R.A.U. Juchter van Bergen Quast – “To what extent do religious organizations have a fons honorum to grant titles and awards?”

by R.A.U. Juchter van Bergen Quast – reproduced with permission from https://freiherrvonquast.wordpress.com/2020/12/20/to-what-extent-do-religious-organizations-have-a-fons-honorum-to-grant-titles-and-awards/

About the author: Rudolph Andries Ulrich JUCHTER VAN BERGEN QUAST, LLM, FSS is a lawyer and Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. He is the honorary president of the Family Association of the Barons von Quast (Familienverband der Freiherren von Quast), a Swiss Verein. Main interests: international law and finance, international relations, banking, statistics and the law, art, culture and history. 

A fons honorum (English: source of honour) can be defined as the legitimate and legal authority of a person or institution to grant titles and awards to other parties (see e.g.: Versélewel de Witt Hamer, 2017, p. 100).

In earlier articles, I examined the fons honorum of certain historical dynasties, like the former monarchs of Georgia, Rwanda and Hawaii. This article investigates, from a legal perspective, the fons honorum of religious organizations to grant titles and awards. I will demonstrate that this fons honorum is based on religious freedom and the freedom of association. Although international law does not define religion, it does identify religion with conscience, and enumerates a number of manifestations of religion that are to be protected.

The freedom of religious manifestation

European legal perspective

Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), guarantees the freedom of thought, conscience and religion in relation to the State. From a European law perspective, there are three aspects to the aforementioned freedoms: internal, external and collective aspects.

  • Regarding the internal aspect, the aforementioned freedom is absolute. This freedom concerns deeply held ideas and convictions that are forged in a person’s individual conscience and therefore cannot in themselves prejudice public order. Therefore, these ideas and convictions cannot be subject to restrictions by State authorities.
  • With regard to the external aspect, the freedom is not absolute but relative. This freedom to manifest a person’s beliefs is limited, because it can affect or even threaten a country’s public order. While religious freedom is primarily a matter of individual conscience, it also implies, inter alia, freedom to “manifest [one’s] religion” alone and in private or in community with others, in public and within the circle of those whose faith one shares. Article 9 lists a number of forms which manifestation of one’s religion or belief may take, namely worship, teaching, practice and observance (European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia and Others v Moldova, judgment of 13 December 2001, ECHR Reports 2001-XII, § 114 et seq. and case-law cited).
  • Most of the rights recognised under Article 9 are individual rights that cannot be challenged. However, some of these rights may have a collective aspect. Accordingly, the ECtHR has recognised that a Church or ecclesiastical body may, as such, exercise on behalf of its members the rights guaranteed by Article 9 of the Convention (ECtHR, 12 June 2014, Martinez Fernandez v. Spain, Comm. 1104/2002, U.N. Doc. A/60/40, Vol. II, at 150 (HRC 2005).

Freedom of conscience and of religion does not protect each and every act or form of behaviour, motivated or inspired by a religion or a belief. In other words, Article 9 of the ECHR protects a person’s private sphere of conscience, but not always any public conduct inspired by that conscience. It does not allow general laws to be broken (Pichon and Sajous v. France (dec.), no. 49853/99, ECtHR 2001-X).

As religious communities traditionally and universally exist in the form of organized structures, Article 9 ECHR has to be interpreted in the light of Article 11 ECHR which safeguards associative life against unjustified state interference. Seen in this perspective, the believer’s right to freedom of religion includes the right of a religious community to function peacefully; free from arbitrary State intervention. This autonomous existence of religious communities is indispensable for pluralism in a democratic society and is thus an issue at the very heart of the protection which Article 9 affords (Hasan and Chaush v. Bulgaria [GC], no. 30985/96, § 62, ECtHR 2000-XI; Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia and Others, cited above, § 118; and Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (Metropolitan Inokentiy) and Others v. Bulgaria, nrs. 412/03 and 35677/04, § 103, 22 January 2009).

There exist a vast number of cases where the ECtHR decided regarding the wearing of religious clothing and the use of symbols. Under Article 9(2) ECHR, the right to freely manifest one’s religion can only be restricted under certain cumulative conditions. These restrictions must (i) be prescribed by law; (ii) be necessary in a democratic society by fulfilling a pressing social need; (iii) have a legitimate aim (these aims are mentioned in Article 9(2) ECHR); and, (iv) the means used to achieve that aim must be proportionate and necessary. The right not to be discriminated against can, according to the ECHR, also be restricted under certain circumstances, where a similar justification test is applied. In addition, article 51(2) Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EUCFR), is a similar test that also applies to restrictions on the rights in Articles 10 and 21 EUCFR. The bans on the wearing of religious clothing or symbols are justified under Article 9(2) ECHR.

Global legal perspective

The freedom of religion or belief is also guaranteed by article 18 of the (mondial) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Regarding the use of religious expressions, the United Nations issued the following statements:

Art. 6 (c): The right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief includes the freedom, “To make, acquire and use to an adequate extent the necessary articles and materials related to the rites or customs of a religion or belief;”.

Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, Proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly resolution 36/55 of 25 November 1981

4 (b): The Commission on Human Rights urges States, “To exert the utmost efforts, in accordance with their national legislation and in conformity with international human rights law, to ensure that religious places, sites, shrines and religious expressions are fully respected and protected and to take additional measures in cases where they are vulnerable to desecration or destruction;”.

UN Commission on Human Rights, Resolution 2005/40 on Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, 19 April 2005

Para. 4: “The concept of worship extends to […] the display of symbols”. Para. 4: “The observance and practice of religion or belief may include not only ceremonial acts but also such customs as […] the wearing of distinctive clothing or head coverings […].”

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, General Comment No. 22: The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Art. 18): 30/07/93, CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4, General Comment No. 22. (General Comments), 1996-2001.

The aforementioned legal frameworks show that religious freedom and the liberty to manifest this freedom by symbols is a fundamental human right and protected by international law, that is incorporated by states in national law. In my opinion, religious freedom also includes the freedom to grant titles and awards when issued in the context of religious customs, symbols and honorifics. Therefore, the fundamental human rights of religious freedom combined with the freedom of association are the source of authority of religious groups for legally and legitimately granting such titles and awards.

Case studies

Roman Catholic Church

The so-called “Bologna Mozart” was copied 1777 in Salzburg (Austria) by a now unknown painter from a lost original for Padre Martini in Bologna (Italy), who had ordered it for his gallery of composers. Today it is displayed in the Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale in Bologna in Italy. Leopold Mozart, W. A. Mozart’s father, wrote about this portrait: „Malerisch hat es wenig wert, aber was die Ähnlichkeit anbetrifft, so versichere ich Ihnen, daß es ihm ganz und gar ähnlich sieht.“ (Letter of Leopold Mozart to Padre Martini in Bologna from Dec 22, 1777, MBA II, pp. 204f, No. 396).

At the age of 14, the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) left Salzburg to go on tours to Italy, accompanied by his father, the musician Leopold Mozart (1719-1787). Their principal destinations were Verona, Mantua, Cremona, Milan, Parma, Bologna, Florence and finally Rome, which he reached on 10 April 1770. When Pope Clement XIV was informed of the child prodigy, he received Mozart and his father in a private audience on their return from Naples two months later, on 4 July 1770. On that occasion, the Pope conferred the Order of the Golden Spur on young Mozart (Jahn, 1856, pp. 199-205; Cardinale 1983, pp. 35-42), thus making him a Papal Knight of the Golden Spur. The following day, Mozart received his official insignia, consisting of ‘a golden cross on a red sash, sword, and spurs,’ emblematic of honorary knighthood. In 1777, Mozart had his portrait painted with the star-encircled cross of the order on his coat.

The papal patent of 4 July 1770 for the award stated:

Inasmuch as it behoves the beneficence of the Roman Pontiff and the Apostolic See that those who have shown them no small signs of faith and devotion and are graced with the merits of probity and virtue, shall be decorated with the honours and favors of the Roman Pontiff and the said See.’

Vatican secret archives 2009, p. 183

It is interesting to examine the capacity in which the pope issued the diploma. Roman Pontiff refers to the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. An apostolic see is an episcopal see (a bishop’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction) of which the foundation is attributed to one or more of the apostles of Jesus or to one of their close associates. In Roman Catholicism, the apostolic see refers to the See of Rome. Therefore, both references to the fons honorum are of a religious nature. Although the Papal States on the Italian Peninsula were under the direct sovereign rule of the pope at that time, the fons honorum for the diploma is based on religion, instead of public law. It has an internal character within the church structures.

Currently, the Pontifical Orders of Knighthood are secular orders of merit of which the membership is conferred by a direct decision of the Pontiff. The diplomas given to recipients of the most popular Pontifical Orders, the Pontifical Equestrian Order of Saint Sylvester Pope and Martyr (reorganised by Pope Pius X on his own initiative, motu proprio,Multum ad excitandos” on 7 February 1905), and the Pontifical Equestrian Order of Saint Gregory the Great (established on 1 September 1831, by Pope Gregory XVI), are issued in the capacity of pontifex maximus. Although this designation has been used in inscriptions referring to the Popes for some centuries, it has never been included in the official list of papal titles, which is published yearly in the Annuario Pontificio. The official list of titles of the Pope given in the Annuario Pontificio mentions “Supreme Pontiff of the whole Church” (in Latin, Summus Pontifex Ecclesiae Universalis) as the fourth title, the first being “Bishop of Rome“. The title pontifex maximus appears in inscriptions on religious buildings and on coins and medals. Awards are gazetted in Acta Apostolica Sedis, the Gazette of the Holy See. Diplomas of appointment are issued by the Secretariat of State. Papal knighthoods are personal. Perpetual succession is no longer granted.

The Order of Saint Sylvester is intended to honour Roman Catholic lay people who are actively involved in the life of the church, particularly as it is exemplified in the exercise of their professional duties and mastership of the different arts. According to Pope Gregory XVI’s Papal Brief of 1 September 1831, the Order of Saint Gregory is an order of merit to be bestowed on gentlemen of proven loyalty to the Holy See who, by reason of their nobility of birth and the renown of their deeds or the degree of their munificence, are deemed worthy to be honoured by a public expression of esteem by the Holy See (see: appendix 1, underlined sentence).

Clearly, the orders of knighthood focus on religious merit and are issued in a religious capacity. I have not seen an explicit reference to the capacity of the pope as sovereign of the Vatican State. The latter capacity is referred to as the temporal power of the church: the rule of the Church in earthly possessions and the authority of the Pope over civil territories belonging to the Church, as in the former Papal States. This power is an addition to his dominion in spiritual matters and becomes necessary if freedom from civil power is to be assured. The church’s temporal power is presently exercised in relation to the Vatican City State since the Lateran Treaty of 1929. The term may also refer to the exercise of political influence by the bishops formerly through landed estates and currently through financial and other means. The aforementioned orders of knighthood are not issued as part of the Vatican’s temporal power; they are awards, issued for religious merit and therefore have a religious nature.

Considering the foregoing, from both a historical and a legal perspective, for centuries, Popes have exercised their religious fons honorum to grant titles and awards. These awards have an internal effect. They are part of the religious structure of the Roman Catholic faith and are logically recognised as such by the Vatican City State. Other states may choose to either allow their citizens to wear them or to forbid them. The latter could be in breach of religious freedom, as guaranteed by international law.

Abbey-Principality of San Luigi

Since 1970, the Catholic population has nearly doubled, growing from about 650 million in 1970 to about 1.3 billion in 2020. The Church has circa 415.000 priests. As the world’s oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilization. It is interesting to compare this huge organization to a small religious group, like for example the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi, based in the United Kingdom.

The history of the Abbey-Principality, is described on its webpage:

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On “Traditionis custodes”

The Apostolic Letter “Traditionis custodes” issued by Pope Francis recently has caused considerable concern to those who have a devotion to the Tridentine Rite. It has been necessary before responding to analyse carefully the detail of the Apostolic Letter itself, its accompanying documentation, its context, and then the responses of others to its contents. In our response, it is also necessary to set out certain priorities, so that we are seen both to uphold our brethren in full communion with the Holy See and also to state in truth the position from where we ourselves stand.

The latitude in interpretation in the language of the Apostolic Letter itself would permit an intelligent and literal interpretation that would, perhaps surprisingly, allow it to be interpreted as supportive of the status quo within the obedience of the Holy See, with the addition of some key caveats. Having examined a wide range of responses, including from the bishops of the Roman obedience, we find that some bishops are indeed minded to take this approach. Others have more regard to the modernist context that surrounds the Apostolic Letter, and have interpreted it in such a way as to lead them to prohibit the celebration of the Tridentine Rite either partially or fully within their dioceses, or to require of their traditionalist parishioners that they give explicit written assent to the provisions of the Apostolic Letter and the Second Vatican Council as a condition of continuing their chosen form of worship.

It is difficult not to have sympathy for some of the issues that the Holy Father raises. He says truthfully that the Church is divided and that the basis for at least some of this division is adherence to the Tridentine Rite and an opposition to the modernist reforms of Vatican II. Again, we are aware that it is possible to interpret the decisions of Vatican II in a traditionalist rather than a modernist light, but this is a minority viewpoint and not one that seems to be in evidence in the context of the current Apostolic Letter. Rather, it seems to us that the Holy Father is making explicit a dilemma for those of the Roman obedience. Firstly, he appears to want unanimity in both the full acceptance of Vatican II and on the modernist interpretation of Vatican II that he himself holds along with the majority of Catholics. Secondly, for those who are unable in conscience to accept this, what he is taking away is the prospect of forming a distinct traditionalist community within the Church that has the capacity for growth and ultimately for influence. The spirit of the Apostolic Letter is that the Tridentine Rite, where not extinguished altogether, is to be driven to the margins. This comes at a time when the traditionalist expressions of the Church have been those that have been growing in the most visible way, particularly among the young, and where there have inevitably been other questions that have arisen as a result of the cognitive dissonance between the expression of traditionalist worship and teaching, and the modernist emphasis of the Papacy.

As Christians, our aim should be to bring healing where there is division, and wherever possible not to be the cause of further division. It would not be possible to be involved in the work of ecumenism without having as an aspiration that such work would result in new ways of working together and of emphasising the fact that, however disparate our churchmanship, much more still unites us than divides. A starting-point for such work is a respect for those who differ from us. These differences ultimately reflect the fact that mankind is diverse, not uniform, and if we are to have the proper regard for the fact that each one of us is made in God’s image, we should avoid crude or sweeping attempts at collectivisation or centralization.

The history of the Church is not one of papocentralism nor of the Church as a centrally governed direct hierarchy. The government of the Church has historically been entrusted to its bishops, who have differed widely in their theology and polity while preserving the deposit of faith. The place of the Pope in such a structure is certainly not entirely without an obvious overarching power, but it is much more in line with the Orthodox view of the Papacy as a primacy of honour rather than one of jurisdiction. Had the present Apostolic Letter been issued some centuries ago, the view that might have been taken then would have been much more equivocal than in the modern Church. It could well have been said, and it would not have been without significant scholarly support, that if a Pope were to err in his teaching or polity, it was largely permissible to ignore any such aberration without significant spiritual or practical consequences accruing.

Our first priority in considering a response to Traditionis custodes is that of the salvation of souls. This is the supreme law of the Church. The Declaration of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith Dominus Iesus (2000) states,

“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, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church. (IV:17)

We are then given the conditions for a church to be a “true particular church”, viz. Apostolic Succession and a valid Eucharist. In practice, the second condition is only possible if the first is present.

Moreover, such separated churches are not separate in that they do not belong to the Catholic Church, “The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine that the Church of Christ is nothing more than a collection — divided, yet in some way one — of Churches and ecclesial communities; nor are they free to hold that today the Church of Christ nowhere really exists, and must be considered only as a goal which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach”. In fact, “the elements of this already-given Church exist, joined together in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other communities”.

Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church”.

It follows that the separated churches draw upon the same divine essence as the (Roman) Catholic Church. They are elements of a single church, not a sign of a church that consists of many disparate parts. It follows that they are as much partakers of the Holy Roman Church as is the Holy See. It is then for them to define the nature of their relationship with Rome.

Our concern in writing is not that those traditionalists under Papal obedience should now consider attending the Traditional Latin Mass in separated churches and communities, although that may in certain cases be an option for them to consider. They do not need to leave the Roman Catholic Church in order to do so; Canon 844(2) of the current Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law states, “Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.” 

Rather we would wish that those who find themselves in spiritual crisis due to the Apostolic Letter should have a clear understanding of their priorities. The first priority must be to ensure that the sacraments they and others receive are unambiguously valid. We do not say at all that the text of the Mass of Paul VI is not valid, but we do say that where the Mass of Paul VI is accompanied by an overtly modernist interpretation it may give rise to doubts in the mind of the faithful who are aware of the opposition of modernism and Marxist so-called “liberation theology” to the inspired and settled teaching of the Church through the ages. Likewise, assent to both Vatican Councils requires the faithful to profess beliefs about the Church that are not in accordance with the tradition of the Church but instead speak of modernism and the desire for a centralised, “managed” church that is at odds with its history before the past two centuries. Lastly, we should remember that obedience to the teachings of the Pope is not a sine qua non for the faithful, particularly if those teachings are perceived to be partisan or at variance with the unambiguously valid tradition of the Church. Tradition is not the preserve of the Pope to change or abrogate; it is the preserve and treasure of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit. The title of the Apostolic Letter is accurate in that tradition has guardians; a guardian values and nurtures his charge rather than destroying it.

We should also approach these problems from another perspective; if a person feels that the Tridentine Rite and traditionalist theology draw them closer to Jesus and offer them the spiritual nourishment necessary for their journey in faith, who should stand in their way? Should such people be force-fed modernism, or alternatively forced out of full communion with the Pope altogether? The Pope speaks of division in his writings, and yet it seems that (presumably inadvertently) his response to that division will act to proliferate that division still further, and intensify the polarisation between traditionalists and modernists that he says he wishes to heal. We find that the response of a number of Roman Catholic bishops in supporting the continued celebration of the Tridentine Rite within their dioceses is encouraging and to be commended. Where bishops are minded to prohibit its celebration, they are presumably aware that they are forcing a set of difficult and heart-rending choices upon the faithful. At their most extreme, these questions may lead some traditional Catholics to embrace the beliefs known as sedevacantism or sedeprivationism which we do not endorse.

We note that some papocentrist Catholics who belong to groups and societies who have seen fit to attack us in the past have seen the Apostolic Letter as an opportunity to be seized to promote their modernist views. One such writer says of Vatican II and the replacement of the Tridentine Rite with the Mass of Paul VI that “in the opinion of the most recent Popes, many of these things that were antiquated and no longer had any place in today’s modern society just had to go so as not to continue to shock or offend in the modern age.” Such ideas, whether held by the recent Popes or not, are both shameful and heretical. The Church is not concerned with “shocking” or “offending” others. Indeed, the precepts of the Christian faith, for which many of the saints embraced martyrdom, should rightly shock and offend any who oppose them, be they modernists or Marxists. Of course such opponents of tradition are also opposed to the ideas of traditional monarchy and of the nobiliary traditions within the Church.

Let us remember that we are not called to be of this world (John 15:19); and indeed many of the problems which the early Christians encountered in ancient Rome have unfortunately returned amid the crisis of faith of our world during the past century. Jesus has the answers to these problems, and any who find answers that are inconsistent with His teachings are to be regarded as false shepherds.

We note that there is reference in the Pope’s writings to the Society of St Pius X, which continues the expression of the Roman Catholic Church as the church was constituted before Vatican II. We find the position of the SSPX unsatisfactory because its insistence on upholding Vatican I creates a tautology. The SSPX at once upholds the incorrect proposition that the Pope is infallible, and yet refuses to accede to Vatican II despite its blessing and active promulgation by the “infallible” Pope Paul VI and all his successors, together with the college of bishops. The truth is that the Pope is not and never has been infallible; infallibility is attributed solely to the college of bishops not merely of the Roman Catholic Church but instead of the entire undivided Church speaking through an Ecumenical Council under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Within a profoundly divided Church as we see today, there can be no valid Council.

It follows logically that the only consistent and accurate voice representing Tradition within the Roman heritage is that of the Old Catholic understanding, accepting the pre-1870 position of the Church and adhering to neither Vatican Council. The Old Catholic position incidentally has been on numerous occasions affirmed as theologically consistent with the position both of the Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Communion. Moreover, Roman Catholic canonists of the past century have repeatedly stated that the sacraments of the various branches of the Old Catholics are valid notwithstanding their partial or impaired communion with the Holy See.

The Tridentine Rite remains the normative liturgical form within our communion and is understood in the context of a traditional liturgical interpretation. Not being in full communion with the Holy See, we are not bound by the Apostolic Letter as a matter of discipline, though as always we should consider the views of the Pope with the respect that they are due. We continue to hold Pope Francis in prayer and also pray for the healing of the Church so that Jesus’ own prayer may be fulfilled, “that all may be as one” (John 17:21).


Death of the Most Revd. Nagui Zayat

131449223_755696628628686_104940271066311242_nThe Catholicate of the West has been informed of the recent death of the Most Reverend Nagui Youssef Zayat, Metropolitan of Brazil and Exarch for Latin America of the Byelorussian Patriarchate of St Andrew the First-Called Apostle after contracting COVID-19. He was seventy-two years old.

Nagui Youssef Zayat was born in Cairo, Egypt, on 5 March 1949. He became a member of the Byelorussian Slavic Orthodox Church Abroad under the late Archbishop Viktor Ivan Busa, which was part of the American World Patriarchates. This church built up a significant following in Brazil, and acquired the Cathedral of St George and St Sebastian in Rio de Janeiro (pictured below), where (as of 2021) about fifty families worshipped. Zayat was consecrated bishop there on 28 June 1991 and appointed diocesan bishop and eparch of Rio de Janeiro. He was promoted to archbishop and eparch of the same diocese on 30 November 1992, and to archeparch in 2002.

In 1995 he received appointment as Grand Cross of Justice with Collar of the Ordre Chevaleresque et Initiatique de la Couronne Atlantide de Mauretanie from its Grand Master, Dom Saul III Kaesar Augustus. In 2002, he was ennobled as Baron of St Nicholas of Myra by Kyr Athanasios Aloysios I. Both of these fontes honorum were descendants of formerly-reigning Roman dynasties. In 2015, Kyr Athanasios would promote him to Prince-Assistant of the Pro-Patriarchal Ecumenical Sacred Throne of the Aryas. In 2008, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Sovereign Catholic Orthodox Order of St Michael the Archangel of the Byelorussian Slavic Orthodox Church Abroad.

Rio CathedralIn Brazil, from 2006 onwards, the governance of the church was delegated by Patriarch Viktor to the late Patriarch Athanasius (Luiz Antonio do Nascimento) with Zayat serving as one of the two assistant bishops to the Patriarch. After the death of Patriarch Viktor in 2013 the jurisdiction united with the other American World Patriarchates Byelorussian body, the Byelorussian Orthodox National Church in Exile under Patriarch Yuri (Ryzy-Ryski). However, with the deaths within a short period of Patriarch Yuri in 2015 and Patriarch Athanasius in 2018, the American World Patriarchates were left without leadership and the Brazilian jurisdiction fragmented.

In this context, Dom Nagui made approach to the Byelorussian Patriarchate of St Andrew the First-Called Apostle in August 2019 and was received by incardination, whereupon he became a bishop of the Catholicate of the West and was appointed Metropolitan and Exarch, subsequently being further appointed as co-adjutor of the Patriarchate. He was further appointed to the Order of Corporate Reunion by Prince Edmond as its Prelate. His ministry continued to be successful, with expansion both in Brazil and other countries in Latin America, and a successful Synod was held at the Rio cathedral in December 2020. He was in regular touch with Prince Edmond and throughout his communications his steadfastness in the Faith and pastoral warmth towards others were always apparent. It was clear that he was both loved and respected and that his ministry touched many and was greatly valued within and beyond Rio de Janeiro.

The affiliation of the Cathedral and parishes in Brazil to the Patriarchate will continue after Dom Nagui’s passing and further details will be made available once the Brazilian Synod has met to elect his successor.

Our condolences go to his family at this difficult time.