[Square & Compasses]
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 1996 00:10:21 +0200
From: Bozo Sibalic 
Reply-To: bobz@EUnet.yu
To: dryfoo@MIT.EDU
Subject: Re: Home page
--------

Dear Bro. Gary,

I am sending you the article about Free-masonry in Yugoslavia, as I
promised. Please, don't hesitate to make any adjustments, concerning
grammar or style.

Sincerely and Fraternally,

Bozo

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E-mail:
bobz@eunet.yu
bozos@sezampro.com
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FREE-MASONRY IN YUGOSLAVIA

by Bozo Sibalic
Deputy Grand Secretary
Regular Grand Lodge "Yugoslavia" [No copyright as long as it is published for Masonic purposes.

This article first appeared in The Blue Banner Newsletter of Blue Lodge #142 in Dillon, South Carolina (thanks to Bro. Patrick C. Labbe) and Genesis, official publication of the Grand Lodge of Spain (thanks to Bro. Jose-Luis Menoyo).]

GEOGRAPHY

Until 1991, Yugoslavia consisted of six republic - Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro. Today, after the war on its territories, only the latter two remained together in federation - Federal Republic Yugoslavia.

JUST A BIT OF HISTORY

The history of Free-masonry in Yugoslavia is a two and a half centuries long chain made of interims and renaissance. The first Masonic Lodge on the territories of present day Yugoslavia was founded in Kotor, Montenegro, in 1807. Napoleon's officers and soldiers made the Lodge under the name "Loge de St. Jean". Unfortunately, this noble idea was brought in by the conquerors, and the existence of the Lodge ceased with French withdrawal.

In Serbia, the first one was established in Belgrade at the end of XVIII century. Development of Free-masonry was disrupted few years later, due to rebellion and war between Serbs and Turks. Nearly one century later, in 1876, Free-masonry was restored and the Lodge "Svetlost Balkana" was established by the followers of revolutionary and Mason Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Lodges "Srpska zadruga", "Sloga, rad i postojanstvo", "Pobratim" in Belgrade and Lodge "Nemanja" in Nis followed. Then, again, came the period of interruptions and restorations.

Members of this Fraternity were esteemed citizens, writers, poets, composers, businessmen, builders and pillars of society. Just to mention few of them - Dositej Obradovic, poet, writer, Minister of Education and founder of the first University in Serbia; Sima Milutinovic - Sarajlija, writer and tutor of Petar II Petrovic Njegos, one of our greatest poets, ruler of Montenegro and priest; Nikola Pasic, prime minister of Serbia, Stevan Mokranjac, composer and many others whose human and Masonic impact on people were immeasurable.

After centuries of cessations and revivals, there were 27 Lodges and 2,500 Masons in Yugoslavia just at the beginning of WWII.

Nazi occupation of the country, years of war and post WWII communist regime made Masonry asleep. It is quite interesting that many of the communist leaders in the post WWII Yugoslavia were pre-war Masons.

NEW BIRTH AND NEW PROBLEMS

The Masonic history in Yugoslavia continues after almost fifty years, when the Masonic light reappeared. In the 1990 United Grand Lodge of Germany brought the light in the then Grand Lodge of Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, expected period of peaceful Masonic development didn't lasted.

Some acts of then Grand Master Zoran Nenezic proved out to be non-Masonic and that lead to the 1993 Assembly of the Grand Lodge "Yugoslavia" when he was expelled from the craft and the name of the Grand Lodge "Yugoslavia" was decided to be changed into Regular Grand Lodge "Yugoslavia".

In addition to these misfortunes, the horrible war started and country was dismembered. Croatian and Slovenian Brethren asked for and got honorable dismissals from Grand Lodge. Our PGM Bro. Dragan Tanasic met them few times during the war on various occasions. Every time the best and fraternal communication was established. That is what the Free-masonry is about, isn't it? There are not, yet, Grand Lodges in Croatia and Slovenia. Their Lodges are under protection of Grand Lodge of Austria. We are looking forward to the day when the Masonic light will be brought in and Grand Lodges consecrated in these countries, when we will establish fraternal and friendly relations. (As we hear, but it is not officialy corroborated yet, Grand Lodges of Slovenia and Croatia were consecrated recently).

During past years of the war that tear up former Yugoslavia into pieces, Brethren were upstanding men of good reputation, and that was not easy to retain. There were continuous attacks in the press, or on TV coming from few irresponsible characters, claiming to be journalists.

Chauvinism had its time, and any kind of reasonable attempt for dialogue was marked as treason. Free-masonry was condemned almost as a satanic sect. As if the very ghost of general Ludendorf, that anti-Masonic author from the beginning of the century and rise of Nazi party, sang again his stupid tune. Besides, in the vicinity of war, society tends to criminalize, the middle class disappears - the very class most of Masons are coming from - because of general impoverishment. That's why Masons acted as individuals, keeping low profile in gathering humanitarian aid and sending it to those people who lost almost everything - their dear ones, their houses and properties, their peace.

TODAY

Today, the things are changing. The war stopped, the need for international and inter-religious communication reappeared. Consequently, the things are better for Free-masonry. Even the prime minister met our Grand Master, M. W. Bro. Novak D. Jaukovic who informed him about the present situation of Free-masonry in Yugoslavia.

Although, we are still working in hard conditions. We have no Lodge, no building. We gather and work in houses and apartments provided by enthusiastic Brethren. We just started Grand Lodge's Library, with few titles, donated by Brethren, and it will be really good to see it growing.

We work by Schroeder's rituals, that slightly differ from rituals of American Lodges. For work, we wear black suits, aprons and no hats. Brethren are not so skilled in ritual work (with exceptions, of course), but they are eagerly learning, working on themselves. Central gathering is at the time of Annual Assembly, usually in the first week of June. After formal part, we have dinner, accompanied with our wives and families.

Free-masonry in Yugoslavia is young (according to the average age of its members) and it is, now, in much calmer waters. We are trying to become small but reliable link in the chain of the international Brotherhood. There are five Lodges now under jurisdiction of Regular Grand Lodge "Yugoslavia" - "Pobratim" #1, "Svetlost Balkana - Garibaldi" #2, "Maksimilijan Vrhovac" #3, "Vuk Karadzic" #5 in Belgrade and "Montenegro" #4 in Podgorica. The sixth one "Mitropolit Stratimirovic" #6 is to be consecrated in Novi Sad. Organization continually grows, more and more good men are asking about it and want to join. Brethren are enthusiastic men, willing to work and learn, to spread out the Masonic word, a good men trying to become better ones, no matter how hard it already is, or can be, trying to make the world a better place, starting here and starting now. It is a great undertake, but someone has to try.

(Note: This text contains only personal oppinions, and it doesn't necessarily reflects oppinions of the Regular Grand Lodge "Yugoslavia".)


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