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A Summary of the Current Situation in the
Military and Hospitaller Order of
Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

1. History prior to the Toronto Chapter General.

Following a Chapter General at Oxford in 1986, and for reasons that I need not go into here, the MHOSLJ split into two factions: the larger one being known as the "Paris Obedience" (ParisO) with François de Cossé 13th Duc de Brissac of France as its Grand Master, and the other, the "Malta Obedience" (MaltO) with Don Francisco Enrique de Borbón y de Borbón of Spain, as it its Grand Master. From this time members of both obediences made efforts to re-unite the Order under one Grand Master. Sporadic meetings took place over the ensuing years, with no real progress made. Finally a Chapter General of the Paris Obedience was called for Dublin in 2002 for the purpose of electing a new Grand Master acceptable to both sides, thus leading hopefully to unification the Order. For various reasons relating to finding a mutually acceptable Grand Master, the election due to take place at the Dublin Chapter General was postponed for two years before the Dublin meeting actually took place.

Apparently not wishing to wait any longer, the Grand Priory of America (GPA) -under von Laden, attempted to speed things up by deposing the existing ParisO Grand Master, the Duc de Brissac, in favor of the MaltO Grand Master, Don Francisco de Paula de Borbón y Escasany 5th Duke of Seville (the son of Don Francisco de Borbón). So, at a caucus of the GPA held before the general meeting in Dublin, the GPA, in defiance of the Order's constitution, indicted their own Grand Master, accusing him of indifference, unreliability, untruthfulness and impeding the progress of unification. For these unsubstantiated faults, the GPA would be introducing a resolution to depose their Grand Master, and thus clear the way for the Duke of Seville to take over. The Grand Prior of Australia (GPAs), Tony Sallman, stated he wanted them (the Americans) to know that Australia stood solidly behind their Grand Prior (von Laden) in this matter.

However the General Secretary made no room for this resolution on the agenda, and further stated that the resolution was unconstitutional anyway, as the constitution actually gives the Grand Master his office for life or until he decides to go. The failure of the coup led to the Americans and Australians (with the Canadians in tow) working on another means of accomplishing the same thing. They persuaded the Duc de Brissac to agree to retire on his 75th birthday in two years time, and to recommend the Duke of Seville as his successor.

Note: The outgoing GM could only recommend a successor, as the actual choice could only be made by a vote of the Knights and Dames of the Order at a Chapter General.

Because of the Duc de Brissac's decision to retire, a Chapter General of the Paris Obedience was called for Toronto in March 2004 to elect a new Grand Master. There were to be two candidates, the Duke of Seville (GM of the MaltO), and HRH Prince Charles-Philippe of Bourbon-Orléans - a prince of the blood-line of France. (The Kings of France were the traditional protectors of the order until the 1795 revolution forced all such institutions to move outside of France).

It should be mentioned at this point that many members, particularly in Europe, had serious reservations about the Duke of Seville's eligibility on religious grounds, and his ability to actually meet the requirements of the constitution of a religious order. The Spiritual Protector reflected these concerns, and stated that until the Duke of Seville's marriage problems (he has been married 3 times and is seeking an annulment of his first marriage from Rome) were resolved, that even should he win the election he could still not install him as GM of the ParisO.

When it became known that HRH Prince Charles-Philippe of Bourbon-Orléans would be standing for the position, a stream of misinformation, innuendo, and downright lies regarding the prince began emanation from the supporters of the Duke of Seville. Certainly not the actions one would expect from the members of a Christian Order of Chivalry. The supporters of the prince refused to be drawn into criticising the Duke of Seville, other than to repeat the concerns voiced by the Patriarch.

Meet Our New Grandmaster

2. The Toronto 2004 Chapter General of the Paris Obedience.

Following Dublin, the Grand Prior of America (von Laden) began his attempts to insure that he got his own way in any future vote by ordering his Commanderies promote every member possible to knight and dame - only they can vote - regardless of suitability, or approval by the membership committee of the Grand Council. By increasing his overall count of proxy votes he could hopefully gain control of the voting process in Toronto. He sent each American elector a proxy form to sign which was carefully worded to ensure that it contained no provision for voting contrary to his (von Laden's) own will, and apparently he relentlessly pursued those who did not turn them in. He already knew that the GPAs (Sallman) would do anything he wanted, so could count on his votes.

The Grand Referendary, and the committee appointed by the Governing Council to run the Toronto election, worked long and hard for many months in preparation for the event. However, the supporters of the Duke of Seville (USA, Australia, France, South Africa and Canada) persuaded the Duc de Brissac to dismiss the lawfully appointed Grand Referendary, as he was voicing concerns about the eligibility of certain members to vote, and that, according to the constitution, the Duke of Seville was not eligible to stand on religious grounds (remember the Patriarch had already ruled that he could not install the Duke of Seville as GM unless his first marriage was validly annulled) The then Chairman of the Governing Council (Sallman) then exceeded his own authority by appointing a supporter of Seville (from the GP of Canada) to replace the Grand Referendary and conduct the election. The ex-Grand Master (Duc de Brissac) of course had no authority or power to dismiss anybody appointed by the Governing Council.

By now, the five jurisdictions supporting the Duke of Seville, having illegally gained control of who ran the voting, of course ruled that the other fifteen jurisdictions had failed to make their case for the ineligibility of the Duke of Seville, and declared that the election would proceed. Believing that participating in an illegal act could be mis- interpreted as making it both legal and acceptable, the leaders of the fifteen jurisdictions, being in the majority, withdrew from the election and met elsewhere where a new Governing Council was elected. (The old one having automatically been dissolved at the Chapter General). The five jurisdictions then continued with their own meeting, formed their own Governing Council, voted the Duke of Seville to be their new Grand Master even though he could not be installed - and decided to relieve all the officers of the fifteen jurisdictions of any position within the Order! (Scotland took part in the vote, but did not vote for the Duke of Seville)

The new Governing Council, which had been legally elected by the vast majority of jurisdictions declared that The GP's of the gang of five had effectively joined the Malta Obedience under the Duke of Seville, and that the (by now) other eighteen jurisdictions was the de facto MHOSLJ. The Governing Council also declared HRH Prince Charles-Philippe to be the Grand Master designate, however this appointment has to be ratified by a free vote of a Chapter General before any it could be confirmed.

Already some members of the five jurisdictions controlled by the "Malta clique" have shown that they are very unhappy with what their leaders have done in their name, and have approached the Governing Council for instructions.

The future.

Because of the unconstitutional procedures in Toronto, the members of the Governing Council have called a CHAPTER GENERAL to take place 10-12 September 2004 in France. All members who are loyal to the Order are invited to attend, regardless of their previous obedience. It is expected that HRH Prince Charles-Philippe will be confirmed as the new Grand Master for the Order, provided that no other suitable candidate comes forward.

A meeting of the Governing Council will meanwhile take place in Schloss (Castle) Johannisberg at the invitation of H.S.H. Princess Tatiana von Metternich in May. The Governing Council will also meet at the Middle Temple, London, in October, where an investiture will be held by the Grand Priory of England and Wales hosted by the Grand Prior, H.E. Earl Ferrers, Privy Councilor to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The pre-investiture vigil will take place a Lambeth Palace on the invitation of the Rt. Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams GCELJ, Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

So far, members from 18 Jurisdictions, who maintain their Oath of loyalty to the Order have announced their intention to attend these important Meetings.



Enter the New Zealand Grand Priory

This website was last updated on April 5, 2004

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