The Independent reports:
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 article states that the Templars, in 1307, "had fallen foul of Philip IV of France who needed funds for his war against England. With the blessing of Pope Clement V, the king moved against the Templars on Friday 13 October of that year and had them all arrested for heresy." That's a debatable claim according to medieval historian Sandra Miesel, my co-author, who writes in our book, The Da Vinci Hoax:
On Friday the Thirteenth of October, 1307, French royal officials arrested every Templar in the kingdom, about 2000 persons. At most these included 150 professed Knights, the others being of lower rank. Philip had secured permission for his raid from the national Inquisitor General, who happened to be his own confessor. Only belatedly did he notify Pope Clement V, a fellow Frenchman, who was shocked by the affair.
Later, "Philip coerced the weak, sickly pope into condemning the Order." Of course, it's much more fun and sensational to blame everything on the Pope/Catholic Church, and that course is also taken by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code. Sandra writes:
But even Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Templar Revelation—not to mention more legitimate histories—identify the king, not the pope, as the chief villain. French royal officials arrested the Templars, not papal soldiers. There were no simultaneous arrests across Europe. (Subsequent papal requests for action in other countries weren’t uniformly obeyed.) The prisoners were held in French prisons and tormented by royal torturers, not "an angry Pope".
No word if these modern-day "Knights Templar" will also request an apology from the French government. For some reason I doubt that will happen....