Knowing Ephesse and Big Moustache plus an important delegation of GLNF “heavies” intended attending the Conference of grand masters of north American masons (USA, Canada & Mexico) from February 19th to 21st, in Atlanta, Georgia and knowing Ephesse’s tendency to ‘interpret” the facts, ULRF wrote to all the American Grand Masters. The reaction was rapid and clear. The GLNF party didn’t make it to Atlanta. On their arrival they were told in no uncertain terms they were persona non grata and the Grand master of the grand Lodge of Washington, D.C. suspended relations immediately with the GLNF.
Below is the letter sent to the Grand Masters in North America.
It is important to note that this letter was composed translated and sent to the North American Grand Masters by ULRF and not by any other of the opposition groups as claimed by several correspondents.
The suspension of relations by the Grand Lodge of Washington, D.C. ban be consulted here LINK LetterForMWBStifani.GLNF.16Feb2012 (1) .
My only comment concerns Stifani's promise to allow and finance a delegation of North American Grand Lodge observers at the forthcoming elections for a new GLNF Grand Master. Will Miss monique sign off the expenditure ?
Union des Loges Régulières Françaises (ULRF)
Understanding the crisis within the
Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF)
Current situation & perspectives
Paris – February 4th, 2012
With the important conference of all the Grand Masters of all the North American Grand Lodges occurring in Atlanta from 19th to 21st of February and the GLNF having been invited to this event, we must draw your attention to the reasons for the unprecedented crisis that is disturbing our Obedience.
On January 30th the GLNF Grand Chancellor sent you a plea defending François Stifani, GLNF Grand Master. Regrettably, it omitted certain important facts.
That is why we present you the following points, to enable you to have complete and objective information.
The origins of the crisis
n 2008-2009 : The rising ambitions of the new Grand Master
If the chronology presented to you is exact it prudently omits to mention the facts about events prior to December 4th, 2009, facts which explain the current situation :
- 12 September 2007 : election of François Stifani ; by a vote of 74 %, the members of the Sovereign Grand Committee (SGC) trust Jean-Charles Foellner (Grand Master from 2001 to 2007) and elect François Stifani who is his candidate, sponsored into the GLNF by him, and also his lawyer.
- As of September 2007, he launches a programme of modifications to the GLNF statutes and constitutions with the aim of “placing everything of a masonic character out of the reaches of the judges” and introduces obligatory prior internal recourse before going to court: “this obligation is efficient : it exists in several processes of French law and the sanction for he who fails to observe it is that his complaint is judged unacceptable, according to standard jurisprudence.” The new texts are adopted by an AGM on 26 March 2009.
- 1 December 2007 : Installation of François Stifani for a term of three during the formal annual meeting of Grand Lodge.
- 5 June 2008 : François Stifani has the SGC adopt the extension of his term from 3 to 5 years.
- June 2008 : purchase of an official apartment in the Avenue de Wagram in Paris (2 million euros) ; this apartment of 274m² (2950 ft²), presented to the Brethren as a meeting and conference center, has two bedrooms, … two reception rooms of 48 and 26 m² (517 and 280 ft²) and a boudoir of 23 m² (248 ft²) ; in fact, it is a lobbying tool to assist the Grand Master’s political ambitions.
6 November 2008 : François Stifani meets behind closed doors with the leaders of the Jurisdictions managing the Rites practiced within the GLNF and demands submission and allegiance, attempting to associate them with his expansionist policies.
This marks the beginning of legitimate anxiety by the Jurisdictions who witness as from this moment the attempts of interference by François Stifani in their organisation, violating their sovereignty.
- Upon his appointment, François Stifani wants to become the # 1 French Obedience, rival of the Grand Orient de France which is firmly entrenched in political and social debates and very influential with those in power ; he intensifies television interviews, authorises the shooting of films in our Temples ; he launches a campaign to increase membership, sets recruitment objectives for Provinces and Lodges, creating ill will at all levels.
n Intervention in French political life
- Spring 2008 : discreetly he appoints himself a cabinet director, a young Brother knowing little of the GLNF, but who is a strong, militant supporter within Nicolas Sarkozy’s party ; progressively his appointment puts in place a « shadow cabinet » made up of non-Masons, Brethren from other obediences and a woman ; this cabinet came to public notice on 24 June 2009 and, confronted with the hostility of the Obedience’s hierarchy, it disappeared some months later.
- September 2008, creation of a political pressure group of 20 members composed of senior civil servants and non-Masonic personalities, called the « G20 », to promote influential communication towards decision makers and to form a «support force for the President of the Republic» ; it meets in a Temple at head office while awaiting the end of renovations of the Avenue de Wagram apartment.
… the political engagement towards Nicolas Sarkozy
- 19 January 2009 : in a letter addressed to the President of the Republic, he writes : «You will be able to count upon our Order to support your future reforms. »
- 5 February 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy replies to François Stifani thanking him for his « resolute support ».
- 1 December 2010 : the public affairs weekly L’Express reveals the exchange of correspondence ; this serious information alerts the various masonic instances both in France and the rest of Europe.
François Stifani denies having written the letter which has his letterhaed, his signature and is filed in the GLNF departing correspondence register. The letter from François Stifani and Nicolas Sarkozy’s reply have been authenticated by the services of the French Presidency.
- 9 December 2010 : Anxious, the United Grand Lodge of England sends a warning and makes it clear that if the facts are true, the principles of regularity are gravely affected.
In his reply François Stifani claims to have made an official complaint against « an unidentified person » for « forgery and use thereof » but, to date nothing has come of it.
- Other facts show that he wished to drag the Obedience into political or social debates ; some examples being : he takes a public stance on the concept of Secularism defended by Nicolas Sarkozy (20 February 2008), signs a national petition on the burka and the wearing of the moslem veil (22 December 2009), on his own initiative, sends a report to the French Presidency on the organisation of Moslems in France (15 February 2010) …
- 17 July 2009, in an interview in the public affairs weekly Le Point , he confirms his affection for President Sarkozy ; Le Point describes the GLNF as : «the most sarkozyste of French Obediencese ».
- Claude Charbonniaud, Grand Master of the GLNF from 1993 to 2001 states : « François Stifani was surprised and transformed in discovering the importance of the function and its responsibilities. The extent of the powers and the honors bestowed upon the Chief of the Order can wreak havoc. Certain ambitious temperaments have difficulty resisting this test and the effects are quickly noticed in the management style which can become unsupportable.».
We are obliged to recognise that François Stifani has transgressed our fundamental landmarks by trying to drag the GLNF into his ambitions to play a role in French political life.
n The GLNF : an Obedience at the service of the Grand Master
- Upon his appointment he manifested the behavior of an absolute monarch : he sacks all those who disagree with him : fires more than 20 Provincial Grand Masters , appoints 5 Grand Secretaries in 3 years, sacks the President of the GLNF Council of Elders (15 August 2011) …at the same time reinstating those “Brethren” struck off or suspended for grave breaches in their masonic or civil obligations.
- He forces the resignation of numerous dignitaries : the Deputy Grand Master (Jean-Claude Tardivat), the Grand Orator, 6 Assistant Grand Masters, …. Because he accepts neither counsel, dialogue nor criticism ; the Council of Elders resigns as a body on May 18th, 2010 : « we were unable to make the voice of wisdom heard… ».
- He eliminates entire Provinces : Val-de-Loire, Massilia, Picardie-Plaine-de-France, Polynesia, etc, and suspends Lodges (at least 187 known to date by national ordinance, to which must be added provincial suspensions under way).
- he modifies the composition of the Sovereign Grand Committee (that he has increased from 400 to 500 members) in order to ensure docility and his re-election ; since October 2010 he has struck off 120 opponents and named 221 faithful Brethren in their place.
- On his authority alone, on 21 August 2011 he created close to himself, a « Grand Council » (a sort of Board of Administration) of 15 members in contempt of our statutes and constitutions.
- He withdraws dues from Provincial and Lodge bank accounts without this being voted in general assembly, continues to strike off Brethren and suspend Lodges in order to manipulate the votes at future assemblies.
- 24 January 2011: on the request of the opposition a court appointed administrator is named after the resignation of the GLNF Administration Board and its President.
In order to understand the situation you must know the GLNF is managed by its Constitutions for masonic affairs –which are outside the powers of a judge – and by its civil statutes according to the laws governing associations (Law of 1901) for its administrative affairs ; therefore the GLNF Grand Master is automatically President of the Administration Board of the civil association and obviously the two functions cannot be dissociated.
- To delay the inevitable date of his revocation François Stifani resigns from his function of President on 21 January 2011 at the moment the courts place the GLNF under court administration and he declares that he remains Grand Master and continues de facto to manage the GLNF.
- On 17 January 2012, feeling the situation was escaping him and in an attempt to regain control, he decides to take back his resignation on the basis of a careless mistake : his resignation was legally impossible he claims, because he was ex-officio a rightful member of the administration board … but two legal decisions (13 and 26 January 2012) remind him his resignation is definitive and that the two functions (President and Grand Master) concern one and the same person.
The personality of François Stifani lies at the heart of the current crisis.
n A Grand Master more and more isolated and disavowed
- As of July 2009 : certain dignitaries alert Jean-Charles Foellner (Grand Master from 2001 to 2007 who put François Stifani in place) and ask him to make François Stifani see reason. Ambiguous certainly, Jean-Charles Foellner agrees tacitly to the opposition which is growing and prepares himself to intervene on 4 December 2009 during an historic meeting of the SGC .
- 25 March 2010 : The civil General Assembly passes a majority vote against François Stifani and calls for his revoking : François Stifani has the assembly nullified by a judge.
- 16 October 2010, the new general assembly is « multi-located », that is, it meets in 36 different cities, the headquarters of the Provinces ; François Stifani carries the day by 23 votes (out of 3330 electors) ; because of numerous irregularities the opposition has this assembly declared null by a judge on 7 December 2010..
- 7 December 2010 : the Paris Supreme Court brings down a judgement to be executed immediately: It orders the calling of a general assembly with, the revoking of the GLNF’s executive power to be placed on the agenda; this targets François Stifani in his capacities of Grand Master and President of the association.
- 4 February 2012 : the new AGM, called by the court administrator, rejects François Stifani by an unequivocal vote of 57.51%.
… numerous warnings
- 30 March 2010, just after the Assembly which called for the revoking of the Grand Master, Jean-Charles Foellner sends an open letter to François Stifani asking him to see reason and ends by saying : « Let’s stop all that ! »
- Jean-Claude Tardivat, 75 years old, 30 years a member of the GLNF, #2 of the Obedience resigns from the GLNF on 10 August 2011 : « I am leaving an Obedience which plunges deeper each day into the arbitrary, intolerance and ridiculousness. It is impossible for me to support passively the multiple deviations which have brought about such wastage and are leading to isolation and irregularity. »
- Claude Charbonniaud, GLNF Grand Master from 1993 to 2001, asks him publicly to withdraw on 12 August 2011 : « I feel your presence is the obstacle to the success of all attempts for reconciliation and re-establishment of order. Management is appreciated on its results, yours are deplorable, disorder within, bordering upon disintegration, rejection from without with the serious threat of the withdrawal of recognition..»
- The Grand Master of the Grande Loge Régulière de Belgique, the MWB Eli Peeters, in a formal letter of 1 July 2011 gives a major lesson in masonry to François Stifani : « The current situation of the Grande Loge Nationale Française places the image and reputation of regular Freemasonry in peril, not only in France but also in all of Europe » (…)
« Most of the controversy which surrounds you, in your quality as Grand Master, should have convinced you to take the only possible decision under the circumstances, to resign with dignity, in order to preserve unity, or that part of it which remains, of the Grande Loge Nationale Française. (…)
We were installed as Grand Masters not to defend our personal position towards and against all, but to be at the service of the Order, and our first and most important duty is to preserve harmony in our Grand Lodges. For whatever reason if we fail in this duty we cannot escape from our responsibility.»
How can a Mason look down upon the duties of his responsibility and betray the most solemn undertakings ?
Current situation and perspectives
n Internationally : the recognition of the GLNF is questioned
- July 21st, 2011 : a thunderbolt ! The United Grand Lodge of England announces the suspension of the relations with the GLNF which will be officially confirmed on September 14th;
- the same day, of his own volition François Stifani replies by officially suspending relations with the UGLE, by e-mail, without the opinion of the Sovereign Grand Committee, arrogantly pre-dating his letter to 14 July, the French national day.
- the GLNF is progressively banned by international Freemasonry : to date, 33 Grand Lodges have suspended their relations and /or recognition ; among them, the majority of the European Grand Lodges, including the 3 « Home Grand Lodges » : England, Ireland and Scotland.
- It is because he fears the North American Grand Lodges will also suspend their recognition that François Stifani is coming to the North American Grand Masters’ conference, accompanied by Jean-Charles Foellner and an important delegation.
n Within : the crisis is at its height
- It can be considered that more than half the Lodges no longer recognise the authority of François Stifani ;
On its own, the ULRF, the principle opposition body, has brought together 512 Lodges which have decided, after a vote during a Lodge meeting, to join the Union and its direct members are drawn from 1045 Lodges ;
Besides, about 350 Lodges which remain faithful to the Provincial Grand Master, are dissident, but do not openly display it ;
We know also that 587 Lodges (out of the 1629 of the Obedience) refuse officially to pay their dues
… but no list can be published because they would be immediately suspended.
- Coming up to the next decisive assemblies, he accelerates the striking off of Lodges and Brethren, invents « automatic resignations », scorning the laws governing associations.
- 4 February 2012 : the court administrator holds the statutory AGM ; only 400 Lodges known to be loyal were able to vote, the others having been suspended or their delegates removed from the lists.
By an unequivocal vote, 57.51% of delegates disavow François Stifani.
But he refuses to accept the verdict and, against the evidence, pretends that the vote was in his favor. After the AGM he holds a meeting of an illegal Board of Administration and rejoices at the result, stating the GLNF can return to work with serenity !
That is the sad spectacle offered by the GLNF today !
François Stifani is protected by the statutes and constitutions which did not foresee such a situation and, alas, civil justice is taking its time in bringing in its verdict.
n Relations with the jurisdictions : the « plot » theory linked to the A&ASR Supreme Council for France !
- 6 May 2011 : Unable to make the jurisdictions that manage the rites practised within the GLNF buckle under to his authority, François Stifani severs all relations with the Traditional Ordinal French Rites and forbids the Brethren to frequent them with threats of exclusion should they do so.
- To explain the current crisis, he invents the theory of a plot and gives credit for its conception to the jurisdictions, brewed by the A&ASR Supreme Council for France who then succeeded in dragging the other jurisdictions in to side with it.
- Constantly and in an ongoing manner, the jurisdictions have always displayed a will of non-interference and their respect for the sovereignty of the GLNF, and this in spite of the attacks and provocations they have suffered ; in several joint declarations they have called upon the Brethren to remain calm and dignified while awaiting a return to the intangible traditional values of regular Freemasonry and the triumph of truth.
n The opposition assembles behind Alain Juillet
- The objective of the opposition, which now has a large majority, is to restore the values of regular and traditional Masonry as quickly as possible and to obtain the departure of a Grand Master who no longer has legitimacy. This so that the GLNF can rapidly regain its place in French and international Freemasonry.
- The opposition is composed of several bodies and sensitivities which have come together in a pilot committee chaired by the MWB Alain Juillet.
Alain Juillet, former GLNF Grand Inspector, tried in vain to reform the Obedience in 2010 - 2011 ; he formally undertook, as soon as Fançois Stifani left, to manage a transition period of a maximum of one year to calm things down, to bring together, to prepare the election of a new Grand Master on new bases and to restore the confidence of the European and worldwide Grand Lodges.
- The Union des Loges Régulières Françaises (ULRF) is the principle opposition component ; it came about from the initiative of Brethren exasperated by the slowness of legal decisions and the difficulties of the opposition to co-ordinate its programmes and actions.
Created in October 2011, in less than three months, it has assembled 512 Lodges (of a total of 1629 in the Obedience), about 12000 Brethren, to which are added 5400 individual subscriptions from Brethren spread through 1045 Lodges.
The ULRF represents approximately 17000 Brethren, 31.5% of the Lodges and 40 % of the Brethren.
- To welcome all the excluded Lodges and Brethren and to respond to their distress the ULRF has decided to create a new Grand Lodge as quickly as possible, the « Grande Loge Unie de France » ( United Grand Lodge of France).
In the end, this Obedience –either it will rejoin a restored GLNF - or it will be the cradle of a regular and traditional Grand Lodge taking its rightful place in the chain of universal Masonry
The GLNF has lost its internal peace and offers a devastated landscape : Provinces dissolved, Lodges closed down, Brethren struck off or suspended…
Where harmony and brotherhood reigned, today the winds of hatred and violence blow.
What more is necessary to demonstrate that François Stifani has lost not only his legitimacy but also his dignity as Grand Master ?