A response to recent communications

In a previous briefing, we found it necessary to respond in some detail to the attacks made upon the San Luigi Orders by the late Robert Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, and to expose certain facts, concerning both his person and the “International Commission on Orders of Chivalry” that he founded, that are to the disadvantage of these parties. As might be expected, this action has won us few friends among those who see it as their duty to suppress such information and to promote organizations of this kind as possessing a credibility which they plainly do not deserve.

We would not wish it to be thought that we undertake such actions out of a wish to be seen as controversialists. Our duty is certainly not seen in terms of the initiation of any such material; but rather in the necessary issuing of a response to any attack upon our organizations that crosses the line from legitimate debate and criticism into matters that are factually inaccurate, or that seeks to impute motives to our members that are the product of malice or ill-informed speculation. It is therefore a matter of duty that we should continue to exercise vigorously our right to answer our critics and to state our case.

It is also our regrettable burden that we must be ever vigilant against the attentions of those who would work to undermine our cause. These persons often shun the light of day, well aware that the exposure of their behaviour will deny them the credibility that they crave – and that such exposure will frequently result in a robust rebuttal that will show their premises to be both erroneous and motivated by the basest of instincts.

Newcomers to the world of chivalry and nobility often imagine that those involved are uniformly observers of the chivalric code and behave even towards those with whom they disagree with respect and dignity. They are not aware of the predatory sub-class that is concerned largely with the quid pro quo of offers of money, “international recognition” and other assistance, in return for the bestowal of titles of nobility and an adherence to its agenda of “accepted” institutions and protocols.

We have learned that, for some time, our Royal Patron, H.M. the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara, and his advisor have been receiving unsolicited email communications of an unpleasant nature. Those responsible for sending this material should not imagine that their identities are not known to us, for we are very familiar indeed with their history and methods. They cannot have imagined that we would, however, come swiftly to possess copies of this material that they believed was safe from our eyes, nor that we would proceed to expose it to public scrutiny.

Let us examine one of these missives, and answer its accusations in some detail. It purports to be sent by Dom Abillo Rodas de Sousa Ribas, the retired bishop of São Tomé and Príncipe in the Roman Catholic Church, and reads as follows:

“Just a friendly warning to tell you that the Old Catholic Church/Catholic Church is schismatic and a group that broke off and was excommunicated over a hundred years ago.

A so called Treaty of Friendship signed with them or contact with this group will make people holding your Orders, banned from belonging to or expelled from many of the legitimate Dynastic Orders of Europe and worldwide.

Whilst we do not share a complete communion with these brothers, we do share the sacraments as you pointed out. The problem is that with any schismatic group, they are excommunicated and not in communion with Rome so we cannot accept them on a whole and although they can join Orders of merit, they cannot join Catholic Dynastic Orders and other Orders.

The problem with the Old Roman Catholics is not the validity of the Sacraments or Line of Succession but the Excommunication. Catholic Princes, in obedience, cannot associate themselves or their Orders with those who are in what is perceived as open rebellion or Excommunicated and thus until there is a reconciliation or the lifting of the Excommunication they cannot join. Currently, I am only aware that only the Excommunication of the Society of Saint Pius X was lifted and in fact I was part of conversations at Fatima with their Bishops previous to their encounter with Pope Benedict XVI.  I am not aware that this has happened with the Old Catholics.

In any case being a Protestant (Anglican) does not prohibit reception of the Orders on an Honorary basis. This is forseen in the Statutes. The difference lies soley in the Excommunication as it befalls all those who adhere to the Schism.

The same problem lies in belonging to the so-called memberships in sects: Mormons, Jehova Witnesses, Universal Church, Episcopal Church, etc. which although may be recognized by some organizations, are not considered religions by the main religions but cults or sects. The same goes for the autocephalous Orthodox Churches (self-proclaimed) which are NOT recognized as religions but also considered Schismatic. Our Statutes forbid association with such groups. Some Mormons who have suspended their membership in CJCLS have joined the Order and are in a process of conversion. The others that are practicing are not.

I hope I have been more explicit. It all boils down to the Statutes of the Dynastic Orders and most of them in the Catholic world shun those that are involved with any non-Catholic organizations whilst others go further and include schismatic. Recently just because of the help received from Mormons for the Missions and poor of São Tomé many Nobles and high ranking royals and also experts in the chivalric world resigned from catholic Orders.  So I hope you appreciate how sensitive this is. My warning to you was just to tell you that if you advertise this Treaty and this fraudulent Abbey San Luigi, you will be shunned by many legitimate Orders and have people resign and loose support.

It is clear that the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom must be more cautious with its various agreements, “treaties,” and other connections if it wishes to be considered seriously in nobiliary and chivalric circles. The Old Catholic Church in England is a rather notorious supporter of false orders and other nonsense. I am not certain that the doctrinal difference is as important as the fact that this particular group has been very bad when it comes to fantasy orders and nobility. The same goes for the wrong, dubious and fraudulent Abbey San Luigi!”

While the history of relations between San Luigi and the Roman Catholic Church is not entirely without its difficulties, it has generally been characterized by peace and mutual respect. The present Prince-Abbot, as was his predecessor Prince-Abbot Edmond I, is a Pontificial Academician. He has been honoured by several lay associations of the Roman Catholic Church and has on several occasions been received in an atmosphere of mutual recognition and respect by clergy of that church.

We shall begin with the charge of excommunication, since our “friendly” correspondent errs profoundly in his understanding of this term. Excommunication is a specific canonical penalty laid against an individual; it does not descend to that individual’s co-religionists in successive generations. The Old Catholics of today are thus not heirs to the excommunication of their predecessors in past centuries, any more than the Anglican Communion today is heir to the excommunication of Henry VIII.

It is a common misconception that excommunication places one outside the church. In fact, excommunication can only be effected where the person concerned is (or has been) a member of the church in question. Its purpose is as a punitive measure to bring a person into greater obedience and compliance, and when that has been achieved through the appropriate reconciliation and penance, the excommunication is lifted.

As we have recounted elsewhere, Prince-Abbot Joseph III (Vilatte) petitioned the Holy See for recognition in his office as Prince-Abbot on 12 February 1899, and the unfortunate response to this was his excommunication by Pope Leo XIII on 13 June 1900. But this was not the end of the story. In 1925, the Prince-Abbot completed negotiations that would lead to his reconciliation with Rome. His excommunication was lifted, a notice issued that recognized the validity of his Episcopate, and he was granted a house and generous pension. He died in full communion with the Holy See and in office as Prince-Abbot until his death.

No other Prince-Abbot has been a Roman Catholic, and therefore has not incurred any penalty from that church. Prince-Abbot Edmond I, for example, was an Anglican priest before accepting Old Catholic Holy Orders. The present Prince-Abbot, too, began life as an Anglican before becoming an Old Catholic. He has never been a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

The charge of schism is one which is generally in modern times used by polemicists seeking to discredit their targets rather than by the Church herself; again, since our correspondent clearly does not understand the meaning of the term, we must elucidate it for him.

Canon 751 of the current Code of Canon Law provides that “schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” This definition does not apply to our body. We have never refused to submit to the Pope. We are not at present under his jurisdiction, but that does not mean that if we were not asked by proper authority to submit as a body to a just ruling of his that we would necessarily refuse that command. We do not cut ourselves off from those in communion with the Pope; by contrast we are only too happy to share in Christian fellowship and in the sacramental life with them when opportunity permits.

It is important to note that even those who are termed schismatics are not cut off from the Church, nor are they to be counted among the damned. Ludwig Ott, in his “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma” (1955) explains, “Schismatics in good faith (material) like heretics in good faith, can by a desire to belong to the Church, belong spiritually to the Church, and through this achieve justification and salvation.”

Our correspondent is again altogether poorly informed as regards the religious requirements for admission to various Orders of Chivalry. Non-Roman Catholics can join Roman Catholic dynastic Orders except for one, the Constantinian Order of St George. The Order of Malta and the Order of the Holy Sepulchre are the only other Orders which will not admit non-Roman Catholics, but of course the Order of Malta has established the Order pro Merito Melitensi which admits non-Roman Catholics. Indeed, non-Roman Catholics and even non-Christians are admitted to a number of the other Papal Orders. It is obvious that diplomacy between Royal Houses has always of necessity involved an acceptance of religious differences.

Over the years, the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi has included among the members of the Order of the Crown of Thorns bishops of the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Old Catholic Churches. During the 1960s our Italian members were represented by a Canon of the Roman Catholic Church. Accordingly, it is clear that clergy of these churches have had no difficulty in accepting us in the past, though we have always been Old Catholics.

We must leave our friends in the Old Roman Catholic Church of Great Britain to answer our correspondent’s slur upon them, although we believe it to be entirely unfounded.

We then come to the element of our correspondent’s missive that consists of an explicit threat. This is that should our Royal Patron not desist from his support for us – remembering also the two Treaties of Friendship concluded between the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom and the Church of the Divine Mysteries and the Old Roman Catholic Church of Great Britain respectively – he will face ostracization by our correspondent and his coterie. It is worth dwelling on the implications of this.

Our correspondent seems to regard the acts of His Majesty as ephemeral in nature, whereby an undertaking given one moment can be undone the next. Any Royal House that was so unwise as to adopt this kind of protocol would find that it very quickly had acquired a reputation for breaking its promises and could not enter into any future undertaking without the other party having reasonable fear that if pressure were applied by hostile parties, the agreement would simply be summarily rescinded. In short, the word of such a monarch would not be capable of being trusted. To attempt to impel someone to this form of dishonest and disloyal behaviour is a profoundly immoral act unworthy of anyone who claims to be a clergyman, and it is one that we despise.

Our correspondent holds out the prospect of recognition by “legitimate Orders” if only His Majesty will do his bidding and submit to the control of his group as to what is “legitimate” and what is not. This is a dangerous game. The circle of our correspondent is not known for its acceptance of African monarchy and chivalry; indeed, as we have pointed out, not a single African Order is represented in the ICOC Register, and the organization owes its foundation to an individual (Gayre) who was, according to David Lethbridge, “a champion of apartheid and has stated his belief that blacks are worthless.”[1] It must be doubted as to whether our correspondent can deliver what he promises, and if what is delivered would not, in fact (despite its apparent prestige) be more akin to a set of shackles than a Grand Collar.

Consider this missive from August 2012 to a representative of His Majesty, with its combination of conditional promises and threats; note also the questionable representation of the correspondent and his cronies, who are far from disinterested parties, as “reputable, professional people” seeking to present their control as “assistance”:

This is a just follow up note. How are you?

As you know we are working hard for the first Order of Chivarly from HRH Crown Prince Nugzar to come up.

You must know that Prince Nugzar copy most of the correspondence within our team with the [… Royal] House because he trust him and needs his advice. The whole team agrees to make mutual recognition between HRH Prince Nugzar and H.M. the Omukama who is a legitimate, reigning (not ruling) king.

However my dear friend, things must be cleared before going ahead with this important event. I told you once that Mr. Evaristo and Mr. Pennington would write to you in regard King Omukama’s connection to Abbey Principality of San Luigi. He has not received any answer from you.

I know it is hard to make changes because we made several decisions thinking of promoting the best of our abilities in the promotion of our organizations…..BUT DO YOU REMEMBER I even told you that I also made mistakes in the past BUT DEFINITALY I made a drastic change to the point that now the Association became a prestigious international organization. Many false princes, clergies, churches were removed from my organization and I don’t accept negotiation with anybody I think is not genuine. On the Internet, all those phony royal families web pages look good….the best way is to double check and further request assistance from reputable, professional people before going ahead with recognition. I feel now very relaxed about changes I made; although, people do not forget the past. All must be recognized by ICOC, that’s ok.

…I am in negotiation with HRH Crown Prince Leka of Albania….he is also very careful in moving toward mutual recognition to safeguard his reputation.

It must be said that we have observed similar behaviour to this over many years during which we have taken an interest in such matters. Those who set themselves up as chivalric “brokers” or “middlemen” tend to approach ex-regnant Royal Houses, doubtless aware that it is easier to persuade exiled royalty who may be in need of funds to accede to their demands than those who are in full possession of their patrimony. Their approach so far as Africans are concerned seems invariably to involve the fons honorum in question agreeing to the conferral of certain Western-style honours such as chivalric decorations and titles of nobility, from which personal benefit of various kinds can be derived for those proposing the scheme. See the following 30 June 2010 email, for example, from Mr Guye Pennington who has recently chosen to involve himself in propagandizing against us:

“I know you and I both agree that the King should NOT sell honors.  But I have an idea on how to receive donations without actually selling titles. Namely, we should consider taking small villages within Bunyoro-Kitara that have needs and appoint a baron (using a historical term in Bunyoro-Kitara that has the equivalency of baron – maybe Ssaza chief?) responsible for assisting it.  For example, say the village of Kabanda needs a new well to provide clean drinking water.  Let’s also say there is a potential donor (for our example, someone named John Smith) interested in receiving a barony (let’s face it – pride and ego are powerful things).  The donor would sign an agreement that for a period of ten years, he would provide at least $1,000 a year to the development needs of that village (or a single one-time donation of $10,000 if the donor has the funds), and we would be responsible for making sure this donor followed through on his agreement.  In return, for free (as the baron title is free – it is the contractual agreement that requires the donation), the donor is allowed to style himself John Smith, Baron Smith of Kabanda or something like that.”

To this, there was an unequivocal response,

“- HM the King wishes, that you only work for him, the kingdom and the Banyoro; not for yourself.

– HM the King wishes, that you find other subjects / topics for the Kingdom and the development aid and not only orders and decorations.

– HM the King wishes, that you develop other ideas, except always only titles, orders and decorations.

– HM the King forbids you to use in the future for ideas, the royal prerogatives and privileges.”

This response caused Mr Pennington to resign from any involvement with Bunyoro-Kitara, until his recent intervention.

We also find the “International Commission for Nobility and Royalty”, a private American association consisting of Peter Harradine and Donald Goff, again using the same combination of carrot and stick:

“Do you have contacted that questionable Prince Abbot about to examine his evidence for legitimacy? This, as far as I know, is the hold up for the Royal House of Georgia and all catholic Royal Houses and Monarchs and the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara to establish mutual recognition. The king’s connection to Abbey Principality is probably a big mistake. I see a lot of red flags all over it and warning signs of invalidity. It would not take long to expose them for what they really are.”

It may surprise this “commission” that we do not consider their threat of “exposure” to be worth taking seriously; we have always pursued a policy of the utmost openness regarding our organization’s standing and history. They, however, may wish to consider the wisdom of seeing this kind of behaviour publically associated with them in print.

The history of many events in Africa during the nineteenth-century, including the early history of the Abbey-Principality in North Africa and Bunyoro-Kitara, is not possible to verify from contemporary written records; what was recorded in writing was done principally by foreign colonialists, and even then it is a very partial record. Some retrospective records of the Abbey-Principality were made in later years, such as the 1922 History. However, the oral tradition is rightly respected in Africa. In the preface to the book “Burke’s Royal Families of the World, Vol. II: Africa and the Middle East” the late Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, former Editor of Burke’s Peerage, says the following, “Surprising as it may seem, however, oral tradition, more often than not, can provide an accurate record. When genealogies have to be handed down verbally from one generation to another, they have to be remembered accurately: through constant repetition until word perfect. Indeed, unlike when the written word is copied, re-copied and frequently misread, interpolations, embroideries and errors do not creep in to the same extent. Therefore many of the traditional African tribal pedigrees can be accepted with as much confidence as a long well-documented European pedigree.” The genealogy of the Royal House of Bunyoro-Kitara is given in this same volume. We note that our detractors do not dare to question this, although, similar to our own early history, any written records in support of its history before recent times have not survived.

The history of the Abbey-Principality is amply recorded in our official publications: the 1922 History; the 1954 History; 1961’s “The San Luigi Orders” to name but three. Not only this, but our Royal Members have included the late King Peter II of Yugoslavia, King Frederik IX of Denmark, King Haakon VII of Norway, the Crown Prince of Japan, and the Maharaja of Jaipur to name just a few of those who became associated with us during the period of our greatest activity between 1930 and 1970. These Monarchs accepted us fully and in the case of King Peter, extended his High Protection to the Order of the Crown of Thorns. Their support is evidence, should that be needed, that we are exactly who we claim to be. Even supposing that our history (as with some other chivalric orders) were to prove to be entirely legendary, the patronage of each undoubted fons honorum and the formal recognition of King Peter as an unabdicated sovereign constitutes all that is needed for the validation of our chivalric status in toto.

It is merely stating the facts to say that our historic record of Royal Patronage is considerably more prestigious than many of our critics can claim for their Orders. Yet we have never accepted those critics’ “club”, their attempted control over us, or their legitimacy. This is the reason why today, acting from their own personal interests, they regard us as a threat to their positions and seek to brief against us.

We should note that a number of the individuals who are now opposing us were not always so unfriendly towards San Luigi. In 2010, pressure was being placed on H.M. the Omukama from some of these very people to recognize as the heir to San Luigi none other than Mgr. Serge Thériault, concerning whose false claims we have written elsewhere. We may take it that had this recognition been granted, the reaction would have been quite different.

While the Abbey-Principality does not believe in taking any action that would censor general criticism of our organization or aspects of its history within the normal bounds of debate, any suggestion that individuals presently associated with us are participating in fraud is likely to be readily actionable at law. The Abbey-Principality continues to retain legal representation, as it has done from the outset, and our patience with what has amounted to a hate campaign against us can only be extremely limited.

[1] Lethbridge, David Review of Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray: “The Bell Curve” , People’s Voice, March 1995, accessed at http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45/019.html April 2012.