In an explosive press conference today, recently reinstated Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeselager of the Knights of Malta thanked Pope Francis for his “guidance” that helped end the Order’s “crisis,” while blaming Cardinal Burke for the unrest.
Boeselager emphasized the pope’s
actions upheld the “sovereignty” of the Order, despite evidence
suggesting the contrary.
Boeselager who was held responsible for distribution of
contraceptives by the Order's charity arm and therefore removed only to
be reinstated by action of the Pope, singled out the Order’s former
Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing as well as the Order’s Patron Cardinal
Raymond Burke, blaming them as the instigators of the crisis.
appointed by Pope Francis as the patron of the Knights of Malta in 2014
after the Pope removed him from his high-ranking Vatican post as head
of the Vatican's highest court.
“I think we cannot foresee and we will not make comments on what will
happen to Cardinal Burke in the future. That remains the decision of
the Holy Father,” said Boeselager.
Nevertheless from comments at the
press conference it is clear that a purge is in the works.
It was said that the Order will undergo a “reform” of the religious
“branch” of the Order — foundational both in the history and in the
legislature of the Order — as is willed by Pope Francis.
The reform will
be executed by a Papal delegate who will have power to act over the
head of Cardinal Burke.
Of note, the religious portion of the order is where the conservative
ranks are to be found -- those that objected to the distribution of
Boeselager refused to comment on the rumor that Pope Francis had
demanded that the former head of the Order state in his letter of
resignation that it was Cardinal Burke who had instigated his sacking.
“I have not seen the letter and I will not comment,” he said.
The Catholic Knights of Malta operates in 120 countries around the
world and is best known for its charitable work in war zones and
Boeselager was removed from his post
in the order in December, but not before refusing to step down. His
disobedience culminated with him being removed from the order.
that month, Pope Francis became involved in the imbroglio, appointing a commission to investigate Boeselager’s removal.
In a surprising action, Pope Francis forced the head of the order to resign while reinstating Boeselager to his former position.
The Order retains sovereignty under international law and does not
fall under the jurisdiction of the pope. It issues its own passports,
currency, and postage stamps.
The pope’s move came as a shock to faithful Catholics who thought Boeselager’s removal over the condom scandal signified the Order of Malta cleaning house.
Catholic University of America canon law professor Kurt Martens said Pope Francis’ action "amount[ed] to de facto annexation" and is a "serious violation of international law."
New York Times Catholic columnist Ross Douthat told
LifeSiteNews at that time that Pope Francis’ takeover of the Order was a
"characteristic move of the papacy...in the sense that the pope’s
approach to church governance is very activist.”
“That activism has a tendency to come down against more
traditionalist and conservative groups and...to favor more liberal
groups,” he said.
Earlier this week the Voice of the Family released a report outlining
various instances where Pope Francis appears to show little concern,
and even departure, from the Church’s condemnation of contraception as
The Church teaches in Humanae Vitae that since
contraception destroys the unitive and procreative integrity of the
marital act it is always and in every instance gravely wrong.