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Knights Templar
Templar ‘schism’


Historical Background
(the official OSMTH position on the subject (taken from their website www.osmth.org).

The Order of the Temple was founded in 1804 by Fabré-Palaprat and carries since 1932 the name Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani (where "Supremus" is sometimes translated imprecisely as "sovereign"). During World War II all records and archives were transferred to the Grand Prior of Portugal, Antonio Campello de Sousa Fontes. The latter, profiting from the confusion after the war, assumed the Regency until his resignation in June 1956, due to ill health. For the following four years, the Order remained without a leader, as no Regent was ever elected between then and Antonio Fontes' death on February 15, 1960. Immediately thereafter, Fontes' own son, Don Fernando Campello Pinto Pereira de Sousa Fontes, assumed the Regency motu proprio, claiming that his father had designated him as his legitimate successor as Regent in a typewritten amendment of his testament -- in spite of the democratic traditions and Statutes of the Order, which have always called for elections. It is interesting to note that the original testament was dated August 20, 1948, while the typewritten amendment was certified by a notary on February 26, 1960 -- eleven days after Fontes' death.

In spite of past irregularities, in 1970 most Grand Priories were ready to accept the status quo and officially elect Sousa Fontes Jr. to the post of Regent -- as he could at least be credited for the worldwide expansion of the Order. However, a few French, Belgian and Swiss Priories elected the Grand Prior of France of the time, Antoine Zdrojewski, and broke away.

Zdrojewski's scission had been skillfully engineered by the Service d'Action Civique (SAC), a Gaullist parallel police whose mission was to maintain the French government in place by all means fair or foul. Given the political situation of the time (the height of cold war), many if not all societies that had a potential for "transversal, transnational bonds" were infiltrated and manipulated. OSMTJ (as Zdrojewski's organization was known in France) did not survive in France past the mid-seventies, and remained active only for a few more years in Switzerland, under the leadership of Alfred Zappelli -- another obscure personage. Today, there remain only a few scattered and isolated Priories in Belgium and Italy that still hold Zdrojewski's filiation.

Notwithstanding the aberration of OSMTJ-Zdrojewski, all of the current OSMTH Priories derive from those Priories that (1) remained under, (2) reverted to, or (3) retained an autonomous status but were recognized by Sousa Fontes. However, this is not to say that Sousa Fontes' willing and unwilling associates were happy with their leader, given his despotic and undemocratic leadership, his utter contempt for transparency, and blatant mismanagement.

As a logical consequence, the International Grand Council of OSMTH, the legislative body of the Order, withdrew all recognition of Fontes as head of OSMTH (Salzburg Convent, 1995) and adopted democratically several resolutions to restructure and modernize the Order. OSMTH now comprises the Grand Priories of Austria, Canada, England & Wales, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico, NATO, Serbia, and the USA (formerly nicknamed the "Atlantic Obedience"), and their several mentored sub-units including Japan, South Africa, Spain, San Marino, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Bulgaria, and several others.

Furthermore, autonomous Grand Priories in Portugal, Belgium, and Australia -- and a few priories affiliated with them -- also consistently refuse, for the very same reasons, to recognize the primacy of Fontes. However, each of these Grand Priories prefers to retain autonomous status and work on a more regional basis.

Finally, the followers of Fontes -- few and scattered -- refused to accept the 1995 democratic vote. To this day they claim to be the one and only legitimate OSMTH, and in their literature and web sites they portray the "others" as schismatic heretics who "have been expelled" or "pretenders" who have dishonored an alleged "loyalty oath" akin to personality worship. (We shall not give these claims status by commenting thereon.)

Caveat

There exist two further groups that use similar names and symbols.

  • "OSMTH - Catalan Branch" was founded in 1959 by "Prince" Grau-Montezuma-Rife, who claims to be a descendant of the Aztec emperor Montezuma. It is neither affiliated nor recognized by any of the OSMTH factions described above.

  • SMTHO is a Templar group originally founded in Brasil. This Order claims that the ailing Antonio Fontes entrusted "Prince" Gabriel Jnellas Paleologo with the regency of the Order, in a letter dated 1956. The claim appears to be unsubstantiated.

Catalogue

OSMTH (CH-660.1.972999-4) and affiliated bodies:

Autonomous Grand Priories

"Regency" (Fontes loyalists)

Zdrojewski

  • Allegedly democratic. Limited transparency.

  • Activities: charitable and educational, including philosophical teachings ("traditional templarism").1

  • Claims regarding descent and international legal status unclear.


NOTES

1. Under "traditional Templarism," we understand a philosophy of personal spiritual development based on the inherent dignity of Man, Ecumenism and Unity. Not limited to some branches of OSMTH, but rather a common element in the neo-Templar world, it originated in the romantic period and was based on what the legendary beliefs of the Templars were thought to be.

OSMTH (CH-660.1.972999-4) values the culture in which "traditional Templarism" was born, and values all teachings that can contribute to a solid basis for contemporary ethics. However, OSMTH considers all the symbolism and legends that impregnate "traditional Templarism" outdated; consequently it neither teaches nor follows that path. OSMTH follows exclusively mainstream Christian ethics (read in a modern and dynamic key), practices Ecumenical spirituality, and concentrates on practical modern issues.

2. Fontes has established a so-called "Haut Magistère," based in Geneva, which is a nebulous inner circle (unkown to/rejected by all other Templar bodies), in which members are allegedly taught esoterics, presumably of Martinist inspiration.

3. The Larmenius Chart gives the list of secret Grand Masters from Jacques de Molay (the last G.M. of the historic Templars) to Fabré-Palaprat. It is an interesting piece of neo-Templar folklore -- but unlikely to be genuine, according to mainstream historians. Except for the followers of Fontes, no Templar group bases its identity (or claims to legitimacy) on this legend.

4. OSMTH: Supremus, in Latin, means highest, or sublime. The translation "sovereign," although very common, is incorrect. Even more so is any claim to be a "Sovereign Chivalric Order" under international law, which is tantamount to pure fantasy.


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