Austrian Fra' Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein will lead the Knights of Malta on an interim basis after its Sovereign Council officially accepted the resignation of Fra' Matthew Festing was requested by Pope Francis.
This means Englishman Festing, who served as Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, steps down from his life-time appointment, and German official Albrecht von Boeselager, who had been fired as Grand Chancellor in December over a row involving the distribution of condoms in Myanmar through a Knights-affiliated charity, resumes his position.
Fra' von Rumerstein will assume Festing's role ad interim, an Order press release announced, after a meeting of the Sovereign Council on the Magistral Palace in Rome, a few yards away from the famed Spanish Steps.
Also conforming to the Constitution, it said, Pope Francis had been notified of Festing's resignation, which will now be communicated to the 106 Heads of State with whom the Knights of Malta have diplomatic relations.
The statement says von Rumerstein, until now Grand Commander, will assume as Lieutenant ad interim and remain the head of the Order until the election of Festing's successor takes place.
Earlier, the Catholic Herald reported that Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin told the Order of Malta's council that all decisions taken in recent weeks are "null and void".
Pope Francis revoked all decisions taken by the Grand Master of the Order of Malta after December 6, the day when von Boeselager was dismissed.
Cardinal Parolin, wrote to the Order's Sovereign Council telling them of the decision.