A few days ago the unfortunate publication on a couple of blogs of an unauthorised statement raised the hopes of Brethren that the GL-AMF would rapidly receive international Recognition. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Recognition of a new Grand Lodge is a process which requires an enormous amount of work and patience by its management. It doesn’t just turn up in the post in the same bundle as the latest advertising blurb from your local supermarket.
The first and most obvious fact is that the Grand Lodge must exist. This may sound all too obvious but last weekend the blog articles managed to give the impression that an important North American Grand Lodge was favourably disposed to the idea of recognising the GL-AMF. Nothing, but nothing whatsoever, can occur before next Saturday when our new Grand Lodge will be consecrated.
And even then things will proceed very slowly. In the first place because the team that has worked so hard to put the machine on the rails has far more pressing priorities; such as the approval of each Lodge that has rallied to the GL-AMF. And the massive job of registering each membership application. All this will take time and must be dealt with ASAP.
The sine qua non for Recognition is Regularity within the Grand Lodge, at all levels. Opening and closing of labour invoking the Great Architect, labour under the authority of the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Square and the Compass, total respect of the Constitutions, Statutes and By-Laws, an adherence to the Landmarks and (here in France) to the Rule in 12 Points. And it not sufficient to just state that such is the case. A formal presentation proving Regularity is necessary.
And Regularity IS ONLY GRANTED IF IT IS REQUESTED. That is why the purported claims of last weekend were preposterous. No such request has been formulated by the management of the soon to be consecrated GL-AMF.
As with virtually every international relations arrangement nothing can occur without exploiting pre-existing relations between Brethren of various Grand Lodges throughout the world. The networks established over many years will assist in opening the right doors at the right levels and at the right moment. Via these networks the request can be put to the appropriate commission.
Often this body is not even part of a specific Grand Lodge. Such is the case for many North American Grand Lodges (by North America, I mean the United States, Canada and Mexico). The Conference of North American Grand Masters of Grand Lodges meets once a year in February. The most recent one occurred in Atlanta, Georgia. That was the one where François Stifani was persuaded to return home when he and his important delegation arrived in Washington DC. Only a couple of lightweights went on to Atlanta to unsuccessfully defend the GLNF position.
Within the Conference there is a Commission for Foreign Relations which examines requests for recognition (the new Grand Lodge of Tahiti, for example) and looks at the cases of Grand Lodges where there are difficulties which could tarnish the relations with other Grand Lodges or tarnish the image of Freemasonry in general (the GLNF). The deliberations of the commission CAN ONLY VOTE A RECOMMENDATION.
It is up to each individual Grand Lodge to make its own decision to follow the recommendation either totally, partially or not at all. Such was the case in Atlanta recently. The commission recommended the recognition of the GL of Tahiti and recommended the suspension of relations with the GLNF. Since that date we have seen some recognitions of the GL of Tahiti, and a couple of Grand Lodges have adopted the recommendation concerning the GLNF. Numerous blogs suggested wrongly that all the American Grand Lodges had suspended relations with the GLNF.
The individual Grand Lodges hold their Communication annually. So we could see a gradual increase in recognition of the GL of Tahiti over the coming months. Equally we are likely to see a number of North American Grand Lodges take a more decisive position on the GLNF situation over the same period.
The creation of the GL-AMF is going to raise a new question for Grand Lodges. I am thinking of the three “Home” Grand Lodges in particular. They have suspended relations with the GLNF, a joint decision published on July 19th, 2011. Let’s forget the farcical ante-dated e-mail from François Stifani to the UGLE ! England, Ireland and Scotland will soon be confronted with the conundrum of two French Grand Lodges having members who also hold membership of the “Home” Grand Lodges. The labour of these Brethren is totally Regular, their individual Lodges totally respect the requirements of Regularity. But one of the Grand Lodges has been suspended because of the Irregular behaviour of its Grand Master and his closest advisors. But the vast majority of the Brethren are Regular. Unless the Grand Lodge itself falls into Irregularity I am not convinced that the English, Irish and Scottish Grand Lodges will take steps towards definitively removing Recognition. On the other hand there will be a new Grand Lodge, totally Regular from top to bottom but which must remain on the sidelines for the moment, because the rules governing international Recognition are unequivocal, only one Recognised Grand Lodge per country.
The Grande Loge de l’Alliance Maçonnique Française will achieve international recognition. But it will only come gradually. And the most traditional of those Grand Lodges are likely to be the last to take a formal stance. We are looking at years, not months.