Order of Malta to Pope Francis: No thanks.

From the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta comes a statement to Pope Francis.  HERE

The statement is pretty thick, but in effect SMOM is standing up for itself.

The conclusion (but read the whole thing there)…


In the light of these fundamental legal regulations, it is clear that, in strictly legal terms, a refusal to a command ‘in Obedience’ does not justify in any way the involvement of ‘religious superiors’, all the more so as they do not all belong to the Order.

Such involvement, in addition to being legally impossible, is also superfluous in terms of protecting members of the Order: from the time that the members of the Second and Third Class who wish to appeal against disciplinary measures they consider too harsh, can dispute these before the Magistral Courts, as provided for by Article 129 of the Constitutional Code.

Failure to cooperate with the aforementioned Group has therefore strictly legal grounds, thus it is not and cannot in any way be considered as a lack of respect towards the Group, nor towards His Eminence Secretary of State.

The position of the Grand Magistry is that the depositions that individual members consider that they could make to the Group cannot, in their terms and judgments, be in contradiction, directly or indirectly, with the decision of the Grand Master and the Sovereign Council concerning the replacement of the Grand Chancellor.

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  1. Y2Y says:

    I’ll throw the cat in among the pigeons here and point out that in the context of international law, the deliberate and unwarranted interference by one sovereign state in the strictly internal affairs of another is ordinarily considered an act of war.

  2. Amerikaner says:

    And they are right.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    Makes sense to me. I think the Holy See could embarrass itself over this. Quaeritur: If both the Holy See (and the State of the Vatican City) and the Order of Malta are sovereign, how on earth would this dispute be settled? Surely not in the Roman Rota or the Apostolic Signatura…

  4. KAS says:

    I think it is totally wonderful to see a part of the Church standing up for itself! I am so happy seeing this. I am so very tired of everyone apologizing for our beliefs and fudging them and soft peddling them, and compromising them–all that soft wimpy garbage is demoralizing.

  5. VexillaRegis says:

    Good. Just think if SMOM would do the same to the Holy See! Or – coming to think about it, that might actually be a really good idea…! The Augias stables come to mind….

  6. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Someone advised His Holiness that removing Cardinal Burke from the Signatura would make him no longer an effective form of resistance. Then someone advised His Holiness to meddle in the Supreme Military Order of Malta, to which he had banished Cardinal Burke, thinking to end rigidity and all that. I guess I’m glad that this isn’t a military campaign. It’s a good thing that Cardinal Burke is a loyal son of the Church.


    Now I know why I’ve increased the intentions for public rosaries to include His Holiness and the four Cardinals by name.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  7. JARay says:

    I am so very glad that the Sovereign Order of Malta told Pope Francis what he could do with his Commission of Enquiry. It is just possible that he may learn that some Traditions have meaning and power which even he cannot change.

  8. Gerard Plourde says:

    It seems to me that the Order is confronted with a “Hobson’s Choice” scenario. They can claim national sovereignty or claim to be a lay religious order subject to Canon Law (as stated in their Constitution) and the Holy See, but they cannot do both simultaneously. If they choose the national sovereignty route, it may require that the Pope suppress them as a religious order, since they are in effect saying that they are not subject to the Pope. This result have the unintended consequence of reducing their influence on the international stage.

  9. Austin says:

    Mr Plourde seems to imply the Knights are just making this stuff up in the hope of having their cake and eating it.

    In point of fact, there are hundreds of years of binding legal precedents here, codified in agreements between the Holy See and the Knights after disputes about jurisdiction. I will not reiterate the several sources, easily accessible elsewhere. Suffice it to note that mid 20th century, a clear division of boundaries was reasserted that underscored the independent sovereignty of the Knights in matters temporal.

    I imagine also that Cardinal Burke, with his profound mastery of canon law, was consulted and would have ensured that no action was taken that would be ultra vires.

    This commission is an illegitimate power grab by the Vatican, and a rather incompetent one at that.

  10. Ann Malley says:

    @Gerald Plourde

    “…This result have the unintended consequence of reducing their influence on the international stage.”

    Actually, Gerald, the Knights going public about having every right to do what they did and reject an intrusive overreach on the part of the Vatican will give them even greater influence on the international stage. Why? Because the humble train that is crushing everything like a Marxist fist — or trying to — is being exposed for what it is. A misuse of authority.

    This last is critical to the faithful waking up on a world wide scale, not just in small pockets here and there.

  11. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Austin and Ann Malley,

    My comment is in response to the Constitutional Charter of the Knights as posted on their web site. Article 4, Paragraph 2 states “In accordance with The Code of Canon Law, the churches and conventual institutions of the order are exempt from the jurisdiction of dioceses and are directly subject to the Holy See.” While Paragraph 6 of the Sam Article states “The religious nature of the Order does not prejudice the exercise of sovereign prerogatives pertaining to the Order in so far as it is recognized by States as a subject of international law”, this sovereignty refers to its secular functions. Because they are in effect in a dual status, I would contend that the vowed religious of the Order are subject to Papal jurisdiction as any religious institute would be as outlined in the the Code of Canon Law. Religious Orders can be suppressed by the Pope as was famously done with the Society of Jesus in the 18th Century. The Knights’ secularization would not affect their status under Paragraph 6. They could certainly continue as the Knights of Malta with full diplomatic status without being vowed religious. In fact, their doing so would most likely allow for the removal of Paragraph 2 that subjects them to Canon Law and would clearly free them from Vatican oversight.

  12. zebedee says:

    Gerard Plourde,

    You don’t seem to have a firm grasp of the organization of the Order. While some members of the order are professed religious, most are not and therefore have not made vows of obedience. The internal governance of the order is therefore not subject to the discipline of the Church.

  13. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Zebedee,

    I do know that most of the members of the Knights are not professed religious. The senior members, including the Chancellor, are however. In fact, disobedience to his religious superior formed the grounds for his suspension from the Order. That type of discipline may be subject to review under the Code of Canon Law, under the language of Article 4, Paragraph 2 of the Order’s Constitutional Charter.

  14. albizzi says:

    One may wonder, given the intent of the Vatican Secretariate of State to investigate into the firing of the SMOM’s Grand Chancellor Mr Von Boeselager, if the SMOM couldn’t feel itself entitled to launch a commission to investigate in the firing of 3 collaborators of Card. Muller or into the replacement of the main part of Card. Sarah’s staff.
    Just joking…

  15. Fr. Kelly says:

    I pose this as a question for those who are better informed than me.

    Could this situation be read this way?:

    1 For years a scandal is brewing in the work of Malteser especially in Africa. UnderVon Boselager as Grand Hospitaller and then as Grand Chancellor, the SMOM are implicated in the distribution of contraceptives and propaganda urging various immoral activities. Word of this gets to Pope Francis and he decides to act.

    2 He sends Cardinal Burke to oversee the SMOM in an effort to support the work of the Grand Master in righting the ship.

    3 When this matter is finally dealt with despite significant resistance within the SMOM, Von Boselager’s cronies within the Vatican Secretary of State attempt to intervene in early December to prevent the SMOM’s self reformation. They claim Francis’ authority in establishing a commission for this purpose, knowing his inexplicable refusal to clear up any errors arising from people speaking in his name, whether it be curia officials, German Cardinals, members of the international press, or whoever.

    4 Francis blasts those entrenched rigid ones who resist reform in his Christmas Curia address. (I know many have taken this attack to refer to Burke, but as he is no longer in the Curia, isn’t it more likely that Francis has in mind someone closer to home?

    I realize some of this may be wishful thinking, but I can’t help but marvel at the timing of 2,3 and 4.

  16. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Fr. Kelly,

    An interesting and plausible theory that could also fit the facts as we know them. It also explains why Pope Francis chose to assign Cardinal Burke to the Order.

  17. Ceile De says:

    Dear Mr Plourde
    You are mistaken. The current Grand Master and Grand Chancellor are professed knights, that is, religious. The previous Grand Chancellor, Baron von Boeselager, is or was a knight in obedience, having taken only the promise, not vow, of obedience. He is in all respects lay and not religious. Thus, under the constitution of the Order, neither he nor the role he formerly held comes withon the competence of the Holy See. The Secretary of State of the Holy See has been remarkably ill informed in this regard.

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