NEWS LETTER - JANUARY 2009 | NEWS LETTER - APRIL 2009 | NEWS LETTER - SEPTEMBER 2009

NEWS LETTER - JANUARY 2010 | NEWS LETTER - APRIL 2010 | NEWS LETTER - SEPTEMBER 2010

   

Oecumenism and Chaplains

in the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

“Ut unum sint”

Some Observations and Reflexions by Count of Évora, KCLJ

     

Like other Orders of Chivalry, the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem has, from earliest days, had its own Chaplains, originally professed clerics, later religious and secular priests attached to the Order and, more recently, also ministers of various denominations.

 

The following examples of the pre-Vatican-II position of the Order in respect of commitment to defending the Faith and to ecumenism serve to highlight a very important integral part of the Order’s ancient tradition.

 

After Vatican II, the need both for defending the Faith and for ecumenism, is certainly no less than before, only the scope is much wider, with many more denominations participating in the Work of the Order. This is a new development with wonderful possibilities.

 

“Real development is not leaving things behind, as on a road, but drawing life from them, as from a root.” (C .K. Chesterton)

 

1. On Ascension Day, the 26th May, 1949, the 44th Grand Master, Don Francisco de Paula de Borbon y de la Torre, iure uxoris Duke of Seville, promulgated a new General Instruction for the Order.  he first three articles merely repeated those of his predecessors of centuries ago, especially Charles de Nérestang, and The Marquis de Dangeau, 38th and 40th Grand Masters respectively:

 

“II. - RELIGION. Le Grand Maître et tous les Lazaristes protestent à l’univers que l’unique privilège qu’ils prétendent conserver est de vivre et de mourir unis, plus étroitement que tous les autres chrétiens, au Sainte-Siège et à son Eglise”.

 

"III. - BUT. L’Ordre a été institué pour défendre l’Eglise contre les ennemis de la Fois, aider et secourir les pèlerins, les malades et les pauvres. Il donne une attention spéciale aux lépreux et, pour tenir compte de son origine en Terre Sainte durant les premiers siècles de l’ère chrétienne, doit prêter aide aux catholiques orientaux et aux pèlerins qui visitent les lieux saints. L’Ordre prie et travaille pour l’union des Eglises chrétiennes orientales sous la suprême autorité du Pontife romain.”

 

2. The 45th Grand Master, Don Francisco Enrique de Borbon y de Borbon, on the Feast of St Lazarus 1959, the day of his inauguration, wrote in a letter to the Duc de Brissac, Administrator General of the Order:

 

“J’exprime aussi mes remerciements ... à tous ceux de nos Chevaliers  et Chapelains qui ont compris que s’engager dans un Ordre c’est accepter une mission.”

“Une mission! Mon vénéré père, le duc de Seville, précisait - dans la proclamation qu’il addressa, en avril 1931, lors de son avènement à la charge dans laquelle je lui succédé - que la mission de notre Ordre était double: la lutte contre la lèpre par l’aide aux léproseries, la lutte contre le schisme en travaillant à l’unité de l’Eglise dans la charité et la bienfaisance.”

"Comment, à l’heure où Sa Sainteté le pape Jean XXIII prépare le Concile Oecuménique ne pas insister sur notre mission d’oecuménisme que mon père signalait déjà il y a plus de vingt-huit ans? Notre Ordre compte, parmi ses membres, des catholiques latins, grecs, arméniens, etc.; il s’est associé, dans son aide aux léproseries, des frères séparés. Par nos prières, par nos travaux, par notre charité, unissons-nous tous aux efforts qui sont faits por que s’approche le jour où il n’y aura qu’un seul troupeau et un seul Pasteur.”

 

3. The Grand Capitular of the Order, Paul Bertrand de la Grassière, writes in his book L’Ordre Militaire et Hospitalier de Saint Lazare de Jérusalem (Paris 1960), p. 171:

 

“L’Ordre de Saint-Lazare, du fait qu’il a été religieux et qu’il est toujours militaire, garde dans sa double mission la défence de la Foi catholique ; il n’accepte comme membres que des personnes professant la religion catholique, apostolique et romaine; mais, ayant eu son berceau dans l’Eglise d’Orient, il admet avec joie, en même temps que les catholiques latins, le chrétiens des églises orientales rentrées dans l’Unité de l’Eglise: grecs melchites catholiques, arméniens catholiques, maronites, syriens catholique, coptes, etc.

Toutefois, en tant qu’ordre hospitalier et ce depuis sa sécularisation (1772), il s’agrège, comme affiliés, des personne qui, sans participer à sa mission de défence de la foi catholique, contribuent à son oevre contre la souffrance humaine, aussi bien des catholiques non pratiquants ou désirant garder plus d’indépendence que des membres des confessions séparées de l’Eglise romaine. Il leur demande la déférence à l’égard de l'Eglise et du Souverain Pontife et il souhait qu’ils s’associent à ses prières pour que vienne le jour où il y aura un seul troupeau et un seul Pasteur.”

 

4. Still in 1960, the application for admission to the Order as a Knight of Justice or Knight of Devotion (Roman-Catholic Christians of Latin or Oriental rite) contained the following undertaking: “Je m’engage à servir la Foi catholique ainsi qu’a collaborer, dans la mesure de mes moyens, aux oevres entreprises ou encouragées par l’Ordre et à employer tous mes soins à sa conservation, à son accroissement et à sa splendeur.”

 

Applications for admission to the Order in the category of Merit (non-Catholic Christians) contained the undertaking: “Je déclare en outre m’associer aux prières de l’Ordre pour l’Unité de l’Eglise, afin qu’elle forme un jour un seul troupeau sous un seul Pasteur.”

 

5. To accommodate, inter alia, members of the Anglican Communion, the Grand Master issued a decree (DM 59), dated 28th June 1962, establishing two new categories of Affiliates of the Order:

 

“Rappelant l’importance de l’union des églises et celle du Concile Oecumenique, le Prince Grand Maître a, dans cet ésprit, décidé d’accueillir fraternellement dans l’Ordre les membres des églises chrétiennes non catholiques don’t les evêques font partie des hiérarchies épiscopales qui reçurent leur investiture de façon non interrompue de ceux que, de leur temps, se séparèrent du Saint Siège de Rome. A cet effet, le Grand Maître a decidé:

Nous considérons qu’il convient d’ordonner la création de deux nouvelles classes d’affiliées, les dénommant de Grâce et d’Honneur respectivement, qui ne pourraient être destinées qu’aux candidates chrétiens non catholiques mentionnés plus haut. Les deux classes de Grâce et d’Honneur seront égales quant aux insignes, preuves de noblesse, démarches et conditions aux deux traditionelles existantes de Dévotion et de Justice.

Nous chargeons à cet effet M. le Grand Référendaire, S.Exc. le Marquis de Cardenas, de communiquer ce décret magistral à M. l’Administrateur Général Central de l’Ordre, S. Exc. le  Duc de Brissac, afin qu’il dicte les instructions nécessaires pour mettre en vigeur ces nouvelles dispositions crées pour le bien de l’Ordre.”

 

“Les règles essentielles d’un Ordre traditionnel ne changent pas; mais leur expression et les dispositions réglementaires peuvent suivre l’évolution des temps et aussi, il devient parfois nécessaire de les interpréter, afin de maintenir une communauté de vues." (Paul Bertrand de la Grassière, Grand Capitular)

 

6. The Rev’d. Thomas Veitch CLJ MA FSA Scot ; Rector of the Church of St Paul & St George, Edinburgh (Episcopal Church of Scotland); Chairman of the Ecumenical Commission of the Scottish Grand Bailiwick OSLJ ; wrote in an article titled “Rome and the Eastern Rites” (Green Cross Booklets, no. 1, September 1962), p. 7:

 

“One must recognise that, on any scheme for Church union put forward, the Roman Church must be taken into account. However many other Churches may achieve some form of union, in the end we must come to terms with Rome.”

 

7. Sadly, the concept of ecumenism is often misunderstood and interpreted as a licence to compromise in matters of faith and doctrine. In the following issue of the Green Cross Booklets (no.2, March 1963, p. 8) the Very Rev’d. Walter H. de Voil MA PhD, Dean of Brechin in the Episcopal Church of Scotland, gave the following sound advice:

 

“Individual Christians, anxious to promote greater unity, should refrain from acts which may retard rather than promote unity, i.e. the acts of an individual should, in all normal circumstances, be not only his own, but should have the countenance and authority of the ”[ecclesiastical]“ Obedience to which he is normally subject.”

 

8.  In February 1969, the Grand Master, Prince Charles Philippe d’Orléans, abolished the distinction between Catholics and non-Catholic Knights of the Order and transferred the latter from the category of Affiliates to that of Members. This provoked a rebellion which resulted in the un-constitutional “dismissal” of the Grand Master and split the Order into a “Paris-Obedience” and a “Malta-Obedience”; the former maintaining the Catholic nature of its part of the Order for a few more years.

 

9. On 16th June 2000, Pope John Paul II ratified and confirmed the Declaration “Dominus Iesus”, and ordered its publication. This is the current official Vatican view:

 

“17. Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, ...

On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense”.

 

10. Article XV in the Constitution of the Order (Malta-Obedience), Section 4, stipulates about the admission to the Order of members of the clergy:

 

“All priests and ministers of the Christian faith are admitted as Chaplains of the Order. Candidates for admission to the Order who are priests or ministers must submit, in addition to the documentation required by Section 1 of this Article XV, proof from the appropriate ecclesiastical superior of the candidate attesting to the fact that the candidate has been validly ordained and is in good standing as a minister or priest of his particular denomination.”

 

Although the above article may appear vague and easy to misinterpret, seen in the light of the tradition of the Order, it becomes clear that it is exclusive rather than inclusive. However, to avoid future problems originating from an uninformed literal interpretation of article XV, Section 4., clear guide lines should be drawn up by the Order. Ideally, one qualification should be inserted and the section slightly re-worded to begin: “Priests and ministers of the Christian faith professing the Nicene Creed may be admitted as Chaplains of the Order” ...

 

Remembering the Catholic tradition of the Order and its pronounced commitment to ecumenism, the following ecclesiological  issues need to be addressed in respect of the appointing of Chaplains to the Order:

 

A) A definition of what qualifies as a Church; only membership of, or affiliation to the World Council of Churches as well?

B) The attitude to female ministers; can the Order afford to break with tradition and risk to repel ecclesiastics of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and others for the sake of the feminist(?) invention of “political correctness”?

C) The attitude to “Episcopi Vagantes” and connected irregular phenomena; can the Order risk to lose the support of ecclesiastics of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the Church of England, and others in exchange for the services of some “prelate” of questionable credentials?

 

An inquiry to the Most Venerable Order of Saint John has established that, in principle, their Chaplains are Anglican. There is provision for one Catholic and one Free-Church Chaplain within the Venerable Order in England. Both positions, however, remain vacant. In Scotland, their Chaplains are generally Presbyterian. Information about the situation in the Overseas Priories was not available at St John’s Gate.  Members of the Most Venerable Order are supposed to be Christian, but not necessarily Anglican.

 

Since the Johanniter Orden (in Germany, Sweden, and Finland) is exclusively Lutheran, and the Johanniter Orde in Holland exclusively Calvinist, there are no Chaplains of other denominations.

 

PRO UNITATE ECCLESIAE

 

Oremus:

Omnipotens et misericors Deus,

qui diversitatem gentium in unum populum per Filium tuum adunare voluisti,

concede propitius ut, qui christiano nomine gloriantur,

qualibet divisione reiecta, unum sint in veritate et caritate,

et omnes homines, verae fidei lumine illustrati,

in unam Ecclesiam fraterna communione conveniant.

Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Amen.

   
    

BACK