A New Order of Crusaders: Seriously!

As I write, two events are on the horizon for the religious here at Saint Benedict Center.

The first is the annual Pilgrimage for Restoration (September 23-25), a three-day, sixty-five mile walking pilgrimage from Lake George, New York, to Auriesville, New York, where we will pray in the spot sanctified by the martyrdom of three of the eight holy Jesuits known collectively as the “North American Martyrs”: Saints Isaac Jogues, Jean de Lalande, and René Goupil.

The next event on the horizon — some of us will still be limping! — is our annual Saint Benedict Center conference (September 30-October 1.)

Now I would like to profile one of this year’s speakers by way of telling readers about him and promoting a new work he is starting for the glory of God.

Brother Alexis Bugnolo is many things at once: Franciscan hermit Brother, translator of the works of Saint Bonaventure, Registrar of the Scholasticum, author of the Italian language L’osservanza antica, and editor of the scholarly and voluminous Franciscan Archive (and its associated blog). He last spoke at our Saint Benedict Center conference two years ago on the subject of “Creation and the Divine Order of Things,” and will speak this year on “A True Work of Mercy: A New Order of Crusaders.”

This year’s talk will be about the new work he is starting.

I interviewed Brother Alexis for Reconquest 42 on this new project, which he has called Ordo Militaris Catholicus (“Catholic Military Order”). This is not an honorary knighthood, but an organization establishing itself as an actual fighting force of armed Catholic men dedicated to defending the persecuted faithful, initially in those areas where they are beset by the jihadis of ISIS, but subsequently, wherever else they they may be needed. This is an organization that will have real men with real guns shooting and being shot at by fanatical anti-Christians who have been destroying some of the most ancient Christian populations on earth.

There are already current and former military personnel signed up, men from the U.S., Canada, and Spain. Contacts are presently being established in other European countries.

The Order’s military operations would be run by competent military personnel, not clergy or religious, and real combat training will be provided by such men to new recruits. This will not be a Children’s Crusade or a coterie of video-gamers pursuing their delusions of grandeur.

In light of the indifference of many Western nations to the plight of the suffering Christian populations of Iraq and Syria, this is a real need. Actually, the Western role — at least as far as Western governments go — is much worse than indifferentism, since U.S. and British foreign policy (for example), inspired both by a liberal-masonic ideology and a capitalist agenda (think British Petroleum), have made the rise of ISIS possible. Without the power vacuum created by recent ill-advised wars, ISIS would could not have created its “caliphate” in the region. Moreover, since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Christian population has been cut by eighty percent! (Catholics were not only safe but favored by Saddam Hussein. Tariq Aziz, Hussein’s deputy Prime Minister, was a Chaldean Rite Catholic.)

No, our government is not going to fix the problem it helped create. Moreover, even if it attempted to do so, do we really want our Catholic young men signing up for a military which is becoming a tool of corrupt “LGBTQ” ideology? Or one that puts the cause of feminism before military effectiveness and the safety of the troops? And those questions do not even touch upon the grave problem of tragically high suicide rates and pandemic pornography use in the modern military. As if that is not enough, I reiterate the fact that our previous involvement in Iraq greatly contributed to the near eradication of historical Christian populations of Iraq. The liberal-masonic ideology that led to this is not likely to change soon, no matter who wins the November elections.

Whether we are considering morale or morals (which are connected), the U.S. military has made itself an inappropriate option for Catholics who want to serve. Yet many men crave and need the “rites of passage” afforded by the military life. And the soldiering profession is noble, has historically produced numerous saints, and gives us the very notion of Christian chivalry. So it would be a terrible shame if there were no place where Catholics could take up arms for an honorable cause, receive adequate military training, and be inducted into the structured and hierarchical life of high adventure that has attracted men to military service for millennia.

Members of the Ordo Militaris will be doing what many other Americans and Europeans are already doing, namely going abroad to Iraq or Syria and fighting alongside those who are already combatting ISIS. They would constitute foreign volunteers fighting in their own uniforms as part of duly constituted lawful armies. (Hence, they are not mercenaries, or vigilantes.) But this first mission is not intended to define the Order exclusively. Their missions could extend to other areas where Catholics are persecuted and where the Just War Doctrine would allow for lawful intervention.

Speaking of which, is this lawful? (By which I mean lawful according to U.S. civil law.) Yes. Brother Alexis informs me that the new endeavor will be legally incorporated and will function in total conformity to U.S. laws governing private security firms. Of course, it will differ from other such firms — both in its religious motivations, and in its higher ethical code. That code is embodied in the Rule penned by Brother Alexis himself, and based upon that of the Knights Templar.

Recruiting, fundraising, and purchasing property in New Mexico for a desert training camp are all part of the early efforts of establishing the Ordo Militaris, but the first step is to get the word out. Virtually everyone online can help with that, and Brother has spelled out ways it can be done on the Order’s website.

If this new Order interests you, please listen to the Reconquest interview, prayerfully discern involvement at whatever level is appropriate to you, and circulate this message to others. I personally would like to see as many current and former servicemen as possible get involved in this noble undertaking.

Deus Vult!

  • Konstantin

    I thought ecclesiastical authorities had to call for a crusade to make a project like this one legitimate. The great Cardinal Lavigerie had similar plans for northwestern Africa but his military order became extinct after a couple of years. As long as Israel favors Jihadist presence in Syria, you will be fighting an uphill battle.

  • GeneDe

    “And the soldiering profession is noble, has historically produced
    numerous saints, and gives us the very notion of Christian chivalry. So
    it would be a terrible shame if there were no place where
    Catholics could take up arms for an honorable cause, receive adequate
    military training, and be inducted into the structured and hierarchical
    life of high adventure that has attracted men to military service for
    millennia.”

    The above sentences sum up what Catholic men should do to truly serve their country, not to “spread democracy” to nations that must consult a dictionary to learn the meaning of the word, not to mention all the rotten baggage associated with it.

    I think the entire idea definitely has merit…

  • You make two good points. For a Catholic “order” (in the strict sense) to exist, ecclesiastical authority has to approve it. The word is used loosely a lot in the Church (for instance, none of the religious societies founded in recent times are really “orders,” yet they frequently use the word, whereas they are properly congregations, societies, institutes, etc.) Further, for an actual Crusade, the Pope has to call for it and grant the Crusade indulgence. I don’t think anyone expects that soon. The Ordo Militaris is establishing itself as a civil corporation, and later hopes to obtain ecclesiastical approbation. However, to do what they are doing as far as their military efforts, they need no ecclesiastical approbation at all. Any chaplains, of course, would need faculties, but that is a distinct question.

    Your second point regarding Israel is also a good one. The objectives of the Ordo Militaris are clearly defined and limited to defending the Christian populations of the affected areas. They are not attempting to find the ultimate solution to the woes in the Middle East. That is in God’s hands. But none of that means that it is impossible for them to do good. The Christian Militia in Iraq has had some success, and it is possible that the ancient Christian populations of the Nineveh Plain could return to their ancestral homeland.

  • Konstantin

    Thank you for your answer, Brother André. I too hope that Christians can soon return to homes and that Mosul be liberated, as it is a center of the Catholic Faith in the region.

  • Alyosha Karamazov

    Amen! Alleluia!

  • I’m ready to do my small part to help this noble effort, I’m just confused about the hermetical life permitting followers on FB and Twitter. This is from their ‘About’ page:

    “Br. Alexis Bugnolo, a Franciscan hermit…began to share this idea with his FB and Twitter followers…”. Gratias for your patient assistance to your confused but ever-loyal friend.

    https://www.ordo-militaris.us/info/

  • ztundra

    “he objectives of the Ordo Militaris are clearly defined and limited to
    defending the Christian populations of the affected areas. They are not
    attempting to find the ultimate solution to the woes in the Middle East”

    So we can expect them to be as neutral as possible in relation to the Assad vs rebels conflict, right? It would be a shame if such a great project aligned with US’ and the EU’s policies of “spreading democracy and freedom through drone strikes”.

  • ztundra: Because I am not a spokesman for the organization, my reply is strictly unofficial. But as I understand the goals and objectives of the OMC, your assumptions are totally correct. “Regime change” alla liberal western powers (U.S. included) would be totally contrary to their stated intentions.

    For an official reply, I would encourage you to contact the Ordo Militaris:

    http://www.ordo-militaris.us/

    God bless and Mary keep you.

  • Richard W Comerford

    Re: The Military Orders

    The first military orders appeared in the Eastern Church around 500 AD. They were located in and around Armenia (coincidentally near the 12th Legion which produced 40 Holy Martyrs for the Faith) They defended the mountain passes from Persian (Zoroaster) attack. In the Western Church between the Fall of Jerusalem 1099 AD and the Protestant Reformation 1525 AD the Rule of about 100 Military Orders. In addition local Bishops authorized diocesan militarily orders to defend their Christian people from Muslim raiders.

    The Military Orders were very small. The largest, the Knights Templar (Poor Fellow Soldiers of Jesus Christ of the Temple of Solomon of Jerusalem) had at its height only 3,000 monks scattered across Europe and the Middle East of which only about 1,000 were knights, 1,000 were fighting sergeants and 1,000 were serving brothers. Many of Knights and fighting sergeants were often incapacitated due to wounds, injuries and disease. It was a hard life. But, almost in inverse proportion to their small size, the Military Orders were very effective.

    After Napoleon seized Malta from the once ferocious and now effeminate Knights of St. John in 1798 the Military Orders seemingly disappeared from History. However in 1861 the Papal Zouaves were formed from international volunteers to include men from New England and Quebec to defend Pope Pius IX from Garibaldi and other unpleasant parties. After a gallant defense of Rome in 1870 they were disbanded. Some of these volunteers returned home and between the Spanish American War and WW II formed in New England a number of private, Catholic Marching and Shooting Associations; many based informally in Polish and French Canadian Parishes.

    With the greatest respect I must say that I do not see how in the 21st Century a Catholic Military Order, even organized as a pious, private association of Catholic men and legally incorporated under the appropriate laws in the relevant jurisdictions within which it operates; can function without the patronage of a Catholic Bishop; and approval of the U.S. Government.

    May I suggest a new path be found to combat an old threat to teh Faith?

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  • Brother Andre, I see your reply above where you recommend we ask our questions directly, since you’re not a spokesman for them. My particular problem is that I don’t see their e-mail address anywhere on the site, and I don’t want to be the first to comment in their comment box, with what might appear to be criticism or snark.

    I realize that the Franciscan Order is one of the all-too-many that are in need of reform, so maybe that explains how one of its hermits can also use the internet. Another explanation might simply be that the term ‘hermit’ is a mistake, and should be ‘brother’ or ‘monk’. I do know that hermits can have followers, it’s just the use of the internet that confuses me.

  • Brother Alexis was trained by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, but was never in solemn vows. As I understand the situation, he is not a member of a community, but is in private vows. His life is a very strict one of prayer, study, sparse food and spartan accommodations. His idea of poverty is according to the papal bulls on Franciscan life, and almost no Franciscan community lives according to that today.

    Regarding use of the internet and social media, I don’t think Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a very strict and holy Franciscan, would be opposed to the use of these tools for the apostolate.

    The use of the word “hermit” within mendicant circles differs from its use in the more ancient tradition of the Carthusians, etc. For example, the main Augustinian order (the OSA’s) are properly called “The Hermits of Saint Augustine.” They are not “hermits” in the sense you have given it. Should you need to know more about the term as Brother Alexis uses it, and how he lives his life, you now must ask him.

  • Thanks, Brother André.