Dear Brother John,
I will attempt to answer your question, and while I am at it, I will try to answer it for all the members of our priory!
We, the Scottish Knights Templar, are unique in the "Templar universe" because we are the only extant Templar Order that can truly claim to be descended, organizationally and spiritually, from the original Knights Templar.
The international OSMTH, under Grandmaster Prince Regent Dom Fernando Fontes, traces its Templar roots to a "rebirth" of the Order in the 1700s, specifically, when the Duke de Cosse Brissac accepted the Grandmastership of the "Templar Order" in 1776, and remained the Grandmaster until his execution in 1792, during the last gasps of the French Revolution. Brissac was a famous French Freemason, and his concept of Templarism was inseparable from that of Freemasonry. There was a revival in 1804 - 1805, when a set of ordinances was supposedly drawn up. Grandmaster Fontes' organization traces its origins through these events.
The Scottish Priory had nominally recognized Fontes as the Grandmaster, but there had been problems. Dom Fernando Fontes "inherited" the Grandmastership from his father, and the Templars have never, ever made the Grandmaster's position an inherited one; Templars had always voted on their grandmasters.
In the 1980s, the Grand Prior of the Grand Priory of Scotland, H.S.E. Chev. Frank Sherry, declared the priory to be autonomous, as it should have been, due to its direct descent from the original Scottish Templars. We have had a rather precarious relationship with Fontes' group ever since.
Fontes never addressed the question of Freemasons in the Order, and you can be sure that his organization was rife with them. Also, since our Order has sought reconciliation with the Catholic Church, in view of having our honor and position restored (insofar as possible), we knew that we could not reconcile as long as we accepted Freemasons, as this group has been proscribed by the Catholic Church as being incompatible with Christianity. Some years ago, the Catholic Church uncovered evidence of plots on the behalf of Freemasons to injure and subvert the church. The Anglican synod, by the way, has also held that Freemasonry is incompatible with the practice of Christianity.
So, we tried to keep a semblance of unity within the Order, while continuously pressing Fontes to deal with the Freemasonry issue, but he has yet to address this issue head-on. And, we know, that he cannot--because the OPCCTS in the United States and the Priory of England and Wales have been headed by notorious Freemasons, i.e., Vince Zubras, Jr., and James Mangan, respectively. Mangan is supposedly out, and I do not know the name of his successor.
In the meantime, during the mid-1990s, the OSMTH in the United States, headed by Rear Admiral (Ret.) James Carey, broke away from Fontes' group and sued him in Federal district court. Carey accused Fontes of malfeasance in handling donations from the USA OSMTH, which were in the amount of $40,000. Fontes could not muster the resources to fight the lawsuit, and Carey's group won by default. Carey's group has gone so far as to get holy symbols, centuries old, trademarked and registered! Such things happen when the other side does not show up in court!
Now, Carey's group is an elitist one and is composed mostly of retired general officers (with the rank of general or admiral), and highly placed executives and successful business owners. Their membership roll reads like a "Who's Who" among the rich and influential in the United States. Ordinary Christians need not apply!
Brother John has referred to a "magistral decree" placed on the Web sites of the OPCCTS in the United States and the Priory of England and Wales in the United Kingdom. This so-called "magistral decree" states that our Grand Prior General did not have the right to be referred to as the Chef Mondial of the Order. When our Grand Prior General personally questioned Fontes on the subject, Fontes denied publishing the decree. And, only a few months ago, representatives from the OSMTH under Fontes presented our Grand Prior General the Silver Medal of Merit in a special ceremony at the Magistral Grand Priory of the Holy Land!
Now, Carey's OSMTH also had a Secretary General, Herr Werner Rind, who took issue with the elitist mentality Carey and the fact that Freemasons were also allowed to join, and broke away to form the Ordo Militiae Christi Templi Hierosolymitani (OMCTH). About a year ago, we concluded a formal affiliation with this group. The OMCTH under Herr Rind does wonderful charity work for the poor in the Holy Land, and has as its spiritual protector the Patriarch of Antioch and Jerusalem, His Beatitude Gregory III. Neither the OSMTH under Carey, nor the international OSMTH under Fontes, would qualify for a spiritual protectorship, due to the fact they accept Freemasons.
In the United States, the OPCCTS under Zubras still gives lip service to Fontes, while trying to undermine other Templar groups, notably our own and the OMCTH. We repulsed an attack by Zubras upon the OMCTH. Zubras has quite a few of his own problems now, and hasn't been a player on the Templar scene for some time now.
So we are now faced with the OSMTH under Carey, which would like to assimilate us, and thereby gain our claim to legitimacy, which it totally lacks. We shall, of course, not join them or affiliate with them in any way. Grand Prior McGrath, in his great wisdom, has kept us autonomous--free to make alliances with like-minded Templar groups, but free from coming under any other group's control.
The Confederation of Scottish Knights Templar, of which our priory is an integral part, was chartered by the Royal House of Scotland during the reign of King Robert the Bruce, who was elected a Grandmaster of the Scottish Order in legitimate succession by the exiled Templars. This perpetual royal decree survives and is the basis of our legitimacy. We went from a papal Order to a royal Order, still Christian and still dedicated to defending the faith. >From the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 to the Battle of Killekrankie in 1689, to the Battle of Culloden in 1745, and to the present day, Scottish Templars have fought and died for religious freedom and the sovereignty of Scotland.
Now, my fellow Templars, and this is very important--the OSMTH under Carey will try to make us join them by offering both inducements and threats. They will threaten us with lawsuits while they dangle the carrot of joining with the "elite" who enjoy "nongovernment organization" status with the United Nations, etc., etc.
But we have taken holy oaths, including oaths of fealty, and my loyalty is to the Order--to you and to our Grand Prior General! We, who have been knighted as Scottish Knights Templar, are honor bound to follow Scotland and the head of our Order, Chev. James J. P. McGrath, and that we must do!
Please read the following from Hebrews 10:31-39 -- "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so taht when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet 'in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay; but my righteous one will live by faith. My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.' But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved."
My dear fellow Templars, we must not shrink back, and we must guard the Order with whatever it takes to preserve its integrity and our honor.
I would like to hear from each and every one of you that you will stand with me and Scotland, no matter what form the enemy's attack may take.
I swear to you, as your prior, that even if I lose all of my possessions, I will not yield to the unholy USA - OSMTH. We will remain autonomous, unfettered and unsullied by any unholy alliance.
I swear this to you as a Templar!
Yours in Christ,
From: john ross
Sent: Sunday, November 16, 2003 6:51 AM
Subject: A question about your most recent mailing.
Dear Mr. Reese:
I'm a bit confused. What is all of this about the Prince Regent Fontes -- and what is this about his proclamation regarding James McGrath dated 25 November 2002, in Porto? One gets the impression that Prince Regent Fontes was looking at this organization as being subordinate.
I hope things are going well with your family.
Yours in Christ,