Replied by SPGC
on Friday, September 07 2012, 01:49 PM
The Preliminary Declaration to the Book of Constitutions, referring to the Act of Union of 1813, says it –
… declared and pronounced that pure Antient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, viz., those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch.
At the Quarterly Communication of 10 December 2003 the United Grand Lodge of England acknowledged and pronounced the status of the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch to be ‘an extension to, but neither a superior nor a subordinate part of, the Degrees which precede it’. This was intended to reinforce the link between the Craft and the Royal Arch, and underline the equality with which they are to be considered.
There is no doubt that any definition of the relationship between the Craft and the Royal Arch is a difficult topic, though it can be defined by the complementary lessons that each teaches to its members. It is common ground that the teachings of the RA enrich those of the Craft and vice versa. Properly considered each is inextricably interwoven with the other. As a result, no Brother’s Masonic experience can be considered truly complete unless he has been exalted into the Order of the Holy Royal Arch.
As it was found that the 2003 acknowledgement did not achieve the clarification that was intended, indeed quite the reverse, it was subsequently withdrawn by a resolution passed at the Quarterly Communication on 9 September 2009. The Preliminary Declaration still stands, unchanged.
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