13 October 2012

Martyred for Greed

Processus Contra Templarios: The Chinon Parchment 

In the Johannite Liturgy, October 13th commemorates the Templar Martyrs who were imprisoned, tortured and executed at the insistence of Philippe Le Bel, the king of France.  Although many Gnostics focus on this historical injustice as a means to drive a wedge between our tradition and that of the Roman Catholic Church, that seems counter-intuitive to the legend and principles passed down to us from the brave warrior-monks of the Order of the Temple.

It was not the Catholic Tradition that we share, or even the Roman ecclesiastical authority that was responsible for disbanding and executing the last Templars.  Thanks to the Italian paleographer Barbara Frale, and the help of the Vatican Secret Archives, we have known for a number of years now that Pope Clement V secretly absolved the Knights Templar from charges brought against them by the French king via the Inquisition.

Processus Contra Templarios, as the Templar case file is titled, clearly shows us that the historical background of the demise of the Templars was far from a Vatican intrigue.  As with so many things in history, religion was used to indict these innocent men for the purpose of usurping the power and wealth which the Order held. The French king needed money, and he used trumped-up charges to get his way.  Still, we now know that not only did the Roman Pontiff absolve the Order and its Grand Master of any wrong-doing, upon the discovery of the Chinon Parchment, the Vatican assisted Frale in her work and ordered the translation to be published.

There is a larger lesson for us in this day of remembrance of the Templars.  In the often rowdy and jingoistic shouting match between non-religious and religious people, we must remember that it was not religious authority that perpetrated this injustice, but secular, governmental authority based not on the common good, but on personal aggrandizement and unmitigated greed on the part of Philippe Le Bel.  He chose to use torture, scandal and finally murder, to thrust himself onto the map of powerful princes.

So on this day, we should remember the many people who have been brave enough to stand up to injustice in whatever form it might take. We should remember that institutions and authorities are sometimes used for personal gain, but that doesn’t mean laws, traditions, or religion is to blame for the ignorance and shortsightedness that all of us carry within us.  We are all equal portions darkness and light.

A prayer attributed to the imprisoned Templars

May the grace of the Holy Spirit be present with us. May Mary, Star of the Sea, lead us to the harbor of salvation. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Father, eternal God, omnipotent, omniscient Creator, Bestower, kind Ruler and most tender lover, pious and humble Redeemer; gentle, merciful Savior, Lord! I humbly beseech Thee and implore Thee that Thou may enlighten me, free me and preserve the brothers of the Temple and all Thy Christian people, troubled as they are.

Thou, O Lord, Who knowest that we are innocent, set us free that we may keep our vows and your commandments in humility, and serve Thee and act according to Thy will. Dispel all those unjust reproaches, far from the truth, heaped upon us by the means of tough adversities, great tribulations and temptations, which we have endured, but can endure no longer.

Omnipotent, eternal God, who hast so loved the blessed John the Evangelist and Apostle, that he reclined upon Thy bosom at the Last Supper, and to whom Thou revealed and showed the Mysteries of Heaven, and to whom, while suspended on the Holy Cross, for the sake of our redemption, Thou commended Thy most Holy Mother and Virgin, and in whose honor our Order was created and instituted; through Thy Holy mercifulness, deliver us and preserve us, as Thou knowest that we are innocent of the crimes that we are accused of, so that we may take possession of the works, by which we may be guided to the joys of Paradise, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.