UNION OF STRASBOURG – CLIPSAS
1. In order to understand the Union and the engagements that bind us, it is necessary to go back to the Minutes of the historic Strasburg Conference of January 22, 1961.
The title of these first Minutes is without ambiguity: “Information and Liaison Centre of the Masonic Powers Signatory to the Strasburg Appeal”.
It is of the utmost importance that the Founders included in this title the term “appeal” which according to the text, line 19, page 2, designates “the common appeal which characterises the union of the Obediences among themselves and with respect to the outside”.
No less important, on page 2, lines 3 to 8 : “the G.M. Ravel (France) recalls that each delegation represents its Obedience; the Conference of today is not a meeting of GG.MM. in a personal capacity. The delegations specifically express their agreement with the terms of the proclamation of the G.O. of Belgium and the G.O. of France of November 1960”..
2. Twelve years after the creation of the Union, the G.M. Zeller, Vice-President of CLIPSAS, in answer to the question whether CLIPSAS pursues the reestablishment of universality, even, should the case arise, with the UGLE, confirms the proclamation of 1960 and the Strasburg Appeal: “There is no principle of exclusivity towards the UGLE. If it takes us as we are, that is enough”.
3. In another confirmation of the Union, in 1982 the President “welcomes F. Ruffin Green, G.M. of the Omega Grand Lodge which has just entered the Strasburg Union”.
4. From 1994 on, some GG.MM. wanted to rewrite the Appeal of Strasburg, to eliminate the paragraph “Esteem”, the key to the universality decided at Strasburg.
The third point of the proposition by G.M. Lafouge at Santiago : “A moratorium of three years is decided for the admission of new Grand Lodges, in order to permit a detailed examination of their liberal character and freedom of thought” reflects this will to restrict, that is to say to denounce, the Declaration of Union and the Strasburg Appeal.
In 1990, the Strasburg Union was renamed CLIPSAS by President Ragache because “the title of the association is long too, obsolete, and does not state the objective of the group”. This change of denomination must not be interpreted as a modification or the termination of the Strasburg Union.
The question “Why CLIPSAS?” is identical to “Why the Strasburg Union?”.
1. The answer is to be found in the Proclamation of 1960, approved by all the Obediences, that is to say the restoring of the Union Chain broken by regrettable exclusions and “the edification of a vast universal Masonic gathering, the necessity of which is more imperative than ever”: thus all the Grand Lodges members of the Union / CLIPSAS are united. And the registration of the Statues in 1993 with the Prefecture of Paris confers a legal existence on us.
2. Moreover, this Union of Sovereign Obediences ensures a permanent contact and flow of information. The contact takes place in the General Assemblies and Conferences.
The information is furnished by the members. Unfortunately, with the development of electronic means, the majority of members no longer feel the need to transmit such information. Though this is regrettable, it cannot be brought to the discredit of the Association.
In order to restore the Universal Chain of Union broken by regrettable exclusions, the Conference of Strasburg created the Strasburg Union based on the proclamation of 1960.
Forty years later, the goals of this proclamation and the declaration of Union are still a vital reality.
Thus, in the discussions of the 2000 CLIPSAS Conference as well as in the General Assembly, the general opinion recognised the unique value of the UNION OF STRASBOURG / CLIPSAS.
2. PROCLAMATION AND APPEAL OF STRASBOURG
PROCLAMATION ADOPTED AT STRASBOURG ON 22 JANVIER 1961
(text of the Grand Orient of France and the Grand Orient of Belgium)
The Signatory Grand Lodges :
– are honoured by their absolute loyalty to the message of tolerance, fraternity and union contained in Article 1 of Anderson’s Constitutions (1723) and whose respect remains their golden rule.
– esteem that Freemasonry has as its mission “to join the persons who, without it, would have remained strangers” and that the Freemason must essentially be an element of concord between all men.
– consider that the essence of Masonry resides in its social ideal of fraternity and duty, and not in the rigid observance of any usage, however traditional, that a spirituality which closely unites man to the future of humanity and to the improvement of its condition, has as much value as that which he can find in his relationship with a supra-natural principle.
For these Grand Lodges, initiation, philanthropy, spirituality, do not exclude a vocation of humanism and progress; mediation does not exclude action. The respect of rites and of tradition does not exclude:
– sending a message of tolerance, of fraternity, of union;
– inspiring men with an individual will of elevation and harmony;
– offering the young a greater and more generous ideal.
As the river is only true to its source in flowing to the sea, so a Masonry which refuses to follow human progress would betray the very intention of its founders. By the very way it is progressive, our Masonry, conscious of achieving the generous intentions of our M Anderson in modern scientific society, by its natural prolongation, the complete freedom of thought, admits no limitation to the absolute freedom of conscience.
The achievement of this ideal necessitates the recognition of all Masons in a mutual harmony where each note conserves its value, and in the respect of the freedom for all. A Masonry which intends to accomplish its mission would not reject any moral values capable of strengthening it. All men, whatever their race, religion, social position, philosophical or political ideals or economic ideas, if they are free and men of integrity, must commune in a same will of union to permit the building of a vast universal Masonic gathering, whose existence is more than ever of vital importance. If exclusions remain, they do not stem from us, and we condemn creating any ourselves. Far from being an obstacle to the Union, we believe that the diversity of moral values constitutes a factor of intellectual and spiritual wealth indispensable to its expansion.
We are convinced that Masonries which do not admit absolute freedom of conscience are imperfectly enlightened and that it is our duty to aid them in their way towards the Light. Respectful of all traditions, rites, symbols and beliefs, of the absolute freedom of conscience, faithful to the spirit of Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723, believing that each Mason be responsible to freely determine his choice of Rite and the interpretation of symbols, the Signatory Powers call on all Masonries of the World, in order that an unbreakable Union Chain forms between them, which would assure the triumph of the Masonic ideal and lead humanity toward more Beauty and Goodness.
THE STRASBURG APPEAL
The Sovereign Masonic Powers gathered in Strasburg on 22 January 1961
1.that it is imperative to restore among all Freemasons the Union Chain broken by regrettable exclusions irreconcilable with the principles of Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723 ;
2.that it is essential to that effect, taking due account all traditions, rites, symbols beliefs, and respecting the absolute freedom of conscience, to join efforts in order to establish the conditions which determine the quality of the Freemason.
that each Lodge and each Obedience ought to be free to decide whether the activities should be placed under the protection of the Great Architect of the Universe, and whether one of the Three Lights should be the Sacred Volume of a revealed religion.
DECIDE AND DECLARE
to establish among themselves fraternal relations and to open the doors of their Temples, without condition of reciprocity, to any male or female Freemason who has received the Light in a just and perfect Lodge on condition that the Masonic specificity of the Lodge or the Obedience permits these visits
to all Freemasons to join the Union Chain based on total freedom of conscience and complete mutual tolerance.
GENERAL RULES OF CLIPSAS
CLIPSAS is an International Masonic Association grouping Obediences having adhered to the Proclamation and the Appeal of Strasburg. Its Statutes are filed at the Prefecture of Paris.
Each member Obedience retains its sovereignty and CLIPSAS does not claim itself a supra Obedience.
The basis of CLIPSAS is the Universal Union Chain between its member Obediences. Therefore, CLIPSAS performs a function of liaison, information, communication and reflection. It could participate by contributing to the major philosophical, social and humanitarian problems through United Nations organisations.
Article 1. Its members are Obediences incorporating at least three Blue Lodges working in the first three Degrees.
Article 2. The members of a same Continent may establish a Continental Commission whose goals and means they define, respecting the preceding Rule.
Article 3. Requests for admission must be addressed to the Bureau. Only candidacies of Obediences proving three years of existence at the time the Commission of Inquiry is designated are taken into consideration.
Article 4. All requests for admission must be accompanied by :
a) the express adherence and without reservation to the above principles of CLIPSAS and the forming of fraternal relations, without conditions of reciprocity and in the respect of the Masonic specificity of the Obedience;
b) its Statutes or General Rules ;
c) a brief history ;
d) the questionnaire of general information.
Article 5. The Bureau informs the member Obediences of the request received.
Article 6. All candidacies are examined by a Commission of Inquiry designated by the General Assembly or, between assemblies, by the Bureau. It is composed, as far as possible, of three Obediences on the same Continent as the applicant and one of whom has its headquarters in the same country. This Commission reports to the General Assembly. It is obliged to consult the member Obediences residing on the national territory of the applicant.
Member Obediences must notify the President in writing within six months of any opposition to the admission of the candidate Obedience.
The President informs the other members of this opposition.
Article 7. All admission, suspension or exclusion is pronounced in General Assembly according to Article 11. Abstentions are not permitted. In the case of rejection by the Assembly, a delay of three years is required before again presenting the candidacy.
Article 8. The supreme organ of the Union, the General Assembly (hereinafter “the Assembly”) is constituted of the representatives of the member Obediences. It meets once a year in the first semester, in a location chosen by the preceding Assembly. The Assembly is entitled to pronounce decisions by whatever number of Obediences are present.
The Assembly can summon extraordinary assemblies. The President must do so if at least one quarter of the Obediences request it. All men and women Masons of member Obediences can be present at Assemblies, but only the representatives of the Obediences have the right to vote. The Assembly may authorise non-member Obediences to be present as observers at all or part of its meetings.
Article 9. The President communicates the Agenda one month and a half before the Assembly. Members dispose of two weeks to ask the President to enter other items. Except in the case of acknowledged necessity, the assembly may only discuss the questions on the Agenda.
Article 10. Each Obedience holds :
1 vote if it has at least 500 members,
3 votes if it has at least 500 to 1499 members,
5 votes if it has at least 1500 à 5999 members,
7 votes if it has more than 6000 members.
Article 11. The assembly takes its decisions by a double simple majority of votes cast by voting Obediences.
Article 12. A Obedience may assign a proxy to another member or to the President to represent it at the current Assembly. No one may receive more than two proxies.
Article 13. The Assembly elects a Bureau by secret ballot containing one name only. The Bureau, in which all Continents are represented, is composed of :
-five Vice-Presidents. The Vice-Presidents take precedence, in decreasing order of votes obtained, after those elected previously.
-a General Recorder.
There cannot be more than one member of a same Obedience in the above seven offices.
The most recent past President is a member of the Bureau ès quality.
To be eligible as President, he or she must be Grand Master or Past Grand Master submitted by his or her Obedience.
To be eligible for the other offices of the Bureau, one must be Grand Master or designated by one’s Obedience, and having held a national function therein. The candidates pledge to be present at the meetings.
Article 14. The Bureau’s terms are three years non-renewable, beginning at the end of the Assembly during which the election took place. In the case of the departure of an elected official before the end of his term, the next Assembly proceeds with his replacement for a period of three years.
Article 15. The President heads the meetings of the Assembly and the Bureau.
He/she is responsible for the carrying out of the decisions taken there and heads the Secretariat.
Article 16. The Bureau disposes of the power to administer CLIPSAS to the best of its interests defined by the Assembly. It is responsible for making decisions concerning the common interest of the members :
– to report its work to the Assembly and request the approval of its administration.
– to close the year-end balance sheet and the budget forecast.
– to prepare the proposals to be presented to the Assembly.
The Bureau meets once in the fall and twice at the time of the Assembly. It takes it decisions by majority. In the case of a tie, the President prevails.
When not in meeting, its members consult with each other.
Article 17. In the case where the President would not be able to perform his functions, one of the
Vice-Presidents, in order of their election, assumes the functions of President.
Article 18. One Vice-President, elected by the Assembly, exercises the function of Treasurer. He is responsible for everything concerning the financial administration, within the limits of the budget voted by the Assembly.
He keeps a register of receipts and disbursements and the bank statements of CLIPSAS.
The fiscal year covers the period from 1 March to the following 28/29 February.
After approval by the Bureau, the Treasurer presents the financial report of the past financial year with the report of the Auditors.
The Treasurer may be assisted by a member of his Obedience.
Article 19. The administrative responsibilities are carried out by the President.
– He assures the administration of the association.
– He centralises all documents, and assumes, if necessary, their distribution among the members.
– He draws up the Agenda and the Minutes of the meetings and distributes them.
He may be assisted by a member of his Obedience, as General Secretary.
Article 20. The Assembly elects two Auditors among its members for a period of three years.
Article 21. No function within CLIPSAS is remunerated.
Article 22. In order to attain the objectives decided by the Assembly, the Obediences pay dues in Euro determined each year by the Assembly.
Article 23. Dues must be paid before 1 October. In the case of non-payment of dues before the next Assembly, the Obedience is suspended from the right to vote.
If an Obedience is indebted for more than one exercise, it may be excluded
The Treasurer is responsible for collecting the dues and making the necessary reminders.
Article 24. The Assembly may create or dissolve Commissions for specific purposes. They receive a subsidy and keep accounts. Their accounts are closed each year at the end of February and presented to the Bureau, which integrates them into the financial accounts of CLIPSAS.
Article 25. Any modification of the present rules falls within the competence of an Ordinary Assembly.