SCV v. SMOM – Just one front, but a telling one.

17_01_01_SCV_SMOMYet more SCV – SMOM reactions (for those of you in Columbia Heights, Stato Città Vaticano v Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta).

Damian Thompson wrote at The Spectator about SCV v SMOM HERE.  He strongly underscored the obvious point that this is virtually an annexation of one country by another.  Both SCV and SMOM are sovereign states… the size of the states doesn’t change that fact.

Against Damian, at The Spectator there is now a riposte by one Jeremy Norman. HERE  Norman argues, as the title indicates, that “The Knights of Malta must understand that they are a religious order – not a country”. Well… quite simply, No. They don’t have to be understood that way.

Yesterday I wrote:

Moreover, as I have been instructed, article 6 of the constitution of the SMOM says that the Sovereign Council alone accepts or rejects the resignation of the Grand Master.

In fact, the Pope is informed only by the Council, for validity of the acceptance or rejection of the resignation. The Pope does not accept the resignation.

In addition, the SMOM’s Constitution does not foresee a “pontifical delegate”. There is no such critter in the life of the SMOM. There is a pontifical delegate in canon law for religious institutes. But, though there are aspect of the religious life to the SMOM, the SMOM is not a religious institute. SMOM is a sovereign nation.

Norman writes:

The Pope should go further and demonstrate his liberal credentials by taking firm action to reform this archaic backwater of the church; it represents the church of old and not the modernity he espouses. A light should be shone into the secret finances and workings of this archaic institution.The Order and its Grand Master must understand that they are a charitable religious order not a country. If they fail to grasp this, they have no meaning in 21st C. They are as Festing now admits, like all Roman Catholics, subject to the ultimate authority of the Holy See.

The Order, having bent its knee, must now drop its claim to nationhood and come clean about its sources of finance. History moves on and so should the Knights of Malta.

My friend Gregory DiPippo quipped: “the author wallows in ignorance like a pig in a sty.”

So you see how this is shaking out?

Consider something else I wrote a while back, about the plural of anecdote being “data”.  HERE  There is an uptick in priests being persecuted by bishops for being conservative, in seminarians being pressed because of the same, of traditional liturgy being repressed, etc.   Soon attacks will come on the language of vernacular rites.  In finem citius.  Motus in fine velocior.

Pò sì jiù!

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  1. Traductora says:

    If Francis were a state, he’d be a “rogue nation.” Sort of like North Korea, abiding by no treaty or law but simply following its own whims and need for self-assertion.

    The way Francis was able to attack Fra’ Matthew Festing was actually not by attacking the Knights head on, however. The leaders (I think there are three) make a vow of direct obedience to the Pope, and it was this that Francis used to make Festing resign. However, the resignation still must be approved by the Council to be valid, and furthermore, it doesn’t extend to letting the Pope take over the order and put his own people in charge.

    So this isn’t over yet, unless, of course, the Knights capitulate. I suspect that this is what will happen, because there’s a powerful German contingent that has wanted this all along. And also there’s all that lovely money at stake.

    Another thing – just from my reading of the Catholic press in Spanish, Italian and English today – is that I think they’re targeting Cardinal Burke. I have seen many, many articles in various languages (whose source is probably somewhere in the Vatican) accusing Burke, as the representatives of the “ultra conservatives,” of being behind this and even setting it up. Insane. But he’s definitely next on the hit-list, and I’m sure he knows it. Prayers for him!

  2. rtjl says:

    Am I right in understanding that a progressive liberal type has said that “all Roman Catholics” are “subject to the ultimate authority of the Holy See”? But only when the Pope advocates for progressive causes of course.

  3. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    I commend Fra Matthew Festing for his obedience and fidelity as a Catholic to the Sovereign Pontiff, but doesn’t he shoulder some blame himself for the current infelicitous situation? I mean yes, the Pope asks you to resign, out of obedience, you resign, but shouldn’t he have submitted his resignation to the Order’s own Council, which has the authority to accept it?

  4. robtbrown says:

    According to Crux there is the possibility there is residue from Argentina– the SMOM there was involved with others in efforts to make Abp Bergoglio vanish from BA

  5. Y2Y says:

    “Am I right in understanding that a progressive liberal type has said that “all Roman Catholics” are “subject to the ultimate authority of the Holy See”? But only when the Pope advocates for progressive causes of course”

    Of course! I have yet to meet a liberal who wasn’t also a rank hypocrite.

    One of the results of the misadventures of the past four years is to raise my personal contempt for liberals to astronomical levels.

  6. John Grammaticus says:

    Two thoughts

    1) It feels very much as if God’s away on business.

    2) I’m tired of the catty insults from Trads, it doesn’t help the SMOM one bit to say that Mr Norman “wallows in ignorance like a pig in a sty”. Yes it might sound witty after three pints, but how does it help the traditional cause? In what way does it bring Mr Norman round to Di Pippo’s way of thinking?

  7. Benedict Joseph says:

    This is a contrived battle so that a certain individual can get out his boxing gloves and vent some more vengeance on any facet of what he perceives has oppressed him during his life. It is all becoming terribly transparent, and it’s embarrassing to observe and annoying explain. Those who care about him need to make an intervention. Those who care about the Church need to speak up. Rome burns.

  8. Kathleen10 says:

    With all due respect to protocol and matters of states, what I wouldn’t give right now for Fra Festing to have resisted this pope. What does this man have that all other men fold like cards to do his will, or to make way for him, or rush to pay tribute to him, or sing his praises, or advance his initiatives? It does not sound as if Fra Festing has to resign, he can say no. In a crisis in the church, does one put unnecessary obedience to the pope ahead of fidelity to Christ and the church? Aren’t these the men who fought the Muslims at Lepanto?? I’m certain Fra Festing is a good man, but what we wouldn’t give for a strong man at this point, a fearless leader, who will not just roll over at a few words. My God, the people need a rope at this point!
    As tempting as taking over the Once-Sovereign Military Order of Malta must be, decimating it and having access to all those Euros, one has to know the real goal is Cardinal Burke. I predict rabid progressives will be “inserted” into as many posts as possible, to peck at him and make life even tougher. This is how it’s done.
    This is altogether unacceptable, completely unacceptable.

  9. Juris Doctor says:

    Some commentators are claiming that what Francis has done here, namely, in requesting the resignation (or “sacking” depending on one’s interpretation), was somehow unlawful. Now, I’m not about to defend the Pope’s actions as a matter of prudence. But I’m hoping to defend, in principle, what I think is orthodox doctrine regarding the papacy, to wit: the pope has the authority to depose EVEN secular rulers.

    When I was studying legal history in a Protestant law school we studied a book called “Law and Revolution” by the late Harold J. Berman, a Protestant legal scholar. I still clearly remember my professor, in what seemed to me a mocking tone, harshly criticize several 11th century popes but one in particular: the great Italian Hildebrand, better known as Pope St. Gregory VII, who put an end to the investiture conflicts of that era and, according to Berman, set in motion the so-called “Papal Revolution” that forever altered our Western legal tradition.

    Here’s a bit of interesting trivia from The Catholic Encyclopedia (Conflict of Investitures):

    “At the next Lenten Synod in Rome (1076) Gregory sat in judgment upon the king, and in a prayer to Peter, Prince of the Apostles, declared: ‘I depose him from the government of the whole Kingdom of Germany and Italy, release all Christians from their oath of allegiance, forbid him to be obeyed as king . . . and as thy successor bind him with the fetters of anathema.’ It availed little that the king answered ban with ban.”

    If what this greatest of Catholic saints did was lawful, and arguably it was (but I’m not 100% sure), then we shouldn’t be so quick to reprove Francis for acting unlawfully. After all, most of us are not canonists or schooled in international law. As traditional Catholics we should be consistent. We who most desire the Social Reign of Christ the King should be the least offended—again, in principle—that the Vicar of Christ on earth has exercised his authority. Or am I misreading things?

  10. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    “In addition, the SMOM’s Constitution does not foresee a “pontifical delegate”. There is no such critter in the life of the SMOM. There is a pontifical delegate in canon law for religious institutes. But, though there are aspect of the religious life to the SMOM, the SMOM is not a religious institute. SMOM is a sovereign nation.”

    No, it does not have a pontifical delegate, it has a Cardinal Patronus, who is meant to be at once a pontifical delegate and nuncio. I don’t know why there is a need to bypass Cardinal Burke who was put in the office created for this situation. This is the most portentous irregularity in a situation that would be farcical if it weren’t for the scandal to the Church and the personal injury inflicted on Fra’ Matthew.

    “The Pope should go further and demonstrate his liberal credentials by taking firm action to reform this archaic backwater of the church; it represents the church of old and not the modernity he espouses. A light should be shone into the secret finances and workings of this archaic institution….
    The Order, having bent its knee, must now drop its claim to nationhood and come clean about its sources of finance.”

    How deeply this man has drunk the Black Legend. The Orders finances are quite open. It does not have secret piles of cash. Typical, hateful Protestant style hysterical conspiratorial lies. The various National Associations have their own separate finances, as does Malteser International, and as far as I know, they all publish their financial statements. No one seems to be mentioning the existence of the German based Malteser International, which is the very sort of entirely transparent, modern-style charitable NGO the Order sponsors but does not run or control. The New World arm is Malteser International Americas.

    The reason, incidentally, that the Order maintains its claim to sovereignty is that it gives the Order unparalleled and unique access to foreign governments and allows the speedy delivery of assistance where it is needed, and in places where other Catholic organizations cannot easily go because of specifically religious reasons, e.g. Cuba, Pakistan, Chad. It isn’t for their own enjoyment, and it isn’t cheap. And it is the Orders members who, quite out in the open, pay for it all, not some secret cabal of scheming caballeros. Even the professed members have to make their own living. How many prelates do the same?

  11. TimG says:

    Traductora – as I noted in the other thread, Edward Pentin is reporting that sources say the pope directed Festing to implicate Cdl Burke in his resignation letter.

    Rogue nation indeed!

  12. PapalCount says:

    This debacle is from over.
    The pope seems to be side-stepping the examples of the godly popes of the past century and a half and embracing the ways of the Borgias.

  13. Traductora says:

    Fr. Ferguson, as I said above, this was an act of personal obedience on the one hand and vowed obedience (as one of the three leaders with a vow of obedience to the Pope) on the other. In between that lies the Order, which must still accept his resignation (really, termination) in order to make it effective. They meet this Saturday, I think.

    I doubt that they will refuse to accept his resignation and thereby challenge the Pope. They’ll accept it, partly because they are heavily dominated by the very leftist Germans, who want to take over, and partly out of cowardice. If they refuse to accept his resignation, there may be hope left for Christendom.

  14. zama202 says:

    Note well Society of St. Pius X.


  15. Geoffrey says:

    I believe those knights who make the promise or vow of obedience is to their superior, i.e., the Prince and Grand Master and his representatives. The Grand Master’s vow ends up being to the Sovereign Pontiff. Fra’ Matter did what the Baron von Boeselager did not do: he obeyed. However, the resignation is meaningless until the Sovereign Council accepts it. They are scheduled to meet on Saturday. I pray they see this as a hostile takeover and reject the resignation. The Order should then hunker down, do what it does best, and ignore the Vatican until a new papacy. It really saddens me to say that, but what other choice is there?

  16. spock says:

    This is so ridiculous. Monty Python has a better understanding of the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception than these liberal Catholics. The logic seems to be if the pope does not say AC is ok then he is not in matl. heresy so he just has to be mum and foster a materially heretical spirit by getting rid of people who do the right thing. No harm no foul because he never said AC was ok. God bless the 4 cardinals.

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  18. Uxixu says:

    I grow increasingly weary of this papacy and can only pray that the Holy Father leads us with wisdom and orthodoxy. While my reflex is to be skeptical, I am reminded it was a very ancient custom for that Rome was always the court of final appeal, in all of the patriarchates as well as for religious.

    That’s an entirely different thing from the Vatican attempting to install a delegate to run the SMOM. This should definitely be rejected. Similarly while the Holy Father can request the resignation of the Grand Master, the Knight’s Sovereign Council is not obligated to accept the resignation and should refuse it if was under duress.

  19. VexillaRegis says:

    I think the SSPX are very happy and relieved that they didn’t accept the offer to “come back to the fold”. They were wise enough to not swallow the Year of Mercy Confession bait either. They would have been totally destroyed by the Pope by now. His legacy will be ashes. Ashes . Ashes.
    Poor SMOM. Hopefully The UN will step in and tell the Pope to get out of SMOM.

  20. Traductora says:

    TimG – I read this morning that Fra Matthew Festing was not only forced to implicate Cdl Burke, but that the Pope forced him to write his letter of resignation and self-accusation in his presence at that meeting. A little Stalinesque, no?

  21. Dan says:

    @Traductora “is that I think they’re targeting Cardinal Burke”

    I think this hits the nail on the head everything else aside. Cardinal Burke was relegated out of the Vatican to his current obscure post, and yet would not go away as a thorn in the side a voice of truth.

    The timing of these events with the release of the dubia are not coincidental, just as the the timing of the gutting of the CDF were not coincidental after Cardinal Sarah’s plea to turn and face east.

    Unfortunately the Holy Father seems to be a proud and rigid man who is willing to squash those who contradict him. I wish he would apply some of his Homilies to himself. Shoes, cars, apartments and hotel bills do not make a man humble. Especially when they are paraded so proudly. I honestly never took much notice of the popes red shoes, or car until Francis pointed them out. That pinto he is driving now might as well be a Ferrari for all the attention he wants over it.

    That is what it seems to be, what I pray it is, is that God has some purpose in mind for all of this, and that the Holy Father has agreed to take on the persecution that comes with silence on these matters for the sake of the greater good of the Church. I pray there is something at play here that I have not been granted privileged to, not myself being the Pope. I pray that the Church has not been merely secularized to the point of being a mere war between conservatives and liberals. I pray that we will remain One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    Our Lady of Fatima – Pray for Us

  22. TimG says:

    @ John Grammaticus
    I completely agree. I think it is counterproductive if Trads are snarky about these issues and mounting personal attacks. (I see that Fr Spadaro has tweeted some comments about “puppeteers losing their puppets and being left with only wires.” Let us not fall prey to those same evil temptations.)
    @ Traductora
    I completely agree. Very dictatorial inside the Vatican. (Thank goodness for the fortitude of the sources that are willing to take risks and provide insider information to Edward Pentin and for EWTN to allow him to post this information for the laity.)

  23. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Juris Doctor,

    To vary a comment in another thread, what are the contours of this? What, for example, does it have to do with Una Sanctam of Boniface VIII, and both Leo XIII with respect to it in Mortalium animos and Pius XII in his speech of 7 December 1955 (all of which I’ve seen noted together, and have not yet looked into)?

  24. anilwang says:

    At this point it’s uncertain that the SMOM will accept either the resignation or the reappointment of the deposed head by the Pope. Beyond faithfulness and sovereignty issues, the key factor is fear.

    Are they more afraid of defying Pope Francis or submitting to him. We already know the Pope wishes to “reform the order” and have the case of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and the Pope John Paul II institute and how new heads gutted them and persecuted the orthodox members. But we also see how the Pope is acting like a ruthless mafia head that “makes people offers they cannot refuse” and has been able to silence most orthodox cardinals. Given how defiant Fra Festing was, I’m sure Pope Francis’ threats ran deep, perhaps requiring the SMOM to not use the name Catholic (i.e. what almost happened with EWTN) or being more forbidden for Catholics to join (like freemasonry) or removing all religious including Cardinal Burke from the SMOM or even excommunicating all members of the SMOM for the “ultimate heresy of defying Amoris Laetitia”.

    So it’s a tossup of what will actually happen. I pray that the SMOM remains strong in asserting its sovereignty and more afraid of submitting to Pope Francis and afraid of being forced to be unfaithful to Christ than the reverse.

  25. Federico says:

    A couple of quick nits….

    The struggle, right now, is between the Holy See and the SMOM, not the Vatican and the SMOM. The Vatican and the Holy See are both sovereign subjects of international law, but they are juridically distinct persons. The Vatican is a traditional state with territory (albeit small). The Holy See is an international juridic person rooting its base in the same historical and juridical claims of the SMOM.

    So the irony here is the Holy Father is undermining the same sovereign independence that underpins the Holy See’s (and that has been used, successfully, to defend legal proceedings around the world on the basis of sovereign immunity). What an interesting turn of events if this situation were taken as a precedent to pierce the Holy See’s immunity….

    On another topic, @EoinOBolguidhir the Cardinal Patronus minds the religious life of the SMOM. The Cardinal Patronus has no powers of governance within the SMOM. Check out the constitution of the order, article 4. Specifically, the Cardinal Patronus “promotes the spiritual interest of the Order and of its members, and the relationship between the Holy See and the Order.” Furthermore (also article 4) “Religious members of the Order, following their vows, as well as the members of the second class with the promise of obedience, are subordinate only to their superiors within the Order.”

  26. Benedict Joseph says:

    Canon 188 states:
    A resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.

  27. Federico says:

    @Benedict Joseph — while the sentiment of c 188 is grounded in natural law, don’t make the mistake of assuming that canon law applies to the SMOM. As a sovereign, the SMOM and it’s members are governed by the SMOM’s own laws.

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