African dictators that you know so well, the modifications were begun under your Grand Mastership.
You are just as guilty as François Stifani and Big Moustache.
Your cry of “NON !!!” is totally hollow, totally bereft of any true fraternal sentiment. It is the desperate cry of a rat leaving the sinking ship. And it comes 21 months too late !!!
We agree with you that François Stifani must go, and as quickly as possible. But even if you have actively participated in pulling the wool over the brethren’s eyes for the past 15 years, don’t expect us to swallow your latest serving. We may have been gullible for a long time but we are not totally stupid !!!
STOP PRESS ! François Stifani has punched out yet another edition of “Brèves” in reply to Claude Charbonniaud. link It is full of the usual stifanatical half truths and misinterpretations of the reality. On this August 15th long weekend I have better things to do than translate it and you certainly have better things to do than waste your time in reading it !