Report of the Committee on York Rite Cooperation
Submitted by RPC Bill Snyder, General Grand Principal Conductor of the Work
David A. Grindle, GGM
Chairman, York Rite Cooperation
THE PATH FORWARD: TO RAM OR NOT TO RAM?
ROYAL ARCH ALL THE WAY OR SOMETHING MORE? OR LESS?
For many years, two presumptions have been maintained in the historical development of the American York Rite or Universal York Rite model. One is that all Cryptic Masons were exalted as Royal Arch Masons before receiving any of the three degrees of the Cryptic Rite. The second is that all Knights Templars are Royal Arch Masons before the conferral of the chivalric Orders. In many ways, this has been beneficial to the cause of the American York Rite in that all members of any York Rite body were both Master Masons and Capitular Masons, sharing a common foundation of knowledge and experience.
Other than the circumstances of the Capitular Rite being first well-established within the United States, it could be argued by some that there is no historical or compelling reason for a Cryptic Mason or a Templar to also have been exalted as a Royal Arch Mason. Given our often cited and apparent common history with the ancient sources of the origins of the Scottish Rite, one could argue that the Cryptic Rite does not belong in the category of the York Rite.
However, within the purview of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, there is a logical, rational explanation for the interconnected roles of the four York Rite bodies: Lodge,Chapter, Council and Commandery are seen as important steps in the progress of a Freemason. This exemplifies the reasoning behind York Rite Unity or a United York Rite. The four bodies must work in harmony for all to succeed. Obstacles and impediments to any of the four bodies serves to undermine the true purposes of all the bodies.
In the expansion of the American York Rite onto the world stage as the Universal York Rite, this same pattern has been followed. Within the United States, there may arise a dispute between Grand Officers of the York Rite or even contention with Grand Lodge Officers. However, these are generally amicably resolved and rarely become more than a few passing moments of tension or strife. Peace and Harmony prevails.
However, given the relative rapid progress on the International front, the teaching of some of the basic principles and tenets of our American York Rite are sometimes overlooked. As the result of haste or misunderstanding, some of our Companions outside the United States falsely believe that one York Rite body or the other has a claim to be superior to the others. Thus, one body asserts control over all and effectively destroys the intentions of the chartering General Grand Chapter, General Grand Council or Grand Encampment and serves to vex the proper jurisdictions of the recognized Grand Lodges.
Your Committee members now have knowledge of unfair and unjust actions taken in such situations, all to the detriment of Freemasonry in those jurisdictions. In some instances, entities with names of “Supreme York Rite”, “Supreme Grand Chapter” or “Supreme Grand Commandery” have been established purporting to have the power to control all three York Rite bodies in that jurisdiction and appointing their minions to elective offices without the vote or consent of any of the York Rite members.
Please note that this is not a matter of simply sharing resources and expenses in a business-like manner as many of our York Rite bodies have done by electing one person to serve as Grand Secretary and Grand Recorder. Nor is it simply sharing the expenses of maintaining a Grand York Rite Office or the compensation of a Clerk/Assistant to the Grand Secretary or Grand Recorder. This constitutes a perversion of the Universal York Rite and a wellspring for Un-Masonic conduct and bizarre actions of a personal and political nature occurring between York Rite bodies.
The Cryptic Rite has historically been divided on the question of being required as a gateway to the Templar Orders. However, we have cheerfully accepted the role of the Grand Chapter as the gateway to the Cryptic Rite. Perhaps now is the time to either follow a more independent course or to achieve true equality in our partnership with the General Grand Chapter and the Grand Encampment.
There are a chosen few who do not view the Cryptic Rite as necessary or useful to their Masonic life. There are many others who recognize the value of the Cryptic Rite and how essential its lessons are to an understanding of Freemasonry.
Your Committee suggests and recommends to the Cryptic Craft that you seriously consider, in a deliberate and dispassionate manner, the interconnections of the American York Rite. You are probably moved to ask “Why?” or “Why now?” We ask you to ponder the following questions that have been presented to your Committee.
Is it possible that it would be best to dispense with the necessity of all Cryptic Masons being Royal Arch Masons?
Should we consider expanding the definition of what is necessary for one to be a Cryptic Mason?
Can a Scottish Rite Mason of the Lodge of Perfection be considered a Royal Arch Mason?
Should the Royal Arch requirement be a matter of determination by each jurisdiction?
Or, as the Royal Order of Scotland, be open to Master Masons who are also Capitular, Knights Templar, or Scottish Rite?
Should we support the inclusion of those United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) Master Masons who are members of a Royal Arch Chapter under UGLE but who have not received the other American Royal Arch degrees?
Should we ONLY establish the Cryptic Rite in a new jurisdiction if there is a Royal Arch Chapter chartered by our General Grand Chapter or create a new basis as the conditions precedent to the establishment of the Cryptic Rite in new jurisdictions?
All these questions should be discussed in a serious, dispassionate, and thoughtful manner. The answers determined for the guidance of the General Grand Council leadership and the Cryptic Rite will be of great importance. This should occur before 2023 so that you may consider the adoption of resolutions or bylaws to provide guidance to future Cryptic leaders.
However, your Committee urges you to be ready for a discussion on these matters during these next three years and to be ready to make decisions that preserve the fundamentals of the American York Rite throughout the world.