Festing’s response to the Bergoglian diktat was essentially: enough of this nonsense. Reuters trumpeted the news: “Ex Knights of Malta head defies pope order, plans Rome return.” A spokesman for the Order, Reuters reports, confirmed that Festing “had informed the group that he would come to the meeting this Saturday at its headquarters in Rome.”
Let us hope that Festing shows up for the meeting and thus provides a small but telling example of what laity and clergy alike should have been doing from the moment the post-conciliar revolution began: Just say no to unjust orders that Church authorities have neither the right nor the real authority to issue. Marcel Lefebvre did so, thus preventing an even greater debacle than the one that has happened.
As always, the Angelic Doctor (cf. ST, II-II, Q. 104) draws the proper distinction—in this case between the virtue of obedience and mere blind obedience: “[A] subject is not bound to obeyhis superior if the latter command him to do something wherein he is not subject to him.” Festing is not subject to the whims of a Pope who would like to prevent him from traveling to Rome to participate in an election that is really none of his business. For as Saint Thomas also observes: “a subject is bound toobeyhis superior within the sphere of his authority…”
Pope Bergoglio’s groundless directive is outside the sphere of his authority, having nothing to do with faith or morals as opposed to an internal political dispute in which he has injected himself. Moreover, the directive violates national and international law by arbitrarily limiting Festing’s freedom of movement and by purporting to forbid his participation in the purely civil affair of an election, conducted by a virtual state that issues passports to its members allowing for their international travel as members of that state. Festing’s obedience to Bergoglio’s lawless demand would involve what Saint Thomas calls “indiscreet obedience, which obeys even in matters unlawful.”
And so to Fra’ Festing I say: Get thee to Rome and show the way of true obedience. Give to the whole Church this small sign of how the tyranny that has laid waste to the ecclesial commonwealth these past fifty years may be resisted successfully and on solid moral grounds. Our hopes and prayers are with you!
UPDATE: Per Sandro Magister, Festing arrived in Rome yesterday (Wednesday), the day this piece was written.