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Fra' Festing Shows Us the Way

by Christopher A. Ferrara
April 28, 2017

Fra’ Matthew Festing, so the media report, has “defied” a patently ridiculous “papal command” not to attend the meeting of the Knights of Malta’s Council Complete of State in Rome this weekend, or even to be in Rome during the meeting.  At that meeting the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta will elect (tomorrow) Festing’s successor as Grand Master (head) of the Order.

The election follows Pope Bergoglio’s veritable extortion of Festing’s resignation during a secret audience, on one hour’s notice, at which Bergoglio demanded that he write out a letter of resignation and sign it on the spot.  This thuggish maneuver was supposed to resolve the controversy over Festing’s removal of Albrecht von Boeselager as Grand Chancellor owing, in part, to von Boeselager’s knowing toleration of the distribution of contraceptive devices by the Order’s charitable arm in Burma.

Well, Festing has come to Rome for the meeting and will vote in the election, which could even result in his reelection as Grand Master. (Bergoglio had said during the secret audience that Festing could stand for reelection, but that promise was quickly forgotten.)

Festing, then, has decided simply to ignore the “command,” which was characterized as a decision by Pope Bergoglio’s “papal delegate” to the Order, Archbishop Becciu, whose letter to Festing stated that the “command” was his decision, which he had merely “shared with the Holy Father” but now expected Festing to follow “as an act of obedience.”

It appears, then, that Festing has had enough of this lawless Bergoglian nonsense. As Hillary White points out in her blog post on this subject, citing an Italian source, after Festing protested that the “command” would interfere in the affairs of the Order as a sovereign entity under international law and even compromise the validity of the election by removing Festing as one of the necessary electors, the Vatican (i.e., Pope Bergoglio) quickly backed down, advising Festing that his decision to appear in Rome was a matter of “conscience” for him to decide. 

As White observes:

“Now, apparently, the Vatican is backpedalling: ‘I ask you under obedience…Oh, wait no… of course that was just a suggestion. You should follow your conscience.’

“‘Oh, that whole obedience thing? We didn’t really mean it. The Pope simply offered his opinion, but wants Fra’ Festing to act in accordance with his conscience… yeah yeah… That’s it… Conscience…’”

We see in this incident a classic example of what happens when one stands up to a bully: the bully backs down.

But there is a larger lesson here: Fra’ Festing has shown how all the faithful should have addressed the entire plague of phony “commands” that have laid waste to the ecclesial commonwealth over the past fifty years. These include the non-existent “command” that the traditional Latin Mass was “prohibited” — the Big Lie of the post-conciliar epoch, exposed as such by no less than Pope Benedict XVI, who confirmed that the traditional Mass “was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”

White notes the rather amusing coincidence that immediately after Festing stood up to his lawless “command,” Pope Bergoglio gave a sermon on “holy obedience.”  But the obedience he had attempted to extort from Festing was not holy. Rather, it was what Saint Thomas Aquinas calls “indiscreet obedience, which obeys even in matters unlawful.”

I conclude with a quotation from Father Gruner’s important article on the problem of false obedience in the Church today:

“[T]he obedience of faith [holy obedience in matters of faith and morals] has widely been replaced in the post-conciliar epoch by obedience to… authority for its own sake. Positivism (my will is law) and nominalism (what I will is good because I will it) have invaded the Church, cloaking their abuses in the virtue of obedience, which seems to have become the only virtue insisted upon by ecclesiastical authority.

“It is no coincidence that this invasion of the Church by positivism and nominalism coincides with “the invasion of the Church by worldly thinking” that Paul VI lamented ¾ but too late, for the “opening to the world” had already begun to inflict its incalculable damage, and the “smoke of Satan” he also belatedly lamented had already entered the Church through the “fissures” he noticed only after the smoke had entered.”

The whole Church owes Fra’ Matthew Festing a debt of gratitude for his profile in courage.