Por Iván Herrera Michel
|Rose Windor (Strarbourg Chatedral)|
The euphoria of the Freemasons gathered in Strasbourg at the end of January 1961 is shared; it must be said, throughout Western continental Europe. At the forum, all spirits are attentive to the European construction project that they will discuss in a few days (February 10, 1961), in Paris, Charles de Gaulle, Konrad Adenauer, Amintore Fanfani, Gaston Eyskens, Joseph Luns and Pierre Werner. British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan is expected in six days (the 28th) in Rambouillet to negotiate with De Gaulle the association of his country in a confederation. In European Freemasonry, integration is also inscribed in the stars. At the moment, the light threads are ahead: Switzerland and Austria are already within the Strasbourg Union.
No one has the illusion that it will be easy. They have the right to raise doubts about the Italian commitment. The spirit of construction is there. And a mischievous language may say: "After all, Inigo de Loyola and his companions were only eight in 1534 in Montmartre when they embarked on the Jesuit adventure." More seriously: in good Freemasonry the Strasbourg Union will begin its apprenticeship in the 1960s, its fellowship in the 1970s and achieve mastery in the 1980s.
Is the European construction climate of the beginning of '61 the cause? Addressing universal Freemasonry, Strasbourg's founding fathers truly envision a European organization. The great surprise is that it’s appeal, widely disseminated, finds echo beyond the oceans, the letters of adhesion flow. From the Near East: Grand Lodge of Lebanon. From South America: Grand Lodge of Uruguay, Grand Lodge of the State of Parána (Brazil), which covers the two shores of the Amazon and whose capital is the port of Belém. From Mexico: United Grand Lodge (Veracruz). From the United States: Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Michigan, Mexico-Texana Grand Lodge (San Antonio, Texas), Grand Lodge of the Spanish Language (New York) …
What to do? It is discussed on 10 June 1961 in Brussels. A Union is a direct and concrete contact, a familiar knowledge of the other, they are regular meetings, it is in a way the experience of a Lodge. Here's a first, unexpected problem. Alone, the French Joannis Comeloup had designed since April 4, 1960 an architecture of regional groups: Europe, Latin America, Africa, The Near East ... But we're not in it. A decision is made: the principle of extension is accepted.
Urgent tasks, the drafting of the Apprentice's statute, the obligation formula and the definition of a Fair and Perfect Lodge for the purposes of the Strasbourg Appeal become a crucial point. The statute is the subject of a long discussion. M.J. Ravel fears that "a letter, however liberal, will restore a certain form of dogmatism." Finally, on the proposal of P.E Chapuis, the letter was renounced. We will stick to the text of the Call. For the obligation, a single formula is also waived. According to what rule will the members of the Union be received? The conference of 1 June 1961 unanimously voted on the following text suggested by Frenchman Marcel J. Ravel and Belgium Windey, which from now on will be the law: "Each Brother, a member of a signatory obedience to the Strasbourg Appeal undertakes to recognize, in all the circumstances of life, the freemason quality of all the members of the other signatory obedience".
The Lodge is missing. A definition "neither limiting nor exhaustive" was adopted in Luxembourg on 20 January 1962. At point 4, specify that the square and the compass are amongst "the 3 great lights". In other words, the Lodges are free to place, as a light, a sacred book or any other symbol.
The fundamentals are established. It's time to create an organization, even lightly. Breaking with the custom of fantastic titles, delegates manifest their willingness not to become a superobedience. They modestly want to be a liaison and information center. Too banal. To identify the Union, we will use the full title "Centre de Liaison et D'information des Puíssances Maconniques Signataires de L'appel de Strasbourg" (Liaison and Information Centre of the Masonic Powers Signing the Strasbourg Appeal). And an enigmatic acronym that looks like a neologism: CLIPSAS.
On 17 November 1962, in Paris, in the former Hotel of Prince Murat, a regulation that instituted a Bureau is adopted. After his task, founding father Georges Beemaerts passed to the Eternal East in 1961. The new president is Charles Castel. He was followed by Walter Heinz (1964), Paul Van Hercke (1965), Robert Dille (1966), Victor Martiny (1969), all of them from the Grand Orient of Belgium. From September 1966, and for fifteen years, Jules Ligot had a heavy influenced.
Defined objectives and established structure, Clipsas can exist. Each Assembly is repeated from country to country. Each delegation presents the situation in their country. Applications for adhesion are examined. To date Clipsas, as yet hasn't had any problems.
¿Exteriorization? The Bureau is planning a press conference in February 1964 where five points will be developed: freedoms of conscience, expression, information, philosophical neutrality of teaching, respect for the individual. In three pages argued, the French Grand National Lodge (Opar), a founding member, notified its opposition to any exteriorization: "Rejection of principles ... no controversy with the profane world... the five points are, to varying degrees, political questions." If the Bureau ignores it, it will withdraw from the Union. It’s discussed in Brussels on 29 February 1964. To no avail.
Mixticity. Interestingly, the question will be asked by the Italian affair. Grandmaster Ceccherini (Great Italian National Lodge) apologized in Strasbourg. In 1962, practicing before the charter a "historical commitment", the G.L.N.I. merged with the Great East of Italy to form the "Massoneria Unificata d'Italia". On November 17, 1962, at the Paris assembly, everyone rejoices. And he wonders: why the hell did the new obedience celebrate its birth with the Initiation of Mgr. J.M. Van Assendelft, Patriarch of the early apostolic church of Antioch, Orthodox and Syrian-Byzantine?
Second question: the representative of the Massoneria, Gnevtos, "Magistral Delegate" (of the Grand Master), cannot sign the Strasbourg Appeal. Therefore, you are invited not to participate in the votes. The issue gets complicated very quickly. The Massoneria only lived one morning and was completed in 1963. Not only did the Grand Orient of Italy return to their homes, but the old G.L.N.I. is divided between Ceccherini's friends and Giovanni Ghinazzi's friends. Whom to accept? The Bureau hesitates, on October 19, 1963, when it learns that the two obediences are androgynous. "It's contrary to the spirit of Clipsas." The Bureau decides to suspend all correspondence with Rome. There will be an investigation.
A year goes by. Aviation General Ghinazzi, resembling Clark Cable, with a singers voice and an affable gesture, is an action man. He's everywhere. He initiates the Queen Mother of Jordan and elevates her to the title of Grand Master of Honor. Inevitably, he encounters the Grand Orient of France on the way and the joins him. But how can Clipsas accept a federation that accepts women? The Bureau dealt with the case on 11 September 1965. It couldn't decide. It would take them two years to imagine a Solomon-style trial. On 14 October 1967 the Gran Loggia d'Italia degli A.L.A.M. (Old, Free and Accepted Masons), whose flames were lit in 1909 and the Brothers suffered fascist repression, is admitted. With a reservation: only male Lodges are recognized.
Early diseases of childhood and youth: a president of the Union, Jaak Nutkewitz, will say in 1976 that in these sixties - "his first youth" - Clipsas is "marked by all kinds of vicissitudes, childhood diseases, discomfort and even a certain hostility". The main one of these childhood diseases is the whirlwind of adhesions. They go, they come. On the shores of Michigan or on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, they are in love with the newborn and its first steps. They want to share the joy, They send in their membership, but are far away. They don't participate, or don't contribute. They forget to reply to the mail (which is in French). The Grand Lodge of the State of Para (Belém, Brazil), admitted in June 1962 was put to sleep on February 20, 1967, as well as the Gand Orient and United Lodges of Cameroon, under reservations, on July 6, 1963. (GolUC will return to Clipsas in 1982).
In April 1969, in Rome, the assembly had the courage to decide and separated from the Grand Orient of Lebanon, the Grand Federal Orient of Spain (still in Mexico), the United Grand Lodge of Mexico (Veracruz), the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Michigan and the Grand Lodge Mexico-Texana.
The Strasbourg Union was enriched, from January 20, 1962, with the Grand Lodge of Spanish Language (12 Lodges in New York and Florida and one in Los Angeles) and Grossorient Von Deutschland, a small organization created in late August 1961 by Grand Master August Klages, who was among the 28th in Strasbourg as the number two of the AFAM delegation. Then, on April 2, 1965, with the Grand Lodge of Jordan, whose King Hussein is the Grand Master, the Grand Lodge of Jordan will take the place of the Grand Orient of Lebanon in the order of protocol. They will quickly change their title to Grand Lodge for Arab Countries.
But, in the late 1960s, Clipsas members were only ten after being eighteen (theoretically) in 1965.
The German affair. In Germany, most of the Brothers are grouped in the Grossloge A.F.A.M. (Old, Free and Accepted Freemasons). In the European climate of 1961, AFAM challenged the Anglo-Saxons with whom, however, it has daily and family relations. Since the war, Allied soldiers have been stationed in the Federal Republic and the Brothers have been forming military Lodges grouped in the Grand Canadian American Lodge (Bad Kissingen) and the British Freemasons in Germany (D'sseldorf). The Americans and the English (like the French in their area) helped the Germans re-establish themselves. They are fraternized in temples. Together they hold banquets at the hostels on the Rhine. Together they frequent Hamburg concerts. However, without hesitation, AFAM signed the Strasbourg appeal. Until November 17, 1962, the Grand Master attended all meetings. Then, from 1963 to 1965, he apologized. Why?
In London, ecumenism is in vogue. The most extravagant personality of the United Grand Lodge of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, made headlines as he went to Rome with the Pope before the opening, on 8 December 1962, of the Second Vatican Council, where one of the themes is "the preparation of Christian unity". The aggression of the United Grand Lodge of England does not stop: in 1966 he recognized a Grand Lodge of Belgium, born of a division of the Grand Orient of Belgium. They permanently asks Alpina to break with the Grand Lodge of France. To emerge from his isolation, the latter started fraternal relationships on 15 April 1964 with the Grand Orient of France and then in 1965 with the Grand Orient of Belgium. A severe hemorrhage sanctions this heartbreaking review: almost 600 Brothers (out of a total of 8,200), led by "dignitaries" Louis Doignon and Jean Mons obeyed the Anglo-Saxon sirens of the National Grand Lodge of France (known as Bineau or Boulevard Bineau, named for their direction in Neuilly).
The National Grand Lodge of France "Bineau" was called to supervise and warn the Germans who live with the heretics of Clipsas. Finally, on April 29, 1967, the Germans of the AFAM Grossloge warn Clipsas that they have to distance themselves. They ensure that they will maintain a fraternal attitude to their members and keep their word. For its part, the Grossorient Von Deutschland remains, for the moment, firmly anchored, but does not have the weight of AFAM.
Fraternal Youth- Friendship Bridge. Sometimes you just need an idea, a team and a lot of dedication. In April 1969, in Rome, the Frenchman Jean Soulacroix presented his idea: to associate the children of the Freemasons with the CLIPSAS project.
"Let young people who do not know each other, even for the most part in their own country, establish contacts, appreciate and become friends across borders."
Of athletic constitution and a face full of brotherhood, Soulacroix, 57, outlines the painting: young people who "integrate into a collective life", who "dialogue", who "confront their ideas, their opinions are often different", who discover at the same time a region unknown to them. Inspector of Youth and Sports, proposes Vichy. Not Napoleon III's Vichy with its English springs and parks, but Lake Allier and the sports center. That is, an active and healthy life.
The idea is adopted. The first summer, there are 31 children of Masons. Over the years, soon it will be 150 from 14 to 17 years to discover kayaking or archery, bonfires or climbing. Thanks to the volunteer animators. Together, they are increasingly working on a different topic, "the search for a fair education" or "a draft convention on the rights of the child." And every time, they bring new ideas.
The meetings of the young people in Vichy at the initiative of Brother Jean Soulacroix is in the collective memory a very emblematic symbol of the efforts to bring together all the Freemasons, without borders, in the founding spirit of Clipsas.
Of all the works of Clipsas, Vichy is the one that has the most beautiful colors.