Article: 5317 of alt.freemasonry
From: hhatza@jamaica.ac.uk (Harry Hatzakis)
Newsgroups: alt.freemasonry
Subject: UNGLE does not recognize Greece?
Date: 12 Jun 1995 13:28:55 GMT
Organization: Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London
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Sender: hhatza@jamaica (Harry Hatzakis)
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Adelfoi mou i tektoniki alissos diespasti.....

HISTORICAL OR POLITICAL?

On the 9th of June 1993, the United Grand Lodge of England withdrew recognition of the Grand Lodge of Greece by reason of "the encouragement of the discussion of politics in Grand Lodge and its subordinate Lodges." An allegation which is refuted in its entity by the Grand Lodge of Greece. Universally, only a small minority of Grand Lodges chose to follow this decision, the remainder having given considerable credence to the documented evidence and deputation presented by the Grand Lodge of Greece, decided to continue, uninterrupted, the amicable and fraternal regard which has existed over the decades. After that the United Grand Lodge of England went further and recognized the National Lodge of Greece, a Masonic order with only a couple of actives Lodges in Greece, compared to the 76 Lodges under the Grand Lodge. The reasons for this hustle decision remains dubious to all the members of the brotherhood in Greece.

There is no doubt, that in every Mason, there is freedom of thought on matters unlimited. How is it then, a man who enters the Craft of his own free will and accord, can change his way of thinking? He does not! He learns by the teachings of morality by experienced fellow masons, to practice tolerance, moderation, understanding and most of all CHARITY. If he is at variance with a Brother on any matter which cannot be resolved amicably, he is honor bound as a Freemason, to retire, rather than the harmony between others is disturbed by his presence.

It is with this philosophy in mind that I send the message to the participants of the list, with a brief explanation of the formative years of Freemasonry in Greece. It does not purport to be a detailed or authoritative work, but more intended to give the uninformed an introduction and general background to the complete change of Freemasonry from then up to the present time. There cannot be many Grand Lodges in the word who can claim such an important influence in moulding the future of their country's independence as Greece. It is well known and acknowledge that Greece was the "Cradle of Democracy." History cannot be rewritten, but if it were, could it have been the Premier Grand Lodge?

On the 29 May 1453, Mohammed II led his Ottoman Turks into Constantinople, putting an end to a bitter struggle of nearly 300 years around this mighty fortified city and so overcame the last obstacle to his conquest of the slowly dying Byzantine Empire.

Thereafter, during the next centuries, the heavy pall of Orientalism settled over the Eastern Christian lands, and almost stifled the proud Greek spirit. Almost -- but not entirely -- for something of fine steel in the character of the Greeks, allowed them to bend under the despotism of the Turks, but not to break. So, for nearly 400 years, they waited and prayed for liberty, meantime keeping their religion, language and traditions alive by means of secret schools. In the 18th century, the lively interest of the intellectual aristocracy in the problems of life and man's relation to it, had given rise to great liberty of thought, the consequences of each was two great conflicts against despotic tyranny, the American War of Independence and the French Revolution. These successful uprisings had a tremendous effect throughout the whole world, and is not surprising that the hopes they held forth to other nations under durance, were eagerly embraced by the Greeks. It is also significant that Freemasonry, with its teachings of Fraternity and Freedom of the individual, began to flourish at this time, and had spread over Europe and America.

Exiled Greeks found, in the Craft, the inspiration they needed to carry its ideas to Liberty, Freedom and Equality into their own land. It must be remembered, at that time, Freemasonry in Europe was a child of France and that POLITICS AND RELIGION WERE NOT SUBJECTS BANNED FOR DISCUSSION IN LODGES. Many Greeks therefore joined the Craft in Lodges then existing in France, Italy, Russia, Serbia, Austria, Rumania and even, where sufficient numbers could be found, instituted their own Lodges. When eventually the dream of liberation of Greece was advanced by Greek Brethren to their host Lodges they received by varying degrees, financial, moral and administrative help. In the purely Greek Lodges, like that founded in 1787 by the Prince Mavrokordatos in Odessa, Russia, the plans for the revolt from the Turk would be much more practical and to the point, than perhaps the more theoretical and rhetorical ones discussed elsewhere. The Lodges were also used as sounding boards for the whole of the Greek community in the particular areas of their operation. From them, sprang various "societies of Liberation" as they may be called, in major cities throughout Europe, not only with the hard- core of Greek Freemasons, but also including other members of the non-Masonic community, to whom they did not desired to extend membership of the Lodge, but who would be very useful in the forthcoming revolt. Therein the dreams of Freedom were expounded, and the means for attaining it examined. Every member was then accorded a part corresponding to his qualifications. In some of these Societies, the plan would be to take over Ottoman Empire as it stood, whilst in others, an armed uprising to establish a Greek State was preferred.

Not all these Lodges were allowed to pursue their existence unhindered and some were discovered and disbanded. "The Good Cousins" Society in Belgrade, for instance, was uncovered by the Turkish police in June 1878, and its founders put to death. Similarly, the Greek Lodge "Philogenie" in Kerkyra (Corfu), chartered by the Grand Orient of France, was declared dormant in 1807 under pressure of the Vatican, to which the teachings of the French Revolution were particularly repugnant.

In order to coordinate these scattered movements, Count Dionysios Romas established the first Grand Lodge of Greece in 1812, made himself Grand Master, and proceeded to direct the affairs of Freemasonry and simultaneously, the Liberation Movement.

All exiled Greeks of wealth and position were approached for their assistance and the outcome of this effort was the establishment of what is historically known as the "Friendly Society" at Odessa by three Masons, Skoufas, Xanthos and Tsacalov, which became the backbone of the liberation movement. This society, on the model of all others, with its core of Freemasons, directed its activities by the Masonic system, i.e. signs of recognition; passwords; grips and tokens; and Obligation taken on the Holy Bible; and its members divided into degrees according to the estimation of the degree of their usefulness to the cause.

This was the Society which opened up branches in the Greek towns to sow the seeds of revolt, to collect large sums of money and to forewarn Greeks of military experience. General Kolokotronis, a legendary hero of the War of Independence, specially slipped over to Zante secretly, in order to join the Craft in the Lodge in that island and returned to the Peloponese, to take part in the Revolution. Other great figures of Greek history including Ipsilantis and Kapodistrias, who were both initiated into "Phoenix" Lodge in Russia in 1807 and 1813 respectively.

From 1814 to 1821, when war broke out, this Society was then the leading spirit in disseminating the ideas of Liberty and the formation of an independent Greek State. In 1829, the Independent Greek State was declared and a new life begun for the Greeks.

After the war the "Friendly Society", with its prewar aims was no longer required and was dissolved, but its influence remained for some time unseen, but felt, in the Foreign Offices of the Great Powers, were Masonic Brethren in touch with their Greek Brethren, continued to give council, help and direction in the formation of their new State. It is said that, in Greece, a Bro. William Towsend Washington (relative of the President), acted as a courier between Bro. General Lafayette and Bro. Prince Mavrokordatos, for the President was anxious to ensure that the new State should be a Republic and not a Kingdom.

The corner stone had thus been well and truly laid for the speculative building of a Masonic Edifice. The establishment of Lodges in Continental Greece, started around the year 1863 following the liberation of the region from the Turks. In 1964, eight Italian chartered Lodges in Greece, asked for permission from the Grand Orient of Italy, to become independent. This independence was granted in 1867 under a decree issued by the Grand Orient of Italy and the Grand Lodge of Greece was founded in 1867. Since then the Greek Masonic movement has grown constantly and there are now a total of 76 Lodges in various cities and towns in Greece and Cyprus with a very important number of individual and regular Freemasons.

The present Grand Lodge of Greece is proud of its links with the past, and even if we deem it unthinkable that Freemasonry would nowadays play any part in politics, we should not begrudge them that measure of pride in the efforts of their former Brethren, in bringing about conditions in Greece, where Freemasonry van operate legally, with dignity and the blessings of Regular Brethren throughout the world. It is inconceivable to contemplate, than an irregular schematically formed group could considered itself as a legitimate replacement of the Establishment.

Freemasonry in Greece has passed through 184 years of many vicissitudes. Two world wars, a Civil war, a period of dictatorship, known as the Junta, and more recently, the vexed question of Macedonia, where the territory around Skopjie of the former Yugoslavian Republic, seeks recognition with the name of Macedonia, and using Greek Symbols for their flag. In the minds of the Greek people, the last topic was, and still is, a matter of historical principle and of the glories of Alexander the Great.

It is ironic that the interpretation of certain events concerning this last issue, was presented in such a manner by influenced witnesses, that provided the "alleged" grounds for the United Grand Lodge of England, in their "infinite wisdom" to withdraw recognition of the Grand Lodge of Greece. The full history of the above events with the correspondence, is available to all the members of the list, upon request. The Grand Lodge of Greece has nothing to hide, and its stand to the allegations is no secret to the Brethren throughout the world. It is important to mention thought, that the withdrawal of recognition seemed to be well orchestrated in advance, since, even before the claimed incidence, many allegations had been made in an effort to discredit the sovereignty of the Grand Lodge of Greece. In one instance, reference was made to an event as far as back as 1907. Such actions and references seem to be most unworthy of the world wide respect held for the Premiere Grand Lodge.

At this point, it would be well to record, that no foreign power has set foot on British soil for over 900 years. It took almost 100 years to bring about the Act of Union between the two Grand Lodges to form the United Grand Lodge of England. On these facts one can not speculate. If Britain had been subject to the same turmoil and persecution as the Greek, or indeed other European nations for a similar period, would their Freemasons of the day have pursed the same course as their Continental Brethren and would they have now viewed their history in a different light?

These are questions of history NOT politics, of facts NOT opinions and most important OF THE HONOR, TRUTH AND VIRTUE OF A FREEMASON.

Let him who is without guilt cast the first stone.

Bro. Harry A. Hatzakis
"Alexander the Great" Lodge #64
Thessaloniki, Greece.
The above express my personal opinions on the matters of recognition, and they do not necessarily reflect the views of the Grand Lodge of Greece.


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