The Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem

Dit is een hoofdstuk uit: Orders of Knighthood and Merit : The Pontifical, Religious and Secularised Catholic-founded Orders and their relationship to the Apostolic See / Peter Bander van Buren. - Gerrards Cross : Colin Smythe, 1995.

This chapter may be contentious for some readers who will probably criticise me for including it. Such criticism may be to some degree justified, because I have previously been uncompromising in my refusal even to mention the subject matter.
Some critics have called me intransigent and blind to reality. I ignored them, because the criteria I used when revising Archbishop Cardinale’s Orders of Knighthood, Awards and the Holy See in 1984 and 1985, and wrote relevant comments in The Cross on the Sword in 1987, had remained unchanged since Mons. Cardinale decided in 1981 that it would be in the interest of all concerned to declare the Order of St. Lazarus nonexistent. He was provoked into doing so by one person who claimed to be a leading figure in the Order, and whose conduct towards Archbishop Cardinale and the Holy See was objectionable.
In 1982 Archbishop Cardinale asked me to remove from the book a chapter which had in 1981 twice been drafted in collaboration with Lord Mowbray, Segrave and Stourton, Premier Baron of England, whose family links with the Order of St. Lazarus go back to the first Baron Mowbray who in 1283 founded a St. Lazarus Hospital for Lepers on his own land near Melton Mowbray

Subsequent events did nothing to change my mind, until in 1987 as a result of a great number of enquiries I had received from members of the European Episcopate, I wrote formally to the Secretariat of State asking whether it might not be expedient to have the position of the Order of St. Lazarus reviewed by independent experts before further compounding the negative attitude I had to adopt in The Cross on the Sword. The then Sostituto of the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Eduardo Martinez Somalo, replied without delay and informed me that he saw no reason for the Holy See to do so.

During one of my stays in the Vatican with Archbishop Cesare Zacchi later in 1987, I was visited by a Bishop and a Prelate of the Roman Curia.
They showed me several photographs and a report stating that Pope John Paul II had received members of the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem in private audience and had concelebrated Holy Mass with Cardinal Macharski of Poland and Bishop Frotz, who represented the German Bishops Conference, as well as Prelates and Priests of the Order of St. Lazarus. During the private audience, His Holiness received a detailed report about the charitable contributions which had been placed at the disposal of the Holy Father and the Polish Bishops for the hungry and needy in Poland. By 1987, there had been over 300 trucking expeditions, and the cost of this particular Polish relief programme was in excess of twenty million US dollars. Pope John Paul II spent much time in conversation with the members of the St. Lazarus delegation, especially with Mr. Klaus-Peter Pokolm, the President of the Lazarus-Hilfswerk. Later the Pope accepted the first of the medals struck to commemorate the Relief Fund for Poland and arranged for photographs to be taken of the event.
I was informed that His Holiness had expressed his astonishment that these chivalrous benefactors had not received any recognition of their Order and indicated that he would make enqufries. This information was corroborated for me in 1987 and again in 1992 by His Eminence Cardinal Jacques Martin, who had been present at the discussions in his capacity as Prefetto della Casa Pontificia. The Bishop, who had followed up the question about some form of recognition for the Order, had been given no direct reply by the Secretariat of State, but a senior member of the Secretariat suggested that the Bishop might consider private initiative. When he enquired what ‘private initiative’ implied, he was told to speak to me as I was in Rome. I visited the Secretariat of State twice with Cardinal Martin and Archbishop Zacchi between the visits of the two Prelates, but nothing was mentioned to me about the request which had been made to the Secretariat of State by them concerning the Order of St. Lazarus.

Several times during 1991 and 1992, I met Polish Bishops who conveyed to me the renewed and express wish of the Holy Father that I should try and acknowledge the work of those meritorious Grand Priories of the Military Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus that had done so much for the hungry and needy in Poland and Eastern Europe, though His Holiness was aware that there were members of the Curia and other interested parties in Rome who opposed any form of recognition of Order of St. Lazarus and the Lazarus-Hilfswerk or its work in Poland. I agreed to abide by the personal wishes of the Holy Father, and this was much welcomed by some Cardinals and Bishops but, as I soon discovered, angrily denounced by other members of the Roman Curia. Although I made it clear from the outset that I had not yielded to any pressure from the Order of St. Lazarus, and, indeed, none of the above-mentioned Grand Priories had ever contacted me, I soon realised that the Pope’s intervention did not change the attitude of those who were opposed to my even acknowledging the existence of that Order.

Towards the end of 1992, I received detailed reports of the work the Order of St. Lazarus in Eastern Europe. As much of this was said to have taken place under the auspices of the European Economic Community in Brussels, I asked for, and received, official reports about the outstanding charitable work undertaken in Eastern European countries by the German Grand Priory of the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem under the tireless leadership of their late Grand Prior, the Prince von Mettemich, the Princess von Metternich, who succeeded him as Grand Prior, and by the Lazarus-Hilfswerk (the President of which is Mr. Klaus-Peter Pokolm), by the Grand Priory of America, under their Grand Prior, Dr. Hans von Leden, (who is also the Order’s Grand Hospitaller), and members of the1 Order in Canada.
With the personal encouragement of Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Macharski of Krakow, the Grand Priory of Austria, under Archduke Leopold of Austria and Dr. Heinz Peter Baron von Slatin, and their Referendary Prof. Franz Josef Federsel, had constructed the first Hospice for the terminally ill in Poland, the St. Lazarus Hospice, in Nowa Huta the American Grand Priory providing substantial financial assistance to this project.
The Grand Priory of France, under the late Pierre de Cossé, 12th Duc de Brissac, was particularly active in initiating the relief programmes of the Order in Croatia. The Chancellor, Chevalier Guy Coutant de Saisseval strongly backed the relief missions of the Grand Hospitaller throughout Eastern Europe. The trucks, trailers, field kitchens and jeeps that were provided by the Order have continued to be used by the Order’s members for humanitarian purposes only, and they remain the property of the Order.
During the Winter of 1991/92, the European Community in Brussels earmarked US$ 125,000,000.00 worth of aid for food for the starving population in Russia. Transport and distribution were to be provided by organisations chosen by the European Community. Apart from the humanitarian aspects, it is a fact that this aid programme also prevented large scale social unrest and political instability in urban centres. Of this sum the European Community allocated half to the International Red Cross, and half to the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem as represented by the Lazarus-Hilfswerk. For this purpose the Order set up three centres, in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Novgorad from which they operated their distribution system.

To satisfy myself about the correctness of the reports I had received, I also requested detailed information from the appropriate offices of the European Community, so I would have the evidence in my possession should there be claims that the reports were untrue. A letter from H.I.R.H. Archduke Dr. Otto von Habsburg, signed in his capacity as a Member of the European Parliament and addressed to the Grand Hospitaller of the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, Dr. Hans von Leden, Grand Prior of America, testifies to the high esteem in which the Grand Hospitaller and his work are held by the European Parliament.

For an Order the existence of which had so often been denied when I made official enquiries, and that I was obliged to consider extinct, the German, American, Austrian, some other Grand Priories and particularly their foundation, the Lazarus-Hilfswerk, have been remarkably active.
These jurisdictions have also spent substantial amounts of their own money on charitable works and projects close to the heart of Pope John Paul II, the Polish and other Eastern European members of the College of Cardinals and the Polish and Eastern European Episcopate, as well as in other areas of activity.
For example, the Canadian Grand Priory works extensively in the field of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy), both in the areas of research and of support services. In this and other fields, the Canadian Grand Priory has worked closely with the Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and many of the officers of the Grand Priory of the Order of St. Lazarus are also officers in the Venerable Order. Similarly, Grand Priories in New Zealand and Australia have been providing support for the victims of Hansens Disease in their own countries and the islands of Oceania.
When faced with the task of assessing meritorious, chivalrous work on a vast scale instead of simply writing about a Catholic-founded Order of Knighthood in the context of other Orders, there is a danger of compiling an activity report rather than keeping strictly to the criteria upon which the book is based. However, very rarely something catches one’s attention which seems to be so small, but in reality symbolises all that chivalry is about. I had learned incidentally that part of the contribution several Commanderies of the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem expect their members to make are twelve full days a year given free of charge to work in hospitals and institutions which cater for the mentally or physically sick, the hungry and the needy, or do social work that benefits those who need help.
I was particularly impressed by the activities of the nine members of the Order in Liechtenstein: under their Commander, they set up in 1990 an emergency telephone helpline for the children of the Principality, ‘Sorgen-Telefon für Kinder in Liechtenstein’. They give their time freely, answering calls in rotation twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the year. Posters about this service are displayed in schools, and stickers are displayed in telephone booths and public places throughout the Principality. The members have been professionally trained as counsellors for this particular task, and they receive well over 300 calls from children every year out of a population of 30,000.
Other jurisdictions of the Order in Europe, South America and Africa are active in charitable activities, and the work of the Order in such countries as South Africa and Zimbabwe is remarkable, and some European Grand Priories still work as hospitallers in the way that members of the Order did in the early years of its existence, much of their work still concerned with fighting leprosy Others, such as France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Bohemia, assist the Grand Hospitaller in relief work for the hungry and needy in several Eastern European countries.
This is an impressive list of charitable activities, and equally impressive are the official acknowledgements of gratitude from governments and especially the Headquarters of the European Community in Brussels.

There are several imitation orders which also use the name ‘of St Lazarus of Jerusalem’ and certain individuals who claim to belong to, or to represent, ‘The Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus’. They are at the root of much of the hostility which has been shown towards their Order, but their organisations have not demonstrated the same Spirit of Christian chivalry in this troubled world. As I mentioned earlier, there are at least eighteen very active imitation orders of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem, all, claiming to be the true Order of St. John of Jerusalem. All these imitation orders lay claim to chivalric privileges but show little or no inclination to take upon themselves the duties and responsibilities of true chivalry, and all of them hope to be mistaken for the genuine and legitimate Orders.

His Beatitude the Greek Melchite Catholic Patriarch Maximos V Hakim, the Spiritual Protector of the Order of St. Lazarus, and His Eminence Cardinal Ernesto Corripio, the Spiritual Counsellor of the Order’s Grand Priory of America, with the enthusiastic support of several Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and Prelates from Poland, the U.S.A., Germany, Austria, Mexico and other Central and Eastern European countries, have often expressed their regret at the Holy See’s policy of refusing to recognise officially the Order. The members of the hierarchy who actively support the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus are members of the Roman Curia and the Cardinals and some of the Archbishops and Bishops are actually members the Holy See. They consider it unfair and against the principles of chivalry to withhold rightful recognition from the Order, and strongly reject the suggestion that the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem should be merely accorded the status of a charitable society. They regard the Order as an Hospitaller Order of Knighthood, the 48th Grand Master of which is His Excellency Francois de Cossé, the 13th Duc de Brissac. As I have noted in earlier chapters, for reasons of international law, the Holy See cannot recognise any Order other than the Pontifical Orders, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and those Orders granted by sovereign States with which it entertains diplomatic relations. However, the Apostolic See as represented by the Supreme Pontiff can express cognizance of the Order’s status.
I am not introducing with this chapter a subject which might be seen by some as deliberately confrontational, but in the light of the express obligations which have been placed upon me since 1983, with particular reference to the Order of St. Lazarus — obligations I adhered to without reservation until I was informed of the Pope’s wishes - I find it puzzling that eminent spiritual members of the Order should have been advised  semi-officially to seek the help of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta to gain recognition as an Order of Knighthood from the Holy See.

It is a fallacy to believe that the Sovereign Military Order of Malta would or could obtain official recognition from the Holy See for the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem through intercession. In fact, whenever I have corresponded with the competent representative of the Sovereign Council of the Sovereign Order, I have always been informed that the Sovereign Order would never be prepared to give to the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem any form of confraternal recognition.

In fact, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta has published its view of, and attitude to, the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus Jerusalem in a joint declaration of the ‘False Orders Committee’ of the Federation of the Orders of St. John. Apart from the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, it is made up of internationally recognised Orders that have been incorporated in the list of Orders of Knighthood under the sovereignty of the respective heads of state, and is mainly concerned with imitation Orders of St. John, but it has always shown a special interest the Order of St. Lazarus and its activities.
This and the repeated statements sent me by the representative of the Sovereign Council of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, contradict all the vague promises which were made to a Spiritual Counsellor of the Order of St. Lazarus with regard to ‘recognition by the Holy See’. As the criteria upon which the Holy See recognises Orders of Knighthood exist and are strictly adhered to, any special intercession would be totally useless.
This again raises the important question as to whether the criteria for recognition applied by the Holy See to Orders of Knighthood or Merit that do not form part of an honours system of sovereign States, and, decorations conferred by them, need reappraisal. Personally I doubt the the Holy See will change its practice.
In the past, it has not been unknown for some Popes to organise amalgamations of Orders. In today’s terminology, such amalgamations would be considered ‘take-overs’, especially when the assets of an Order are absorbed by another. This has happened to the Order of St. Lazarus twice before: Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) tried unsuccessfully to have the Knights absorbed into the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, but in 1573 Pope Gregory XIII amalgamated the wealthy Italian Commanderies of St.Lazarus of Jerusalem with the Order of St. Maurice of the House of Savoy. Another, similar amalgamation took place in 1608 under Pope Paul V when for political and economic reasons, he sanctioned the amalgamation of the Order’s wealthy French Commanderies with the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel which had been founded by King Henri IV of France the year before.

The Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem was not the only Order of Knighthood to have been thus absorbed with its assets into another Order. The fate of the Knights Templars is well documented; in France many were arrested and subjected to mockeries of trials, some just murdered, and the Order’s great wealth divided up between interested parties. Having escaped such a fate, the Knights of St. Lazarus had much to be thankful for.

Assets of Orders are no longer only land and castles, but the money and assets of their individual members, especially when much of it has been converted into trucks, trailers, jeeps and field kitchens for the relief of the hungry and needy in the world. In addition, an Order’s activities, and especially its reputation for efficiency in administering large charitable relief projects, are also tangible assets: indeed, in commercial terms, the good name of a company or business can be the greatest of them.
Why, one must ask, did the European Community ask the Order of St. Lazarus to distribute food and other aid worth 125 million US dollars? There were several organisations besides the International Red Cross and the Order of St. Lazarus in contention to carry out this enormous task, and I am sure that the Commissioners of the European Community who are responsible for allocating such vast sums of money, form their judgement and decision on very sound criteria.
However far-reaching such judgements and decisions have been, the criteria upon which they were based are not the criteria upon which ‘purists’, as they are styled, judge the status of chivalry.
If we ignore the splinter groups and separate, self-styled orders of St. Lazarus that abound in some countries, the question must be asked as to the juridical and chivalric status of The Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, with special reference to the Grand Priories of America, Canada, Germany and Austria whose work is so greatly appreciated by the Supreme Pontiff and the Most Eminent and Most Reverend Members of the Roman Curia, who have expressly asked that the Order to which the above-mentioned Grand Priories belong, should not be denied a chivalric-hospitaller status.
As I have emphasized time and again, my task is to chronicle the evolution of Catholic-founded Orders and their either continued or no longer existing relationship with the Apostolic See. I personally cannot grant recognition to anybody, and the whole concept of recognition is a very complex one. If the Holy Father, not as Sovereign Pontiff but as Supreme Pontiff and Pastor, recognises true chivalric works and merit, it is his prerogative to ask, indeed command me, to reflect his personal cognizance in a book that deals specifically with Catholic-founded Orders and the Holy See, the Apostolic See and the Papacy. Nobody can deny, regardless of the Order’s evolution, that the Military Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem is a Catholic-founded Hospitaller Order of Knighthood.
Having endeavoured to present an objective record of the activities of the above-mentioned Grand Priories of The Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, as I was specifically asked to do, the s reader may be tempted to think that these outstanding charitable, accomplishments would be automatically reflected in the juridical status, of the Order, its standing in the community of Catholic-founded Orders of Knighthood and its recognition. I consider the Supreme Pontiff’s cognizance of the chivalric work of the Order on a par — if one speaks of I justice rather than of law — with the Pope’s continued cognizance of Orders of Knighthoood that have continued their loyal devotion to His Holiness and the Church in participating in the ceremonial and liturgy the Church. I do not believe that His Holiness has ever given any consideration to the — sometimes very remote — possibility that some of the Orders- of non-regnant dynasties may sooner or later, become once again Orders of sovereign monarchs.

The statement published in L’Osservatore Romano on 22 March 1953 and again on 14 December 1970 lists the name ‘St. Lazarus’ among the ‘deplorable phenomenon of the appearance of alleged Orders of Knighthood originating from private initiatives and aiming at replacing the legitimate forms of chivalric awards and not approved of or recognised by the Holy See’. In the same statement, the Holy See condemns Orders using the appellations: ‘Military’, ‘Equestrian’, ‘Royal’, ‘Sovereign’, ‘Religious’, ‘Sacred’ and similar titles. According to the 3 statement such appellations belong exclusively to authentic Orders approved by the Holy See. There have been five pontificates since 1953, and if the Catholic-founded Orders of Knighthood of some non-regnant dynasties have a specific lay apostolate, then it may indeed be necessary for the Holy See to look at the subject again and, if necessary, introduce different levels or types of cognizance, if not full recognition in international law. I feel this is especially necessary if the definition in the Codex luris Canonici that equates the Holy See with the Apostolic See is to be realised without having constantly to refer to the opt-out clause about the context in which the names ‘Holy See’ and ‘Apostolic See’ are used.

However, there is the third factor which has to be taken into consideration: the personal opinion and wishes of a Supreme Pontiff. In Canon Law the personal opinions and wishes of a Pope fall in a grey area. The hundreds of self-styled orders can find no comfort or support in the Pope’s wish to see the chivalrous work of the above-mentioned Grand Priories recognised. The self-styled Orders serve one purpose only: the vanity of men and women to enhance their appearance by decorating themselves with pieces of enamel and metal, the only value of which is what people are prepared to pay for them.
As far as the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem is concerned, the question of sovereignty, or the lack of it, is often raised by its critics. During the Crusade, in the 12th century, the city of Acre was ~ temporarily placed under the sovereignty of the Order; this protection was later shared by other Orders that had been fighting in the Crusades.
However, it would make nonsense of the ideals and principles governing these Orders to justify their existence on some very short-lived temporal power they enjoyed. Only the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, (now the Sovereign Military Order of Malta) continued to exercise sovereign power in different places.
This raises another important issue: following the independence of Croatia and its recognition by many States, including the Holy See, the Croatian Government promulgated and published on 6 May 1992 in Zagreb the Projet de Décret de Reconnaissance which recognises The Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, which had been largely responsible for the distribution of aid for the care and relief of refugees during its struggle for freedom, as an Order of Knighthood legitimately active in the sovereign territory of Croatia. The Decree has four Articles, three of which grant specific privileges to the Order, the fourth states the date of ratification of the Decree and declares the intent of the Croatian Government to inform other foreign powers that the decree had been lawfully signed on behalf of the Republic of Croatia.
The increasing hostility between Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia since that document was issued by the Croatian Government, and the fact that at the time of writing these words the territorial boundaries are changing almost daily, have no bearing on the legitimacy of the Projet de Décret de Reconnaissance which was issued by a member state of the United Nations. The Republic of Hungary and South Africa have followed with similar statements recognising the Order.
Has this in any way changed the Order’s juridical or sovereign status? I  know of no precedent where the recognition of an Order of Knighthood by a sovereign state has conferred a sovereign status on that Order, unless the Order were to establish its seat in that country and the State were to take the Order under its national sovereign protection.

The Knights of the Italian Commanderies of the Order of St. Lazarus, amalgamated in 1573 with the Savoyan Order of St. Maurice, have continued to exist in the Savoyan dynastic Order of St. Maurice and Lazarus. Many Knights of the French and other Commanderies were strongly opposed to an amalgamation with the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel under the protection of the King of France and refused to be absorbed by an Order that had only been founded the previous year; and they appear to have continued to exist independently. After those Knights who had been amalgamated with the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in 1608 had lost their temporal protection with the downfall of King Charles X in 1830, many joined the Commanderies that had refused to agree to the amalgamation of 1608. After that, the Knights of St. Lazarus were governed by a Council of Officers.

Eleven years later, in 1841, the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem requested the protection of the Greek Melchite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Maximos III Mazlûm, and petitioned he become their Spiritual Protector; he accepted, both for himself and his successors.
Eastern Patriarchs, whether autonomous or in union with the Roman Church, always refer to their patriarchate or religious jurisdiction as ‘a nation’. Arab Sovereigns and Princes accord to them the status of a Head of State, though this must be seen in the light of political expediency, as an Islamic ruler cannot accord any honour to the leader of another religion.
On 19 January 1928, Pope Pius XI addressed a message through the papal Secretary of State, Cardinal Gasparri, to the Marquis Française de Saint-Lazare, the President of the French Association of the Knights of St. Lazarus:
‘The Holy Father kindly accepts the filial homage.... offering in turn his best wishes for the prosperity of the Hospitallers of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem and their families, sends them all a special benediction.’ (Reference 3511/27)
Whilst remaining under the spiritual protection of the Greek Melchite Catholic Patriarch, in 1935 the Chapter General of the Order elected as the new Grand Master Don Francisco de Bórbon y de la Torre, 3rd Duke of Seville.
Whilst the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem requires that all its members are practising Christians, its statutes no longer make membership dependent upon membership of the Roman Catholic Church.
As the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, joined by members of the College of Cardinals, has on more than one occasion invited a group of people collectively as members of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem to his private apartments in the Vatican, has celebrated Holy Mass with them in his private chapel, and continues to encourage them to undertake charitable projects which he monitors personally, can the recognition, trust and gratitude expressed by the Supreme Pontiff to those who have been directly involved in these projects, be without significance?
This will probably raise the perennial question of ipso facto recognition. However, I have always stressed in the past, and I do so now, that neither the Apostolic See nor Holy See recognise anything or anybody ipso facto.

As far as I am concerned, a wish of the Supreme Pontiff, that has been conveyed to me on several occasions, is something I cannot ignore, regardless of who disagrees with the Holy Father’s personal wishes and judgement in this matter. I reiterate, however, that in this case, as in several ethers, I am in no position to express the consensus of views held by all members of the Roman Curia.

For this reason I have focused my main attention on the Order’s Grand Priories of America, Germany, and of Austria. For a number of years, these jurisdictions have been at the forefront of charitable and humanitarian projects supported by Pope John Paul II, and they were specifically singled out by him for their praiseworthy chivalric activities.
With the sole exception of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, to whom the Supreme Pontiff appoints a Cardinal Patron, and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, to whom the Pope appoints a Cardinal Grand Master, no other official appointments of Cardinals by the Supreme Pontiff are made, although individual Cardinals or high Prelates sometimes receive the Holy Father’s express permission to act as Spiritual Counsellors to particular Orders of Knighthood. By the same token the Apostolic See has been known to expressly ask dignitaries of the Church to withdraw from any activities within some organisations. In such cases the Supreme Pontiff, acting through the Prefect of the Apostolic Court or the Papal Secretary of State, would as a matter of principle refuse to receive in private audience representatives of an Order or organisation of which he disapproves.
On 28 and 29 October 1992, members of the American, German, Austrian, and Canadian Grand Priories, with pilgrims from other jurisdictions of the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, under the leadership of the Order’s Grand Hospitaller and Grand Prior of America, Dr. Hans von Leden, attended the celebrations of the silver jubilee of the Patriarchate of the Order’s Spiritual Protector, His Beatitude Maximos V Hakim, in the Vatican. His Holiness Pope John Paul II made a special point of singling out and greeting the Grand Hospitaller from the tens of thousands who were present at the General Audience, and afterwards he invited Patriarch Maximos V Hakim to a special audience on the occasion of his jubilee, and Dr. Hans von Leden and the members of the Order to a private audience for the next day in the Sala Regia in the Apostolic Palace, where His Holiness spoke to every member individually, that them for the work they had done.
All the above-mentioned events, beginning with the continuation of activities of the Knights of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem before and after the dissolution of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Lazarus of Jerusalem in 1830, to present day, create a dilemma for me when assessing the Order’s correct status and style. Before writing this chapter, I wrote to the two surviving Hospitaller Orders of Knighthood who with the Order of St. Lazarus share a common history in the early Crusades. The then Governor-General (now Lieutenant General) of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Prince Paolo Enrico Massiomo Lancellotti, replied that as a matter of principle the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem never comments on other Orders or organisations. The High Historical Consultant of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Frà Cyrill, The Prince Toumanoff, stated unequivocally that the Sovereign Order would as a matter of principle never recognise the Military Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem.
As I said above, there are several self-styled organisations in existence that use the same name but have nothing to do with those who are the subject of this chapter. If we search for a fons honorum of the Order, there is no hereditary successor to a former reigning sovereign who claims the Order as a dynastic institution. The Duc de Brissac, a member of one of Europe’s most ancient ducal houses, is the Order’s Grand Master, and it should be noted that holders of this office are elected: it is not hereditary.

I mentioned at the beginning of the book that the criteria upon which chivalric orders are judged are being questioned inside the Roman Curia. The fact that the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem has members belonging to various Christian denominations, makes it impossible to judge it solely on Catholic criteria, in spite of the fact that the Order has had a Catholic Patriarch as its Spiritual Protector since 1841, and today a number of Cardinals and high dignitaries of the Roman Curia are Spiritual Counsellors to various Grand Priories.

There are two important issues raised in the previous paragraph: first, the Knights who in 1841 approached the Greek Catholic Melchite Patriarch of Antioch and asked him to take the Order under his protection, did so because they felt that under the circumstances their most logical step was to go back to the Middle East where the Order had been founded and seek spiritual protection there. Secondly, whilst the Order’s appellation ‘Hospitaller’ is self-evident by its activities, the Order defines its appellation ‘Military’ in terms that conform to fundamental principles of the Second Vatican Council. The Grand Hospitaller, Dr. Hans von Leden, said: ‘We are a Military Order because we fight for Christian Unity. Much of our work is dedicated to that aim, and we endeavour to adhere to the fundamental Christian values.’ The Order does not style itself ‘oecumenical’ because it maintains that this term and ‘oecumenism’ have changed their original meaning: they used to imply Christian Unity, but over the last few decades they have no longer made fundamental Christian values a criterion, so that ‘oecumenical’ now means ‘tolerance and coexistence between faiths of different cultures’. Whilst the Military Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem is committed to tolerance towards, and peaceful coexistence with, other faiths, it seeks to operate on strictly fundamental Christian values and principles on which the Order will not compromise.