Saturday, June 2, 2012

A More Sane Model for Relations


On May 23, 1951 a new constitution of the Grand Orient of Brazil, from which it became an exclusively Symbolic Masonic Potency, physically and administratively separate from the Supreme Council of Brazil of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and other Heads of Lodge Rites. Since 1978 the Grand Orient of Brazil has functioned as a national federation of Symbolic Lodges and State Grand Orients, and is headquartered in the Federal Capital, Brasilia (DF).

Its organizational structure is that of a classic Grande Oriente with the Democratic tripartate model of power, similar to that of the Federal Government of the US.  In each state of the Federative Republic of Brazil, its Lodges are grouped under a State Grande Oriente, organized along the lines of the Grande Oriente. The Grand Master represents the state Executive Branch of the Grand Orient of Brazil in their state, exercising functions delegated by the Grand Master General. These are not State Great Orient "Masonic Obediences," but simple representative administrators under the National Grand Orient of Brazil, aiming to facilitate the progress of bureaucratic processes in a country with a large territory (8.5 million sq. km, or 3.28 million sq. miles).

In late November 1995 the Grand Orient of Brazil had recorded in its National Register a total of 1,580 Lodges, all of which practice one of the six recognized and approved rites:-

•Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (1361 Lodges)
•Adonhiramite Rite (47 Lodges)
•Modern or French Rite (46 Lodges)
•Brazilian Rite (102 Lodges)
•York Rite "Emulation" (22 Lodges) and
• Schroeder Rite (2 Lodges).

The total number of members enrolled in the tables of Lodges in March 31, 1995 (date of the annual census) reached the milestone of 86,860 brothers. In terms of geographic distribution, in late November 1995, the figures were as follows São Paulo (365 Lodges; approx. 13,000 active members), Minas Gerais (222 Lodges, 7,323 members), Rio de Janeiro (193 Lodges, 6320 members),  Goiás (109 Lodges, 4,668 members) and Bahia (with 73 Lodges,  2,045 members).

The Grand Orient of Brazil is "regular" according to the standards of the UGLE, with which it has maintained a close relationship over the past century.

In Brazil, the first and oldest of the Masonic Powers is the current GOB - Grand Orient of Brazil.  In 1927, through an historic division, Masonic Lodges under the GOB originated Grand Lodges, are today associated with the Brazilian Masonic Symbolic Confederation (CMSB). In 1973, through another historic division within the GOB, the Independent Masonic Grand Orient Confederation of Brazil (COMAB) was founded. This organization is not interested in a debate over concepts of regularity and recognition. Instead, it makes a clear statement: the word "Freemasonry" is public domain, but not everything that calls itself "Freemasonry" really is. Nor do we mean that only those who are part of the three Masonic Associations above are "Freemasons". There are associations that do serious work based on the Masonic philosophy, but due to their origins do not fully meet the overly rigid standards of the English Traditions. Bound by their ties to the UGLE, members of these other organizations are not allowed as visitors in GOB, CMSB, COMAB and other regular Grand Orients and Grand Lodges around the world.

However, the Grand Orient of Brazil approaches other Masonic Obediences operating in their nation pragmatically. They admit that many of these exist as a result of disagreements that occurred within their own obedience, and that most of the current members of these lodges having no idea that in Brazil there was more than one Obedience. The vast majority of Lodges affiliated with Independent State Grand Lodges and Grand Orients regularly work according to the precepts of the Universal Order. In light of the principles of sovereignty and territoriality these Obediences should not be allowed intervisitation, but reality shows us that the Lodges of the three systems receive more or less frequent visits by members from other Obediences, provided that they belong to a Lodge considered "regular ".  Obediences not regarded as "regular" include clusters of "free lodges", or those linked to organizations that call themselves "mixed Freemasonry", "Female Masonry" or "independent Freemasonry."

The administrations of the Grand Orient of Brazil and its federated State Grand Orients maintain generally cordial relations with the administrations of the Independent State Grand Lodges and Grand Orients, without formal "recognition". In the case of the Independent Grand Orients there is interest in setting up recognition.

Thanks to Rubens Barbosa de Mattos, Daniel, and John Slifko

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