Publication of “L’Ordine Equestre del Santo Sepolcro di Gerusalemme”

I have contributed a preface to the book “L’Ordine Equestre del Santo Sepolcro di Gerusalemme” by Prof. Dr. Luca Scotto Tella de’ Douglas di Castel di Ripa in collaboration with Maurizio Cancelli, published by Aracne Editrice in Rome.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (in Latin: Ordo Equestris Sancti Sepulcri Hierosolymitani, OESSH), also called the Order of the Holy Sepulchre or of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, is a Roman Catholic Knightly Order placed under the protection of the Holy See. Its main mission is to “support the Christian presence in the Holy Land”. According to ancient tradition, the Knights had the power to create other Knights, thus obtaining even the privilege of making even those Knights who were not nobles from birth become nobles. In addition, the acquisition of nobility also came from belonging to the Order. Among the privileges of the Order, registered by its Guardian in 1553 and approved by subsequent Popes, were included some of the greatest granted to any Order. Among these we should remember the ancient papal tradition, never repealed, which gives the Knights of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem the title, granted by the Holy Father as Head of the Vatican State, of Count Palatine “Comes Palatii” (ad personam) of the Sacred Lateran Palace. The Order takes precedence in ceremonies and Apostolic Palaces over any other Religious-Chivalric Order and, according to experts and historians, in the hierarchy of the Pontifical Orders it would come immediately after the Order of the Golden Spur (currently quiescent), according to the ancient custom, although this rule is currently under discussion.

This study of the Order is undertaken from a perspective independent of the Vatican, and considers the Order in its historic, religious and nobiliary context.

The book is of 860 pages. It is available from Amazon and other booksellers.

Posted in Education

Honours and awards: Royal Fellow and Branch-Governor for Europe of the Royal Academy of Aristocracy

I have been appointed a Royal Fellow of the Royal Academy of Aristocracy and Branch-Governor for Europe of the Academy.

The Royal Academy of Aristocracy is an institution of the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara (Uganda) designed to bring together the aristocrats of the world. Each appointment is made subject to the approval of the Royal Commission of Royalty and Nobility of the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom.

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Honours and awards: The Most Honourable Order of Omukama Chwa II Kabalega

I have been honoured to receive appointment as a Knight Grand Cross in the Most Honourable Order of Omukama Chwa II Kabalega in the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara. Bunyoro-Kitara is one of the constituent kingdoms of Uganda and the Sovereign, Grand Master and Protector of the Order is the reigning Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara, H.M. Rukirabasaija Agutamba Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I.

HM The Omukama (King) of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom and the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom were restored by the Amendment [No. 8] Act – Statute No. 8, Article 118 (1)- of 1993 enacted by the Parliament of Uganda and officially recognized and protected by the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda by Chapter IV. –Article 37.-, Chapter XVI. -Article 246. (1) – (6)- of 1995 and by the Amendment [No. 2] Act -schedule V. -Article 178.8- of 2005 and by the Acts Supplement [No. 4] -Act 6. of 2011.

The Order was founded in 2010 and commemorates the present Omukama’s grandfather, the last absolute ruler of Bunyoro-Kitara.

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Honours and awards: Senator, Senior Fellow and Member of the Academic Council of the Royal Scientific Senate (Bunyoro-Kitara)

I have been honoured with an appointment as a Senator, Senior Fellow and Member of the Academic Council of the Royal Scientific Senate for Humanity, Health and Development Affairs of the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara (Uganda).

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Honours and awards: Recognition of Royal House Polanie-Patrikios by the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom

The Royal Office of Orders, Honours and Awards Affairs of the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara (Uganda) has officially recognized the Royal House Polanie-Patrikios, of which I am head. Consequently, the titles and honours of the Royal House Polanie-Patrikios are fully recognized and may be used officially in the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara.

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Honours and awards: Royal Patron and Council Member of the Heraldry Society of Africa

I have been honoured with appointments as Royal Patron and Council Member of the Heraldry Society of Africa. The Society is registered as a non-governmental organization (NGO) in The City of Hoima, Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom (Republic of Uganda), no. 220498.

>>Further information
>>Objects and Means

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Honours and awards: Honorary Royal Chaplain to H.M. the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara

I have been honoured with an appointment as Honorary Royal Chaplain to H.M. the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara (Uganda).

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Publication of “Attacco alla Massoneria”

I have contributed a preface to the book “Attacco alla Massoneria” by Prof. Dr. Luca Scotto Tella de’ Douglas di Castel di Ripa, published by Aracne Editrice in Rome.

This powerful monographic text on Freemasonry and its enemy, Anti-Freemasonry, is not only the umpteenth valuable cultural and didactic work of the author, well known and appreciated for his detailed, painstaking, exquisitely interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research (for example, his latest book, on the Kamikaze, Vento Divino, was published by Aracne in January 2019) but also represents an encyclopedic and university-level publication of a unique scientific and academic importance, of international and world caliber, since such a monumental study on Freemasonry, richly illustrated and enriched both by many footnotes, and by a large and highly accurate Masonic, religious, philosophical, spiritual and numerological glossary-dictionary, was never created, much less conceived before now. The topic is treated as usual across the board and so as to allow even those who are not already experts in the field – Freemason, esotericist, Gnostic or professor of History of Religions – to understand this ancient initiatory path, with a core of Solomonic and Hiramitic wisdom and with sapiential, mystical and initiatory contributions from the greatest and most ancient civilizations of our planet. This theme is still unfortunately unknown and misunderstood to most, so much so that the Free Masonry, or Freemasonry, or Royal Art, in the collective imagination, in Europe and especially in Italy, has always been wrongly connected to Satanism, thanks to the totally fictional books invented by Léo Taxil (1854–1907), to the underworld, and even to organized crime, while in reality the greatest philosophers, religious, statesmen, scientists, artists, musicians, captains of industry and philanthropists of history have been Masons. Freemasonry has been and is, in the history of humanity, similar to the sun in that everyone has enjoyed its salutary and life-giving effects (even unwittingly) and whose rays have shone and still shine refracting on every side. Nobody knows how to penetrate its sacred origin, because it is divine, to discover its luminous process and its intimate essence.

With interviews with Lidia Reghini di Pontremoli, Davide Scaranari, Ilenia Mastroscusa, Agostino Mario Cannataro; a Glossary, a Masonic Dictionary and multiple culturally useful curiosities.

The book is of 1,656 pages published in two volumes. It is available from Amazon and other booksellers.

Posted in Education

Honours and awards: Fellowship of the College of Violinists

I was greatly honoured recently to be elected a Fellow of the College of Violinists “for services to the International Private Education Sector”. The College of Violinists was founded in 1890 and has been administered by the Victoria College of Music since 1962. I was elected a Fellow honoris causa of the Victoria College of Music for services to the Performing Arts in 2010.

Today, the Fellowship of the College of Violinists is the highest honorary award of the Victoria College of Music, and is awarded to both violinists and non-violinists for services to the arts. It is awarded rarely and requires the unanimous agreement of Executive Council.


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Life in the Church – part 5 “Quis et unde?”

In 2018, I was faced with a challenging combination of circumstances. With our third child now expected, my family had outgrown San Luigi House and needed a bigger home. Moreover, having elderly family members living on the other side of the country, we no longer wished to make marathon train journeys to see them. Added to this, the AEC had continued to grow overseas, but had dwindled in Great Britain to the point where I was now the only remaining clergyman in major orders. With the exception of my own family, the remaining laity were, through age and geographical disparity, no longer in a position to form a viable worshipping community.

In such circumstances, a public chapel could no longer easily be sustained, and when we moved to Shropshire in December 2018, it was with an awareness that the provision of congregational worship in Great Britain would no longer be a priority. Even in far larger and better-resourced churches than ours, the decline in congregational worship was endemic. For all that our vision of the church is built upon the worshipping community, it proved necessary for us to reconsider how and where ministry can take place when people are no longer turning to the church as they have done in the past. Our solution was in various forms of voluntary service in the community and in the preservation of the distinctive history, tradition and identity of our communion through curation of its archives, the preparation of further book and article publications, and the maintenance of its detailed and informative website. Through all of this, we continued to support our overseas parishes and missions through practical assistance and in prayer.

During 2019, I was particularly pleased when a group of Brazilian clergy joined the Byelorussian Patriarchate, having previously been part of the related Belarusian jurisdiction of the American World Patriarchates. The creation of the Brazilian Exarchate under Dom Nagui Zayat brought about a new headquarters for our mission there in the form of the Cathedral of St George and St Sebastian in Rio de Janeiro.

The new year and the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic brought a much-needed opportunity to re-think the structure and organization of our missions going forward. The outcome of this was that the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi became the parent body for all jurisdictions, and the Catholicate of the West was established as the ecumenical organization within the Abbey-Principality under which they would be gathered.

Postscript – some general observations

I am sometimes asked how my office as a bishop in the smaller churches differs from that of bishops in the larger, mainstream denominations. Clearly there is a difference in the numbers concerned, both in respect of clergy and laity. That makes the bishop a more immediate and accessible figure in the smaller church, and also means that the bishop can undertake more in the way of a presbyteral ministry. Bureaucracy is generally more streamlined internally, but no less so in respect of conformity to external laws and requirements, which can involve multiple jurisdictions and require some degree of legislative expertise and linguistic dexterity.

A smaller church will inevitably bear the imprint of the bishop who leads it. In the modern age of centralized, committee-run churches, this is unusual, as is the directly hierarchical structure in which the presiding bishop has the final say on all matters. The model that works best in this situation is that of the benevolent dictator, but it is crucial that in exercising authority, the bishop is aware of the implications of his decisions on the church as a whole. He may have the ultimate responsibility before God, but he would be foolish not to listen to his clergy and laity. I have been surprised over the years how many outside my churches have wrongly assumed that the policy of my churches is merely a direct reflection of my own views. In fact, policy is carefully crafted bearing in mind the significance of tradition, external requirements (such as legislation), the need for accountability and the nature of the body of active clergy and laity as it may be constituted from time to time. My role is to integrate these factors and to consider, after prayer and reflection, how they may be best expressed in practice.

Probably the biggest point of similarity with the larger churches is in dealing with the clergy and the challenges they face. These raise familiar and universal themes, but within a structure such as the Catholicate of the West where the clergy are all non-stipendiary, there is the additional factor that the connexion between the clergy and their church is more readily frangible; there are many competing denominations, and where church buildings are not owned centrally, they can move jurisdiction with the clergyman in question. This tends to produce a pressure for smaller churches to advance their clergy irrespective of pastoral necessity, in order not to lose them to other churches where they might find such advancement more readily. I have always taken the view that this pressure is to be resisted. Holy Orders are conferred for the Church, not for the individual benefit of the person concerned, and it means considerably more to be a priest in a well-run church than it does to be a bishop in those jurisdictions where the episcopate is indiscriminately conferred. With most smaller churches being “top heavy”, what is actually needed is more deacons and priests, more lay ministers, and of course, more laity.

The experience of working with others within small religious bodies tends to heighten differences that would be more readily absorbed within a larger organization. When the group of clergy is small, there is a risk of dominance of the more extrovert personalities at the expense of others, and where there is a clash of ideologies or personalities it will become more readily apparent at an early stage. Over the years, I have been privileged to work with some outstandingly gifted clergy, who have been every bit the equal of those to be found in the larger churches. Notwithstanding this, there have been occasions when it has been necessary to admit that the paths of clergy have diverged to an incompatible extent from the nature of our church, and occasions where working relationships have sadly broken down. Wherever possible, my duty is to assure stability and to manage change in a way that is organic and that offers reassurance as to the way ahead.

There are inevitable difficulties in relations with members of other churches who have a prejudiced view of our traditions and practices. The smaller churches have not proved immune from the scandals of abuse that have affected the mainstream communions, and so there is a particular need for vigilance in respect of the selection of ordinands and others who may be placed in positions of trust. On a more subjective level, there are issues where I take a particular position in view of some of the more justified criticisms that have been levelled at the smaller churches over the years. I have always insisted that candidates for admission to the clergy be of graduate standing and undergo background checks (including in some cases psychological testing by a qualified professional). Those convicted of criminal offences are not eligible for admission to the clergy. I require of the clergy that they conduct a purposeful and visible ministry in the community, or follow a contemplative vocation guided by a Rule of Life.

More generally, I try to avoid “hard edges” in theological interpretation, mindful that it is the pastoral application of theology that is at the heart of Christian ministry. I have also always taken a studied disinterest in the minutiae of liturgy, ceremonial, and ecclesiastical robes, having too often seen these things lead clergy down the wrong paths and away from our proper priorities. I hold, in the words of Mar Georgius of Glastonbury, that “the most spiritual people are usually the most natural”.

Regarding the question of titles, I believe that these should serve a practical purpose within the body concerned, and be integral to the preservation of its distinctive ethos. Often, those who object to titles are objecting primarily to the hierarchy that they signify, and yet hierarchy is fundamental to the nature and governance of all the churches that I lead today, having been inherited by me as a living tradition and continued accordingly. I do not interpret Christianity as supporting egalitarianism, and neither did the overwhelming majority of Christians prior to the second half of the twentieth-century.

I am a firm believer that integrity in the episcopal office is best served by a thorough knowledge both of the Church and her mission and of oneself. The diversity of character among those called to the episcopacy is considerable; some are obvious saints, some are of almost monastic mien, some are parish priests writ large, while others are sadly clearly more at home with administrative responsibilities than with people. My own approach is to be and give of myself as much as I can, and through this, to try to lead people to Jesus by my own, inevitably flawed, example. Key to my approach is to try to meet people at the point they have reached on their spiritual journey.

The Anglican tradition of “muscular Christianity” has a certain appeal for me, and points towards a degree of unstuffiness in which the Christian way becomes the natural context for our values and behaviour, integrated indelibly into the archetypal English character and the history of our nation. I also identify with the concept of the guardian of multiple traditions, maintaining and preserving these in good order so that in due course they will survive me. Although these are sober and sometimes weighty responsibilities, I try to remain as grounded as possible and not take myself too seriously, which is an easy task with three young children.

Posted in Church