The Origins of the Overclass, by Steve Kangas

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Re: The Origins of the Overclass, by Steve Kangas

Postby admin » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:08 am

Fra' Andrew Bertie
by The Telegraph
February 11, 2008

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Fra’ Andrew Bertie: a deeply reserved man, his dignity and charm earned him affection and respect

His Most Eminent Highness Fra' Andrew Bertie, who died in Rome on February 7 aged 78, was Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta; the 78th man to hold the office, he was the first Englishman to be elected the Order's leader since Hugh Revel in 1258, and the first non-Italian since the end of the 18th century.

Dedicated to caring for pilgrims and the poor and the sick, the Order emerged in Palestine in about 1100, during the Crusades, and took up arms to defend the Holy Land. It continued its war against Islam, first from Rhodes and then from Malta, whence it was evicted by Napoleon in 1798.

Since 1834 its headquarters has been the Palazzo Magistrale in Rome, which constitutes the world's smallest sovereign state; the Order exchanges ambassadors with many countries and issues its own passports.

Membership is largely restricted to Catholics with proofs of nobility, although there is an increasing element from among the new elite. The higher officers are nearly always noblemen who have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Today, the Order - officially known as the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta - numbers about 12,500 knights, dames, chaplains and donats (members who are not knights).

As early as the 15th century the Grand Master wore the gilded armour of royalty, while in 1607 he was made, ex officio, a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. After 1630 his rank at Rome was equated with that of a cardinal-deacon - hence the style "Most Eminent Highness".

By the end of the 17th century he had acquired all the attributes of a sovereign, addressing kings as "Cousin". He still wears an extraordinary hat of office - an inverted fluted cone - that is as distinctive in its own way as that of a Venetian Doge.

Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie (pronounced "Barty") was born on May 15 1929, the elder son of James Bertie, a younger son of the 7th Earl of Abingdon, and of Lady Jean Bertie (née Crichton-Stuart), a daughter of the 4th Marquess of Bute.

A branch of the Berties had been Dukes of Ancaster, while the Crichton-Stuarts, descended from King Robert II of Scotland, were known for their enormous wealth.

Andrew's forebears also included many recusants, English men and women who had remained staunchly Catholic in the face of persecution. He was to take particular pride in his collateral descent from Sir Edward Bellingham, a Knight of Malta during Henry VIII's reign.

He was educated at Ampleforth, Christ Church, Oxford, and at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London. During his National Service he was commissioned in the Scots Guards.

After working as a financial journalist in the City, he taught French and Spanish at Worth School in Sussex, where he intrigued the boys by driving a Rolls-Royce.

With his friend Viscount Furness, Bertie developed an increasing interest in the Order of Malta, joining its British Association in 1956. Taking solemn religious vows in 1981, he moved to Rome, where he served on the Sovereign Council (the Order's governing body) for seven years.

Nevertheless, it was a shock for so self-effacing a man, especially for one who was not an Italian, to find himself elected Grand Master in April 1988.

In Italy, where the Order of Malta has a high profile, the election of an Englishman came as no less of a surprise. It was typical of the man that his first act after being elected was to invite all the rival candidates to luncheon at the Palazzo Magistrale.

The Order combines an aristocratic membership with modern humanitarian activities. In Catholic Europe it is the last bastion of the old establishment. King Juan Carlos was President of its Spanish Association before he became king, while the Austrian Association contains a score of Habsburg archdukes.

Its hospitaller activities - funding and administering hospitals, providing ambulance brigades and sending supplies - range from Peru to Pakistan, from California to Russia.

There is also a worldwide relief service, Malteser International. The Order specialises in helping victims of armed conflict or natural disaster, providing medical assistance, caring for refugees and distributing medicine and basic equipment for survival.

Its members are supported by 80,000 permanent volunteers, who are backed by a qualified staff that consists of more than 13,000 doctors, nurses, auxiliaries and other assistants.

Fra' Andrew's term of office proved highly successful. He spoke five languages (and had a working knowledge of half a dozen more), and he increased the Order's membership, bringing a fresh approach to its humanitarian activities and extending aid to hitherto inaccessible regions.

The Order's diplomatic missions, offering assistance during natural disasters or armed conflict, doubled from 49 to 100.

Fra' Andrew established conferences at which members of the Order were invited to contribute to its work, were encouraged to commit themselves to the spiritual aspect of its mission to the sick and the poor, and were urged to live according to Christian principles. Above all, he wanted the knights, even those not in vows, to see their calling as a religious vocation.

Although deeply reserved, he was a man of great natural dignity and charm, who inspired affection as well as respect. He had a remarkable sympathy for the young, and was frequently visited in Rome by his former pupils.

On Malta, where he loved to spend holidays, he organised judo classes for children, teaching them himself (he was a judo black belt). He enjoyed great support from his younger brother Peregrine, and was delighted when he became president of the British Association.

Characteristically, the Grand Master's last official pronouncement, in January this year, was very much to the point.

In an address to the ambassadors accredited to the Sovereign Military Order, he warned of harmful and unfounded rumours that the knights were involved in anti-Islamic activities in countries where, in reality, they were engaged in humanitarian work.

Rumours of this sort, he told the ambassadors, were placing the lives of the Order's volunteer carers in grave danger.
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Re: The Origins of the Overclass, by Steve Kangas

Postby admin » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:50 am

How Pope Francis can cleanse the far-right rot from the Catholic Church
by Emma-Kate Symons
Washington Post
February 9, 2017

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Cardinal Raymond Burke takes part in an antiabortion march in Rome in 2012. (Riccardo De Luca/Associated Press)

Emma-Kate Symons is a Washington-based journalist and former Paris correspondent. Her work has been published in Foreign Policy, Women in the World in association with the New York Times, Quartz, the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal and the Australian Financial Review.

Pope Francis needs to take tougher action against the United States’ most influential Catholic in Rome, Cardinal Raymond “Breitbart” Burke. The renegade cleric is not only undermining Francis’s reformist, compassionate papacy, and gospel teaching as it applies to refugees and Muslims, but the rebel prince of the church is also using his position within the walls of the Vatican to legitimize extremist forces that want to bring down Western liberal democracy, Stephen K. Bannon-style. Simply put, the Vatican is facing a political war between the modernizing Pope Francis and a conservative wing that wants to reassert white Christian dominance.

Burke was reduced to a ceremonial patron role at the Knights of Malta after a power struggle at the ancient chivalric order, won by the pope last month, following a spat over its humanitarian wing’s alleged distribution of condoms. Losing the leadership battle and prestige at the secretive society headquartered in Rome — Francis is appointing his own special delegate above Burke — was seen as a papal rap on the knuckles for the cardinal leading the charge against Francis’s writings on communion for divorcees. But the virulently anti-Islam (“capitulating to Islam would be the death of Christianity”), migrant-phobic, Donald Trump-defending, Vladimir Putin-excusing Burke is unrepentant and even defiant, continuing to preside over a far-right, neo-fascist-normalizing cheer squad out of the Holy See.

This Vatican operation, called Dignitatis Humanae, or the Institute for Human Dignity, whose advisory board includes two of the four cardinals openly challenging Francis on marriage and sexuality, is slavishly promoting Burke’s favorite American white Catholic nationalist, Bannon, with star billing on its home page. The institute’s top office-bearers, Burke and his henchman, the media-savvy Breitbart contributor Benjamin Harnwell, are also encouraging Benito Mussolini fan Matteo Salvini, of Italy’s Northern League, and Muslim-baiting far-right Catholic poster girl Marion Le Pen, the National Front “rising star” niece of party leader Marine Le Pen in France.

As the Italian press first revealed, Burke held a long meeting last week at his Vatican home with Salvini, a fierce critic of the pope who wants to push refugees back into the sea and close all mosques in Italy. It was a flagrant political intervention on the side of the extreme-right racist grouping ahead of the Italian elections. Mysterious posters also appeared around the Vatican decrying a sinister-looking pope’s “decapitation” of the Malta Knights order.

The situation facing the Catholic Church raises alarming parallels with the ideological warfare that split the Vatican in the 1930s when ethnic nationalism was sweeping Europe under Mussolini and Hitler and when fascist forces infiltrated the highest echelons of the church. In 1937, Pope Pius XI published an encyclical in German denouncing the Nazi regime and its racism. The diatribe infuriated Hitler, but the focus was more on Nazi persecution of Catholics than laws targeting Jews.

In Italy, the Vatican had long made accommodations with Mussolini for its own geopolitical gains, and Pius XI failed to quell widespread institutional anti-Semitism in the church before it was too late. When Mussolini decreed in 1938 that Italian Jews were to suffer a legal fate similar to those in Germany, Pius XI tried to prepare a fresh encyclical deploring anti-Semitism and racism, as revealed in historian David Kertzer’s book “The Pope and Mussolini,” he was double-crossed by pro-fascist forces in the Vatican working in tandem with Il Duce. Senior figures in the French Catholic Church also collaborated with fascism in France, where the Vichy regime aided the Nazis in deporting about 80,000 Jews to the death camps.

The lesson of history has not been lost on Francis. After President Trump’s inauguration, he warned that rising populism could produce a new Hitler. But now, as Europe faces historic elections that could bring extreme-right nationalists back into power across the continent for the first time since World War II, he must act. The bellicose anti-Islam invective being marshaled by figures such as Burke shares much in common with the vicious anti-Semitism many Catholic clerics adhered to in the 1930s, when they saw Jews as a danger to the Christian West whose rights must be restricted.

Burke, like Bannon, who says Islam is “the most radical” religion in the world, makes no distinction in his clash-of-civilizations frenzy between the Muslim faith’s diverse currents and interpretations, and violent jihadist movements derived mostly from Saudi-style Salafism. Unsurprisingly, Burke says he is “very satisfied” with Russian autocrat Putin’s “defense of life and family” and believes he may have “converted” since his KGB days. Yet, just as godless Communism posed an existential threat in the past, the Catholic Church has nothing to gain and everything to lose from cozying up to far-right extremists from the United States to Europe. They distort Christianity into an exclusionary ideology in defense of nation and race, and unite a new support base of Muslim-haters with historically anti-Semitic movements such as the National Front that are anything but Christian, and often neo-pagan.

The options open to the pope in dealing with Burke are limited. Excommunication isn’t in the cards; Burke is not a heretic denying the Catholic faith. Nor is Burke refusing to submit to the pontiff like French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was cast out by John Paul II after his ultra-conservative Society of Saint Pius X ordained its own bishops rather than take directions from the Vatican.

However, Francis, who has full authority over his cardinals, could fully remove Burke from his remaining sinecure with Knights of Malta, call him in for a pastoral correction on the issue of his unacceptable political interventions, investigate Dignitatis Humanae with a view to shutting it down for its subversive politicking, and send the rebel cardinal back home to the United States. As Burke tries to run an insurgency and rebukes the pope for his doctrinal “ambiguities,” with the backing of thousands of priests, Francis could seize the agenda. In time-honored papal tradition, he could write an encyclical on the burning questions of populism and nationalism, with specific reference to migrants, Muslims and Jews, so priests including Burke know they are in breach of church teaching when they try to act as power brokers for the international extreme right.

The stakes could hardly be higher, especially as the pope seems on a collision course with a Trump-Bannon White House that has imposed a form of a Muslim ban and disparaged him during the election campaign for daring to suggest that building a wall on the United States’ southern border was un-Christian. If the pope doesn’t put the reactionary elements such as Burke and his cronies back in their place, they could force a real schism during his papacy and leave the church open to justifiable accusations it failed to stand up to enablers of extremism and neo-fascism within its ranks.
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Re: The Origins of the Overclass, by Steve Kangas

Postby admin » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:59 am

Leader of Knights of Malta Resigns After Spat with Pope
by Associated Press
January 25, 2017

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FILE - Pope Francis, flanked at left by Grand Master of the Knights of Malta Matthew Festing, stands during a family photo at the Vatican, Thursday, June 23, 2016

ROME — The head of the Knights of Malta resigned after entering into a public spat with Pope Francis over the ouster of an official involved in a condom scandal, a spokeswoman for the ancient lay Catholic order said Wednesday.

Matthew Festing met with the pope Tuesday and offered his resignation, Knights of Malta spokeswoman Marianna Balfour told The Associated Press.

“I can confirm this,” Balfour said.

Festing had refused to cooperate with a papal commission investigating his ouster of the grand chancellor, Albrecht von Boeselager, over revelations that the order’s charity branch had distributed condoms under his watch. Festing had cited the Knights’ status as a sovereign entity in refusing to cooperate.

Holy See statement

Last week, the Holy See said in a sharply worded statement that it plans to take action to resolve the dispute, which had set the stage for one sovereign entity intervening in the internal affairs of another.

The remarkable showdown is the latest example of Francis clashing with more conservative elements in the Catholic Church, especially those for whom sexual ethics and doctrinal orthodoxy are paramount. In a January 17 statement, the Vatican called the issue a “crisis of the central direction’’ of the Knights of Malta.

Festing suspended Boeselager December 8 over revelations that the Knights’ charity branch had distributed thousands of condoms to poor people in Myanmar under his watch.

Church teaching forbids artificial contraception. Boeselager has said he stopped the programs when he learned of them. The order’s leadership has said the scandal was grave and called it disgraceful that Boeselager refused an order to obey Festing and resign.

Pope appoints commission

Francis appointed a commission to investigate after Boeselager said he had been told by Festing that the Holy See wanted him to resign over the scandal. The Vatican secretary of state has said the pope wanted nothing of the sort and wanted the dispute to be resolved through dialogue.

The order’s leadership had said it wouldn’t cooperate with the pope’s commission, citing its status as a sovereign entity under international law. In a January 14 letter, Festing questioned the credibility of the pope’s commission.

The commission is made up of a noted Jesuit canon lawyer, three members of the order said to be close to Boeselager, and the Vatican’s former U.N. envoy to the U.N. in Geneva.

In its January 17 statement, the Vatican hinted that it plans to take measures based on the commission’s final report, a move that could rile the Knights’ over their sovereignty claim. The order is also a Catholic lay order and its leadership takes an oath of obedience to the pope.
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Re: The Origins of the Overclass, by Steve Kangas

Postby admin » Mon Feb 27, 2017 4:13 am

Seymour Hersh and the men who want him committed
by Matthew Phelan
Feb 28, 2011

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Tom Ricks of Foreign Policy magazine and The Washington Post, along with fellow FP editors Joshua Keating and Blake Hounshell all rushed to discredit Seymour Hersh and the contents of his January 17, 2011 speech.

It seems unusual for a staid, respected publication (one that has received three National Magazine Awards in just this past decade) to start treating a celebrated journalist (who himself has won two National Magazine Awards in just this past decade) as if he were nothing more than a paranoid crank.

It seems unusual, but it’s exactly what the staff of Foreign Policy has done to Seymour Hersh, following a lecture the venerated reporter gave at Georgetown University’s campus in Doha, Qatar. You may know Hersh as the dogged investigator who exposed the My Lai Massacre during Vietnam. You may know him as the staff writer for the New Yorker who published some of the earliest pieces on Abu Ghraib in May 2004. You might even know him as the man derided and then vindicated for claiming that Dick Cheney was running a secret assassination squad right out of the vice president’s office. (In truth, the squad was and is a bipartisan affair, initiated under Clinton and still operative under Obama.)

Yet, given the Foreign Policy staff’s derisive commentary on Seymour’s Jan. 17 talk, you would think he was some credulous rube midway through his first Dan Brown novel.

Hersh “delivered a rambling, conspiracy-laden diatribe here Monday,” Blake Hounshell reported on the magazine’s Passport blog. His delusional fantasia: The existence of ties between the U.S. Military’s Joint Special Operations Command and a secretive Catholic order called the Knights of Malta.
As Hounshell elaborates:

[Hersh] charged that U.S. foreign policy had been hijacked by a cabal of neoconservative “crusaders” in the former vice president’s office and now in the special operations community:

“That’s the attitude,” he continued. “We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals. That’s an attitude that pervades, I’m here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command.”

He then alleged that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC before briefly becoming the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and his successor, Vice Adm. William McRaven, as well as many within JSOC, “are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.”

Hersh may have been referring to the Sovereign Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic organization commited [sic] to “defence [sic] of the Faith and assistance to the poor and the suffering,” according to its website.

“They do see what they’re doing – and this is not an atypical attitude among some military – it’s a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They’re protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function.”

“They have little insignias, these coins they pass among each other, which are crusader coins,” he continued. “They have insignia that reflect the whole notion that this is a culture war. … Right now, there’s a tremendous, tremendous amount of anti-Muslim feeling in the military community.”


Hounshell, Foreign Policy’s Web editor, has questioned Hersh’s reporting before, first speculating on the identity of a Hersh source, then on that hypothetical source’s credibility. However, this particular incident was unique in that it has yielded a small brushfire of attention, including three additional response pieces at ForeignPolicy.com, reblogging by angered Catholic groups and a write-up in the Washington Post.

The next day, the post was followed by an elaborately sarcastic “hot tip,” written to Hersh open-letter style by Foreign Policy contributing editor and Washington Post special military correspondent Tom Ricks:

Hey Sy, a friend with good military connections tells me that U.S. special operations forces were covertly involved in the Knights of Malta’s stalwart defense of the island in 1565 against the Ottoman Turks. Lifting the siege was easy because the Turks turned tail when they saw those Ma Deuce .50 caliber machine guns.


This categorically high-handed snark came with the added force of Ricks being a Pulitzer Prize winner himself and the author of two blistering accounts of the Iraq war: “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq” and its Gen. Petraeus-centered sequel, “The Gamble.” He has been covering the military beat for the Post since 2000, performing double duty there and at Foreign Policy after it was acquired by the Washington Post Co. in 2008.

That same day, FP associate editor Joshua Keating provided an “FP Explainer” piece titled “Who Are the Knights of Malta – and What Do They Want?” dismissing Hersh’s claims with the conclusion that:

There’s not much evidence to suggest that the Knights of Malta are the secretive cabal of anti-Muslim fundamentalists that Hersh described. (For the record, when contacted by Foreign Policy, McChrystal said that he is not a member.) But they are certainly an anomalous presence in international politics and have provoked their share of conspiracy theories over the years.


Then, two days later, Hounshell produced a supplemental post defending himself from a chorus of disgruntled commenters and Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald. “I thought it was self-evident that several points Hersh made were off-base and conspiratorial,” Hounshell began, “but perhaps it’s worth spelling things out for everyone.”

Let’s do the same.

Just how “off-base and conspiratorial” are Hersh’s claims? Who are the Knights of Malta, exactly, and what has been previously reported of their ‘special operations’ and government ties?

The Holy Ghosts

Known formally as the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta,” the Knights of Malta is a Roman Catholic order founded in roughly 1048. Though the Knights operated as a military order during the First Crusade, today their approximately 12,500 members, 80,000 volunteers and 20,000 medical professionals work “in the field of medical and social care and humanitarian aid.” According to their website:

The Order also runs hospitals, medical centres, day hospitals, nursing homes for the elderly and the disabled, and special centres for the terminally ill. In many countries the Order’s volunteer corps provide first aid, social services, emergency and humanitarian interventions.

Malteser International, the Order’s worldwide relief service, works in the front line in natural disasters and armed conflicts.


So far, so good. In fact, Foreign Policy’s description of the Knights cribs heavily from the Order’s own benevolent self-description. Josh Keating’s “explainer” piece accounts for the litany of paranoid theories surrounding them as merely a byproduct of the Knights’ “secretive proceedings, unique political status, and association with the Crusades.” Former CIA directors William Casey and John McCone, Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca, and GOP fixture Pat Buchanan have all been “alleged members,” he claims, “though none have ever acknowledged membership.”

Keating’s use of “alleged” here is curious, given that the membership of Reagan-era CIA director Bill Casey in the Knights of Malta has been a fact widely reported in the press and never denied by Casey himself. Historian Joseph E. Persico, a former Republican speechwriter for Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and the co-author of Colin Powell’s autobiography, includes Casey’s membership in a routine list of charitable accomplishments, in his sympathetic biography Casey: from the OSS to the CIA (Penguin 1990). (Casey’s membership is asserted on Page 105 of the paperback.)

Years earlier, Casey was listed publicly as a member in both Mother Jones (07/1983) and the Washington Post (12/27/1984). The implications of Casey’s membership are even alluded to in Bob Woodward’s “Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987,” in which Casey’s deep Catholicism and the Catholic Church’s opposition to Nicaragua’s left-leaning Sandinista government are both recurring topics. In short: Casey’s membership has been undisputed for so long and across such a broad cross-section of the political spectrum that it raises serious questions about Foreign Policy’s standards for “facts” and “allegations.”


(One might also reasonably ask Keating what difference it makes if an outed member of any secret society does not then publicly acknowledge membership. Isn’t that one of the major duties of being in a secret society?)

In addition to Casey and McCone, the Knights of Malta also counted among their members former CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton — a fortuitous alliance as Angleton led the postwar intelligence efforts to subvert Italy’s 1948 elections. His success partnering with organized crime, right-leaning former fascists and the Vatican not only marginalized Italy’s homegrown Communist Party, it also encouraged Congress in the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Conservative luminary and National Review founder William F. Buckley — who spent two years after college as a CIA “political action specialist” in Mexico City — was also a Knight, as was none other than William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the head of the CIA’s precursor organization, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). From 1970 to 1981, France’s intelligence agency was also headed by a member of the Order, Alexandre de Marenches. De Marenches would go on to be a co-founder of the Saudi-funded private intelligence group the Safari Club — one of George H. W. Bush’s many end-runs around congressional oversight of the American intelligence establishment and the locus of many of the worst features of the mammoth BCCI scandal.

So, while crackpot speculations about this particular Catholic order are legion, its ties to intelligence organizations in the U.S. and Western Europe are well-documented.
It’s also perfectly understandable: with their unusual status as a recognized sovereign state without territory, the Knights of Malta enjoy full diplomatic rights in many countries — including the ability to bypass customs inspectors by secreting items across borders via “diplomatic pouch.” Sharing far right sympathies, the Roman Catholic Church and Cold War-era Western intelligence officials became natural allies, and the Knights of Malta became a natural conduit for their collaboration. With a lengthy, strategic partnership already forged in the name of anti-communism, a strengthening of this network in the name of the “War on Terror” ought to sound more predictable than paranoid to a student of U.S. foreign policy — particularly given the current pope’s record on Islam.

With “medical missions in more than 120 countries,” as Keating points out, a teeming network of government spooks operating under the diplomatic protection afforded the Knights of Malta would certainly have plenty of breathing room to operate unnoticed. And yet, Keating instead positions the Order’s charitable work as evidence that the Knights have left their old military function behind — pointedly ignoring years of charitable work tied to U.S. strategic goals and covert activities during the heady days of the Reagan/Bush era.


AmeriCares in Its Own Way

Beginning in 1982, the Knights of Malta began an intensely collaborative partnership with the international aid organization AmeriCares — a charity group unique in its selective disaster relief to countries friendly to both U.S. business investment and foreign policy objectives. Literally billing itself as “the humanitarian arm of corporate America,” AmeriCares was founded and headed until 2002 by Robert Macauley: a college roommate of George H.W. Bush, a paper mill millionaire and a self-described (then self-denied) agent in the CIA’s WWII-era precursor, the OSS. Macauley was also the first non-Catholic to receive the coveted Cross of the Commander of the Order of Malta.

A look at AmeriCares activity during this period gives the unavoidable impression that Macauley was running the charity, first and foremost, as the velvet glove to Reagan and Bush’s radical hard-line approach to communism and indigenous left-wing political movements across the globe. In January 1990, AmeriCares and the German and Hungarian Knights of Malta supplied $1.4 million in supplies to pro-Western factions immediately following the collapse of Romania’s communist regime — proclaiming it “the first privately organized, large-scale relief effort following the revolution.” The partnership frequently worked with the infamous CIA front company Southern Air Transport. And during the Soviet-Afghanistan conflict in 1984, AmeriCares brazenly took sides, evacuating wounded members of the mujahideen to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C. (One likely explanation: President Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski — the man responsible for pairing the CIA with these future leaders of Al Qaeda — was an honorary chairman at AmeriCares.)

Nowhere was the alliance between the Knights of Malta, AmeriCares and U.S. Intelligence more pervasive and troubling than in Central America.

AmeriCares and the Order held off on relief to an economically crippled Panama in 1989 for six whole months, shuttling $2.5 million worth of medical supplies only after the conclusion of Bush Sr.’s lightning war against (former ally) Manuel Noriega.

AmeriCares and the Knights declined to participate with the Red Cross in a 1988 hurricane relief effort in left-leaning Nicaragua, only to change on a dime two years later, once the Sandinista government fell. (The group sent 23 tons of medical supplies just three days after the election.) Prior to regime change, AmeriCares also provided one-sided medical aid to the Sandinistas’ bête noire, the right-wing, CIA-backed contras, through a program controlled by the Iran-Contra scandal’s walking nerve center, Oliver North. They even attempted to fly in a planeload of newsprint to the anti-Sandinista newspaper La Prensa.

In Guatemala, AmeriCares and Knights of Malta joint activities were handled by the wealthy, right-wing paramilitary figure, Roberto Alejos Arzu, whose plantation had served as a training ground for the CIA’s bungled “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba.

On occasion, AmeriCares and the Knights’ humanitarian work served not just as an adjunct to U.S. covert action but also as a welcome excuse for pharmaceutical companies to dump surplus product as charity, netting a high tax writeoff. One massive AmeriCares vaccine shipment to the Philippines, where the Knights were supposed to handle distribution, was rejected by local governments as useless.
AmeriCares’ sloppily labeled and overwhelming bulk medical shipments to Armenia were roundly criticized by a leading British medical journal, the Lancet.

Overall, the group spent the 1980s and 90s in uncomfortable collaboration with the rest of the humanitarian aid community. Many relief groups expressed frustration with AmeriCares’ refusal to coordinate activities, so as to avoid squandered duplicated efforts. Many also expressed private fears of angering its powerful, Bush-connected founder. Doug Siglin, public policy director of the humanitarian community’s umbrella group, InterAction, cautiously summed up their unusual behavior this way: “[AmeriCares’] approach is not the same as other groups.”

Seymour Hersh and the Silent Crusade

Seymour Hersh is in the middle of researching and writing a lengthy book on America’s wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has something of a history of playing looser with his facts in speeches than in print — partially to preserve his scoops pre-publication — and his speech in Doha hewed close to that tradition. In addition to the Knights, for example, he also made claims regarding Opus Dei, another secretive far right Catholic group steeped in just as much rumor and conspiracy theory. However, Hersh is a five-time Polk winner and recipient of the 2004 George Orwell Award — a reporter with a record that is well-burnished and nearly sterling.

Given the late 20th century history of the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta,” how strange would it really be to find members of the Order, in and out of the military, collaborating on a new silent crusade with their old Cold War allies?


It would certainly complement the Christian fundamentalist version of the war, as prosecuted by Erik Prince, the former CEO of the military’s most notorious civilian contractor Xe (formerly Blackwater). His views — as depicted in one affidavit from the court case against him — certainly echo much of what Hersh ascribes to the JSOC and the Knights of Malta:

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”


Hersh’s assertions would also add context to the curious case of former U.S. deputy undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Gen. William Boykin, who drew fire during his tenure for calling the war against Islamic extremism a struggle against “a spiritual enemy called Satan.”

(In defending his original review of Hersh’s speech, FP’s Blake Hounshell demotes both of these cases from “data” to mere “anecdote.” The devaluation would appear to be premature in the case of Erik Prince, whose court case is still pending — while related Xe cases are being mysteriously ignored by the same Eastern District of Virginia task force convened to prosecute them. And, given that Boykin was operating near the heart of exactly the institution Hersh is accusing, trivializing his statements comes across as extremely optimistic, if not downright naive.)

Until Hersh’s book-length treatment of the subject is published, at least we can all agree with Foreign Policy’s Joshua Keating that the Knights of Malta have been “an anomalous presence in international politics and have provoked their share of conspiracy theories.”

This time around, they’ve practically goaded us into it.
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Re: The Origins of the Overclass, by Steve Kangas

Postby admin » Mon Feb 27, 2017 4:40 am

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder. Sworn statements filed in Federal Court allege that Blackwater founder Erik Prince launched a "crusade" to eliminate Muslims and Islam.
by Jeremy Scahill
August 4, 2009

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A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting “illegal” or “unlawful” weapons into the country on Prince’s private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

These allegations, and a series of other charges, are contained in sworn affidavits, given under penalty of perjury, filed late at night on August 3 in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of a seventy-page motion by lawyers for Iraqi civilians suing Blackwater for alleged war crimes and other misconduct. Susan Burke, a private attorney working in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is suing Blackwater in five separate civil cases filed in the Washington, DC, area. They were recently consolidated before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia for pretrial motions. Burke filed the August 3 motion in response to Blackwater’s motion to dismiss the case. Blackwater asserts that Prince and the company are innocent of any wrongdoing and that they were professionally performing their duties on behalf of their employer, the US State Department.

The former employee, identified in the court documents as “John Doe #2,” is a former member of Blackwater’s management team, according to a source close to the case. Doe #2 alleges in a sworn declaration that, based on information provided to him by former colleagues, “it appears that Mr. Prince and his employees murdered, or had murdered, one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information, to the federal authorities about the ongoing criminal conduct.” John Doe #2 says he worked at Blackwater for four years; his identity is concealed in the sworn declaration because he “fear[s] violence against me in retaliation for submitting this Declaration.” He also alleges, “On several occasions after my departure from Mr. Prince’s employ, Mr. Prince’s management has personally threatened me with death and violence.”

In a separate sworn statement, the former US marine who worked for Blackwater in Iraq alleges that he has “learned from my Blackwater colleagues and former colleagues that one or more persons who have provided information, or who were planning to provide information about Erik Prince and Blackwater have been killed in suspicious circumstances.” Identified as “John Doe #1,” he says he “joined Blackwater and deployed to Iraq to guard State Department and other American government personnel.” It is not clear if Doe #1 is still working with the company as he states he is “scheduled to deploy in the immediate future to Iraq.” Like Doe #2, he states that he fears “violence” against him for “submitting this Declaration.” No further details on the alleged murder(s) are provided.

“Mr. Prince feared, and continues to fear, that the federal authorities will detect and prosecute his various criminal deeds,” states Doe #2. “On more than one occasion, Mr. Prince and his top managers gave orders to destroy emails and other documents. Many incriminating videotapes, documents and emails have been shredded and destroyed.”

The Nation cannot independently verify the identities of the two individuals, their roles at Blackwater or what motivated them to provide sworn testimony in these civil cases. Both individuals state that they have previously cooperated with federal prosecutors conducting a criminal inquiry into Blackwater.

“It’s a pending investigation, so we cannot comment on any matters in front of a Grand Jury or if a Grand Jury even exists on these matters,” John Roth, the spokesperson for the US Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia, told The Nation. “It would be a crime if we did that.” Asked specifically about whether there is a criminal investigation into Prince regarding the murder allegations and other charges, Roth said: “We would not be able to comment on what we are or are not doing in regards to any possible investigation involving an uncharged individual.”

The Nation repeatedly attempted to contact spokespeople for Prince or his companies at numerous email addresses and telephone numbers. When a company representative was reached by phone and asked to comment, she said, “Unfortunately no one can help you in that area.” The representative then said that she would pass along The Nation‘s request. As this article goes to press, no company representative has responded further to The Nation.

Doe #2 states in the declaration that he has also provided the information contained in his statement “in grand jury proceedings convened by the United States Department of Justice.” Federal prosecutors convened a grand jury in the aftermath of the September 16, 2007, Nisour Square shootings in Baghdad, which left seventeen Iraqis dead. Five Blackwater employees are awaiting trial on several manslaughter charges and a sixth, Jeremy Ridgeway, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempting to commit manslaughter and is cooperating with prosecutors. It is not clear whether Doe #2 testified in front of the Nisour Square grand jury or in front of a separate grand jury.

The two declarations are each five pages long and contain a series of devastating allegations concerning Erik Prince and his network of companies, which now operate under the banner of Xe Services LLC. Among those leveled by Doe #2 is that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe”:

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”


Among the additional allegations made by Doe #1 is that “Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq.” He states that he personally witnessed weapons being “pulled out” from dog food bags. Doe #2 alleges that “Prince and his employees arranged for the weapons to be polywrapped and smuggled into Iraq on Mr. Prince’s private planes, which operated under the name Presidential Airlines,” adding that Prince “generated substantial revenues from participating in the illegal arms trade.”

Doe #2 states: “Using his various companies, [Prince] procured and distributed various weapons, including unlawful weapons such as sawed off semi-automatic machine guns with silencers, through unlawful channels of distribution.” Blackwater “was not abiding by the terms of the contract with the State Department and was deceiving the State Department,” according to Doe #1.

This is not the first time an allegation has surfaced that Blackwater used dog food bags to smuggle weapons into Iraq. ABC News’s Brian Ross reported in November 2008 that a “federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food.” Another former Blackwater employee has also confirmed this information to The Nation.

Both individuals allege that Prince and Blackwater deployed individuals to Iraq who, in the words of Doe #1, “were not properly vetted and cleared by the State Department.” Doe #2 adds that “Prince ignored the advice and pleas from certain employees, who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis.” Doe #2 further states that some Blackwater officials overseas refused to deploy “unfit men” and sent them back to the US. Among the reasons cited by Doe #2 were “the men making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to ‘kill ragheads’ or achieve ‘kills’ or ‘body counts,'” as well as “excessive drinking” and “steroid use.” However, when the men returned to the US, according to Doe #2, “Prince and his executives would send them back to be deployed in Iraq with an express instruction to the concerned employees located overseas that they needed to ‘stop costing the company money.'”

Doe #2 also says Prince “repeatedly ignored the assessments done by mental health professionals, and instead terminated those mental health professionals who were not willing to endorse deployments of unfit men.” He says Prince and then-company president Gary Jackson “hid from Department of State the fact that they were deploying men to Iraq over the objections of mental health professionals and security professionals in the field,” saying they “knew the men being deployed were not suitable candidates for carrying lethal weaponry, but did not care because deployments meant more money.”

Doe #1 states that “Blackwater knew that certain of its personnel intentionally used excessive and unjustified deadly force, and in some instances used unauthorized weapons, to kill or seriously injure innocent Iraqi civilians.” He concludes, “Blackwater did nothing to stop this misconduct.” Doe #1 states that he “personally observed multiple incidents of Blackwater personnel intentionally using unnecessary, excessive and unjustified deadly force.” He then cites several specific examples of Blackwater personnel firing at civilians, killing or “seriously” wounding them, and then failing to report the incidents to the State Department.

Doe #1 also alleges that “all of these incidents of excessive force were initially videotaped and voice recorded,” but that “Immediately after the day concluded, we would watch the video in a session called a ‘hot wash.’ Immediately after the hotwashing, the video was erased to prevent anyone other than Blackwater personnel seeing what had actually occurred.” Blackwater, he says, “did not provide the video to the State Department.”

Doe #2 expands on the issue of unconventional weapons, alleging Prince “made available to his employees in Iraq various weapons not authorized by the United States contracting authorities, such as hand grenades and hand grenade launchers. Mr. Prince’s employees repeatedly used this illegal weaponry in Iraq, unnecessarily killing scores of innocent Iraqis.” Specifically, he alleges that Prince “obtained illegal ammunition from an American company called LeMas. This company sold ammunition designed to explode after penetrating within the human body. Mr. Prince’s employees repeatedly used this illegal ammunition in Iraq to inflict maximum damage on Iraqis.”

Blackwater has gone through an intricate rebranding process in the twelve years it has been in business, changing its name and logo several times. Prince also has created more than a dozen affiliate companies, some of which are registered offshore and whose operations are shrouded in secrecy. According to Doe #2, “Prince created and operated this web of companies in order to obscure wrongdoing, fraud and other crimes.”

“For example, Mr. Prince transferred funds from one company (Blackwater) to another (Greystone) whenever necessary to avoid detection of his money laundering and tax evasion schemes.” He added: “Mr. Prince contributed his personal wealth to fund the operations of the Prince companies whenever he deemed such funding necessary. Likewise, Mr. Prince took funds out of the Prince companies and placed the funds in his personal accounts at will.”

Briefed on the substance of these allegations by The Nation, Congressman Dennis Kucinich replied, “If these allegations are true, Blackwater has been a criminal enterprise defrauding taxpayers and murdering innocent civilians.” Kucinich is on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and has been investigating Prince and Blackwater since 2004.

“Blackwater is a law unto itself, both internationally and domestically. The question is why they operated with impunity. In addition to Blackwater, we should be questioning their patrons in the previous administration who funded and employed this organization. Blackwater wouldn’t exist without federal patronage; these allegations should be thoroughly investigated,” Kucinich said.

A hearing before Judge Ellis in the civil cases against Blackwater is scheduled for August 7.
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Re: The Origins of the Overclass, by Steve Kangas

Postby admin » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:11 am

McChrystal denies claims of secret military crusade against Islam
by Jeff Schogol
Stars and Stripes
January 21, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal says he is not part of a religious order waging war on Islam despite recent assertions by acclaimed journalist Seymour Hersh.

Speaking in Qatar earlier this week, Hersh claimed that McChrystal and current members of the special operations community are members of the Knights of Malta and Opus Dei, both Catholic organizations, according to the blog Foreign Policy.

“They do see what they’re doing — and this is not an atypical attitude among some military — it’s a crusade, literally,” Foreign Policy quoted Hersh as saying. “They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They’re protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function.”

Hersh won a Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for exposing the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the subsequent military coverup.

But McChrystal’s spokesman, David Bolger, said Hersh was way off base in this case.

“The allegations recently made by Seymour Hersh relating to General McChrystal’s involvement with an organization called The Knights of Malta are completely false and without basis in fact,” Bolger said in an e-mail. “General McChrystal is not and has never been a member of that organization.”

Prior to his stint as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, McChrystal served as the head of Joint Special Operations Command.

Officials with U.S. Special Operations Command declined to comment on Hersh’s allegations.

Stars and Stripes was unable to reach the officials with the Knights of Malta, but a spokesman for Opus Dei said the group is meant to help Christians find God, not to fight Islam.

“We have a number of activities: So it would be classes on Catholic doctrine, teaching people about the Catholic faith, and there’s classes about how to live that faith in the everyday world,” said group spokesman David Gallagher. “We have weekend retreats.”

Opus Dei was portrayed in “The Da Vinci Code” as a secret society, but Gallagher noted that it has a website and an office in Manhattan.

“I don’t think it’s too secret,” he said.

Hersh told Stars and Stripes he has proof to back up his claims but he declined to provide any because he is writing a book that will touch on the subject and revealing his evidence before the book is published would be “unethical.”

He added that it is impossible to be around special operations troops and not notice just how religious they are.

But one former Green Beret and defense official disputed the notion that there is a religious cabal inside special operations.

Religion is considered very personal and rarely discussed among special operators, said Kalev “Gunner” Sepp, a Special Forces officer from 1986 to 1999 and deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and counterterrorism from 2007 to 2009.

There have been exceptions, such as one Special Forces commander who gave church sermons while in uniform, but such practices have not been widely embraced, Sepp said.

“Zealotry is viewed as being unprofessional,” he said. “Anyone who professes religion in an open way like that is suspect to where their real loyalties lie.”

jeffrey.schogol@stripes.osd.mil
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Re: The Origins of the Overclass, by Steve Kangas

Postby admin » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:26 am

After Dispute, Pope Names New Knights of Malta Liaison
by AFP
27 February 2017

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(AFP) - Pope Francis on Saturday named the Holy See's number three as his special delegate to the Knights of Malta, sidelining a conservative cardinal involved in a bitter dispute between the order and the Vatican.

Monsignor Angelo Becciu will work in "close collaboration" with the order's interim leadership, after Grand Master Matthew Festing was forced to relinquish his post last month.

Becciu's mandate to oversee "a spiritual and moral renewal of the order" will expire once a new grand master has been elected, after a council meeting expected to be held within three months.

In the meantime, Becciu will be Francis' "sole spokesman" with regards to the order, suggesting that prominent US conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke will no longer act as the pope's liaison to the group.

Burke has been outspoken in his disapproval of Francis' efforts to reform Church teaching on questions related to the family, marriage and divorce.
The dispute between the knights and the Vatican erupted into public view in December, when the order's grand chancellor, Albrecht Boeselager, was dismissed.

Press reports claimed that Boeselager oversaw charities that took part in a programme offering free condoms to prostitutes and others in Myanmar, but his dismissal had been seen by some as the result of his being too liberal for Burke.

After weeks of tension, Francis secured Boeselager's reinstatement.

"The accusations against me are without merit, and my conscience is clean", Boeselager said at a press conference last Thursday, adding that he had stopped the condom distributions as soon as he learned of them.

He attributed the dispute to "growing tensions" between elected members of the order and advisers with no official role who had "poorly advised" the former grand master.

The Order of Malta was founded in Jerusalem in 1048 as a community of hospitals caring for the sick. It now operates in 120 countries, managing hospitals and clinics, with 13,500 members and 100,000 employees and volunteers.
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Re: The Origins of the Overclass, by Steve Kangas

Postby admin » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:42 am

Knight of Malta and Freemasonry
by Robert Moynihan
Letter #4, 2017
January 25, 2017

“Charybdis was a sea monster in Greek mythology, which dwelt in the Strait of Messina. It was later rationalized as a whirlpool. It was believed that Charybdis lived under a rock on one side of the strait. Opposite Charybdis, Ancient Greeks believed there was another sea monster, Scylla, which lived inside a rock. Since the passage between the two monsters was very narrow, sailors who tried to avoid one sea monster would unavoidably get into reach of the other.” — from a website on Greek Mythology, link


The Plot Thickens

Yesterday, the Grand Master of the 13,000-strong Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, Fra Matthew Festing, hurried across Rome from his order’s headquarters near the Spanish Steps, on the most luxurious shopping street in all of Rome, the via Condotti, toward Vatican City.

Pope Francis had summoned him to a meeting.

At about 5 in the afternoon, Festing entered the Vatican and proceeded to the Domus Santa Marta guest house, where the Pope lives.

There, the two men huddled for a private meeting.

At the end of the meeting, Pope Francis asked Festing to submit his resignation as the head of the Knights of Malta.

Today, Festing did so, with communiques from both the Vatican and the Knights of Malta announcing the news of the resignation, and the news that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation. (Though, technically, the resignation must be presented on January 28 to the Malta order’s governing council, which must accept it to make it official, and only then inform the Pope for his knowledge; but the Pope’s acceptance of the resignation having already occurred, it is not clear what purpose the January 28 meeting can have.)

Here below, a picture of Pope Francis with Festing, who has just resigned as head of the Knights of Malta; in the background on the left is Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, Prefect of the Pontifical Household and personal secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Image

So the Knights of Malta are suddenly without a leader.

Moreover, in a further startling development, the Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will soon announce his personal choice to be his “delegate” to temporarily run the more than 900-year-old military order. of Malta.

This is unprecedented. The order has always elected its own Grand Master. Never has a Pope acted in this way before toward the order. And this has raised eyebrows worldwide. (link and link)

In the first link just cited, Ed Condon writes in the Catholic Herald of London, “The most remarkable thing about the Order of Malta controversy is not that the Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, has resigned. That is extraordinary enough, especially given that it was apparently on the invitation of Pope Francis. No, the most astonishing feature of the story is today’s announcement that the Pope will install an Apostolic Delegate to run the Order. In effect, this abolishes the Order as a sovereign entity. Under international law, what we are seeing is effectively the annexation of one country by another.”

So this action of Pope Francis is a dramatic break with all of the order’s history up to now.

What does it mean?

In this case, as in so any others, the old adage again applies: “Those who know don’t talk, and those who talk don’t know.”

But perhaps we may catch at least a glimpse into the meaning of these events if we study the various official communiques and media reports, while for context and background we rely on several off-the-record conversations recently in Rome.

These reports and these conversations suggest that a struggle of considerable importance is currently underway in Rome, in the global Church, and in the world outside of the Church, over the direction humanity will take in the years and decades to come.

There are presently two huge threats to the Church, a Scylla and a Charybdis which the Church must pass between or be profoundly harmed: the rejection of traditional Church teaching in order to accommodate the Church to the teaching of “the world,” on the one hand, and, on the other hand, schism.

The first would betray the Church’s nature and mission; the second would cost the Church dearly as the world would likely exploit the divisions in a devastating way.

The battle over the leadership of the Knights of Malta must be seen in this context.

Moreover, during the past several months, quietly and privately on most occasions, but sometimes publicly, a word has been whispered and spoken aloud in Rome in a way unlike any other time in the 33 years that I have been writing about Vatican affairs. That word is freemasonry.

“The fact is that the thought of freemasonry, which was the thought of the Enlightenment, believes Christ and his teachings, as taught by the Church, are an impediment to human freedom and self-fulfillment,” a retired Vatican official told me. “And this thought has become dominant in the elites of the West, even when those elites are not officially members of any freemasonic lodge. It is a pervasive modern worldview.”

This bears repeating and emphasizing: in any particular case, it may not be so much actual membership in a masonic lodge that is involved, but rather adherence to principles of that “masonic thought” which views man in a “Promethean” way, that man should “steal fire from heaven,” wrest it from the gods for the benefit of men, seek ever greater knowledge (computers, the genetic code, transhumanism, Homo Sapiens Version 2.0, “better” than the species currently is), not accepting any limit to the human ambitions to “be like gods.”

How does this relate to the shake-up at the top of the Order of Malta?

Well, there have recently been an allegation that a high-ranking member of the order (not Festing) approved decisions not in keeping with Catholic moral teaching, and more precisely, sent condoms and other contraceptives in shipments of medical supplies to poor countries — that is, allowed a certain “non-Catholic moral view” to enter into the order’s decision-making.

And, published reports have stated something that few have noted, but which must be studied and explained: that Pope Francis, in a meeting in November with Cardinal Raymond Burke, gave Burke a very unusual instruction.

The Pope, it is reported, during their November 10 meeting, asked Burke, the American cardinal who is the ecclesial Patron of the Knights of Malta,
to carry out an important and delicate task: to ferret out and remove from the Knights of Malta all members who are… freemasons.

Here is the published source for this information, which comes about halfway through a quite thorough and rather lengthy article which bears reading in full. It is by Edward Pentin published in the National Catholic Register on January 7:

“Hopes that the contraceptive scandal would be addressed came on Nov. 10, when Cardinal Burke was received in private audience by Pope Francis.

“During that meeting, the Register has learned, the Pope was ‘deeply disturbed’ by what the cardinal told him about the contraceptive distribution.

“The Pope also made it clear to Cardinal Burke that he wanted Freemasonry ‘cleaned out’ from the order, and he demanded appropriate action.

“The concern was followed up by a Dec. 1 letter to Cardinal Burke, in which the Register has learned that the Holy Father underlined the cardinal’s constitutional duty to promote the spiritual interests of the order and remove any affiliation with groups or practices that run contrary to the moral law.” (link)

Here, repeated, is the critical phrase:

“The Pope also made it clear to Cardinal Burke that he wanted Freemasonry ‘cleaned out’ from the order…”

Where does this information come from? How reliable is it?

Pentin tells us quite matter-of-factly that “the Register has learned” about the contents of Burke’s November 10 meeting with the Pope.

Evidently, Pentin either spoke with Burke himself, or with someone close to Burke, perhaps one of his secretaries, or he spoke with Pope Francis, because it does not seem possible that anyone other than Burke and Pope Francis could be the source of news about a private conversation between the two men, and about a private letter sent by one to the other.

In short, Burke, seen as one of the leaders of the “traditional” faction in the Church and in the College of Cardinals because of his raising questions about the “progressive” teaching of Pope Francis, especially in Amoris Laetitia, was evidently, in this case, as recently as November 10, and again in a December 1 letter, asked by Pope Francis to carry out a very delicate task, and to do so urgently.

But this would suggest that the two men have a different relationship than the one most of the world seems to have concluded they have…

(to be continued)

About Robert Moynihan
Dr. Robert Moynihan is founder and editor-in-chief of Inside the Vatican magazine. He is an American journalist with a knowledge of five languages and a seasoned Vatican analyst. He earned his B.A. in English, magna cum laude from Harvard and a M.A and Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from Yale. Robert’s thesis was The Influence of Joachim of Fiore on the Early Franciscans: A Study of the Commentary Super Hieremiam. Other research fields included: History of Christianity, Later Roman Empire and The Age of Chaucer. Moynihan also received a Diploma in Latin Letters from Gregorian University in Rome, Italy.
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