18.02.2010 @ 09:41 CETA French freemason has said that part of the movement is keen to open a bureau in Brussels to lobby against the rising influence of religious organisations in the EU institutions.
"The masonic orders should practice politics in the positive sense of the term: So that despite their own partisan divisions, they speak out on the side of secularism and voice their disagreement with this or that governmental or European decision," Jean-Michel Quillardet, the former Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France, told Belgian daily Le Soir in an interview out on Wednesday (17 February).
He added that practical problems are more important than the divisions, and sketched out an agenda for the future outfit.
"I think we will one day manage to create a general masonic delegation, for the sake of free-thinking in the European institutions. It's possible politically. It's less possible at the financial level, as we have infinitely smaller resources than the churches," Mr Quillardet explained.
The mason said that the Brussels bureau's first task would be to promote the idea of citizenship: "It is necessary to impose the universal idea of the Enlightenment, which consists of the notion that people are citizens and European citizens before being Jewish, black, Maghreb, homosexual, heterosexual."
Mr Quillardet explained that the Grand Orient de France has already created a cell which attempts to bring together all the lodges in Europe.
In 2007 it organised a pan-European masonic congress in Strasbourg, with subsequent meetings in 2008 and 2009 in Greece and Turkey. The 2010 event is to be in Portugal.
He added that in 2008 European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso for the first time met with delegates from a group of lodges and in the same year wrote a letter to the international congress in Athens.
"We told him that apart from its Christian roots, Europe owed much to Greek and Roman philosophy, Renaissance humanism and the Enlightenment. We obtained representation for masonic orders and for groups which defend secularism in Bepa," he said, in reference to the Bureau of European Policy Advisers, a high-level policy analysis unit in the EU commission.
The Barroso letter was "for us a recognition on the intellectual landscape," Mr Quillardet explained.