The Vatican v. The Knights of Malta – High Drama – UPDATE

17_01_01_SCV_SMOMUPDATE 5 Jan 2017:

The UK publication The Tablet (aka The Pill) claims to have seen letters indicating that Pope Francis did not want the Albrecht von Boeselager thrown out as Grand Chancellor and then suspended from the Order.

Their headline… just to help, I’m sure:

EXCLUSIVE: CARDINAL BURKE AND GRAND MASTER FESTING DEFIED WISHES OF POPE BY SACKING GRAND CHANCELLOR

All along I have been concerned that this dust up would be used by Card. Burke’s haters to harm him in some way.

_____

ORIGINALLY Published on: Jan 1, 2017

I am watching the kerfuffle between the Vatican and the Knights of Malta with a measure of amusement.

To be more precise, I watch the dust up between the Vatican City State (SCV) and the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta (SMOM).

As you know a high muckity in the SMOM was given the heave-ho for having been involved in things that no Catholic should be involved in. The upper echelon of the SMOM are actually a type of religious, who make vows and such.  Insofar as he violated Catholic principles he was ousted.

Enter The Pope.

Pope Francis indicated that he would set up a commission (what else?) to study the situation.

The SMOM promptly said, “Mind your own business.”  More HERE

What’s with that?  If SMOMs are Catholic and religious, shouldn’t the Pope be able to get involved?  Insofar as they are religious, perhaps yes.  However, insofar as the SMOM is recognized as its own sovereign country, no!   They are a sovereign state, just as the Vatican City State is a sovereign state.   So, the head of one state (SCV’s Pope) has no authority to interfere with the internal governance of another sovereign state (SMOM).

Thus we are witnessing in our times the …

Diplomatic Tiff Between The World’s Two Smallest Countries!

My spies tell me that San Marino may get involved with peace keeping troops.

Furthermore, Monaco and Liechtenstein have both offered to host the Peace Talks.

Andorra remains, for the time being, neutral.

Please share!

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46 Responses to The Vatican v. The Knights of Malta – High Drama – UPDATE

  1. Michael says:

    Question based principally on my own curiosity: You have a few sovereigns in the world where Catholic clerics are also civil authorities. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is one and the Bishop of Urgell in Andorra is another. I would expect there are others of which I am unaware.

    My understanding is that the Church – starting with Pope St. John Paul the Great – has forbidden clerics from acting as civil authorities. Do these specific civil authorities receive special exceptions?

  2. Another mess, O God! Please clean it up. Thank You in advance.

  3. MacCheese says:

    It seems to me a proxy war of sorts!

  4. VexillaRegis says:

    Oh well, the Pope will just find another way to frame Card. Burke. I wonder why the former chancellor refused to step down from his position when he was asked by his highest superior, the Grand Master (Prince), to do so. What’s really going on here??

  5. Gerard Plourde says:

    I’m confused. The Order’s web site describes it as “a lay religious order of the Catholic Church”. Sovereign though they may be in political terms (it does appear that they are sovereign over the palace they own in Rome), I would think that the Pope’s authority over them ecclesiastically is undisputed. Julius II would probably have mobilized the Swiss Guards to subjugate them already.

  6. excalibur says:

    Nine centuries clearly indicates the independence of the the Knights (SMOM). Pope Francis has brought this upon himself, sad to say. What, he’s upset that the guy that was booted got the boot?

    Has the Pope appointed an external commissioner to the Order of Malta? Pope Francis undeniably likes the strategy of appointing external commissioners as he has already adopted this draconian measure against two religious communities considered too “traditional”: the Franciscans of the Immaculate and the religious of the Incarnate Word. Further, it is not by chance that the announcement of a commission to “gather suitable elements to inform the Holy See thoroughly and swiftly with regard to the matter which has recently involved the Grand Chancellor of the Order of Malta, Mr. Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager”, was given by the Vatican Press Office on December 22nd, precisely while Pope Bergoglio was transforming his traditional Christmas greetings to the Curia into a bitter chiding against those who are resistant to his project of radical change in the Church, with implicit reference to Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Patron of the Order of Malta. However, in this case, the appointing of an external commissioner is not at all possible.

    As Don Fabrizio Turriziani Colonna explains in a documented study dedicated to the Sovereignty and independence of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2006), the Order of Malta and the Holy See are placed one in front of the other as subjects of International Law and thus are in a position of reciprocal independence. The Order of Malta, has in fact a twofold juridical character; at the level of Canon Law, it is subordinate to the Holy See, but at the level of International Law it is guaranteed independence from it. The fact that the Order of Malta maintains diplomatic relations with 94 states and has an ambassador to the Holy See, confirms that, in a certain sphere, their relations are as equals. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, is, in short, a sovereign State, even if it has no territory, jealous of its autonomy and privileges.

    Throughout nine centuries of history, the Knights of Malta have been covered in glory, shedding their blood for the Church, but there have been no want of conflicts between them and the Holy See. The last one, narrated by Roger Peyrefitte (Chevaliers de Malte, Flammarion, Paris 1957), was after the Second World War, when the Order was able to thwart an attempt to fuse them with the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. This struggle came to a halt in 1953 with the sentence by a Tribunal of cardinals which recognized the sovereignty of the Order of Malta, but nonetheless affirming its dependence on the Holy See as far as concerned the religious life of the knights. The Order of Malta accepted the sentence, conditioning it on some points: 1) the recognition of the rights due to it as subject of international law; 2) the limitation of religious independence of the Order only to professed knights and Chaplains; 3) the exclusion of subjection to the Vatican Secretary of State.

    The Holy See’s competence does not involve then the internal and international governing of the Order, but limits itself to the strictly religious sphere. At this point one could imagine that the Pope, having identified deviations of a moral and doctrinal order among the knights, had thought of intervening to straighten out the situation. What happened instead? It was brought to light that Albrecht von Boeselager, during his time as Grand Hospitaller of the Order, had abused his power. promoting the distribution of tens of thousands of condoms and contraceptives, also abortifacients, (so the reports related to the United Nations’ programme against HIV/AIDS in Myanmar document), [so] the Grand Master Matthew Festing intervened to bring an end to the scandal and asked Boeselager to resign, appealing to the vow of obedience made to him.

    The Grand Chancellor, strong in his friendship with the Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin and of his brother George’s recent appointment to the board of the IOR (Institute for the Works of Religion -the Vatican Bank) rejected the request arrogantly, laying claim to his “liberal” Catholic stance. The creation on the part of the Secretary of State of an investigative group of five members, all of them more or less connected to Boeselager, constitutes a serious case of interference in the governing of the Order. The Holy See should limit itself to watching over the religious life through its Cardinal Patron, Cardinal Burke, appointed by Pope Francis himself. The Pope has every right to be informed with regard to the Order’s internal affairs, but it is irregular for this to take place through a commission which bypasses the pontifical representative, unless there is the desire to accuse the latter.

    A Cardinal, however, can be judged only by his peers and not by Vatican bureaucrats. Equally improper is entrusting a Vatican Commission with the judgement of matters regarding not the religious life, but the governing of the Order, accusing, in this case, the Grand Master. The latter has done well to reject the bogus actions by the commission. Unfortunately not only is the procedure bogus, but the judgment in particular coming from the Vatican Authorities regarding it. Whoever favours contraception and abortion, disdaining the Church’s Magisterium, and violates their own vows, merits rehabilitation nowadays. Whoever defends the Church’s teachings and the moral integrity of the institutions he belongs to, is, on the other hand, accused of “malevolent resistance” to the Holy Father and ends up in the dock. Let us hope that the Knights react. The sovereignty of the Order of Malta is at stake as well as its uninterrupted tradition in defense of the faith and Catholic morality.

    http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2016/12/de-mattei-pope-and-malta-bogus.html

  7. jhayes says:

    The issue the Vatican wants to investigate may be whether Van Boeselager was told, incorrectly, that the Holy See wanted him to resign – and, if so, who told him that and why.

    Von Boeselager has said he was asked, and then ordered to resign Dec. 6 during a meeting with Burke and the order’s leader, who suggested that the resignation was “in accordance with the wishes of the Holy See.” He said he subsequently learned that the Holy See had made no such request.

    HERE

    If Cardinal Burke was at the meeting, I suppose they could ask him, if the Grand Master doesn’t want to be asked to testify.

  8. rcg says:

    The Dutchy of Grand Fenwick has set wheels in motion. Trump has a tweet about this somewhere that says things will be different, soon. Putin denies involvment. Obama said something, too, but it was only carried on MSNBC so no one saw it.

  9. Geoffrey says:

    ‘My spies tell me that San Marino may get involved with peace keeping troops.’

    That gave me a good laugh!

    ‘The Order’s web site describes it as “a lay religious order of the Catholic Church”. Sovereign though they may be in political terms (it does appear that they are sovereign over the palace they own in Rome), I would think that the Pope’s authority over them ecclesiastically is undisputed.’

    It is a bit of a sticky issue. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta has members who take religious vows, and only in that regard are they subject to the Holy See. They are sovereign in all other aspects, including internal governance. Not all members take religious vows, and these members are something akin to a third or secular order. It is a very unique organization.

  10. Benedict Joseph says:

    Perhaps one of the combatants requires the attention of a flyswatter.
    I won’t propose which one, they might put me under the observation of a commission.

  11. Zephyrinus says:

    Dear Fr Z,

    There are unconfirmed reports that Bhutan has offered “Aid” to The Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

    In addition, there are reports of “Vatican sympathisers” in civilian clothes and not carrying “any insignia”, shouting nasty things to Traditional Maltesers.

    Can you shed any light ?

  12. JARay says:

    I too have watched this tussle as one who is completely disinterested (as opposed to uninterested) in the affairs between the two. I am delighted that the attempt to fuse the Sovereign Order of Malta with the Knights of the Holy Sepulcre came to naught. I have seen what the KHS has done to the Catenian Association (of which, I am indeed a member!) so that I am in no way supportive of the KHS men.

  13. Tom A. says:

    The Pope that Roared.

  14. Kathleen10 says:

    Is the Vatican so disconnected as to imagine the everyday Catholic does not comprehend the situation? Or, are they so confident and bold that they do realize it and do not care.
    If I could I would assure them we understand the situation and are watching with great interest anything that concerns the four Cardinals.

  15. spock says:

    It could be that Secretary of State complained to the Pope about this and since he is his Secretary of State, the Pope is obliged to investigate further. The presence of a third party to investigate keeps the Pope out of the center of the fray. This my interpretation that tries to be generous to the Holy Father. I’m trying to start the year off right …..

  16. Benedict Joseph says:

    Kathleen10, for all the V2 talk about the laity, its very proponents regard the laity as useful idiots at best, but mostly just ignoramuses. Unfortunately after fifty years of being denied catechesis, offered inadequate catechesis, imposed erroneous catechesis, the vast swath of Roman Catholics are not up to the task of holding their pastors – of any rank – to account.
    Those members of the laity who can raise their voices with some confidence were fortunate to have received their catechetical education before and during “the” council, ran in to post conciliar saints/martyrs who did the right job, or just had a hunger for the Truth that made them do it tenaciously for themselves.
    “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.” Romans 10:17
    Then there is the “fishwrap” model who substitute sociology, climatology, psychology, economics et al., for religious belief and rely on them to animate their moral perspective and behavior. With official sympathy they appear to be presently holding sway.
    Yes, the “officials” are so confident and bold – but they do realize it – and they only care to get away with advancing their agenda.
    Let us advance into the new year, blinders off and armored well. Its going to be a bumpy ride!

  17. jaykay says:

    Gerald Plourde: “Julius II would probably have mobilized the Swiss Guards to subjugate them already.”

    Well, given that they were based in Malta, and given that Julius II didn’t exactly have a navy at his disposal, there might have been some slight logistical problems there. And given their prowess in the defence of Malta (and other Mediterranean islands) from… ummm… cultural enrichment, as I think we’re supposed to call it these days, well, no,I don’t think the Swiss Guard would have had much of a chance of doing that, really. :) et iterum dico :)

  18. jskelley says:

    That is true… Julius II, the most notable Della Rovere pope, was also corrupt and power hungry.

  19. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear JayKay,

    I should have clearly written my thought which presupposed “Were he alive today, Julius II…”.

    I do think that there is a serious question regarding the operations of the Knights of Malta, though. As I understand it, the Grand Chancellor was removed because under his administration contraceptive devices were distributed by the organization. The question arises how could this have happened in the first place? There are costs involved in the purchase and the distribution. There are arrangements that would have to have been made regarding storage and shipment. Is the group’s record keeping and accountability so shoddy that no one noticed? All of this would indicate that persons in addition to the Grand Chancellor would be involved and that solely removing him would not adequately address these issues. Thus an outside inquiry by the Vatican seems justified.

  20. Michael says: My understanding is that the Church – starting with Pope St. John Paul the Great – has forbidden clerics from acting as civil authorities. Do these specific civil authorities receive special exceptions?

    As I understand it, the current code of canon law does forbid clerics (not including permanent deacons) from holding public office. This seems to be a subset of activities forbidden to clerics because they are unbecoming or foreign to their state. I am betting this prohibition was prompted by the scandalous congressional career of Fr. Drinan. But since the Pope himself is a head of state, I don’t suppose the prohibition is completely unqualified.

  21. Imrahil says:

    Dear Michael,

    obviously yes, they have exceptions.

    Whether the Lawgiver thought of, or thought it worth while to, write these exceptions specifically into a paragraph of its own is immaterial.

  22. Kerry says:

    Any word on this dust up from Flight Lt. Lionel Mandrake?

  23. robtbrown says:

    Gerard Plourde says:

    I’m confused. The Order’s web site describes it as “a lay religious order of the Catholic Church”. Sovereign though they may be in political terms (it does appear that they are sovereign over the palace they own in Rome), I would think that the Pope’s authority over them ecclesiastically is undisputed. Julius II would probably have mobilized the Swiss Guards to subjugate them already.

    Julius II had civil jurisdiction in Rome. Pope Francis does not-.

  24. Fr. Kelly says:

    It might be helpful to note what the scandal was that the SMOM was removing when they removed their Grand Chancellor.

    From EWTN News Britain:
    The Grand Chancellor had been removed following the discovery of “an extremely grave and untenable situation”. The Italian daily newspaper Il Messaggero reported that the the scandal that had precipitated the removal of von Boeselager was the discovery that during his tenure as health minister he allegedly did not prevent the Order of Malta’s workers in Africa from distributing condoms.

    Is that why the Secretary of State wants him restored?
    And wasn’t this the same mission that involved Catholic Relief Services?

  25. Chiara says:

    As an organization that is composed of faithful Catholics, the Knights of Malta should be honored and proud that His Holiness takes an interest in them and their activities. As faithful Catholics, the Knights should also be willing to show the world what they do openly and without shame. The Pope is God’s Vicar on earth, chosen by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Knights should welcome His Holiness’s assistance with grace and humility as true children of the Church.

  26. Michael says:

    Chiara – “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s: and to God the things that are God’s.” Luke 20:25. The SMOM is sovereign in the same sense that the United States or Great Britain are sovereign. Small they may be, but they are an independent civil entity. The Church, following the command of Our Lord, has always recognized a separation between the civil and religious spheres. Certainly if a civil authority is doing something immoral – jailing or killing its people, promoting abortion or contraception, etc. – then the Church has an obligation to rebuke those civil authorities. Indeed, one often wishes that more bishops would take the model of St. Ambrose to heart, and deny the sacraments to those causing grave scandal.

    But within those moral boundaries, civil authorities are free to do as they like, ordering their societies to best serve their people. The Vatican should no more be interfering in the appointment and dismissal of a SMOM official than it should be interfering in the American electoral college.

  27. Gerard Plourde says:

    A review of the Knights’ Constitution promulgated in 1961 and revised in 1997 seems to indicate that the Pope does have authority over them. According to Title I, Article 4 of that document as published on the Order’s web site:

    “In accordance with the Code of Canon Law, the churches and conventual institutions of the Order are exempt from the jurisdiction of the dioceses and are directly subject to the Holy See.”

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  29. John F. Kennedy says:

    Gerard Plourde,

    You wrote “… the Grand Chancellor was removed because under his administration contraceptive devices were distributed by the organization. The question arises how could this have happened in the first place? There are costs involved in the purchase and the distribution. There are arrangements that would have to have been made regarding storage and shipment. Is the group’s record keeping and accountability so shoddy that no one noticed?”

    They did notice. In fact, they also noticed that he was changing the records to hide it. When confronted with it, he lied. Then he tried to justify his position as being a “liberal” catholic. From what I understand, at this point he was given a direct formal Command by the Grand Master, his liege Lord, to resign. He refused this direct Command and was fired from his position and, I think, expelled from the SMOM.

    The Lepanto Institute documented how the SMOM both distributed and financed, condoms, contraceptives and abortifacients http://www.lepantoinstitute.org/

    BTW, I think, the Cardinal Patron of the Order (Burke) since he is directly appointed by the Pope, could in good faith, be said to speak directly for the Pope.

    I think the former Grand Chancellor’s only appeal to the Pope is his expulsion from the Order, but not the return to his position.

  30. robtbrown says:

    Chiara says,

    The Pope is God’s Vicar on earth, chosen by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

    That is not doctrine.

  31. Y2Y says:

    “The Pope is … chosen by the grace of the Holy Spirit.”

    Wrong. If this is the case, how do you account for Julius II, Alexander VI, Paul VI, etc…?

  32. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear John F. Kennedy,

    Thanks for the additional information. Your interpretation make sense. The Order does possess a judicial process. For Article 26 of the Order’s Constitution states:

    “Cases falling within the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical forum are submitted to the ordinary ecclesiastical Tribunals, in accordance with Canon Law.”

    “For cases falling within the competence of the lay forum between physical and juridical persons of the Order and against third parties, the juridical function is exercised by the Magistral Courts, in accordance with the Code.”

    I’m unclear whether a formal judicial process in the Magistral Court was called for by the Chancellor’s actions and, if so whether proceedings were instituted by the Order in accordance with its rules. The reports seem to indicate that a rather more summary process was followed.

    Also unclear is the extent of the knowledge of the Receiver of the Common Treasure and/or the Board of Auditors as this was occurring.

    I suppose another question is whether his acts fall exclusively under the jurisdiction of one forum or whether the acts could offend both authorities. (Sort of like an act potentially violating both state and federal law, allowing for prosecution in both forums.)

  33. Chiara says: As an organization that is composed of faithful Catholics, the Knights of Malta should be honored and proud that His Holiness takes an interest in them and their activities. As faithful Catholics, the Knights should also be willing to show the world what they do openly and without shame. The Pope is God’s Vicar on earth, chosen by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Knights should welcome His Holiness’s assistance with grace and humility as true children of the Church.

    If the interest the Pope takes in their activities consists in overstepping his authority, then no, they are not bound to welcome such as true children of the Church. The Pope’s authority is not absolute, such that all rights whatsoever must give way before it.

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  35. PostCatholic says:

    Cardinal Patron of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta is, of course, a promotion in honor exceeding the dignity of Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. What further heights can Pope Francis exalt Cardinal Burke to? Can he make the Cardinal perhaps Auxiliary Pope Emeritus?

  36. benedetta says:

    What’s a “grand master festing”? Does it involve toasts with alcoholic beverages? That headline sure sounds bleak.

  37. EMF says:

    Hello –

    I am having three thoughts.

    1. I initially thought that “Hagen Lio” was a directive to the laity. To me, it seemed fraught with the possibility of disrespect for Tradition. Instead, it appears that “Hagen Lio” is a self exhortation with little respect for Tradition.

    2. Fr. Hunwicke has a query about the ecclesiological role of the Holy Spirit on his blog.

    3. Someone commented that the laity ware undereducated and poorly catechized. It seems to me that neither the Bible nor the Catechism are difficult reading, that both the previous two popes had a weekly audience on Church teachings and beliefs as well as historical figures over the millennia. Now, while most of us cannot hear the talk in person, certainly in the last 15 years these talks have been readily accessible. Additionally, adults have a responsibility to themselves for education and parents have an obligation from the Baptismal promises they made when their children were Baptized.
    This topic perhaps is addressed in the more recent post discussing clericalism…

  38. Geoffrey says:

    This whole mess reminds me of the Borgias without the lechery.

  39. un-ionized says:

    Geoffrey, the lechery is there but it’s a lust for power and influence and pride. “Good old fashioned” lechery is easier to deal with.

  40. Traductora says:

    He has spiritual authority – for example, if they entered into heresy )like he’d care!) but not authority over their internal affairs, since they are a sovereign state.

  41. JustaSinner says:

    I feel like going rogue…anyone want to go with me and invade and conquer the Vatican City State? Hopefully we will catch the Swiss Guards in Michelangelo’s garb and not their military apparel with automatic weapons…

  42. Absit invidia says:

    If the treatment of treatment of cardinals, bishops, and priests continues like this current draconian theme, we are likely to see an even bigger drop in vocations. Who would want to sign up for an organization who treats their own people this way?

    It’s reminiscent to WWII movies where a common line that’s used goes: “careful now what you say, that kind of talk will get you sent to the Russian front.”

  43. Absit invidia says:

    Thank you. I continue to hear people loosely play the Holy Spirit card, but they dont realize three fallacies to their argument:

    1. The Pope is chosen by the College of Cardinals not by the Holy Spirit
    2. If the Pope is chosen by the Holy Spirit, then certainly Card. Burke was too.
    3. There have been 9-12 bad popes over the centuries for various reasons; their bad decisions were not the action of the Holy Spirit.

    So no, too many Catholics, namely charismatic types, abuse and misuse how and where the Holy Spirit operates – and how and where it doesn’t

  44. Aegidius says:

    Then the Pope sent a delegate ti the Großmeister of the SMOM asking why is loyal Großkanzer von Boeselager (BTW of a noble German family heavily involved in the anti-Hiter redistance) asking for reasons of his dismissal. And the Großmeister smiled, said “and I am the Großmeister and I want him removed and he will be removed.” He outstretchef his hand indicating the audience was over.

  45. thomas tucker says:

    @JARay: as a Knight Commander of the EOHSJ, that sounds interesting. What is the conflict between the EOHSJ and the Catenian Association?