Rorate Caeli

The Temple is too rich - The Temple must die
Updated - Confirmed: Order of Malta's Grand Master Resigns


Infovaticana first reported it last night -- and now it has been confirmed by Reuters and Edward Pentin: in a move that destroys in practice the sovereignty of the sole remaining Sovereign Military Order, the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Fra Matthew Festing, was removed by Pope Francis (in euphemistic terms, in order to keep up appearances, he was "asked by the Pope to resign from his post and agreed to do so.")

Additional details: 

“The Pope asked him to resign and he agreed,” the spokesperson said, adding that the next step was a formality in which the group's Sovereign Council would approve the highly unusual resignation. Normally grand masters serve for life.

The Order will now be run by its number two, or Grand Commander, until a new head is elected.

The Order of Malta and the Vatican clashed last month when Fra’ Festing dismissed Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, the Order’s third most senior leader. Boeselager was asked to resign and when he twice refused, was dismissed on grounds of insubordination.

The ostensible issue behind the call for Boeselager’s resignation was that he was deemed ultimately responsible, following a commission of inquiry, for allowing contraceptives to be distributed by the Order’s humanitarian arm. But the Order also said there had been other "confidential" factors in play, as well as a “failure of trust.”

Boeselager protested the charges, and argued against the manner of his dismissal. He appealed to the Pope who appointed a five-member commission to look into the unusual circumstances of his sacking. Fra’ Festing refused to cooperate, saying the commission was interfering in the Order’s sovereignty and right to govern its internal affairs.

Also behind the dispute were allegations of an ambitious German association vying for control of the Order, accusations that the Grand Master was being overly authoritarian, and conflicts of interest among members of the Holy See commission.

Three members of the commission along with Boeselager have also been involved in a $118 million donation held in a trust in Switzerland. Despite documentation proving the contrary, the trust denied any connection with the Order. 

We can honestly say that this is the end of the Order as a special Sovereign entity -- it has become, in actual practice, an order like any other.

UPDATE 2 (1100 GMT): The full communiqué by the Holy See Press Office:
Yesterday, 24 January 2017, in audience with the Holy Father, His Highness Fra’ Matthew Festing resigned from the office of Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Today, 25 January, the Holy Father accepted his resignation, expressing appreciation and gratitude to Fra’ Festing for his loyalty and devotion to the Successor of Peter, and his willingness to serve humbly the good of the Order and the Church.

The governance of the Order will be undertaken ad interim by the Grand Commander pending the appointment of the Papal Delegate.

NOTE that, as a sovereign entity, there is no provision whatsoever, and no possibility, for a Papal Delegate -- the foundational documents of the Sovereign Order allow for the interim government of the Grand Commander until the election of a new Grand Master. What has happened is a coup d'état. What was the threat that made Grand Master Festing fold so thoroughly? We don't know -- but he should speak up.