May 26, 2017
To: All Grand Lodges in Amity with the Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of the State of New York
All Elected and Appointed Grand Lodge Officers, Permanent Members, District Deputy Grand Masters, Grand Lodge Staff Officers, and to all Worshipful Masters, Senior and Junior Wardens and Secretaries of Masonic Lodges within this Jurisdiction
In reference to the matter involving the suspension of official recognition of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, which was enacted by the vote of the Grand Lodge of New York at the 236 th Annual Communication thereof, I take this opportunity to bring both the members of this Grand Jurisdiction as well as all of those Grand Lodge to whom we enjoy mutual recognition and amity.
The Grand Lodge of Scotland responded to my personal e-mail that had been sent to their Grand Master Mason on March 27, 2017. Although their response letter was dated April 27, 2017, it was addressed to my office in New York City and sent via standard "snail" mail rather than e-mail or fax. As such, the said letter did not reach our Grand Lodge until after the 236th Annual Communication had concluded. It should be noted that important and urgent business between Grand Lodges is customarily dispatched using both electronic means followed by the traditional hard copy original.
Within the contents of the letter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, it acknowledges that the three previously expelled New York Masons were recently expelled on April 20, 2017 by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, but our District Grand Officers in Lebanon have indicated that no such announcement of this sentence has ever been proclaimed anywhere within the Masonic constituency located in Lebanon. In fact, these three expelled New York Masons, Messrs. Elias Feghali, Maurice Feghali, and Michael Bernoti, continue to remain Masonically active in Lebanon, with the first two holding esteemed titles as District Officers of the District Grand Lodge of Scotland as prominent as ever!
I am perplexed and confused as is our Grand Lodge over this purported trial, decision, and ruling, of which NO ONE seems to know anything about! Standard Masonic Protocol would dictate that an official announcement would be promulgated to all of the affected parties concerning the decision, verdict, and penalty imposed by the Masonic Trial. Without having such Lawful Masonic Information, how would the Officers and Brethren within the jurisdictions of Lebanon be able to properly conduct themselves in the presence of expelled Masons?
Further, the letter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland maintains that a Board of Senior Masons, endowed with wide latitude and powers, shall review an Appeal of the earlier Decision "tentatively" on June I, 2017. Our Grand Jurisdiction is apprehensive that this Board will simply "whitewash and downplay" the evidence and facts surrounding this matter, absolving these three expelled individuals of their Masonic Offenses. Hence, the Grand Lodge of Scotland will almost certainly concur that they gave the matter due diligence and nothing more will become of it. Thereby, the Grand Lodge of Scotland circumvents one of the basic tenets between Grand Lodges in amity, that of respecting the sovereignty and laws of a sister Grand Lodge. In short, their action or lack thereof is nothing less than a cover up and to be quite frank it is simply hogwash!
Consideration and due respect for the laws of sister Grand Jurisdictions is a monumental Landmark of Freemasonry. Should the Grand Lodge of Scotland find a Mason guilty of violating its Edicts, Laws and Constitutions and imposes the penalty of Expulsion upon that Brother, we as a sister Grand Lodge have a duty and obligation to respect and abide by their Decisions, Rulings and Masonic Law as it applies to their members and former members.
Simply put... the expelled Mason cannot become a member of a Lodge within the Grand Lodge of New York, let alone he cannot visit or attend any New York Masonic functions or events.
Furthermore, it is important to remember that these three expelled New York Masons publicized themselves to be Master Masons in good standing to the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy where they acquired membership. Although not recognized by the Grand Lodge of New York, the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy is in amity with the Grand Lodge of Scotland. As such, using this ruse and avenue of deception, these expelled individuals petitioned and were accepted for affiliation into a Lodge of the Grand Lodge of Scotland's Constitution.
The cause of disagreement here is that we clearly made the Grand Lodge of Scotland cognizant of the expulsion of the aforementioned individuals, yet the Grand Lodge of Scotland CHOSE to ignore or discard our previous communications and allowed their Lodge to affiliate these three expelled Masons. Lest, I should say, that the Grand Lodge of Scotland has not guarded well the West Gate!
I find it peculiar that the Grand Lodge of Scotland attempts to conceal the grave implications of this breach of protocol and trust between two Grand Lodges, by standing behind their philosophy of "Natural Justice." We wholeheartedly suggest that these expelled New York Brothers are NOT entitled to receive any of the Rights, Light, or Benefits afforded to regular Masons. Period!
The suspension of recognition of the Grand Lodge of Scotland will remain in place until this issue is fully resolved to the satisfaction of the Grand Lodge of New York and myself.
Jeffrey M Williamson
Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York