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Fra’ Matthew Festing: A Life of Service

Given what we know about the general climate in the world of ecclesiastical politics right now, how would we imagine a good and simple man would fare? Someone for whom decency, honesty, integrity and a plain determination to do his job well are the main drivers of his life? Someone for whom the world of intrigue, political gaming, and manipulation for personal gain or power are completely alien? Not too well, perhaps?

What if he were the head of an ancient chivalric order dedicated to helping the poor, the sick, and the victims of disasters around the world?

The Catholic world has struggled to understand what transpired between Pope Francis’ Vatican and the Knights of Malta, the Church’s oldest chivalric military order. The byzantine twists and political layers of the story are perhaps beyond the ability of a single journalist to comprehend and convey. But the one thing that stands out in a way that can’t be mistaken or hidden is the character of the people involved – this we can judge easily by their actions.

Fra’ Matthew Festing, former Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, at a Roma camp in Novisad, Northern Serbia in October 2001. At that time, people were being horrible to the Roma in that part of the world, so Fra’ Matthew and his friends made sure to deliver aid to them.

I recently had a conversation with Jack Straker –the young Englishman who is the personal Aide-de-Camp to Fra’ Matthew Festing, the recently-resigned Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta — and together we discussed the life and work of this man who has been unceremoniously thrust into the spotlight of controversy after a lifetime of service. As I listened, I began to wonder how this kind of old-school man could have survived five minutes thrown into the shark tank that is today’s Vatican – including its little flotilla of journalistic remoras?

On January 24, 2017, Festing was unexpectedly called to a meeting with Pope Francis, at which time he was asked to resign his position. Festing acceded to the request, and the Order’s Sovereign Council accepted his resignation on January 28. Straker, who has served as Festing’s assistant since 2014, mentioned his sadness at the accusations in some quarters of the Order that were, and still are, flying against the former Grand Master, particularly in regards to his personal integrity. One of the most recent came on February 15th, when a Lebanese knight — and member of the Parolin/Boeselager commission of the Holy See — gave an interview to, flatly called Festing a liar. As contradictory versions of events that transpired within the order leading up to the resignation have emerged in the media, even Cardinal Burke, the typically reserved Cardinal Patron of the Order of Malta has reacted with somewhat uncharacteristic force. The American cardinal expressed his shock at accusations that he, not Festing, as befit his position, ordered the dismissal of Albrecht von Boeselager as Grand Chancellor of the Order following the revelation that certain aid programs the German knight had overseen had been distributing contraceptives in violation of Catholic teaching. Burke, a man not known for hyperbole, referred to the allegation as “a calumny”. And so the controversy continues…

In contrast to the picture being painted by certain elements of the press – who have denounced Festing and the religious knights as “frilly” aristocrats – there is, Straker said, “no greater servant of the Order than Fra’ Matthew.”  High praise for an organisation dedicated to selfless service to those in need. But it was this integrity and personal devotion to the work that got him the job to begin with, when he was elected almost unanimously in 2008 by members of the Order from around the world.

The Man Who Would Become Grand Master

Matthew Festing became a Knight of the Order in 1977. He says that he was profoundly moved by his experience serving the sick with the Order in Lourdes, beginning in 1974. He was accepted as a novice Knight of Justice – that is, entered the novitiate to become a religious of the Order – in 1986. He became a solemnly professed Knight of Justice in 1991 – taking the three monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience – and so signed over his life wholly and completely to the Order of Malta. As such, he was part of a community that Pope Benedict XVI described as “the heart of the Order.” Without these vowed religious knights, the Order as it was founded in the 11th century to be would cease to exist, and would instead have become merely another NGO.

Indeed, the former Grand Master’s record as a soldier, officer, and lifelong servant of the poor can be most justly described as heroic. As a soldier in Her Majesty’s army, Matthew Festing served in the Grenadier Guards in Northern Ireland and Belize in the early 1970s.

But, Straker said, he saw more action in the Balkans. As I listened to the stories of his service, I found myself wondering if Matthew Festing was asking himself, “What would Indiana Jones do?” In the late 1990s, the world was watching in horror as the perpetually unstable Balkan region, that gate between eastern Christian Europe and Islamic Asia Minor, again exploded into violence.

Fra’ Matthew in Bihac, North-West Bosnia in October 1995, with the truck from Shore Porters.

The Kosovo War was a particularly cruel example of modern warfare, in which civilians were both targets and negotiating pawns. With the UN and other international organisations doing little more than watching the carnage, Fra. Matthew decided to do what he could on his own. When it became clear that there was a real need for aid in the Balkan states, Fra’ Matthew — at that time Grand Prior of England — simply borrowed a battered old truck, loaded it with food, medical supplies and other necessities, and drove it straight into the hot zone.

He, Straker said, “would drive from his home in Northumberland, up to Aberdeen in Scotland where Shore Porters would lend him a truck.”

“He would leave his car there, drive the truck back to his home and fill it with supplies he had gathered up. From there he would drive down south, picking up one or two extra volunteers and more supplies,” and then on, straight into one of the most dangerous war zones of the time.

“He and his friends would drive through Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia, giving out aid and dodging shrapnel as they went along.”

Fra’ Matthew did many of these trips for several years, sometimes twice or three times a year, until it became more efficient to collect money and fly out to the areas to give financial aid or purchase local supplies.

It was for this extraordinary act of initiative and bravery, in addition to his other work for the Order, that in 1998 the Grand Master of the time, Fra’ Andrew Bertie, promoted him to the rank of Grand Cross of Justice, one of the highest ranks in the Order. Indeed, this rank was invented within the Order to honour Fra’ Matthew. Before his promotion, the grade did not exist. In 2005, Fra’ Matthew was awarded the Grand Cross Pro Merito Melitensi with Swords – one of the highest honours the Order can bestow.

But for a man of the old school, his work was not about honours and awards. It was simply what needed to be done, and is typical of his character.

Fra’ Matthew in Boka, Northern Serbia in October 2001. During this trip, Fra’ Matthew and friends helped re-build an old people’s home – here he is with some of the residents.

Straker described the Grand Master’s frustration that his high office made it difficult for him to participate in the Order’s activities in Lourdes, particularly the devoted and meticulous care the Order takes of the sick and disabled during their pilgrimages to the shrine. At Lourdes, where the Order plays an important role, being Grand Master was a trial to him.

“Lourdes was where he found his vocation, and it had a profound effect on him.” He is a member of the Hospitalité [a religious confraternity that cares for the sick and disabled who visit Lourdes] but as Grand Master he couldn’t go and work at the trains that bring the sick and disabled to the shrine. Apart from the fact that there was never any time, because he was always doing something official, his celebrity status as Grand Master inevitably separated him from the person-to-person care and human interaction that was his first love and greatest reward in the work.

“I used to organise chances for him to sneak off to see the malades, and to visit old friends – malades and volunteers – with whom he had been to Lourdes for years.”

“He never lost sight of his original calling,” Straker added. The Grand Master always attended the Knights’ retreats and other exercises of his vocation in England, as he had always done and which were “his spiritual sustenance”.

As Grand Master, Festing took an active role, visiting major and minor Order projects all over the world. These included the island of Lampedusa where the Italian Order relief corps has been helping the tens of thousands of refugees rescued from the Mediterranean. Last April he went to Vienna to visit a project teaching Syrian refugees to speak German. He was scheduled to travel in April to Lebanon to see one of the flagship projects for young volunteers, the “Caravan” camp, and was looking forward to visiting the volunteers helping those affected by the earthquakes in central Italy.

Fra’ Matthew in Kosovo in 1999. Sitting on his left is his brother, Michael Festing, who was the Hospitaller of the British Association.

And he never lost the personal touch. Last year when a small group of volunteers and disabled friends came to Rome for a pilgrimage, he attended Mass with them and hosted them for tea at the Villa Malta on the Aventine.

The probably-apocryphal story that people like to tell about popes sneaking out of the Vatican to talk to ordinary people, like an ecclesiastical Henry V walking among the regular troops, was actually true about His Most Eminent Highness Festing. During his tenure in Rome, the Grand Master, Straker said, would take “every opportunity” to dress down in a Barbour jacket and flat cap, and sneak off to spend his evenings anonymously (or as anonymously as possible) dishing out dinner and good cheer to the down-and-outs in Rome’s soup kitchens.

“We would do this whenever he had an evening free. He would give out pasta and talk to the homeless in his accented Italian. We used to do it as often as we could. It was great fun.”

During his tenure, the Grand Master was based in Rome, which his friends say, was a “cruel fate” for a Northumbrian of a tweedy, agrarian disposition who lives for his beloved countryside. From the Order’s headquarters in loud, dirty, noisy, and chaotic old city, His Most Eminent Highness, Fra’ Matthew Festing dedicated himself to the growth and reform of the ancient Order, an organisation of well over 100,000 people, active in over 120 countries.

Fra’ Matthew in Bihac, North-West Bosnia in October 1995. Fra’ Matthew and his friends organised 200 children from schools from Durham and Newcastle to give a present each to take for 200 children from a school in Bihac. The little boy in the photograph was learning English and was in the process of writing a thank-you letter to Fra’ Matthew, which he still has.

Amongst many other projects, he has recently made major financial reforms, overhauling the management of the Order’s agricultural assets in Italy with the help of the treasurer. He was overseeing a project to restore the Order’s own church on the Aventine hill in Rome, another of the city’s historic buildings, designed by Piranesi, together with the other buildings and gardens, hoping to make the Order’s assets more productive and, where possible, available for retreats and conferences.

In his premiership, Fra’ Matthew took on a more active role than his predecessor. He retired inactive members of the Sovereign Council, the Order’s “parliament,” recruiting replacements and giving them specific duties, like parliamentary ministers. He has “re-energised” the Knights of Justice, “so that the religious core of the Order would have a rich future.”

His legacy in the Order can especially be seen in the community of Knights of Justice. He focused on fostering vocations to Justice, which in turn would bolster up the spiritual life of the Order as a whole. When his predecessor died there were around thirty Professed Knights. During his tenure, Fra’ Matthew doubled that number.

He understood the demands of the vocation: “It’s not a retreat from the world; it’s an active participation in the world.” But it is a difficult one, lived without the usual supports of a monastic vocation. “You don’t get the support of a community. You have to say the [Divine] Office of the Hours as a monk does, but you have to do all this and serve the poor and the sick.”

“It’s a tough vocation,” Straker said, “because you’re out in the world, getting your hands dirty, in a world that is increasingly anti-religious and doesn’t understand it.”

Perhaps most importantly, Festing took in hand the “ethical side of the Order’s relief work.” He held that the Order must ensure that its religious and hospitaller sides did not come into conflict. This meant that they could not be involved in hospitals which perform abortions or “gender reassignments”.

A key issue, of course, is funding, and Fra’ Matthew was working to ensure, for example, that funding of the Order’s various branches did not come with the usual population control strings attached.

“As a religious order,” Straker explained, “the work we do for humanitarian causes must be in accordance with Catholic teaching. Fra’ Matthew, he said, “instigated an Ethical Commission which will oversee the hospitaller work in future and make sure it is all above board.”

Though Straker was speaking of the Grand Master’s activities in the present tense, events moved so quickly that by the time this article was written, Fra’ Matthew had already given the Pope his resignation. It remains uncertain at this date whether or how these reforms will continue.

The Knights, Straker said, are often misunderstood by a world that has forgotten what “chivalric” really means. Fra’ Matthew understood it perfectly, he said, as a living out of the Christian vocation in the world: serving those less fortunate. Whatever comes next for him, and for the Order and the wider Church, this is something that will remain Matthew Festing’s primary goal.

78 thoughts on “Fra’ Matthew Festing: A Life of Service”

  1. What has become clear over the course of events is that a good and virtuous man, while he was about the business of the Order, was under cut and undermined by a German/Francis toxic, revolutionary “cell” led by the arrogant and unlikeable Boeselager. Boeselager has emerged as the de facto leader of the Order and is comfortable in his sanctimony. And of course, as many have long observed, it was always about the money.

  2. Sometimes I wonder if Pope Francis truly ever saw true goodness. Not that there was a lack of good and holy people around, but that he never really “saw” it. All he saw was most likely much of a type of communism penetrating its ugly head in Argentina in the disguise of Liberation Theology.

    Did he truly ever experience authentic goodness for the sake of the Good God?
    And as Pope, he seems to have a cynical distaste for it, whether it be for the Traditional Orders of priests, those who are pro life, those who truly want to follow Christ’s teachings, and of course the fruits of capitalism whereby many have given most generously for the betterment of mankind.

    He seems to have a distaste for truly good and authentic men and women.
    Is it that he sees himself so shallow compared to these men and women and finds that it is injury to his ego?
    Is this why he has such a grand need to show off humility and constantly berate Catholics for being hypocritical, rigid, unloving when we truly desire to love God as He has commanded in His teachings?
    Or is it due to his very cynical upbringing, influences of Liberation Theology?

    Thank you for this article. Such a good and honorable, virtuous man.

    • “To the Pope, if you please, – still, to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.”

      – Venerable John Henry Newman’s famous toast at the end of his letter to the Duke of Norfolk

      God gave Pope Francis a conscience too.

      Addendum: thinking about your compassionate comment again just now prompted me to pray an “Angel of God” for our pope.

      • “Conscience first”, this quote may apply to Fra’ Festing too.
        Indeed I never understood how Francis could oblige Festing to resign so bluntly, in such a haste.
        1) Our parish priest told me that Festing had a duty of unconditional obedience to the Pope. I don’t agree: Obedience, yes of course, but not unconditional: The Pope couldn’t oblige him to act against his conscience, moreover since the SMOM isn’t an ordinary religious order but a sovereign state. For example JFKennedy actually was a Catholic but the Pope in no way could oblige him to resign from the US presidency.
        Festing’s liability was firstly in front of the SMOM’s Council, not the Pope.
        2) Again we had a taste of Pope Francis’ mercy, like in the case of Fr Manelli, the former head of the FFI: He obliged Festing to resign shamefully on-the-spot as if he was guilty of misdemeanor, not even allowing him some days of reflexion, leaving open all sorts of speculations, the main one being of course a blackmailing: An hostile faction inside the Order since long had prepared a file about some mistakes in Festing’s power wielding. Rumours are hinting about a case of paedophilia in the Order that Festing wouldn’t settle properly.

        • He reminds me of Christ standing in front of Pilate, regarding his compliance to the Pope when being unjustly removed.
          I think your parish priest is correct, in my way of thinking.
          Now, if the Pope were to ask him to commit or agree to a sinful act or statement, then of course any obedience to that would be out of the question.

          • The Pope ordedring Festing’s resignation was a sinful act in that it automatically cancelled the dismissal of Von Boeselager and fully reinstated him as Grand Chancellor, then giving the Pope’s green light to the SMOM proceeding as before the distribution condoms, abortifacients and contraceptives in the poor countries.
            Only for that reason Festing had to resist the Pope.
            Sadly he couldn’t probably due to a mafia-like blackmailing as I explain in my previous comment.

        • Rumours about paedophilia? Actually the facts are there investigated by the Archdiocese of Westminster and separately by Baroness Cumberlege, a former Government Health Minister, appointed at the instigation of Matthew Festing. There was no paedophilia but the case of a Knight who failed to act in accordance with child protection procedures which nobody had told him about despite his having asked several times of the relevant authorities. On being told of a rumour about someone he decided to check it out before reporting him immediately as required by the procedures. The Archdiocese in their report said he had acted naively but not maliciously. No incident of child abuse actually occurred and Lady Cumberlege said that although he had breached the procedure through ignorance none of the other wild accusations that were being made at the time had any basis in fact. Those involved apologised and were excluded from using the Order’s Chapel for a period of two years or more. What was supposed to happen? A public hanging? A wonderful thing rumour.

        • I agree with your priest insofar as Festing has taken vows and thus while the Order of Malta is a sovereign body, was still bound to obey the Pope.

      • Pope Francis has given me many moments of something less than compassionate thoughts and feelings. His pontificate thus far has been anything but very serene, to the point of walking a very thin line in promoting heresy. He has brokered a trust between himself and the faithful, one which will be very difficult to establish I am afraid.

        And this is where I feel sorrow for him.
        Those closest to him are mere vultures and have no great real respect or love for him.
        And those whom he has pushed aside, attributes false and terrible accusations of, are the ones who have a deep sense of true charity for him and the Church.
        Pope Francis cannot seem to or will not distinguish between those who truly claim a love for Christ and His Church, from those who care only for their own egos and the love from the world.
        It is very sad for him, whether it is of his own doing or just foolishness.

        Only great prayer can help him and our Lady’s intercession. i still hope. Your prayers for him are sign of faith.

  3. His reward will be great in heaven as Our Blessed Lord welcomes him saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
    Here on earth in this present modernist/protestant form of our dear faith in the Vatican, the good are maligned, deposed, criticized, slandered, and exiled far too often. But, then, that is the stuff of saints. The unworthy ones are having their hour but Our Lord and His faithful ones will have their day.

  4. Excellent article, Hilary … and it resonates with my experience of the Knights I met in the UK a few years back. At an Easter Sunday lunch with them I had the privilege of sitting next to one of their leaders in Britain and offered to pour him a wine. He declined, quietly saying that although he loved wine, he had sworn off alcohol, offering it up as a prayer that a friend who had succumbed to it might conquer his affliction. I also learned that the British Knights run and finance a maternity hospital in the West Bank, open to everyone – Palestinians, Jews … for FREE. It is of such high quality that it is a teaching hospital for medical schools in the U.K.

  5. This man should be canonized when he dies. Where are the men like him? There are so few that a story like this mesmerizes. Very well done, Hilary. I wonder what the future holds for the Order and for Fra Festing.

  6. Why is there almost a cult of cowardice – even that which springs, as in this case, from a high sense of fidelity to the Holy See – in the Church in this era? It is inexplicable, particularly from a man whose whole history has been marked by bravery.

    Festing should have told Bergoglio where to go, and then used his Constitutional powers to weed out the faction that supported his opponents.

    • Festing was also recently interviewed by Dan Hitchins of the Catholic Herald and his rather brief account of the exchange is as follows:

      “So it wasn’t entirely unwelcome when on January 24, after a period of turbulence in the order, Pope Francis asked Festing to resign. “He said, ‘I want to dig out the Order of Malta, and it would be easier for me to do so without you in position.’ So I said, ‘OK, fine.’”

      I am certain that the so-called “digging out of the order” was not just a ruse to get him out the way and rehabilitate Boeselager. I am also certain that the moon is made of cheddar cheese and fairies live at the bottom of my garden. 😉

      I suspect it was not an act of cowardice so much as he was deceived into thinking he would be co-operating with a higher purpose if he resigned. Do you think PF would be capable of such deceit?

      • I cannot imagine only for one second that the Pope could deceive Festing with a so coarse trick. This is only the “official” version of his resignation.
        In my opinion the Pope probably used blackmailing. Which one ? I don’t know. Certainly his ennemies inside the Order had prepared a file on some mistakes he did in his management. There was a hearsay about a case of paedophilia…
        Usually when gentlemen mutually agree for such a “deal”, the resignation is prepared during talks a long time beforehand and a period is allowed for reflexion.
        This resignation happened during the peak of a crisis between the Vatican and the SMOM and the Pope required it on-the-spot as if Festing was threatened with a gun.
        This looks like a kind of mafia-like coup that reminds me of what happened to Fr Manelli the founder of the FFI: The slanders the Vatican commissar Fr Volpi used against him and his family were proven entirely false and fabricated, Volpi was sentenced to damages by a civil court.
        But no apology came from the Vatican.

    • Fra Matthew was interested in promoting the work of the Order, not in getting mired in an internal civil war. This is the biggest problem of this whole pontificate of catastrophe, everyone is so busy fighting the civil war that the work of the Church of salvation of souls has been nearly abandoned.

      • Yet the war needs to be won, doesn’t it? The Knights forgot that and this pontificate of catastrophe continues unchallenged and the loss of the work of sanctification of souls with it.

        Festing is a former Officer in the Guards, for goodness sake!

    • Have you not heard? The smoke of Satan has entered the Church. That happened somewhere in the middle of Vatican II. The slime has never left.

      “Festing should have told Bergoglio where to go, and then used his Constitutional powers to weed out the faction that supported his opponents.”

      Yes, that’s exactly what he should have done, but he is an honorable man who is not tuned for combat. Those kind are cannon fodder for tools of Satan.

    • The Knights had by then turned on Festing and he knew it. Boeselager had succeeded in destroying Festing, whom he had been undermining for some time. Bergoglio swats Cardinals around like pesky mosquitoes (Burke has been very handily displaced) so Festing was never going to survive.

  7. Today’s Gospel, Mark12:28-34 –

    28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33 and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.”

    This was once how the Order of the Knights of Malta, was ordered in their commitment to the Greatest of the Commandments. Apparently, disorder can occur when these Commandments and the order in which the were given by Jesus is disregarded. Which commandment is first of all – “.The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

      • Hi Winslow – Define slander as you know it to mean and then please identify the faithful Catholic you believe I have slandered.

        • Your comment was related to the story about Fra Matthew Festing, a faithful Catholic. I am so used to reading the slander of faithful Catholics from you, I assumed your post was directed to him.

          Slander is what you say about the SSPX.

          • Hi Winslow – How ridiculous you are willing to become in an effort to undermine someone who refuses to support your delusional longing that the SSPX is not schismatic. As to my post, I was referring to the current state in Malta, not the renewal that could come from a faithful Catholic like Fra Matthew Festing. The Truth is often claimed to be slander among those lost in the lie. Like you Winslow. No one in the SSPX trusts the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit, which is the case with every heretic, apostate and schismatic. That is why they all end up in hell.

          • A word of warning – it is our editorial position that while there are legitimate reservations to be had about the SSPX, schism is not an appropriate term to apply to them. We’ve documented this a number of times. Claims of schism are clearly baseless.

            I see you arguing with just about everyone in the combox at this point about almost everything. Please remind yourself of rule #8 of our comment policy, which you are not yet technically in violation of, but you’re inching closer every day:

            8. Trolling/arguing/being a sophist in the comment box without contributing in a meaningful way to the discussion will not be tolerated.

          • Hi Steve – I do not argue with just about everyone in the “combox”. Please provide the word, or phrase you feel is more accurate in describing the current relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the SSPX. Is this a forum open to honest discussion or is it not. Perhaps, I am mistaken to assume a Christian forum would support such aspirations. Decide Steve.

          • You do. I get all the notifications on every article. Feel free to poll the crowd and see if they disagree.

            The phrase that is most accurate in describing the SSPX is “canonically irregular.” If Schism is to be understood in its technical canonical sense as “the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him,” then the question is immediately prompted: refusal of submission to what, exactly? What teaching of the Catholic Church does the SSPX not hold? What exercise of authentic papal magisterium have they rebelled against, other than the illicit consecrations (which situation has already been remedied)? How is it possible that Bishop Schneider, the duly authorized Vatican liaison to the SSPX, believes that a personal prelature would redress “the unjust suppression of the Society in 1975 on the part of the Holy See” or that he “consider[s] their General Superior, His Excellency Monsignor Bernard Fellay, as an exemplary and true Catholic bishop”? Or perhaps more to the point, how could he say, “To my knowledge there are no weighty reasons in order to deny the clergy and faithful of the SSPX the official canonical recognition, meanwhile they should be accepted as they are.”

            Do you really believe a society in schism could simply be brought back “as they are” with no changes?

            I could document this more extensively, but I’ve already done so.

            As for your final comments: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — free speech is not a Catholic value. Don’t give me ultimatums if you want to stay. I have no fears about appearing capricious and arbitrary in applying the ban hammer to people who prefer to be irritants rather than gracious guests.

          • Hi Steve – No I don’t seek argument. Look at my posts to the last 10 different people I have posted to, then do your analysis. But don’t forget to examine who was responding to who, Steve. Poll the people on this website? Really, is that how you determine the direction you proceed in? Is that Christ like in your opinion? Oh. by the way, when you consider my interaction with Kyler, understand that he followed me to this website, because I would not agree with his claim that homosexual acts are natural. Do you really want to include the real Trolls on this website in your poll, Steve? The SSPX refuses to accept the Novus Ordo,and often the legitimacy of JPII and Benedict, do you think that is the action of faithful, trusting Catholics, Steve? Yes I do believe that Francis would be glad to have the SSPX back inside the Church with the proviso that they must remain as they are. That is exactly what Francis wants to establish as the precedent for all who wish to return to the Roman Catholic Faith, without recourse to repenting of their errors or mortal sins. Here is what a Catholic values Steve – defending the Faith by referencing the Words of Christ, the teachings of the Church, and condemnation of that which wounds the Mystical Body Of Christ, namely heresy, apostasy and schism. I am not a troll, I do not come here to argue, I come here to read the news and comment on that news, if I disagree with others or they disagree with me I invite the dialogue, I do not shut it down. If you feel you or others on this website can not uphold your end of an honest discussion, which is always based in defending the Roman Catholic Faith, ban me. And then you will have the beginnings of the echo chamber those who have the weaker argument wish to establish on this website. Decide Steve, but do me a favor, leave the posts between you and myself on this page, so all can see why I was banned. Some will gloat, and some will fear rocking the boat and you are welcome to both of these types. By the way when was the last visitation of Our Blessed Mother to any member of the SSPX?

          • My goodness you think highly of yourself. And you’re still wrong about the SSPX. But mostly you’re just annoying. It’s not about honest or dishonest discussion, it’s about enjoyable and productive discussion. People who come to dinner parties and contradict all the other guests in the spirit of “honesty” tend not to be invited back. I’d like this to be a pleasant place to talk about these things, and it really hasn’t been. You’re not alone in contributing to that.

            All that being said, you’ve been warned. I find your manner abrasive and counterproductive, and my finger is hovering above the button, twitching.

          • Hi Steve – I think Highly of the Truth, Steve. I wonder how Saint Paul would fare on this site. And no, I am not comparing myself to Saint Paul, only the way you are establishing for those who are less afraid of offending you than offending God.The Great Stalin called someone and idiot three post down from this one.. Now what?

          • Nobody is entitled to comment here. Nobody need be afraid of losing what they are not owed. I created this forum so that people can talk about the things going on. Figure things out. I watch the conversations, though not as closely as I used to because I just don’t have time to read thousands of post-length comments every month, for things that stand out. You’ve begun to stand out.

            Worry about you. If others cross the line, I’ll deal with them.

          • Hi Steve – We’ll see. I for one have confronted heretics, homosexuals and apostates among others who challenge the Truth, on other websites, because I Love the Truth. I am not a novice to the ways of those who wish to silence anyone who quoted the Gospels, the teachings of the Church or the most fundamental tenets of theology. That isn’t gong to change Steve. Invite who you will to your party Steve, but you might be wise to end the party before it becomes a gracious offense to Our Lord among those to whom you have opened the door. By the way is this an SSPX website? I begin to wonder, and if it is so, why don’t you make that clear?

          • Yes, I’m sure you’re quite the ferocious combox warrior for Christ.

            Invite who you will to your party Steve, but you might be wise to end the party before it becomes a gracious offense to Our Lord among those to whom you have opened the door.

            I grow really tired of narcissists. People who simply can’t ever be wrong about anything, instead projecting that it’s always and everywhere someone else.

            By the way is this an SSPX website? I begin to wonder, and if it is so, why don’t you make that clear?

            You made me laugh there. I’ll give you credit. No, it’s not an SSPX website, as we’ve previously made clear:

            And no, there’s no conspiracy to hide anything from anyone. We’re a Catholic website, full stop, and we promote the truth and confront error wherever we find either.

          • Hi Steve – I do not seek conflict but I don’t run away from it either. I don’t ever do this, but since it is becoming more and more apparent that my time on this website is short, I will tell you why I do what I do. I am the youngest of six children, I was born in 1962, and I am a cradle Catholic, who lived, like many who visit this website seeking knowledge, through the turmoil of the sixties and seventies, I saw what that did to my unsuspecting parents as one by one their children succumbed to the spirit of that age. My brother who was the oldest, ten years older than myself, went off to school at Notre Dame, a good person who was entering into the true lion’s den of that day. Long story short, he became a drug addict and an alcoholic of astounding prolificacy. He tried to kill himself more than once, because he could not reconcile the life he was leading to the life he had known. One by one my other brothers and sisters followed in his steps, not to the extent he did, but to the point that my parents often found themselves at the point of despair. or worse to the point of capitulation. Having witnessed this I did not follow in their path for one and only one reason, because I loved my parents and would not add to their misery under any circumstance. My brother and I were close, but we became closer in the early 1990’s when he attempted to clean up his life, it was a case of one step forward and one step back, but over the period of these fits and starts we talked every day. We often talked about how we were raised, what we were taught and the older we both got the more we came to know that we had been raised in the Truth. We both were quite impressed with Malachi Martin and how he had the faculty of speaking clearly about the condition of the Church and what lay ahead for the Church. My brother stopped drinking in the mid 2000’s, and he began to attend church again, and we often talked about what was going on in the Church, and how that made us look deeper into our faith and talk about that faith which was under obvious attack. He was a customs and border protection officer in San Francisco, and as he approached retirement it became clearer that he would return home and reconcile himself to my parents. He was really looking forward to that. He retired at the end of 2010 and headed home, full of joy and looking forward to retiring. He spent the first three months of 2011 living with my parents, and healing old wounds. He died on Palm Sunday of that year, his body could not sustain him any longer, but he had gone to Palm Sunday Mass that morning, something I know he would not do if he was not in the state of Grace. I look upon his death as a blessing, because he was surely looking at terrible physical suffering the older he became. It was a singular Grace that he died on Palm Sunday, and in the arms of my parents. It was shortly after this that I went from dial up to high speed internet. I was drawn to websites that included discussions between Catholics and Protestants. and at first I spent time listening, finding out what was being discussed. I was shocked to learn that Protestants are the least scriptural persons I had ever encountered. John6:48-58 was a truly their Achilles heal, I should have expected this but I will still quite shocked. I also learned that many of the persons calling themselves Catholic, were anything but, I encountered the full slate of false teachings that have flowed into the age of Apostasy warned of at Fatima. Anyway, that is a very short summary of why I continue to seek to know what is going in the Church and never back down from those who twist the Words of Jesus Christ, undermine the sacraments or cause division in the Church. I will never forget the pain my parents experienced, and how they were caught unaware of the evil which had been unleashed on their children. I will never acquiesce to anyone who calls for my silence or reliance on a false sense of tactfulness. Enough of that, let the chips fall where they may, and may God be merciful to those who seek courtesy with the servants, unwitting or not, of the evil one. I honor my mom and dad suffering and my brother’s soul which could have easily been lost to hell, at all times and in all places, they are always in the forefront of my mind when I weigh the value of directness over tact.

          • We all have our reasons for what we do, and yours is as good as any. I never give anyone a hard time for caring enough to fight for eternal truths. That said, I do have opinions on how these things are handled, and whether or not a person is more concerned with proving their position than actually getting it right.

  8. I am not a Knight and have not actually met Fra Matthew Festing face to face but I have spoken and corresponded with him on several occasions over the matter of the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth in London. That Hospital was under the protection of the Order of Malta but had unfortunately strayed from the teaching of the Church in allowing referrals for abortion, gender reassignment operations and the provision of artificial contraception. On the one hand there was Fra Matthew and his colleagues in the Grand Priory who staunchly supported the teaching of the Church and tried to put matters right and on the other was that great promoter of Pope Francis, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, the arbiter on ethics at the Hospital with legal powers to put matters right. Cardinal Cormac’s policy whether faced with paedophilic priests or the situation at the Hospital was to do nothing except to require the faithful Knights to resign and to bless an eviscerated Code of Ethics contrary to the recommendations of an inquiry instigated by the then Cardinal Ratzinger at the CDF. Without the support of the Cardinal the Knights took the view that they could do nothing about the Hospital and withdrew; thus we lost our last Catholic Hospital.

    I wonder whether Cardinal Cormac did not have a word with Pope Francis about this obviously rigid Catholic?

    So fniper, Fra Matthew did not neglect the spiritual health of the Order but did everything to promote it. A truly great man and I congratulate Hilary White for writing this piece about his works of mercy of which I was not fully aware.

    • I had heard that Matthew had put a knight in charge of the hospital whose lack of action to stop sex change operations at John and Lizzie had brought him to be suspected of freemasonry.

  9. God bless this humble man of faith and good works in the service of the Lord. He will be treated as one of the greats in the Kingdom of God. Those who serve the Lord without the ambition of any titles are indeed the true servants of God

  10. Another example of the Prince of this world infiltrating an organization and turning it into another secular social services outfit. Fra Festing will have his reward. Those tools of Satan who have taken over will also get theirs.

  11. This article by Hilary White is typical of her professionalism, her considerable writing skills and her fidelity to the Church. I am an unabashed admirer of her. Look up her essay in the December 25, 2016 issue of “The Remnant.” Its title is “Sawing off the Branch.” It’s a masterpiece.

  12. Inspirational.

    One point appears to be lost on many of the posters here, who presumably live mostly on the American side of the pond; Festing is what is known as an English gentleman and I use that word in an entirely positive sense. He’s deferential, well-mannered, respectful, polite, cultured and intelligent. So when potty-mouthed, trash-talking Francis told him he was through with him, he simply did what the saints before him would have done; he humbled himself and obeyed.

    No, he’s not a faggot. He’s a wonderful man and simply another victim of a crude, intemperate, loutish Pope.

    One final question; how do I sign up?

    • I fully agree with you, except that he was liable of his resignation before the staff of the SMOM, not before the Pope since the SMOM is a sovereign State.
      His duty was to resist the Pope because since Von Boeselager was reinstated as Grand Chancelor, the distibution of condoms and contraceptives in the poor countries will resume with no restraint now.

    • There is no other explanation regarding the shameful way the Pope used to force him into his resignation.
      The Pope had no consideration of the many years he spent caring for the poors, the sick and the vistims of wars and catastrophes. He chased him away bluntly and Festing resigned like a humble and holy gentleman should : Without even mumbling.

      • He and the “Sovereign” Military Order of Malta initially resisted and he caves in when he is called in by the pope? You call it humility I call it lacking spine and principle.

  13. What a good man, this Festing, indeed.
    A man who lives out the Creed.
    Compared to his work,
    I’m clearly a jerk,
    And the Kingdom I tend to impede.

  14. Fra’ Matthew is a wonderful man who was manipulated by Cardinal Burke to demote Boeselager. This entire ordeal has been orchestrated by Burke. He is not an innocent bystander.

    • Cardinal Burke is a holy man who never manipulated anyone.
      He was appointed by the Pope as the main spiritual advisor to the Great Master of the SMOM and his duty was to expose Von Boeselager’s sinful behaviour when he secretly planned supplying condoms and contraceptives in the poor countries. Festing was free not to follow his advice.
      It was sad that the Pope decided to reinstate Von Boeselager after Festing fired him. Now everyone knows that contraception is not a sin in the Pope’s mind, in blatant contradiction to “Humanae Vitae”.

  15. Festing and Francis, such a contrast,
    Both to their ledgers their deeds have amassed.
    The one a Disciple,
    The other archetypal,
    Of secular man with his ego so vast.

  16. Much like Pope Benedict XVI, he has ended up as a pathetic, weak, tragic figure when everything is said and done. I don’t mean that to insult them or downplay the pressure they succumbed to. This should teach us how potent the evil forces are in the Church, and how desperately we need a divine intervention to end it and raise up a really heroic, no-nonsense, St. Pius X like figure.


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