Rome 'must apologise' for 14th century execution
The heirs to the Knights Templar have demanded an apology from the Vatican for the murder of their last leader, who was burnt at the stake in the 14th century.
Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the warrior monks, who fought in the crusades, was executed in Paris in 1314 on charges of heresy, black magic and idolatry.
His death was part of a concerted campaign to suppress the chivalric order by King Philip IV of France, who had grown suspicious of the Templars' power and envious of their wealth.
Although it was the French king who ordered De Molay put to death, the Templars have for centuries accused the Roman Catholic Church of complicity.
Pope Clement V initiated an inquest into the Knights Templar that led to many being subjected to heresy trials before the order disbanded.
The movement was reborn in the early 19th Century as a charitable organisation and has branches around the world.
Walter Grandis (64) the head of the Knights Templar in Italy said: "There was an enormous degree of complicity because Clement V, who was Pope at the time, was under huge pressure from King Philip.
"This was an appalling crime and a miscarriage of justice that the church allowed to happen.
"We're asking for De Molay to be pardoned so that we can finally turn a page in history and work towards reconciliation," added Mr Grandis, who recently wrote a book on the order, called 'The Templars: The Real Secret'.
A document found in the Vatican Secret Archives a decade ago revealed that Clement V absolved some Templars of heresy, but the Church has never apologised for the order's persecution.
The request for a pardon and apology was submitted to Dr Guzman Carriquiry Lecour, the under-secretary for the Pontifical Council for the Laity, a few weeks ago but will be discussed by the Templars at a special conference in Turin today and tomorrow.
A Vatican spokesman said the request was under consideration. (© Daily Telegraph, London)