Big Changes Strike the Knights of Malta

UPDATE: From the SMOM:

Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein assumes the office of Lieutenant ad interim, Albrecht Boeselager resumes his office as Grand Chancellor

The Sovereign Council, the government of the Sovereign Order of Malta, met this afternoon in the Magistral Palace in Rome. On the agenda was the resignation from Office of Grand Master presented by Fra’ Matthew Festing, in accordance with article 16 of the Constitution of the Order of Malta. The Sovereign Council accepted his resignation from office. Conforming to the Constitution, the Pope has been notified of the resignation of Fra’ Matthew Festing, which will be communicated to the 106 Heads of State with whom the Order has diplomatic relations. In accordance with Article 17 of the Constitution, the Grand Commander, Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein, has assumed the office of Lieutenant ad interim and will remain the Order of Malta’s head until the election of the successor of the Grand Master. The Sovereign Council thanked Fra’ Matthew Festing for his great commitment during his nine years in office.

Subsequently, the Sovereign Council presided over by the Lieutenant ad interim annulled the decrees establishing the disciplinary procedures against Albrecht Boeselager and the suspension of his membership in the Order. Albrecht Boeselager resumes his office as Grand Chancellor immediately.

In a letter sent yesterday, 27 January 2017, to Fra’ Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein and the members of the Sovereign Council, Pope Francis reaffirmed the special relationship between the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Apostolic See. The Pope affirmed that the Lieutenant ad interim assumes responsibility over the Order’s government, in particular regarding relationships with other States. Pope Francis noted precisely that his Special Delegate will be operating on “the spiritual renewal of the Order, specifically of its professed members.” The Sovereign Order of Malta ensures its full collaboration with the Special Delegate whom the Holy Father intends to appoint.

The Sovereign Order of Malta is most grateful to Pope Francis and the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin for their interest in and care for the Order. The Order appreciates that the Holy Father’s decisions were all carefully taken with regard to and respect for the Order, with a determination to strengthen its sovereignty.

The Lieutenant ad interim together with the Sovereign Council will soon convoke the Council Complete of State for the election of the successor of the Grand Master, according to Art. 23 of the Constitution.

From ANSA:

Ordine Malta: si dimette Festing. Lettera del Papa, nessun commissariamento
La missiva è per definire i rapporti tra governo interim e delegato vaticano


The Pope sent a letter to the Sovereign Council of the Knights of Malta expressing what he wanted to happen.

The Sovereign Council accepted the resignation of the Grand Master, Matthew Festing.

An “interim lieutenant”, fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein, will assume control.

Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeselager was reinstated.

There will not be a “commissar” or commission placed over them.

The Pope expressed that the interim lieutenant must work:

operando in stretta convergenza di obiettivi con il delegato speciale, il quale si occuperà del rinnovamento spirituale dell’Ordine, specificatamente dei suoi membri professi”.

working in strict concurrence of goals with the special delegate, who will occupy himself with the spiritual renewal of the Order, specifically of its professed members.

Hmmm… no commission, but a “special delegate”. Reinstated is the brother of a fellow who had just been appointed to govern Vatican finances. The “special delegate” must work to renew the SMOM spiritual life.

I read at the site of the SMOM about the role of the Cardinal Patron of the SMOM, Card. Burke HERE:

The Supreme Pontiff appoints a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church as his representative to the Sovereign Order of Malta, the “Cardinalis Patronus” (Cardinal Patronus), vested with special authority. The Cardinalis Patronus is in charge of promoting the spiritual interests of the Order and of its members, as well as the relationships between the Holy See and the Order of Malta. As of 8th November, 2014, the Cardinal Patronus of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is:

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  1. acardnal says:

    Edward Pentin Tweeted today about the vote:

    ?@EdwardPentin 31m ago
    Correction: a “handful” voted against, not just one.

    @EdwardPentin 3h ago
    #OrderofMalta’s Sovereign Council has voted to accept Grand Master’s resignation, only one vote against.

  2. jonvilas says:

    So who is going to be that special delegate – cardinal Kasper or cardinal Marx? …

  3. Traductora says:

    I’m very sorry to hear this, although I expected it. I have spent the day praying for them …

    The hapless creatures didn’t seem to realize that the fate of the Church and probably Christendom, such as it is, depended on them. But that’s probably how it always is with a major group decision in the face of power. The bishops under Henry VIII weren’t evil, but just didn’t seem to realize that a fateful moment of decision for all the world had somehow come to them, in that place, on that day, in that hour. And that there weren’t gong to be any do-overs.

  4. TimG says:

    Well, at a minimum I assume this means Cdl Burke is getting fired. He is (was) in charge of the spiritual side of SMOM and since the pope has to assign a special delegate, it seems to me the implicit message is he clearly wasn’t doing a good job.

    the prayer of Humility really comes to mind here. Cdl Burke must pray it every day.

  5. Uxixu says:

    Had the small hope they would reject the resignation and refuse the delegate.

    Christe eleison

  6. excalibur says:

    They folded like a cheap camera (as the late Bob Grant would say).

    And yes, the nepotism, approved of by the Pope(!), is horrid. It leaves a stench. It is about money, as was the long ago Knights Templar mess, though no one is likely to be burned alive (Jacques de Molay, among others) over this. Though the Pope at that time, Clement V, seems to have been ill used by the King of France, Philip IV, as the Pope had exonerated those men in 1308, six years before they were executed, after years in prison. Yes, money at the root of both.

  7. PapaGregorio says:

    Pentin has a good article over at NC Register –

    Looks to be a German takeover and, from what I’ve heard, the Germans wax more liberal. I know, “surprise, surprise.” I can’t help feel for Cardinal Burke. Even in his exile, he can’t be left alone. I pray there is a higher purpose behind this. Perhaps, this is a covert op to weed out German Freemasons from the Order. Either way, Dan Brown is sitting gleefully at his keyboard typing out his next pseudo-historical novel.

    Stay faithful, my friends!

  8. Poor Yorek says:

    “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”

  9. scotus says:

    Is Cardinal Burke now the Patronus Emeritus?

  10. Charivari Rob says:

    If I had any talent in making memes (and if this situation wasn’t so important), I would graft this saga onto an image of Tarkington and the boys discussing the emperor dissolving the Senate and how the Moffs would maintain order.

  11. Charivari Rob says:


    Stupid autocorrect.

    [Proof read, preview, before hitting “POST”?]

  12. Traductora says:

    Lord have mercy indeed. I had a fragile hope that they would hold out, but the moment passed them by.

    I think things will get really, really bad now. I hope we can all cling to Our Lord, as did Our Lady, and remain steadfast.

  13. arga says:

    Well we have only heard the accusations against Albrecht Boeselager. Is it possible he is actually innocent? If he were, I suppose the Vatican would have said so, to justify its intervention. Desperate for some reason not to think poorly of the pope.

  14. TWF says:

    Cardinal Burke definitely seems redundant with the appointment of this Special Delegate.

  15. Kathleen10 says:

    My Italian mother-in-law had an expression she used, and I want to use it now, but I found out after she was gone it was a swear, so I can’t. But it would be appropriate, and I’m thinking it.
    This is a shameful outcome, and is going to alienate many people. If they go after Cardinal Burke more than they have, that nails it.

  16. Lucas says:

    Can somebody give me a real quick run down on this whole situation? I honestly haven’t paid much attention(life has been….well.. crazy)

  17. Raymond says:

    If I were a knight of Malta, I would have submitted my resignation from the Order, as well. A shameful, illegal intervention from a shameless pope!

    As a Catholic immigrant and naturalized US citizen, it’s so surreal for me to be more in agreement with my non-Catholic President Trump, than with my own pope.

  18. Sword40 says:

    Makes one think of a book written by a Rev. P Huche’ and printed in English in 1884. The title is A History of the AntiChrist and was publish and reprinted several times by Tan Publishing. Certainly makes one think of what is happening. (Franciscans of the Immaculate, SMOM, etc.)

    The FSSPX would be crazy to accept Rome’s offer. God protect Summorum Pontificum and all Traditional societies.

  19. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I can’t confess anything positive in this at all. The Pope overstepping his bounds in the temporal realm and interfering with a sovereign state leadership without a formal statement disposing a sovereign ruler. A bunch of Germans taking over the Sovereign Order of Malta, one being reinstated by the Pope’s express wish despite ample evidence he was operating against the Faith. Burke’s specific assignment being usurped by a lesser papal delegate. Rumors the Pope demanded the now defunked grand master say Burke lead the recent events…hmmm…please help me be positive here…

  20. Poor Yorek says:

    Is Cardinal Burke now the Patronus Emeritus?

    If so, please God send him to the Diocese of Raleigh! “Ambrose Burke for Bishop!”

  21. SKAY says:

    I agree Kathleen10. Cardinal Burke is always in my prayers.

  22. Charles E Flynn says:


    This article is a good review of the situation up until the time of its publication:

    From An Order of Malta Church Shake, by Carl E. Olson, for The Catholic World Report:

    Knights. Condoms. A forced resignation. Papal inquiry. Rebuffs. Tension. Another forced resignation. Papal intrigue. More tension. Germans. Confusion. Power. Freemasonry. Money. Whatever could be next?

  23. Ultrarunner says:

    Undoubtedly the Germans are relishing the Grand Master’s native English humor at this time.

    History however will undoubtedly judge Grand Master Festing very well, while the German Boeselager will henceforth and always posseses a nobility approaching that of the common rat.

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  25. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    To Charles E Flynn’s admirable recommendation, can be added a note that Mr. Olson quotes and links (among other things) two of three articles by canon lawyer Edward Condon at the Catholic Herald site, as well as one by Sandro Magister (in which he notes that the “most detailed and documented reconstruction of the affair can be found in […] articles by Edward Pentin”).

    Without any knowledge of Sword40’s recommendation, I note that it is available online in the Internet Archive: History of Antichrist : or, An exposition of certain and probable events which concern the “man of sin,” his reign, his time, and end, according to Holy Scripture and tradition with the author’s surname given as Huchedé.

  26. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    In checking if the Internet Archive had the book mentioned by Sword40, I encountered another work unknown to me: John Taaffe, The history of the holy, military, sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem; or, Knights Hospitallers, Knights Templars, Knights of Rhoades, Knights of Malta (1852), in 4 volumes (all of which, I think, are scanned there).

  27. Pingback: Order of Malta thanks Pope for his “determination to strengthen its sovereignty” |

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  29. rtjl says:

    Could this be further retaliation for Cardinal Burke’s involvement in the dubia? Could Pope Francis really be that small minded, petty, vindictive and autocratic?

    I suppose one good thing might be this. If Cardinal Burke is the object of so much persecution it may well be because God has big plans for him. Indeed, it may even be that he is central to God’s plans going forward. Let us pray for the Pope, but let us pray still more for Cardinal Burke, and perhaps for Cardinal Sarah too.

  30. JARay says:

    I see from Settimo Cielo that Sandra Magister is convinced that all of this is a deliberate attempt to get rid of Cardinal Burke. This is Pope Francis’s payback for the five Dubia. It just shows what a spiteful man Pope Francis can be, despite his pretended “Who am I to judge”.

  31. byzantinesteve says:

    I have an idea. If the Holy Father doesn’t want Burke around in Rome anymore, he should just appoint him the next Archbishop of Washington DC. After all, Wuerl is past the normal retirement age.

  32. tominrichmond says:

    Well this will certainly make it much more difficult for Bp. Fellay to shepherd the SSPX into full communion. If the Pope can do this to a “sovereign” order, what would prevent him from similarly interfering in the workings of Personal Prelature? And if I were the Superior General of the FSSP, I’d be feeling a bit warm under the collar right now.

    It’s a sad development, since this pontificate might have been the “Nixon in China” moment that could have brought the Society fully in.

  33. zama202 says:

    No longer matters what the status is – if an Order celebrates the Traditional Mass and promotes traditional Catholic teaching – it gets the money I would have given my diocese.


  34. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Imagine the firestorm that would have ensued if the Knights of Malta were a sovereign body named The SISTERS of Malta and Pope Francis interfered the way he did. Now imagine what the press would have done if it had been the Sisters of Malta and Pope BENEDICT had interfered the way Pope Francis did.

  35. PapalCount says:

    The pope overstepped himself here. He threw a hizzy fit and created this entire mess in order, it seems to me, to protect a friend of a friend/a relative of a relative. He stuck his nose where it did not belong and while he had the Grand Master fired and the Grand Chancellor restored…Francis has back-stepped somewhat from his threats. He did not appoint a Papal Delegate to “run and oversee” the Order. He has recognised the sovereign nature of the Order and is now concerned only with the spiritual life of the very few Knights who are actually professed religious. He admits that he recognises the interim leader has total responsibility for relations with other sovereign states. A new Grand Master will be elected as is the normal course. He lost some face here. I am sure he is not happy. He appeared to be an ogre and bully less a spiritual father and shepherd.
    Had the KM rejected the GMs resignation and defied the pope I am not sure what the pope could have done other that perhaps in secrecy put diplomatic pressure on those States which recognise the Order’s sovereign status to drop their recognition.
    It was a mess. Francis is at the centre of it if not the cause of it. As for Cardinal Burke he will remain admired and loved by his constituency and will never be in want no matter what Francis does to him — if he does anything. We all must pray though both for the Holy Father and the KM and Cardinal Burke. Let us pray that the care of souls will be the focus of all especially for Pope Francis.

  36. Uxixu says:

    Cardinal Burke would be great in Washington! Love the idea, byazntinesteve.

  37. Nancy D. says:

    “Perhaps, this is a covert op to weed out German Freemasons from the Order.”

    One can certainly be a “freemason” in spirit, without physically belonging to the Order. In fact, the belief that in order to be Catholic, a Baptized Catholic’s conscience need not be in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, would certainly be consistent with a freemason spirit. It appears Chivalry is dead for a majority of The Knights of Malta, but this does not change the fact, that Jesus The Christ Is The King of Kings!

    As the veil is being lifted, a Great Apostasy is being exposed:

  38. Nancy D. says:

    ‘The chapter concludes with a very important reflection on the “transformation of love” because “Longer life spans now mean that close and exclusive relationships must last for four, five or even six decades; consequently, the initial decision has to be frequently renewed” (AL 163). As physical appearance alters, the loving attraction does not lessen but changes as sexual desire can be transformed over time into the desire for togetherness and mutuality: “There is no guarantee that we will feel the same way all through life. Yet if a couple can come up with a shared and lasting life project, they can love one another and live as one until death do them part, enjoying an enriching intimacy” (AL 163).

    “He explicitly calls to our attention the teaching of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae regarding the essential connection between the unitive and the procreative dimensions of conjugal love (80).”

    He explicitly calls to our attention the teaching of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae regarding the essential connection between the unitive and the procreative dimensions of conjugal love (80), but then the Vatican website summary denies the unitive and procreative dimensions of conjugal Love, from The Beginning, thus denying that for a Sacramental Marriage Covenant to be valid, it must be unitive and procreative from the start:

    “As physical appearance alters, the loving attraction does not lessen but changes as sexual desire can be transformed over time into the desire for togetherness and mutuality.” (new dogma on the essence of Conjugal Love)

    This sentence, in essence, is about the transformation of lust, not Love. According to the Vatican summary posted on The Vatican website, (Al 163), in marriage, first comes sexual desire based on physical appearance, and then, hopefully, with the passing of time, lust will be transformed into a desire for togetherness and mutuality.

    Our Lady, Untier of knots, untangle this tangle web, for the sake of Christ, His Church, all who will come to believe, and those prodigal sons and daughters, who, hopefully, will soon return to Christ, and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.


    Only someone who is not capable of discerning the difference between lust and Love, would make a statement such as this:

    “Page 117, of the pope’s book, On Heaven and Earth, in regards to same-sex unions
    “If there is a union of a PRIVATE NATURE, THERE IS NEITHER A THIRD PARTY NOR IS SOCIETY AFFECTED. Now, if this union is given the category of marriage and they are given adoption rights, there could be children affected. Every person needs a male father and female mother that can help them shape their identity.” -Jorge Mario Bergoglio

    When one denies that God Is The Author of Love, of Life, and of Marriage by denying the Sanctity of the marital act, one denies The Divinity of The Most Holy And Undiivided Blessed Trinity, and thus one denies
    Salvational Love, God’s Gift of Grace and Mercy.

    Whenever one exchanges lust, which sexually objectifies the human person, who is not, in essence, an object of sexual desire/inclination/orientation, but a beloved son or daughter, for Love, you have exchanged the truth, with a lie.

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