Rorate Caeli

De Mattei - Last Chance: Will the Malta Knights fold or resist? - Cardinal Parolin's Unconstitutional Letter

Corrispondenza Romana
Special Edition
January 27, 2017

The following letter we are publishing constitutes the latest slap in the face to the Order of Malta; it is an offence to its constitution, history and dignity.

All scholars of the law agree in attributing the Order of Malta’s complete independence from the Holy See as far as its internal governance is concerned. The Holy See cannot interfere in the administrative affairs of the Order, but only intervenes in what regards the religious life of its professed Knights.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State, in a letter dated January 25, addressed to the Members of the Sovereign Council of the Order, who, on January 28 are to gather together in Rome at their headquarters in Via Condotti, writes, that Pope Francis:

• will nominate a “papal delegate”; an utterly odd figure for the Order of Malta
• confirms the resignation of the Grand Master, which will not be official until ratified by the Sovereign Council
• attributes to himself the power to render null and valid, all of the Grand Master’s and the Sovereign Council’s acts carried out after December 6 2016, re-integrating therefore Albrecht von Boeselager and dismissing the new Grand Chancellor Fra John Critien.

The position that each of the components of the Supreme Council will take on January 28 is to be made public. If they accept the diktat without a murmur, they will go down in history for having surrendered completely; if, with due respect toward the Vicar of Christ, they resist, they will show to the world that their Catholic and chivalrous spirit is still alive and is able to oppose the unjust exercise of power.

Roberto de Mattei


A translation of Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s letter:

Distinguished Members of the Sovereign Council,

It is my duty to inform you, that S.A.E. Fra Mathew Festing, Grand Master of the Order, on January 24th , handed in his resignation to the Holy Father, who accepted it.

As the Constitutional Charter of the Order foresees in art. 17. 1. the Grand Commendatory will assume the responsibility of governing ad interim. According to the art. 143 of the Melitense Code. He will provide information to the Heads of State with which the Order maintains diplomatic relations as well as the various Melitense organisations.

In order to help the Order in the process of renewal he sees as necessary, the Holy father will nominate his own personal delegate with powers that he will define in the act of nomination itself.

The Grand Commendatory, in his function as Interim Deputy, will exercise the powers stated on art. 144 of the Melitense Statute, until the Papal Delegate is nominated.

The Holy Father, on the basis of the evidence emerged from the inquiries made by him, has determined that all the acts carried out by the Grand Master after December 6th 2016 are null and void. Likewise also those by the Sovereign Council, such as the election of the Grand Chancellor ad interim.

The Holy Father, acknowledging the great merits of the Order in the accomplishment of many works in defence of the faith and at the service of the poor and sick, expresses all his pastoral concern towards it and hopes in the collaboration of everyone at this delicate and important time for the future.

The Holy Father blesses all members, volunteers and benefactors of the Order and sustains them with his prayers.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State

[Translation: contributor Francesca Romana]