Friday, June 16, 2006


Blogger Joseph said...

The connections between the (aptly-named?) Camp Street boys and this particular branch of the "Old Catholic" movement are laid out in the interview that Thomas Edward Beckham gave to the HSCA investigators. Having lost most of my files, I no longer have that interview, but you can get a copy -- I think it's available for purchase. (Or ask around; a few JFK collectors probably have it.) It's pretty revealing stuff.

Basically, you should precede any walk into this territory by doing some basic preliminary research into the Old Catholic movement. Basically, we are talking about a small group of residual Jansenist sympathizers (remember the Jesuit-Jansenist thing?) who broke away from the Church of Rome after Vatican I, which proclaimed the infallibility of the Pope. Since there is no central "Old Catholic" leadership, these guys split off into all sorts of different directions, and they took on varying names and varying theologies.

In the earlier decades of the 20th century, the Old Catholic movement attracted a lot of Polish Americans, because the Roman Catholic clergy in Polish neighborhoods tended to be exclusively Italian and French.

Being, in essence, leaderless, some Old Catholics "congregations" devolved into a dumping ground for gays attracted to Roman ritual but unwilling or unable to hide their sexual identity. You'll see some examples of this if you do some net surfing.

Various Old Catholic spin-off "churches" (which can be as small as a single individual) also seem to have become involved with the shadowy worlds of criminal activity and covert ops. Basically, for a certain amount of money, anyone could -- and probably still can -- arrange to be ordained as a "Catholic" priest, with the black robes and funny collar and the whole shebang. You need not tell people that the "Catholic" church to which you belong is not the Roman Church.

A moment's thought will tell you that this sort of thing can provide GREAT cover for someone operating in a clandestine fashion. If memory serves, there was an "Old Catholic" involved with Ollie North's contra supply effort. OC's show up in a few other spook stories.

Now as I recall (and you had best double-check my fallible memory), Beckham told investigator Joanthan Blackmer that one day Ferrie popped into Bannister's office and told The Gang that they were all going to head up to Canada and become ordained as "Catholic" priests. Which they did. There was a Canadian "Bishop" who handed out ordinations to anyone who supplied the necessary palm grease.

I really don't know what exact purpose was. They probably thought that a pseudo-priesthood might provide useful cover for one of their activities.

3:04 PM  

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