The jurisdictions of higher Scottish degrees, gathering at Geneva from the fifth to the eighth of May 2005, for their Eighteenth International Scottish Meeting, consider that the time has come to mark a new stage after the declaration made at Lausanne a hundred and thirty years ago in a different international Masonic surrounding. They nevertheless refer to this founding text, because it allows the assertion of the everlastingness and universalism of the Masonic principles.
In 1875 the world was dominated by Europe. The nineteenth century was, moreover, characterized by the triumph of the nationalities and the summit of glory of nation-states fenced in by jealously protected borders. During the same period of time the ideas of the Age of Enlightenment spread over the continent. Universalism, humanism, and progress inspired in some countries fierce opposition on the part of social, political, and religious conservatisms, taking firm stand on intransigent positions.
On the eve of the twenty-first century, the world has changed. It seems to lack sense (i.e., intellectual meaning and moral orientation). The partitioning established by the national borders has, to a large extent, made room for new regional entities and for an economic global and worldwide system that too often generates inequality and not a universalism that respects the human being and its environment.
Doubt and even suspicion have replaced the hope of a better future. The tyranny of an omnipresent “here and now” deprives us of the mental distance required to know the past and consider the future. The reassessment of clericalisms, integrisms, and fanaticisms carries with it misunderstanding and violence.
Do we have as Freemasons to forego the attainments and the space of our forebears, the battles of today, and the hopes of tomorrow? It would be a serious error. Thus, it appeared appropriated to the jurisdictions, signatories of the present declaration, to elaborate a founding text, witness of a new era and a reference for future joint action.
1. The jurisdictions of the higher Scottish degrees, meeting May 8, 2005, at the Zenith of Geneva, reaffirm solemnly and vigorously their adhesion to the fundamental principles of the Order. They deliberated about their contemporary task, about their specificity and the way and frame in which they work on progression through initiation. Two centuries after the founding of the rite in the tradition of universal Freemasonry, they stress the respect of human dignity, the acceptance in their structure of all Masons of recognized integrity. They exclude discrimination as well as any prejudice or distinction of an ethnical, political, philosophical, or religious nature.
2. Their tradition is based on a Masonic method that is based on a symbolism that is taught and experienced, not imposed but suggested. This symbolism constitutes the common language that enables a joint reflection on human improvement. This reflection overcomes dividing walls, ideological barriers, and doctrinal assumptions and opens a perspective of unlimited research.
3. The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite is the most used rite worldwide. It is an initiatory, traditional, and universal Masonic teaching of thirty higher degrees. Its founding principles are fraternity, justice, and the spirit of chivalry.
4. The rite is ruled by sovereign and independent jurisdictions that govern the degrees beyond the initiatory symbolic one of master Mason.
5. The rite adds to its international size the universal value of its principles based on a humanism focusing on the human being, its spiritual thinking and its action. Practicing the rite helps as well to establish links among different cultures and civilizations.
6. The rite, opposing any dogma or any constraining ideology, asserts the need of freedom of conscience as the basic requirement to develop a free spirituality accessed by ongoing research for truth.
7. The rite relies on its principle of progressive improvement of the Mason, on the quest of knowledge of oneself by the initiatory method, added to the willingness to work constantly for the happiness of mankind and its intellectual and moral emancipation.
[Following the above text are the signatures of the representatives of the twenty jurisdictions present in Geneva for the Eighteenth International Conference of the Scottish Rite.]