The leader of the Order of Malta has promised Pope Francis his loyalty, as the Order faces an investigation by the Vatican over a recent controversy.
In a letter to mark the World Day of Peace, Fra’ Matthew Festing, the
organisation’s Grand Master, told Pope Francis: “the Order … even in a
difficult and complex time, seeks to render its service in closely
adhering to the teaching of the Church and the directions which come
from the Successor to St Peter.”
Festing was referring to the recent dismissal of Albrecht Boeselager,
the Grand Chancellor of the order.
Boeselager has been accused of
allowing the distribution of condoms, as part of a scheme with which the
order was linked.
But Festing said Boeselager was removed for allegedly
concealing problems in his previous role of overseeing the order’s
The Order of Malta’s members run hospitals, nursing
homes, night shelters and other forms of charitable outreach in 120
Boeselager refused to resign, which Festing called a “disgraceful”
act of disobedience.
Festing and the other senior members of the order,
including the Patron, Cardinal Raymond Burke, agreed to suspend
Boeselager from his membership. A new Grand Chancellor, John Chretien,
has been appointed.
Pope Francis has ordered an investigation into the dispute.
On Saturday, the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin
told the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero that the Order faced an
The Pope’s commission would “gather
information”, Cardinal Parolin said, “and then we will see.”