The Abbey-Principality of San Luigi has become aware of the dissemination of material via the website Wikipedia that is inaccurate and defamatory to the Abbey-Principality. The Abbey-Principality has submitted an official complaint to the Wikimedia Foundation that it is hosting defamatory material contrary to law and to its published policies, and reserves its full legal rights on this matter. Notwithstanding this, the Abbey-Principality has issued an official response to this material to clarify its position for the benefit of the public and any interested parties, and to prevent any misunderstanding or possible legal liability that may result from the dissemination of this material by others.
During the early twentieth-century the missionary efforts of Prince-Abbot Joseph III of San Luigi (Archbishop Joseph-Rene Vilatte) were the subject of opposition from ultramontane Roman Catholic sources, which saw his work within the Abbey-Principality and his headship of the Eglise Gallicane as a threat to their power. In addition, the involvement of prominent French freemasons in the Eglise Gallicane attracted the opposition of anti-masonic factions.
These opponents were responsible for publishing viciously sectarian propaganda which propagated a series of malicious falsehoods about Prince-Abbot Joseph III, the Abbey-Principality and the San Luigi Orders in an attempt to undermine their status. The allegations made in the course of this propaganda were untrue at the time of their publication and they remain untrue today. None of the matters alleged were ever subjected to a court of law or were supported by any scholarly standard of evidence. The criminal Valensi never met the Prince-Abbot, was never a member of our Orders and was never authorized to act on our behalf, as was made perfectly clear at the time by the Prince-Abbot. If he forged the diplomas of our Orders, then we were his victims as much as all the other Orders which he forged and sold.
It is clear that a small group of Roman Catholics today, who are associated with the selling of chivalric Orders and titles of nobility from ex-regnant Royal Houses, wish to revive these allegations and have repeated them as part of a campaign of hatred against the Abbey-Principality. In doing so, they reflect an outdated, biased and deliberately inaccurate picture of our organization. This reflects a position of moral depravity and a spirit that is not that of Christ, but of hatred and discord. It will be self-evident that the degenerate individuals responsible for this reprehensible behaviour, which they mistakenly believe can be hidden behind a cloak of internet anonymity, stand in urgent need of your prayers.
Despite the strife of the early twentieth-century, relations between the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi and the Roman Catholic Church improved greatly in later years. In 1925, Prince-Abbot Joseph III reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church and his earlier excommunication was remitted. In the course of this process, a statement of Bonaventura, Cardinal Cerretti, was published in the “Bayerischer Kurier” no. 189, of 11 July 1925, and this reads as follows:
The Apostolic Nunciature in Paris sends us the following information, numbered 5,900, dated July 6th 1925. “In answer to your letter of July 1st c.m. I hasten to inform you that according to irrefutable documents, which may be published if necessary, the following becomes apparent: Mgr. Vilatte received the Minor Orders and the Order of Subdeacon on June 5th, 1885, the Order of Deacon on June 6th of the same year, and on the following day, i.e. June 7th, 1885, the Ordination to the Priesthood. All these Ordinations were conferred on him by Mgr. Herzog (Old Catholic Bishop) in the Old Catholic Church at Berne. This is proved by documents bearing the seal and signature of Mgr. Herzog. Concerning his Episcopal Consecration, it took place on May 29th, 1892. Mgr. Vilatte was consecrated by three Jacobite bishops in the Cathedral of Archbishop Alvarez (Julius First), i.e. in the Church of Our Lady of Good Death in Colombo (Ceylon). Mgr. Vilatte is likewise in possession of the consecration deed in question bearing the signature of the three above-named bishops and of the American Consul who was present at the ceremony. So much for explanation, and should you deem it appropriate, for your use“ I gladly take the opportunity of transmitting to you the expression of my sincere esteem, with which I remain, (Signed) +B. Cerretti, Archbishop of Corinthia, Apostolic Nuncio.
It is, as the statement says, “irrefutable“ that the Roman Catholic Church accepted fully the validity of the Holy Orders that Prince-Abbot Joseph III had received. Any statement to the contrary is a lie. Prince-Abbot Joseph III died in 1929 in full communion with the Holy See. None of his successors (all of whom have been Traditional or Old Catholics holding the pre-Vatican I position) have been subject to the Holy See, but this does not have any effect on their validity according to Roman Catholic canon law. A further confirmation of the validity of the Holy Orders received by San Luigi in the eyes of Rome was published in the Roman Catholic diocesan newspaper, the Denver Catholic Register, of Thursday April 26, 1962. There are many more documents available on our website, notably from the Orthodox churches, that confirm the validity of the Holy Orders of San Luigi. Because our critics are not interested in truth, but simply in attacking us, they choose to ignore or distort them.
After the death of Prince-Abbot Joseph III, another period of disturbance ensued, with the remnants of the earlier rump of ultramontane fanatics again engaging in propaganda against us. It was only thanks to the intervention of a camerier secret of the Pope, the Duc d’Allery de Bourbon, who was also a member of our Orders, that some measure of good relations with the Vatican were restored. From that period until now there have been Roman Catholic members of our orders, including several priests subject to the Holy See. At no point has the slightest action been taken against them by their hierarchy on the grounds of their membership, and never has such membership ever been declared illegal by any competent Roman authority. It is a matter of great concern that our decades of understanding and friendship with the Roman Catholic Church, despite our differences, should now be subject to attempts at disruption by sectarian fanatics.
Our critics have much to say on the subject of “recognition” but they conveniently ignore the fact that the Prince de San Luigi was indeed so recognized in 1962 by His late Majesty King Peter II of Yugoslavia, an impeccable fons honorum, King Peter also accepting the High Protectorship and Grand Cross of our Order of the Crown of Thorns. They likewise ignore the fact that the San Luigi Orders today enjoy the Royal Patronage of H.M. the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara, a reigning sovereign fully recognized by Ugandan law. Among our other High Protectors and Royal Patrons are monarchs and heads of ex-regnant Royal Houses whose names will be readily familiar to anyone. Recognition by others is in no way a necessity for the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi to be fully valid and sovereign in international law under the terms of the Montevideo Convention. That being said, however, the Abbey-Principality and the San Luigi Orders possess such recognition in more than ample quality. This recognition comes from their peers; from historic kingdoms, from reigning sovereigns and from the heads of Royal Houses in exile. In nobiliary and chivalric matters, this is the only kind of recognition that is meaningful. We have neither sought, nor regard as meaningful, any recognition by “international commissions”, all of which are comparatively recently-founded private organizations without any legal powers whatsoever.
The Abbey-Principality has further clarified its standing in Italian law in this briefing. The reader will note that the San Luigi Orders have maintained a Grand Priory in Italy and have had numerous members there in the past; the acceptance of our Orders by Italian citizens, provided their insignia is worn in a private context, is, according to the advice we have received, fully within the law.
This statement should suffice to make it clear that the Abbey-Principality contests in the strongest terms the false version of events that these misguided individuals have sought to present, and that it intends to respond fully to these attacks and to take legal action against their perpetrators where necessary. We note also that a friend of the Abbey-Principality has published his own personal response to the matter which may be read (in French) here, and which expresses a trenchancy that is well in keeping with the spirit of the “valiant knight”.
A translation of this statement into French can be found here.