- May 12, 2021
The Knights of Malta have elected Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre with the title of lieutenant of the grand master. He most recently has been the grand prior in charge of the order’s Rome chapter. The election was necessary after the former Grand Master of the order, Fra’ Matthew Festing was forced to resign after a dispute with Pope Francis over the attempted ouster of an official of the order.
Just a few days before the Knights of Malta convene to elect a new leader, the former head of the order has returned to Rome defying the Vatican’s wishes. The former Grand Master, Matthew Festing, did not say if he would vote for himself, though in a recent plot twist the order confirmed that the new leader would only be temporary.
In an interview, the Grand Chancellor of the historic Order of Malta, Albrecht von Boeselager, talks about the order’s crisis, the path going forward, the pope’s plan for reform and what is being done to help migrants, refugees and those displaced by war and poverty.
In a new interview with a German newspaper, Pope Francis denies seeing conservative American Cardinal Raymond Burke as an “enemy,” but does take a gentle swipe at “fundamentalist Catholics,” saying their self-assurance reminds him of St. Peter just before he denied knowing Jesus.
Speaking about the situation of Christians in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III Younan acknowledged that if he had children, he too would be trying to flee the region, despite the efforts being expended by the Catholic Church, which include guaranteeing that refugees have a roof over their heads and not just a tent.
Leaders of the Knights of Malta said on Thursday that a recent power struggle involving Pope Francis and the Vatican took its toll, including on fundraising, but now they’re determined to shift the focus back to their humanitarian mission, especially with immigrants and refugees.
Far from being an autocratic intervention in the affairs of a ‘sovereign’ state, the pope’s decision to appoint a delegate to govern the Order of Malta following the resignation of its Grand Master reflects his duty of care to a Catholic organization in need of serious reform. Despite attempts to portray Francis as an autocrat, he’s doing no more than what popes have always done for Catholic groups in similar circumstances.
In what’s likely to be seen as a big win in the Vatican’s clash with the Knights of Malta, the order’s Sovereign Council accepted the resignation of their Grand Chancellor as requested by Pope Francis and appointed an interim replacement. The Knights of Malta also pledged cooperation with a papal delegate, and voiced gratitude for the Vatican’s “interest in and care for the order.”