Malta. Explosive Letter from the Chile President of the Order on the Reform.
14 Aprile 2021
Dear friends and enemies of Stilum Curiae, as you know, work is underway to modify the regulations that guide the life of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The Order, after the unprovoked beheading of Grand Master Matthew Festing by the reigning Pontiff, is in the hands of the German party, which seems to suffer from the same stimuli from which much of the German Church suffers, that is, some form of protentistatization, of adaptation to worldly culture and to a certain taste for business and money. This sort of hegemony, which would like to transform the Sovereign Military Order of Malta into a sort of Catholic NGO, is not taking place without resistance all over the world from those who want to defend and maintain the spiritual and religious character of the Order. The letter you find below represents an extremely detailed and explicit summary of what the reform should not be; and we hope that it will be carefully considered by the Special Delegate, Cardinal Silvano Tomasi, in spite of his closeness – when he was Nuncio in Switzerland – to the “German Party” (to which not even the Secretary of State, Parolin, would be extraneous) and to the affair of a discussed gigantic inheritance. Among other things, there are those who attribute the beheading of Card. Angelo Becciu, whose intepestivity and fallacy was then revealed. Good reading.
Santiago, Chile, January 2021
Mr. Juan T. O’Naghten y Chacón, Esq.
Special Delegate for Ibero-America
Sovereign and Military Order of Malta
It is with great pleasure that I hereby present my compliments and thankfulness for the valuable information you saw fit to provide to us during the interesting meeting held last 21st October, with regard to the reform project of the Constitutional Charter and Code of our Order.
At the end of this meeting we agreed to send to you and to the Authorities of the Order, our opinion in connection with the different aspects set forth in the reform, as well as other concerns we have in some other issues.
As regards the reform, we take the liberty of calling the attention to the following:
- Rules for new professed members:
- Spirituality of the Order: While it is important to emphasize the spirituality of work done for the love of God, that is, for charity, it becomes necessary not to forget the contemplative dimension in our lives: Holy Mass, Communion, Worship, Rosary, Via Crucis, spiritual reading of the Scripture and of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.It is necessary to conform oneself to Christ and to ask Him to transform us into Him. Saint Teresa of Calcutta pointed out that silence favours faith, from faith surges love, from love surges service and from service surges peace. If there is no personal and – hopefully – a close relation with God and one does not live for God, there will be no service and if there were, it would not be meritorious. At the time of judgment
a glass of water given for the love of God will be of more value, than even casting our body to the flames for any other reason, but with no love of God (I Cor 13, 3).
- For this reason, it is important to upkeep a pivotal and relevant role of the professed in the government and activities of the Order. They will provide there the necessary presence of spirituality and experience. The formula “what concerns all must be decided by all” should be clarified and specified, because ultimately it could lead to the absurdity “all concerns all”. But the principle that laymen should not impose their criteria to the professed knights as to their way of life, must be respected. Neither should we impose on those who already initiated their way to religious profession, the alternative either to accept for their future lives new norms, or to back out, after having spent years –extended by the suspension of the “iter” for the profession- waiting to profess.
- We believe, and it seems to us the most canonically correct, that the way of life of the professed must, in principle, be fundamentally decided by the professed themselves. The continuity of the Order rests on them.
- Also, because of this, the Grand Master must be a professed religious knight, proven and with experience, even though some nobiliary requirements can be flexibilized in order to make him eligible.
- It is important to carry out a serious work of research and consolidation of vocations for professed knights, for which we have to show a perspective of coherent life, of abandonment to God, with serious possibilities of high-quality formation, preparation and service. It requires an orthodox and serious doctrinal formation as well as a spiritual formation of similar characteristics, to which a strong Marian and Eucharistic piety must be added, so as a serious liturgical life, adoring and profound, since this is the source and culmination of the life of the Church.
- Eligibility and functions of the Grand Master:
- We coincide in the advisability of allowing the Order to elect a Grand Master from a list with a larger number of candidates, for which it could be possible to reduce some nobiliary requirements either by waiving a third or fourth surname, or through a slight decrease of the antiquity required by the English proof or other realistic and moderate formulas, but always preserving the requirement that the candidates be Professed Knights with sufficient time in Solemn Vows. The reference to the “nobility of heart” appears insufficient. This is mandatory of all members of the Order, including those who do not belong to the nobiliary categories. Nobility is a presumption of virtue, but also the result of meritorious and heroic actions, of a distinguished nature, and accumulated in the service of the common good, confirmed, according to the cases and epoch, by the community or authority. This heritage must be maintained and increased and requires us to demand current generations to keep up the high moral standards of their ancestors. For this reason, the mere nobility does not constitute a right to join the Order. But the presumption that it implies and the respect for tradition which is also an example, are constitutively in the tradition of the Order so it cannot be removed (Vid. Benedict XV, Allocution to the Patriciate and the Roman Nobility on 5th January 1920; Allocution to the Patriciate and the Roman Nobility 1920 and Pius XII, Allocution to the Patriciate and the Roman Nobility in 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1958).
- The foregoing makes it necessary – in addition – to increase the number of Professed Knights, for which the vocations in that First Class should be favoured. (Already addressed in point 1.a.).
- The Order is neither a modern enterprise nor a democracy.It has always been an elective and effective monarchy, not an absolute one. Any limitation of the powers of the Grand Master, if proved necessary, must be restrained and very well studied and justified, but, in any case, it should not denature his status as a monarch. We estimate that the idea that the Grand Chancellor is constituted as Head of Government does not appear compatible with the nature of the Order and can easily lead to conflictive situations.
- Improvements in governmental and regional structures of the Order.
- Albeit from an administrative rationalist point of view the criterion of only one organisation for each territory looks attractive, it seems to us that, although it is more complex and even if conflicts sometimes arise, the coexistence with Subpriories facilitates – without forcing them to live in common – the development and spiritual life of the religious. From there they can contribute. Otherwise they are diluted, sometimes among very large groups, and are therefore isolated in their specificity, so that their influence, except in the case of very charismatic personalities, could be practically lost.
- On the other hand, the Priory or Subpriory allows the Professed and the Knights in Obedience to work together and get to know each other, which favours the emergence of vocations for the professed.
- Grand Priories must have at their head a professed Grand Prior, except in very exceptional and qualified circumstances.It does not seem logical that, in times of decisive elections and decisions, the six Grand Priories are governed by Procurators appointed by the Grand Magistry.
- Other matters:
- The regional delegates from South America to the Complete Council of State, in a minimum number of two, must be chosen by the associations of the region, according to majority and rotation criteria, as agreed at the time; and not appointed by the General Meeting of Presidents.
- We are of the opinion that the agenda for the Chapter General must be known well in advance and that complete prior information should be provided to the Grand Priories, Subpriories and Associations, so that the topics can be well studied. Once the Agenda and the pertinent documents are known, a period could be opened so that these entities can propose their initiatives, which should be informed sufficiently in advance to the others.
iii. We believe that the juridical system of the Order and the Office of the Advocate General must be reformulated, so that its independence is total in legal matters and effective in operational matters, especially in relation to the powers of the central administration.
- It would be very convenient for the Order that there might be also a reform of its administration. Some people have been in power for almost 30 years and the same persons also hold positions in all the organs of the Order. Just as Bishops must retire at a certain age (75 years) and the presidents of the Associations also, we consider that it would be necessary to put an age limit to the members of the Sovereign Council and other organs of the Order, except for the Grand Master.
- Permanent formation
- We absolutely agree on the need for permanent formation – both theological and spiritual – of all the members of the three classes.
- In this matter, the efforts regarding the “obsequium pauperum” seem to us to be of the greatest relevance; but we are concerned that not enough is said about the other aspect of our charisma, that is, the “tuitio fidei,” in circumstances in which both are inseparable. St. Paul says that without faith it is not possible to please God.
- In times of theological confusion such as the present, it isvery important that we can have within the Order, as the fundament and channel of our activities and as the basis of the spirituality and formation of young people and members of the Order, a sound doctrine which defends, transmits and applies the deposit of faith – revealed by Christ in person – in all its integrity and purity and a spirituality centered on an intimate union with Christ and with his Holy Mother, in which life is lived for Christ and with Christ, in adoration, the Eucharist, the liturgy and service, supported by a solid theology, so as by tradition and the perennial magisterium of the Church. It is the supernatural love for God that becomes love and service to the poor. But understanding that Our God, the Holy and Undivided Trinity, whose second Person became incarnate for us as man, instructed us, suffered, died, was buried, resurrected gloriously on the third day and will return to judge the living and the dead, it is not convertible with the god of Islam or with other so-called gods that are not. More specifically for our days, we must guard against immanentist or historicist ideas, which tend to diminish the eternal subsistence of the Holy Trinity, before, during and after our history, and to affect the deposit of faith as the Church has always taught. And we must reaffirm the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, his real presence in the Eucharist, and the nature of the Church as necessary for salvation. We must also turn away from all moral relativism, especially with regard to negative precepts, to things condemned as evil in themselves. Recognizing also human nature as created by God with permanent contents for morality and law. Respect and obedience to eternal law and to natural law. Heterodoxy in theology goes hand in hand with deviant morals. Upright doctrine and spiritual life become service to the neighbour. But the primacy belongs to the doctrine, which praxis must serve. To reverse such an order would be a rebellion against God.
- As a minimum, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the declaration Dominus Jesus and the Apostolic Letter “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” should be faithfully followed. We believe that because of their importance and current incidence the following encyclicals should be considered: Humanae Vitae, Evangelium Vitae, Redemptor Hominis, Dives in misericordia, Caritas in Veritate, Fides et Ratio, Veritatis Splendor, Ecclesia de Eucharistia and Dominum et Vivificantem.
- Our Order must also manifest its faith towards the outside, in the most appropriate way, as St. Paul would say “opportune et importune” (II Timothy 4:1-5). This is valid both for dogmatic and moral issues. Our light must shine before men (Mt 5:14-16), but for the glory of God and the edification of men, and therefore it cannot be presented without the Gospel, which we must preach to all (Mt 28, 16-20 and Mark 16, 15-18).
- We should also teach, with love, fidelity and respect the history of the Order, of which -apart from inevitable human miseries which occur everywhere – we should not be ashamed, nor should we offer apologies, but be proud of it and take example of so much charity to the needy, such heroic protection of the weak and of Christianity. So many heroes to admire and perhaps how many unknown martyrs, in addition to those who are consigned in the Calendar of Saints of the Order. These are examples that are and will be very valid in the difficult times coming up.
- To sum up, strict fidelity to the deposit of faith and respect for the Order’s tradition.
- Elimination of the word “Military” from the name of the Order.
- Military comes from the Latin “miles-militis”, which has always meant soldier, which is perfectly in line with our charisma of the tuitio fidei, in the same sense in which we say that we are “soldiers of Christ” when we receive the sacrament of Confirmation.
- This has to do with the fact that the mission of a knight always involves a tinge of combativeness. He is driven to it by the charity that seeks the salvation of all, and he is sustained by faith.
- The expression “Miles Christi” does not refer only to being servants of Christ but, as any Latin dictionary shows, it means soldier, military (from there comes, among other languages, the Spanish word).
- And in the context of the Holy Land, of Rhodes and Malta, there is no doubt, not only of how it was understood, but also of the meaning with which it was originated and lived. And this has marked and constituted the tradition and spirituality of the Order. A period of 600 years cannot be erased. For many this tradition was, and is,, very important in their vocation.
- For almost a thousand years the knights have lived, prayed, served, fought and died for Christ, developing a tradition that, even if it can be purified in some aspects, must be respected and lived under the penalty of losing its identity and the richness it transmits to us.
- This is why it is convenient to keep the adjective military. It is possible not to use it in Lebanon or in Muslim countries. It is not as if the Order had been marginally military, rather it has been so for almost all its millenary history.
- The Crusades, seen from a correct historical perspective, are not by their nature a reason for repentance or for asking for forgiveness. To fall into the temptation of doing so is to fall into politically correct irenicism, with its undercurrent of relativism, as well as to fall into self-blame, which psychologically generates a terrible self-destructive will.
- Final Reflection on the Reform.
We consider drastic reforms dangerous. In any reform, the concrete nature of the Order must be respected; not only the law, nor only the charisma. Almost a thousand years constitute a tradition and a certain collective personality. Part of it are history, particular customs and practices, a legal system, ceremonies, church habits, flags, shields, particular prayers and devotions, the remembrance and the honour of those who preceded us, the legitimate pride for charitable and heroic deeds, the saints of the Order, its heroes, their glorious deeds, such as Lepanto and its famous sieges, and the concern to pass on this legacy to those who come after us. All this must be respected and treated with great delicacy in periods of reform. The last century provides us with plentiful examples of the disastrous consequences of neglecting these realities.
On another front we would like to express our concern about certain issues:
- We have learned that subsequent to the problems caused by the distribution of contraceptives and abortifacients in Africa and Asia, these were handed over to the Johanniter, who, as Maltese Protestants, have no problem in distributing them. This appears to us as evidently immoral and unacceptable, as it is collaboration with evil. There are things that are always evil per se, specifically the negative precepts. The principle that there are acts which are always evil has recently been confirmed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
- Our Association wrote to the Grand Master with respect to the Intervention, – with serious breaches on the orthodoxy about family and feminism – of the delegate to the United Nations in New York, Ms. Arditi de Castelvetere, and we never received a reply. This type of situation cannot be repeated, because it causes serious damage to the Church and to the Order. And we would appreciate a response to our communications.
- Legal-liturgical problems.
- It has come to our attention and we are concerned about the prohibition to celebrate the Holy Mass according to the Extraordinary Form in the Liturgy of the Order. According to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the Grand Master lacks jurisdiction in this matter since there were no factual grounds, and there still are none, that could have granted him jurisdiction according to the referred Motu Proprio. He could not, and cannot, modify an act of pontifical jurisdiction.
According to the said Motu Proprio, the Grand Master only has jurisdiction in this regard in the case he has been requested to use the extraordinary form “often or habitually or permanently”, something that no one has requested, and even in such a case, his jurisdiction reaches only up to approve or reject such a request. The Motu Proprio does not even consider the possibility of a general prohibition, so there is no, and there cannot be, authority for it. We reproduce the relevant article:
“Art. 3. If communities of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, whether of pontifical or diocesan right, wish to celebrate the conventual or community Mass in their own oratories according to the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, they are permitted to do so. If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to have such celebrations frequently, habitually or permanently, the matter is to be decided by the Major Superiors according to the norm of law and their particular laws and statutes”.
Thus, out of justice, out of obedience to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum and out of prudence, such a prohibition should be revoked, since, although it has no value in itself due to lack of jurisdiction, it appears to be inadequate and can give rise to conflicts of conscience and judicial disputes. It is better to correct the error as from now. In addition, because it could be interpreted as a way of making the provisions of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum fall into desuetude, which would appear as a defiance, although it cannot produce such an effect, among other reasons, because the same Motu Proprio declares that the today called Extraordinary Form was never revoked.
We point out that our Association has only once celebrated Holy Mass according to the extraordinary rite; but it seems to us that this is a right of all the faithful, and therefore of all the members of the Order, which cannot be violated.
We hope that these opinions and concerns will be made available to the Grand Magistry, so that they may be taken into consideration when it will be appropriate to give an opinion about the reform of the Constitutional Charter, in the conviction that they will contribute to the good of the Order and of the Holy Mother Church. As both the meeting by videoconference to which we have referred to, as well as this letter, are subsequent to wider discussions that have taken place, we have believed necessary to send it also to the other American Associations and to the Spanish Association.
With confraternal affection,
Mario Correa Bascuñán
Chilean Association Sovereign Order of Malta
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