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Pope Approves Order Barring Former Knights of Malta Grand Master From His Own Order’s Elections in Rome

Over the past few months, we’ve covered the saga of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta rather extensively. If you’re unfamiliar with the main events surrounding this thousand-year-old chivalric Catholic order toppled by Pope Francis, this summary is probably the best place to start.

To recap: since that summary was written, several additional events of major significance have unfolded. In February, it was revealed that Cardinal Raymond Burke — who was appointed as Cardinal Patron of the Order in 2014 — found himself in the crosshairs of the same coup that ousted Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing and reinstated Albrecht von Boeselager. Boeselager was removed from the Knights of Malta at Festing’s command after an internal investigation reportedly determined that he was involved with the distribution of contraceptives through the Order’s international relief agency, Malteser International.

In an interview with an Austrian daily on February 15, acting Grand Master Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein blamed Cardinal Burke for Boeselager’s ouster — a charge which Cardinal Burke later referred to as “a calumny”.

It was also in February that we got the first official word that Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the pope’s newly-appointed delegate to the Order, would be taking over the duties of Cardinal Burke, supplanting (but not replacing) him as Cardinal Patron. It was the reinstated Grand Chancellor himself, Abrecht von Boeselager, who told the press that Becciu “has the full confidence of the Pope and is his spokesman … That means that Cardinal Burke as Cardinal Patron of the Order is now de facto suspended.” This suspension was confirmed by Burke himself earlier this month, when in an interview with Infovaticana he stated:

For the moment, I am completely removed from any involvement with the Order of Malta. While I retain the title of the Cardinal Patron, the Pope has made clear that the only person who can treat questions of the Order of Malta in the name of the Holy Father is Archbishop Becciu.

In March, an anonymous but allegedly highly-placed source within the Order of Malta sent a letter to Vaticanista Sandro Magister, detailing more of the possible financial motivations that may have been associated with the sudden and tumultuous change in power within the Order. Two days later, word it was revealed that the Austrian Catholic website had received a cease-and-desist order in response to their reporting on the financial dealings of Albrecht von Boeselager as Grand Chancellor of the order. Although nothing else was made public, rumors of legal proceedings initiated against other members of the Catholic press by aggrieved members of the Order who appear not to want this story covered have also been circulating.

Also in March, our own Hilary White published a moving profile of the life of service of Fra’ Matthew Festing, the former Grand Master of the Knights of Malta. Around the same time, Festing granted an interview to Dan Hitchens of the Catholic Herald, in which he revealed part of a conversation he had with Pope Francis after he was asked by the pontiff to resign his position with the Order:

“I said, ‘Can I ask you a hypothetical question?’ He said yes. And I said, ‘Hypothetically, what would happen if I was re-elected?’ He thought for a moment and said, well, that would be all right.”

As the Herald reported at the time:

The Council Complete of State, comprising about 60 members, meets to elect a new grand master on April 29. It is not inconceivable that Festing could be re-appointed. He says he’s happy to do whatever the order asks of him: “If they want me, they want me, and if they don’t, they don’t.” He adds: “I have no intention of running a campaign. However, if they re-elect me, I would have to consider agreeing to it.”

But that was then. It would appear that certain factions within the Order — possibly the very same ones seeking to silence Catholic journalists poking around where they aren’t wanted — have managed yet another coup against Festing. From Edward Pentin at the National Catholic Register:

In a surprising move, Pope Francis’ special delegate to the Order of Malta has instructed Fra’ Matthew Festing, the Order’s former Grand Master, not to travel to Rome for the election of his successor.

In a letter dated April 15 (see below), Archbishop Angelo Becciu said that many of the Order had “expressed their wish” that Fra’ Festing not travel to Rome for the election on April 29 as they felt his presence would “reopen wounds” and prevent a return to harmony following the dispute earlier this year regarding the dismissal and later reinstatement of Albrecht von Boeselager as Grand Chancellor.

The archbishop said he had “shared the decision with the Holy Father” and that he should therefore forego his trip to Rome “as an act of obedience.”

Sandro Magister writes that the letter is “glaring proof of the exercise of” the “full powers” granted to Archbishop Becciu as Special Delegate and “exclusive spokesman” for the pope to the Order.

Festing, for his part, has yet to say a public word on the matter. As Hilary White’s profile of the man suggests, he is not now, nor has he ever been, interested in power. But he is a man dedicated to the service of the poor and the sick — as well as the teachings of the Church. If the former attribute seems as though it should have been certain to put him on the pope’s list of favored sons, the latter, sadly, may be the very thing that has seen him stricken from it.

61 thoughts on “Pope Approves Order Barring Former Knights of Malta Grand Master From His Own Order’s Elections in Rome”

  1. Was it not said by one of his spokesmen (Parolin?), perhaps sometime in March, that the Holy Father had no objection to the reelection of Matthew Festing as Grand Master?
    The election Fra Festing is now benevolently and graciously invited not to attend?
    I guess the Holy Father changed his mind.
    A long standing pattern.

    • I doubt that Francis “changed his mind”. He was more likely to have been determined all along to head off any possible re-election of Fra Matthew Festing. Another example of Bergoglio speaking out of both sides of his mouth, one wonders?

        • Bergoglio acted most cynically and reprehensibly in the manner in which he demanded Fra Festing’s resignation, inavalidated all the latter’s most recent decisions, re-instated von Boeselager and established a four-person gang of ‘advisors”, at least three of whom have questionable vested interests in the finacial affairs of the Order. And von Boeselager’s brother was given a nice little gig with the Vatican Bank. That this is merely emotional disorientation is an absurd proposition. It’s Bergoglio doing what he does best; being a cynical and ruthless political operator.

    • It is said that Fra Festing is very much admired by many in the Order. His absence from Rome in no way prevents his being reelected to his former office.

      Who counts the votes?

    • Not being in Rome will not prevent Festing being reelected: He deserves this all the more so because he is a good, humble and obedient Catholic man, no seeking his revenge.

  2. Such cruel behavior towards a man who has dedicated his life to the Church.
    I am very sorry for Matthew Festing. Rest assured, he is good company.

  3. While this injunction is as bizarre as it is draconian, I wonder if it won’t end up backfiring in the end. If anything, the actions of Francis and Becciu only make Festing more of a sympathetic character than he already was, which may well galvanize the support of all but the outright serpents behind him. Does anyone know if he actually has to be present to be elected? If not, let’s offer some rosaries for Festing’s reelection and pray that Francis and Becciu fall into the trap they have set.

    • You are right. In my opinion many knights were shocked by the brutal and unacceptable intrusion of the Pope in the Order’s internal discipline and the unmercifully way he fired Festing on-the-spot.
      The previous article of 1P5 about Festing moved me: I am certain that his popularity in the Order has grown up since his dismissal. The Pope may well have to face an unpleasant surprise by the end of this month, unless some evil factious people inside the Order are striving to rig the election to avoid him this humiliation.

      • You can be confident that a plan to rig things in order to thwart the election of Festing is already in the works and probably has been for some time.

        • Yes, indeed. The fix is in. That is the way despots rule. That is the way
          corrupt bishops operate.
          We have a corrupt, disgraceful pope who is embarrassed by many things Catholic.
          Festing should show some spine and come directly to Rome and to the Order’s headquarters. Be a Knight or vanish, Fra Festing. Do your job.

          • Disagree. He was obedient when he stepped down from his position.
            Now he is groveling to the Capo du tuti capi.
            Hardly the actions of a knight.
            Whether Fra Festing is a holy man is unknown to me, likely he is much holier than I am.
            Nevertheless, what has taken place and is ongoing, is very wrong. Both Festing and the pope know this. Follow the money, always.

          • I stand and fight for what I believe, not because I enjoy a fight.
            Follow the money, snowflake, and there is plenty to follow in this case.

          • Oh no…you called me snowflake. I’m sooo offended…

            Is that just the default insult for people like you?

          • Fra Festing has arrived in Rome and will attend the voting.
            A true knight and soldier. By the grace of God.

          • Good for him.

            I love how the Vatican is try to spin it like they are allowing him to be there

  4. Comrades, I am very much afraid to say that Fra Festing has made a rod for his own back, and for that of many other Knights too it would seem – he remains very popular within the Order – by not telling Bergoglio where to go when his resignation was sought.

    This Argentinian megalomaniac and his power-hungry acolytes want every part of the Church that works in their hands. Nothing is to remain out of their control.

    Festing fell for it.

    • Maybe they will elect Fra Fresting without him present. Then again, did you not once say, Comrade Stalin, “the people who cast the votes decide nothing, the people who count the votes decide everything”

    • Unfortunately you are right. The Pope had no authority to intervene in the Order’s business. There was a mild protest in the beginning, but Fra Festing caved in and that was that. The opportunity was lost.

  5. Festing is a good and humble man. I admire his obedience to the Pope since he wasn’t at all obliged to comply to his command of resignation. Festing is the best of what a Catholic gentleman must be. I much appreciate what he said about some among the Knights who are loving decorum and wearing uniforms, which he dislikes.
    We have much to pray for him and Cardinal Burke. His re-election, which he doesn’t look to seek after, is probably the last chance to save the SMOM from Francis’ destructive power.

  6. Some have wondered whether Pope Francis is a heretic [formal or material] or not. It is worse than that, Pope Francis is an apostate Bishop [and that’s correct, he was an apostate before he became Pope], the False Prophet, an apostate Bishop as the False Prophet just as some Church Fathers said the False Prophet would be.

    CCC 2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”[CIC, can. 751 –

    Being an Illuminist –, Pope Francis worships the Devil himself. Why, he even has the image of his god on his pectoral cross.

    The Antichrist is here, I await his revelation.

  7. Has an uncanonicallly elected Pope the right to invalidate an election in another Sovereign State ? Here is the number one issue at stake if Fra’ Festing is re-elected.
    I am afraid that the evil (german) faction of knights inside the SMOM is currently considering how to rig the Grand Master’s election in order to avoid this humiliation to the Pope

  8. If I were festing and I was inclined to go to Rome, then I would. We have zero obligation to obey a “pope” who is unequivocally an apostate fraud and hates the church by word and action. I hope Soros cuddles him well in his cute little vestments.

  9. Matthew Festing is a victim. His only mistake he made was to follow the teachings of the Church and apply them to the Knights of Malta. He is good and holy man. Meek as a lamb. From what I have read, his actions against Abrecht von Boeselager were correct and just. I am reminded of the scripture passage John 11:50. Festing is being sacrificed for some “greater good.” When events like this take place, there is an agenda behind it and I find it worrisome.

  10. Ah, the joys of accompaniment, dialogue and mercy never end. Once again Pope Francis has a serious optics problem, though I do not think he really cares if those who are awake recognize the hypocrisy he displays on a regular basis.

  11. The pea brains in Rome cannot understand that humility and obedience to a legitimate authority, even when that authority is wielded with malice, is a powerful source of Grace for the person who practices it. God can and will use it for Fra Festing and against His enemies. No sacrifice is wasted. May God bless Fra Festing and confound his enemies. The more these………. ‘clerics’ torment the good guys, the more grace God will give His good friends.

    Call me a cynic but If he’s reelected I will eat my left elbow. No way will the voting go unrigged.

  12. “I said, ‘Can I ask you a hypothetical question?’ He said yes. And I said, ‘Hypothetically, what would happen if I was re-elected?’ He thought for a moment and said, well, that would be all right.”

    If the above is true, I pray Pope Francis went to confession because he has sinned in lying. Sounds like he just wants to tell people what they want to hear and can’t stand up to someone when they’re in front of him. Effimancy.

    We all need to pray things are accelerating.

  13. A dedicated and holy man? Get him out! Bring in the contraceptive distributors so that people will stop breeding like rabbits and destroying the earth!

  14. While humility and obedience are great virtues remaining silent while funny financial dealings go on (Burke himself has questioned the matter) and the destruction of a centuries old institution takes place is not in my opinion the proper answer. Not to obey an unjust order is not pride it is fulfilling your obligation and it takes courage. This can be done in a respectful way. Becciu has no right to bar a member in good standing from the premises. It’s obvious that there are improper things going on. The desperate attempts to impose silence make it so. The elections in all probability will be rigged if necessary. They have already done worse in previous arbitrary acts. Although admittedly in an electorate of 60 rigging is more difficult, intimidation more probable.

  15. This Pope makes me sick,the sorriest Pope ever,this Pope is an Antipope,social justice forget Doctrine forget all the things that will get you to Heaven,this Pope an all that are around him are lead bye the Spirit but it sure ain’t the Holy Spirit,Jesus please send up a Holy Pontifice PLEASE.

  16. Assuming for a moment that Fra’ Festing could still be eligible to be a candidate for Grand Master, I imagine his pitch might be something like:

    “Fellow Knights*, I presume you all know who I am. I am humble Fra’ Festing*. If elected I shall be thankful, if not it will be all the same”.

    (*Substitute ‘citizens’ and ‘Abraham Lincoln’ and that’s part of the 16th President’s first campaign speech in 1832).

  17. Gosh, its a never ending saga under this, Bergoglio! And why on earth did he stick his two cents into the Order of Malta when his Eminence Cardinal Burke was in charge? Bergoglio is a tyrant and a bully! Is there any way he can be ordered to step down…?


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