United in Mind and Thought

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1 Corinthians 1:10

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

We should start by going back to the Holy Scriptures. We should seek inspiration in the words that were written for our reconciliation. It’s true, many in the last twenty centuries have rendered these words empty as sea-shells washed away on a distant beach. No worth inside, no pearl or food. Shells that mirror the empty cavities of desolated hearts. But we owe it to ourselves to pick up the shell and bring it up to our ears. What was once empty, if we listen carefully and close our eyes, has the whole ocean inside: water, wind and foamy waves, millions of shiny scale fishes, an infinite number of living forms and signs of life and wonder, pearls and reefs, color, light and refraction. To the listening ear, no shell is empty, no heart is void. We should start then, by going back to the Scriptures and be sure to listen. And listen well.

Colossians 3:13-14

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

TEMPLAR UNITY

Templar Unity is probably one of the most compelling objectives that has emerged in the Templar movement since the Internet and Social Media connected everyone in a single world-reaching network, regardless of country, obedience, templar branch or family. Everyone talks with everyone else and many start wondering why are there so many different groups, when so much is common, so much is shared.

A good friend and Brother, a few weeks ago, during one of our international events, gave me a quick peak of his mind: “What’s ‘ point? Uhu? What’s t’point?” he said in his eastern European broken English while he waved his hands in the air. “What’s point? Uhu?” Indeed, Naned, what is the point of it all? Why are we so many and so few? So noble, spiritual, altruist and utterly divided? So compassionate and merciful but driven apart by fraternal misunderstandings?

I want to write a little about Unity in Templar groups. The last few months have been full of hopeful news and unprecedented events that should transform the Order in the next couple of years. It’s important then to provide some context and help the readers of the Templar Globe understand the challenges ahead, given that many are members of one of the many branches of the Order.

Let me remind you that this article has a point of view: the one of Luis de Matos, myself, Member of the OSMTHU, Chancellor of the Magisterial Council of our branch, and dedicated knight for over 25 years.

THE TEMPLAR LEGACY

This recent movement towards Unity is restricted to one of the five major expressions of the modern Templar Order. I will address these as a whole, under the term “Templar Legacy”, that we can characterise as follows:

1 – Orders that are direct descendants of the Templar Order suspended in 1310

This is a very controversial subject, however there are very few with such a strong claim and impact in history as the Order of Christ in Portugal, whose Caravelas brought forth the Discoveries age in the 15th century. The Order of Christ was reformed and later extinguished in the 19th century and any attempt to follow their trail up to the 20th century is generally fruitless.

2 – Templar Strict Observance

The Order appeared in the 18th century (1753, Baron Von Hünd) and it can be traced as the first of the revivals, over 400 years after the original Templar Order had been suspended. As in all modern Templar Orders (except “1” above) there is no historical link to the original group. In 1778 the TSO became the inner Order of Freemasonry in Europe after the reform known as The Rectification of Wilhelmsbad, and all Templar ramifications within Freemasonry (including the Templar Degrees and Grand Encampments of the United States) derive from this line.

3 – Ordre du Temple de Fabré-Palaprat – Ordre Soverain et Militaire du Temple de Jerusalem (OSMTJ or OSMTH)

It has been one of the most successful revivals of the Templar Order, at one stage being recognized by Napoleon as one of the Orders of the Empire. In the early 19th century it sought the recognition of the Order of Christ (see “1” above), but with no success. It’s within this Order that the OSMTHU works. And it’s within it that Unity between the many groups is being discussed at the moment.

4 – Templar Orders founded after 1960

There is a large number of Orders that were founded within a movement that may be called of “New Age” or “Age of Aquarius”, mainly steaming from groups very close to the Ancient and Mystical Order of the Rosicross (AMORC) in France and the United States (Ordre Renouvé du Temple, Militia Crucifera Evangelica, Ordre des Veilleurs du Temple, Ordre Souverain du Temple Initiatique, etc.). They are very fragmented while not keeping any concept of provenance for the most part.

5 – Spontaneous Templar groups

There are many groups that use the Templar name, without any connection to any of the afore-mentioned groups or lines. They frequently appear from thin air, with a self-appointed leader, an imaginative concept of what “secrets” the Templars are supposed to have kept, varying from the inoffensive to the extreme (including some extreme right variations emerging in the last few years).

THE PALAPRAT FAMILY

The Fabré-Palaprat revival dates from early in the 19th century. As with all Templar related subjects, it’s very controversial and a long running discussions tends to debate weather or not the Larmenius Charter (please google it!) is a fake document and if Palaprat had legitimacy to claim the continuous line of Templar Grand Masters since the middle ages. We are not going to address that complex subject at the moment. For the OSMTHU, our position is simple, and we can summarize it in two statements:

1 – No, in 1800, apart from the Order of Christ, there were no surviving lines of Orders, heir to a Templar legacy, including Fabré-Palaprat’s. So, he had no claim to the Templar Order. Likewise, we are not the historical Templar Order.

2 – Yes, his Order is legitimate. He was well in his right to revive it. If you don’t think so, don’t bother me with your arguments, go and talk to Pierre de Coubertin and tell him the Olympic Games have to shut down because they are not legitimate. And the athletes used to compete naked, so it clearly is not the same!

UNITY? WERE WE APART?

Yes, the OSMTJ/OSMTH (the Palaprat revival) has been split for over 70 years. There are now four main branches of the Order. The original group survived until the 1940’s under the following leadership:

1804-1839  Bernard Fabre-Palaprat (Grand Master)
1839-1840  Sir William Smith (Grand Master)
1840-1850  Edward VII. d’Angleterre et George V. de Hanovre (Grand Master)
1850  Narcisse Valleray (Regent)
1866  A.G.M. Vernois (Regent)
1892  Joséphin Péladan (Regent)
1894  Secretariat International des Templiers
1934  Conseil de Regence – Joseph Vandenberg
1935  Theodore Covias (Regent)
1935-1945  Emile Isaac Vandenberg (Regent)

During the Second World War the communication between groups was difficult. International coordination had been sparse between 1850 and 1939, with Regents and Secretariats instead of a Master. By the start of the war, Priories were national entities, very much autonomous, working on their own with very little international reach. Fearing the impact of the war, Regent Vandenberg decided to place all important documents in the hands of a diplomat residing in Bruxelles, member of the Order, because Belgium was surely out of reach of German forces and an Embassy would be a safe place. As we now know, Bruxelles was not safe, so when the Diplomat had to return to his home country, he took all the documents to safety with him. That was Antonio de Sousa Fontes, from Porto, Portugal.

By the end of the war, Vandenberg requested the documents back to reorganize the ruling body, but he died in a car accident before his orders were followed through. That placed Antonio Sousa Fontes as custodian of the Regency documents, which he refused to surrender, appointing himself as Regent. That was not accepted by most of the Priories that had worked under Vandenberg in Europe and the Prior of Switzerland, Baron VonLupreccht, declared the autonomy of his Priory, in which he was followed by several others (including Scotland and England). This gave way to the Autonomous branch of the Order, also called IFA (international Federative Alliance) until 1999, today called OSMTHU.

1) OSMTHU

(osmthu.org and templarsosmthu.wordpress.com)

That is our group. The one that has brought you The Templar Globe in the last 12 years.

Since the 1940’s the Priories have been working in autonomy, cooperating in many projects and subjects and growing as time went by. There were limited contacts with other groups (including Antonio Fontes OSMTH) because communication was sparse and mainly by letter. In the 1980’s the Priories created a Federation (IFA) to help improve cooperation and in the 1990’s the IFA helped the other branches reach their goals. Talks were held with the OSMTJ group and what would become the OSMTH (also sometimes called “the Atlantic Obedience”), in Tomar, Lisbon, Madrid, London, Salzburg, Turku among others. In Tomar the historic “Protocol of Tomar” was signed in 1996. Although Unity was not achieved at the time, the signers and their branches remained in close contact, cooperating in a non-official capacity for many years.

In 1999 the OSMTHU has elected Fr+ Fernando de Toro-Garland as Master, followed by Fr+ Antonio Paris. This is the list of Masters:

1945 – 1987  Autonomous Priories
1987 – 1999 International Federative Alliance
1999 Fernando de Toro-Garland (Master)
2004
Antonio Paris (Master)
2006
Luis de Matos (Interim Master)
2018
Antonio Paris (Master)

At this point, following the “Declaration of Arraiolos“, the OSMTHU is once again committed to unite the Templar world. The declaration was signed during the Pentecost of 2018, in the same exact day Fr+ Fernando Fontes passed away. We were not aware of that fact when we were preparing the Declaration. Being the head of the OSMTH – Regency,  the death of Fr+ Fontes precipitated change (as we shall see ahead) and the desire of many groups that had split from his branch to start talking.

2) OSMTH – REGENCY

(osmth.net)

This is the second branch that originated from the Second World War situation. It is also referred to as OSMTH – Porto.

When Antonio Fontes decide to take up the Regency of the Order upon the death of Vandenberg, without significant opposition since VonLuprecht maintained the autonomy status that prevailed before the war (with other Priories), the Order de facto had two branches: the OSMTH Fontes with its seat at Porto and the Autonomous branch (that became the OSMTHU) with his main seat at Zurich.

The OSMTH – Regency proceeded, creating Priories and expanding the number of Templars that had no knowledge of the WW2 events. In 1960 Antonio Fontes died and his son, Fr+ Fernando Fontes, took over the branch of the Order and the titles of Regent and Grand Master. This created the problem that became the de facto running argument for the splits and crisis that overtook the OSMTH – Regency over the next 60 years: the fact that Fernando Fontes hadn’t been elected as Master and the way he run the Order as a personal asset inherited from his father. This was in stark contrast to how the Order was created or run up to that moment. In all fairness, all those accepted into the Order during that period seem to have had no problem with the setup when they requested to be knighted. It was only later, when their ambitions of status and degrees were eventually cut short by the Grand Master that complaints started to arise.

After the 60’s there was no connection between the OSMTH and the OSMTHU, having evolved in parallel without great awareness of each other’s work.

The Regency group had the following leaders:

1945-1960 Antonio Sousa Fontes (Regente)
1960-2018 Fernando Fontes (Regente e Grão Mestre)
2018 Susana Fontes (Regente) e Albino Neves (Grão Mestre)

By 1970 there was a growing opinion within the OSMTH that Fontes had to call elections. Some fringes wanted to replace him, but others just wanted to provide the legitimate act that would confirm his position not as an inheritance (that could be put into question), but as properly an elected Grand Master. Plans were put in place to hold the election in Tomar, but when the time came, Fernando Fontes refused to be subjected to an electoral procedure, saying that he was the Grand Master and no election could add anything to that fact. This would cause the first major split, that created the third large branch of the Order, as we will see.

3) OSMTJ

(osmtj.net)

Since the elections had been called and Fernando Fontes did not attend the meeting, a number of Priors decided to hold them anyway, creating the split that becomes the OSMTJ, based in Switzerland, led by Master Zdrowjewski. This is their line of Masters:

1970-1989  General Antoine Zdrowjewski
1989-1994  Georges Lamirand
1994-Today Dr. Nicolas Haimovici Hastier (Regent)

Currently the Order is headed by Fr+ Nicolas Haimovici Hastier (one of the signers of the “Protocol of Tomar”)

In the 90’s, history repeated itself. A large group of Priories, lead by the very serious and well organized American Priories, with a mostly military membership (that included the Secretary General of the Group, the then Col. Ronald Scott Mangun, later signer of the “Protocol of Tomar”), offered Fernando Fontes the opportunity to be elected as Grand Master in elections in which he would be the sole candidate. Initially he accepted, but as the time of the election came closer, he resisted the idea. During the meeting in Paris in 1995 the group became offended by the absence of the Grand Master to his own election and decide to declare autonomy. That’s when the new branch was formed.

4) OSMTH – (aka “Atlantic Obedience”)

(osmth.org)

Between 1995 and 1998 talks were held with the OSMTHU (AFI) and the OSMTJ. In 1998 the group was stable and took the step to elect its own Master, a former member of the OSMTHU as Prior of England.

1998 Sir Roy Redgrave (Master)
2005 James Carey (Master)
2009 Patrick Rea (Master)
2013 Robert Disney (Master)
2015 Patrick Rea (Master)
2018 [New Master] (Master)

UNITY

These four branches of the original OSMTH of Fabré-Palaprat represent among them over 2/3 of all Palaprat related Priories in the world.

There are still many Priories and smaller organizations that work alone or in a close group that should be counted. A new Ordre du Temple claims to have re-established the Joanite Church of Palaprat, but the provenance is not verified, with many splits after a few short years of activity indicating leadership issues. Apart from the four main branches quoted, that show consistent work, many years of history and a clear provenance, there is still some work to be done with the fragmented branches that seem to appear and disappear every year with a short presence on the Internet followed by oblivion.

For the first time in over 70 years, the several groups have invited each other to visit and talk about “unity of mind and thought”. An international joint group with members of the largest groups is now being set up and will start talks in 2019. Even if Unity is still a step too far, convergence and cooperation seem to be on the horizon.

We tell everyone we are ecumenical. And we are. However we had the tendency of excluding other Templars. Most of us know members of all the branches, talk to them, have close friendships that have lasted for many years, but when we put our mantles on, we have been requested to turn our backs on them because they were “not templars” like us.

We are required to take care of the poor, the feeble and the needed, but we have been advised to neglect the brother and sister that identify as Templars because we are not on the same branch. That had to stop. The first steps have been taken. We expect to bring you interesting news in 2019!

THE PHOTOS

During the Pentecost Celebration of 2018 of the Priory of Portugal of the OSMTHU. brothers from the OSMTH, Grand Prior of Portugal, Fr+ Antonio Andrade and his Chancellor Fr+ Fernando Castelo Branco, visit with Prior Fr+ Vinko Lisec from the OSMTHU. Prior Fr+ Luis de Matos and Master Antonio Paris were hosting.

Ceremony of OSMTH – Porto in Castelo de Vide, October 6, 2018; Three branches of the Order represented: OSMTH, OSMTHU, OSMTH – Regency (Porto)

Left to right: Fr+ António Andrade, Prior of Portugal of OSMTH (“Atlantic Obedience”); Fr+ Rui Herdadinha, Commander of Arraiolos of Priory of Portugal of OSMTHU; S+ Susana Sousa Fontes, Regent of the OSMTH – Porto; Nenad S. Davidovic, General Magistral Advisor in the Magnum Magisterium OSMTH Porto and the Great Prior of Serbia and of New Jerusalem

Ceremony of OSMTH – Porto in Castelo de Vide, October 6, 2018; Three branches of the Order represented: OSMTH, OSMTHU, OSMTH – Regency (Porto)

Ceremony of OSMTH – Regency Porto in Castelo de Vide, October 6, 2018

Left to Right: Unidentified, Fr+ Miguel da Fabiana, Priory of Portugal OSMTHU; Unidentified, Fr+ Luis de Matos, Prior and Chancellor of the OSMTHU Magisterial Council; S+ Susana Sousa Fontes, Regente OSMTH – Porto; Fr+ André Cardoso, Secretary General of OSMTH – Porto; F+ Luis Fonseca, Commander of Lisbon Chagas, OSMTHU; Prior of Toledo of OSMTH – Porto; Fr+ Victor Varela Martins, Commander of Lagos, OSMTHU; S+ Blanca, Prior of Galicia, OSMTH – Porto; Fr+João Pedro Silva, OSMTHU; S+ Susana Ferreira, OSMTHU; Fr+ Ricardo Salum, Head of Feytorias, OSMTHU; Fr+ Rui Herdadinha, Commander of Arraiolos, OSMTHU.

Ceremony of OSMTH in Torres Novas, October 27, 2018

OSMTHU delegation arrives in Torres Novas. Fr+ Victor Varela Martins, Commander of Lagos and S+ Sandra Oliveira

Ceremony of OSMTH in Torres Novas, October 27, 2018

OSMTHU delegation, left to right: Fr+ Victor Varela Martins, Commander of Lagos; Fr+ Luis de Matos, Grand Prior of Portugal and Chancellor of the Magisterial Council; S+ Sandra Oliveira; S+ Paula Mateus, Preceptor of Porto; Fr+ Paulo Valente, Commander of Sintra; S+ Susana Ferreira; Fr+ Rui Herdadinha, Commander of Arraiolos; Fr+ João Pedro Silva; Fr+ Luis Fonseca, Commander of Lisboa – Chagas and Fr+ Ricardo Salum, Head of Feytorias

Ceremony of OSMTH in Torres Novas, October 27, 2018

The delegation enjoying the day.

Ceremony of OSMTH in Torres Novas, October 27, 2018

Two Priors of Portugal (Fr+ Antonio Andrade OSMTH and Fr+ Luis de Matos OSMTHU) greeting just before the opening of the ceremony.

Ceremony of OSMTH in Torres Novas, October 27, 2018

Prior of Portugal OSMTH, under Master Fr+ Patrick Rea, Fr+ Antonio Andrade, opening the National Chapter in the Alcaidaria of the Templar Castle of Torres Novas. In attendance Fr+ André Cardoso, Secretary General of Master Albino Neves, and a large number of Knights and Dames of the OSMTH – Regency and Fr+ Luis de Matos, Chancellor of the Magisterial Council of the OSMTHU under Master Antonio Paris and his delegation of the Priory of Portugal.

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