In my summary of newly-alleged details about the Sovereign Military Order of Malta’s inner workings, I concluded with this statement:
Are we expected to believe this is all just a series of coincidences? Rumor has it that some of the players in this story are…aggressively litigious, so perhaps we’re not supposed to ask.
It appears that no, we’re not supposed to ask.
In a note published yesterday at the Austrian Catholic website Kath.net, indicating that they are now in receipt of a cease-and-desist order for their reporting on the financial dealings of Albrecht von Boeselager as Grand Chancellor of the order (translation courtesy of Maike Hickson):
In the wake of international reports concerning some inconsistencies in the Order of Malta, some people in responsible positions have taken juridical steps against the Catholic media that have brought to light unpleasant things.
Rome (Kath.net) This week, kath.net has been confronted with a judicial cease-and-desist order initiated by the Order of Malta, and this was done with regard to a report of the BILD newspaper. The BILD newspaper had reported that Grand Chancellor Boeselager accepted a donation of 30 million Swiss Francs, the origin of which is dubious; kath.net merely quoted from the report of the BILD newspaper.
A spicy detail: the BILD newspaper itself has so far not been confronted with possible legal actions because of its report, as Kath.net was able to learn after contacting the newspaper. The editor of Kath.net, Roland Noé, interprets this as an intentional “strategy of intimidation” against Catholic media. It started already at the end of 2016, when Kath.net reported in an article about the distribution of condoms by some charitable organizations of the Order of Malta. Also in that case, there then came an immediate letter from a lawyer and, subsequently, an injunction and restraining order. Juridical steps on the side of Kath.net are currently being considered as well. The possibilty to publish a statement, as offered by Kath.net, has not been accepted [by the other side]; a direct communication without a laywer — as is the usual procedure among Christians — has so far also not yet been accepted by the responsible persons of the Order of Malta.
It seems that all the attention on this matter is hitting a little too close to the mark. My understanding is that European free speech laws are an absolute disaster, offering very little protection for the press there.
I’d recommend keeping all this in mind in case any more reporting on this topic suddenly disappears.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.