O.E.: In April 2014 you were elected Grand Master of Grand Orient of Italy. Which changes and what projects have you already made and what do you want to make during your mandate?
S.B.: In just seventeen months, I've travelled often to the Italian lodges to meet and support the brethren in their public initiatives. In their sphere of solidarity, the Italian Masonic Federation of Solidarity was born from an inspired manoeuvre that began in Turin. There are night shelters, these are places where a meal is given to anyone who is in need, lunch and/or dinner, beds for the homeless and even free dental treatment!
Because of the actions in Turin, there have been many more acts in the whole Italian territory, for instance food banks and the dentistry offices in Ancona. There are so many humanitarian actions in which the brethren are committed.
Of course, they don't go around saying what they do because the freemasons are faithful to the constitutions of Grand Orient of Italy. The charitable works must not be flaunted, because it is a pleasurable duty to do them.
As the famous cyclist Gino Bartali once said: "good is not done to attach a medal on the jacket, but to attach it on the soul".
Another important occurrence we have to mention was on October 3, 1925, when a gang of fascists slaughtered a brother, Giovanni Becciolini. They were looking for the lists of the Florentine freemasons. When these were not given, and in order to let his own venerable grand master run away, Becciolini was massacred. After all these years there's still a street in Florence named after him. We have dedicated the title of Honorary Grand Master to the memory of Becciolini. We cared so much about that.
O.E.: How are the relations of Grand Orient of Italy with the other international masonic Grand Lodges?
S.B.: The Grand Orient of Italy had a reciprocal recognition with about two hundred Grand Lodges; in Europe with the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) as well as the Grand Lodges of Spain and Germany. In 1993 when the former Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy, Di Bernardo, escaped, the UGLE, the oldest English Grand Lodge in the world, withdrew its recognition. We've asked for the recognition to be given back, because we believe we deserve this for what we have done in Italy throughout all these years.
Also, relating to the foreign Grand Lodges, it was the Grand Orient of Italy that provided a rebirth to the Albanian, Romanian, Slovenian and Serbian Grand Lodges in East Europe, with whom we have great relations.