SEVEN HUNDRED years after they were denounced as heretics and condemned to torture and death, the Knights Templar are calling for a public apology from the Roman Catholic Church.
The secretive organisation which was formed at the time of the Crusades has written to Pope John Paul II requesting that the Vatican officially atone for the persecution of the order.
The formal request for reconciliation to the Vatican has come from an English-based sept and is signed by the "Council of Chaplains, for and on behalf of the acting Grand Master". The letter asks for "an apology from the Vatican for the persecution of our brothers of the Knights Templar and the torture and murder of our leadership, under Pope Clement V during the 14th century AD".
The Hertfordshire-based group, one of thousands of Templar lodges around the world, is hopeful of a satisfactory outcome. "There have been some unofficial responses over the telephone and we have received certain indications from officials within the church that leaves us hopeful that an apology might be forthcoming," said a member of the order.
The Knights Templar order was formed in 1118 at the end of the First Crusade to protect Christian pilgrims en route to the Holy Land. The organisation built up vast riches from booty it pillaged while fighting in the Holy Lands. Within two centuries the order, which enjoyed the backing of the Holy See and European monarchies, had become powerful enough to defy all but the Pope. …