As Worshipful Master of Lodge Europa 92 n. 1078 Orient of Firenze and in its behalf, I bring my kindest regards to the Worshipful Master Armando S\, to the Past Worshipful Master Mario P\and to all the Brothers of Lodge Europa n. 1165 Orient of Cagliari for their invitation, welcome and sweet hug.

I want to greet everybody who came to this meeting and especially thank Sardinia, today represented by the Brothers, citizens and Authorities.

My sincere and deep love for this land makes my task easy for the pleasure to confront myself with places and people which I am honored to know, but at the same time it makes it difficult as I will have to deal with a subject as wide as the one chosen for the third Symposium of the Europa Lodges.

Europe of NationsWhen we speak about “Masonry and Union of European people” - this is the subject of these works - we risk to end being rhetorical and to not reach the practical conclusions expected by the ones who admire us, yet also by those - fortunately fewer and fewer - who observe us with suspicion.

I will try not to bore you with my speech, which aims at going through the analogies between the illuminist past of Europe and Masonry in the European union, so that bearing the past in mind, we will be able to have new ideas for the future.

For centuries nobles and peasants, soldiers and merchants, men of every kind and culture, have obeyed to kings and have been faithful to dynasties: they had an idea of world which was “vertically divided”, where they only had to chose who to stand for, and not “horizontally divided”, where they could chose the actual culture they wanted to belong to.

During the Renaissance Europe was not less divided than Feudal Europe; religion itself, as the common root of this Continent, was not able to unify its people and it is even for these reasons that the different people fought against each other until the end of 1600, favouring particular interests to general ones, differences to similarities, hatred to love.

Nowadays we still keep saying that Europe of the Nations needs to become Europe of the people.

However, if we bear in mind the means of information and of diffusion of ideas that were in use in the past, it is possible to say that a Europe of the people has preceded and made possible to think about that United nation which we are enthusiastically striving to build in this century.

At a first glance, Illuminism may seem a creation of few people, few illuminated thinkers, great philosophes, nearly entirely confined in England and in pre-revolutionary France.

Yet, Voltaire, Diderot, Hume and others were only the golden tip of a great cultural revolution, which was widespread at every level of the society.

This phenomenon affected every country and the diversity of background and culture of its protagonists, for the first time in History, gave it its intellectual richness and finally its point of synthesis, the European man itself, in a general and non specific understanding.

However, sitting rooms, scientific academies and lecture societies are not sufficient to explain the complex nature of Illuminism, the diffusion of the new civic conscience and the general interest in politics.

The only movement of the time which was able to accept these progressive ideas - perhaps even to anticipate them - was Masonry, which was already a consolidated and diffused reality in the territory (it is reckoned, for instance and with no fear to be mistaken, at least 35.000 Brothers were acting in France at the end of 1700!).

Our institution had an incredibly high number of adepts, if confronted, for instance, to usual Academies, and represented a fertile sole, being one of the voluntary societies with a highest civic character.

For these reasons it became by far the most important phenomenon, one of the only places where philosophes along with governors and craftsmen, with business men and retailers, with men of science and of religion, could meet under the same cultural interests and not only because of their religious belief, their job, or their status, and they could count on their attention and care.

Ideas spread with men: hence no doubt our institution, with its presence in every European country of the time, has represented the main means of diffusion for a new culture, not local anymore, but, indeed, European.

According to the documents we have got, in the entire continent there were hardly no reunions without a foreign guest.

The Lodges, which were already keen on creating Virtue, began to share interest for constitutions, governance, legality and legitimacy.

Declaration of human and citizen rightsThinking about a society based upon merit instead of birth, not separated from the individuals’ self-improvement and general harmony, made it possible to foster that right to happiness which in 1789 was the base for the National Assembly’s “Declaration of Human Rights” and which is now the base for our current, common, European feeling, of our Fundamental Rights Charter.

The Declaration of Human and Civil Rights is formed by seventeen articles (this number will keep growing in the next editions) and is the result of the work of the National Assembly in August 1789.
The Declaration caused a revolution in the society that had never been seen before: no wonder this document follows the abolition of feudalism by few weeks only.

The Declaration, which has characterized over two centuries of European history with its universality, has inspired several constitutional charters and continues to represent one of the highest acknowledgements of human freedom and dignity. The European Charter of Fundamental Rights (2000) has absorbed a lot of the values of the Declaration of Human Rights.

The Preamble to the Declaration of 1789 contains crucial bases for the man as part of the society: “…The representatives of the French people have decided to lay down ... the natural, inalienable and sacred rights of man, so that this declaration, constantly present for every member of the society, constantly remind them of their rights and duties; …so that the citizens’ claims, from now on based upon simple and incontestable principles, always have as a result the maintenance of the Constitution and of everybody’s happiness. Consequently, the National Assembly recognizes and declares, in presence and hope of the Supreme Being, the following human and civil rights …”; the European Charter (2000) holds “… aware of its spiritual and moral inheritance, the Union is founded upon the indivisible and universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity; the Union is founded upon the principles of democracy and of the legal State. It places the person in the centre of its action by creating a Union’s citizenship and by creating a space of freedom, safety and justice…”.

Europe cultureIn particular European citizens’ duties are tied to their own rights: “…to enjoy these rights gives rise to responsibilities and duties towards the others and the human community and future generations…”

Therefore, the European Charter on Fundamental Rights represents the natural prosecution to a path which was started centuries ago, but which is still very actual; rights such as Dignity, Freedom, Equality, Solidarity, Citizenship and Justice are laid down; these are the elements which contribute to pursuing that aspiration which is to be granted to every European Citizen: the right to Happiness.

Furthermore, the concept of freedom of worship expressed in the 1789 Charter is of key importance, as it is stated under the hopes of the Supreme Being, as specified in art. 10 (freedom of worship with the sole limit of public order); this aspect is also dealt with in the European document in art. 10, § 1: “…every individual has the freedom of thinking, conscience and religion. Such right includes the freedom to change religion and ideas, and the freedom to express somebody’s religion or ideas individually or in group, publicly or privately, through worship, teaching, ritual practices and their observance…”

Masonry is founded on such principles and is aware, by historical certainty, that its work, its battles and its own existence are an essential part of the spiritual and moral inheritance of Europe, which is based on indivisible and universal values such as human dignity, liberty, equality and solidarity.

Age of EnlightmentThis position does not only make Masonry legitimately proud, but it also binds it, on one hand to carefully look after the punctual respect and actual application of such principles, on the other hand to claim, in name of equality, democracy and laicism, an authentically equal acknowledgement to that of other cultural, civil and religious institutions, as it was clearly stated in 1789 in the Declaration of Human and Civil Rights and in the current European Charter on Fundamental Rights.

Our role, however, cannot and must not limit itself to recalling our origins, to proudly remember the role which Masonry played in our European history: we cannot and we must not stop with “where we come from” and “what we have done”, as we have the duty to detect the new task of the Masonic institution within the European union, suggesting now and in the future, agreeable arguments for European citizens, in order to strengthen a Union which is not based on the sole common currency and on the pursuit of specific interests such as commercial trade, financial transactions and military power.

It is within this very scope that we must commit ourselves to creating possible and pursuable ideas which - according to the principles we believe in - may annul the disadvantages between human beings and between the members of different Nations.

What we must do, in name of the principles for which we gather, is to work for men as human beings, for men as European citizens and as members of Humanity.

We - Masons - gather in our Temples and when the doors close to begin our Works, we ideally get rid of our profane concerns, we receive the hug of the Brothers, we confront our ideas working for the good and progress of the entire Humanity, and not for a Humanity embodied by Brothers only.

It is time for Masons to act: if we can work in harmony, keeping in mind the goal of a future of men - not alike but nonetheless respectful, who confront and complete each other -, working in order to pursue a progress for the entire Humanity - and not for us only -, how not to seize the opportunity for a group of Nations such as those represented by Italian, Romanian, Serbian, French, Austrian Brothers, with different cultures and traditions, but who share the same ideals of Renaissance, Illuminism, Democracy, to do on a wider scale what we have been able to do in the microcosm of our Lodges?

We can, we must, we want to seize this opportunity.

We all Masons have the duty to contribute to the construction of Europe of the people: let us begin by confronting and working with each other, in and out of the Temple, clearly speaking to the people, to the youth, to generations which, if taught with the key principles of Human rights, will create great Masons and most importantly, great Men.

 

Flavio B\

Worshipful Master
Lodge Europa 92 no. 1078 Orient of Florence, Italy

LOGGIA EUROPA NO.765

Lodge Europa No.765 Orient of Riccione

On the days 9th, 10th and 11th of May 2008, was held in Riccione the "1st International Symposium of the "Europa" Lodges which brought together all the Lodges called "Europe" from Italy and the European countries.

 

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