Resignation of head of the Knights of Malta

grandmaster_festingAt the Spanish site InfoVaticana we read:

ÚLTIMA HORA: Dimite el Gran Maestre de la Orden de Malta a petición del Papa

Según ha podido saber InfoVaticana, el Papa Francisco le habría pedido que presentara la renuncia. Matthew Festing fue elegido príncipe y Gran Maestre de la Orden en 2008.

El culebrón en la Orden de Malta se resuelve con el cese de su Gran Maestre, Matthew Festing, que ha presentado su renuncia de un puesto vitalicio tras 9 años en el cargo. Festing, de 68 años, deja la Orden tras un conflicto a raíz del cese del gran canciller, Albrecht von Boeselager, acusado de tibieza.

[… my version …]

As InfoVacticana has learned, Pope Francis asked him [the Grand Master] to submit his resignation. Matthew Festing was elected head and Grand Master of the Order in 2008.

The soap opera in the Order of Malta is resolved with the cessation of office of its Grand Master, Matthew Festing, who presented his resignation from a post for life after 9 years in office. Festing, 68, leaves the Order after a conflict following the dismissal of the great chancellor, Albrecht von Boeselager, accused of tepidity.


I am sure that more will be forthcoming.

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  1. TimG says:

    I did not expect this. So much for sovereignty. Wonder who will be “elected” in his place? I am guessing someone who will make Cdl Burke’s job much more difficult.

    I also saw an article today that Pope Francis is asking the media to avoid scandalous articles. What does he think of asking the leader of a sovereign group to step down cause…

  2. tradition4all says:

    How long can this go on? How long can Pope Francis continue down this path before someone tells him that he needs to stop? When will someone stand up and say, “If you want to depose me, put me on trial. The Church is not a religious order of which the Pope is Superior.”

  3. rmichaelj says:

    @ TimG,
    It might be that the person elected in his place is younger and just as orthodox. By resigning and electing someone new it leaves the “investigation” unable to attack the head of the order personally.
    I’m not saying it is a good idea that he resigned (because of the impression it gives), but it might not be as bad as you guess.

  4. stuartal79 says:

    Is this report even reliable?

  5. Y2Y says:

    He must be resisted to his face, by whatever means are necessary, without limitation.

  6. Grabski says:

    Father. If the Church does not ask the impossible of us, how can we be expected to follow Francis like lemmings over the ledge? We must be able to say “No another inch. And about face”

    But how?

  7. John Grammaticus says:

    I can’t say that I’m a fan of Pope Francis, who seems to have handled the situation with all the tact of a rhino in a ceramics emporium, but surely this might be a chance for the Order to reinvent itself (in a good way) ?

    Whilst I was aware of the Order before this whole controversy kicked off, I only took a deeper look because of it. As far as I can work out, it seems that apart from the people who actually did all the ‘grunt work’, it’s basically an old boys club for European aristocrats to pat themselves on the back and award titles and awards to each other.

    Perhaps a new young and dynamic (no these are not code-words for liberal) Grand Master who can drag this literally Medieval organisation into the 21st century and appoint people based on merit rather than birth.

  8. Geoffrey says:

    Reuters is also reporting it…

    I am floored. Absolutely floored. Prince and Grand Masters of the Order of Malta are elected for life.

    And to the ignorant who think that the Order of Malta is an “old boys club for European aristocrats” had best not allow the French and American revolution’s notions of egalitarianism and mediocrity to cloud traditional Catholic thinking. The knights and dames of Malta, as well as the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, are the very essence of “noblesse oblige”.

    The Prince and Grand Master (emeritus?!) was simply doing what was, and is, traditional of all true knights: defending the faith of the Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church.

  9. stuartal79 says:

    I am remain unconvinced that this story is reliable.

  10. Athelstan says:

    Wonder who will be “elected” in his place?

    I wouldn’t bet against someone a lot more relaxed about distributing contraceptives in the developing world, I’m afraid.

  11. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    For what it’s worth, his English Wikipedia article has “He resigned from his position as Grand Master following a dispute with the Vatican over the firing of the Grand Chancellor”, with a Reuters article by Philip Pullella (as published by Metro, 24 January, 9:37 p.m.).

  12. Elizabeth R says:

    Edward Pentin has now reported it, at the National Catholic Register.

  13. ChesterFrank says:

    I really wish someone could explain the Sovereign Military Order of Malta to me, and then decipher the current soap opera in a non-judgmental way. I am totally lost.

  14. kiwiinamerica says:

    I’m not feeling the “mercy”.

  15. Dirk1973 says:

    Mmm each day i’m getting more depressed. I’ve had it with this pope. They always told me popes can’t mess with the magisterium but isn’t this what we are seeing each day with pope Francis? He’s destroying the legacies of at least 8 previous popes. You guys are lucky living in the States but here in Belgium we have reached extinction level with the cardinal hat going to mgr De Kesel (a Danneels protégé). I’ve given it a lot of thought but i’ve made up my mind: I’m joining the SSPX. Catholic tradition has been THE enemy for the official Catholic Church in Belgium for more than 50 years now with a little intermezzo under archbishop Léonard. He established the priestly fraternity of the Holy Apostles wich immediately had lots of success with twenty young priests due to the traditional character. One month after Mgr Léonard’s retirement Mgr De Kesel said this wasn’t what he wanted for the Belgian Church and destroyed the fraternity. I pray each day but we can’t endure much longer.

  16. TimG says:


    It is possible and I try to look for the positive.

    But knowing that he resigned at the request of the pope, who has an astoundingly depressing track record since the synods were announced, and who just assigned a 5 person commission (3 of which have reported conflicts of interest) to investigate the order, suggests something nefarious afoot. I hope I am wrong.

  17. Y2Y says:

    “How long can this go on? How long can Pope Francis continue down this path before someone tells him that he needs to stop? When will someone stand up and say, “If you want to depose me, put me on trial. The Church is not a religious order of which the Pope is Superior.”

    If this man is truly the successor of St Peter, then I am the Emperor of Jupiter.

  18. CharlesG says:

    I thought the Pope was for decentralisation in the Church? This seems like pretty heavy handed interference.

  19. sahn105 says:

    That’s because decentralization really means to allow local bishops conferences to implement dissent. And, when groups don’t comply with that agenda they get investigated.

  20. excalibur says:


  21. Chris Rawlings says:

    So, Y2Y, how is it being Emperor of Jupiter?

  22. stuart reiss says:

    Chris..i fell off my chair……..naughty boy!

    anyway..I didn’t like the name of the former Grand Master..nor the square rimmed glasses he lets hope there’s a dynamic young merciful chap …oh and why not chapesse? …with cool what most Germans wear…. come in…and get rid of those long robes and big crosses on them too…

  23. Mike says:

    How long before we begin to get scolded from the Papal pulpit about “doctors of the international law”?

  24. TWF says:

    Charles: This Pope says he’s all for synodality and decentralization, but in practice he seems to love flexing those muscles of primacy.

  25. TWF says:

    According to Vatican Radio the Pope will be appointing a “Papal Delegate” to run the Order. So much for the Sovereign Order…reduced to the status of the FFI? And what’s at the root of this? Surely the Pope doesn’t AGREE with the distribution of condoms? What’s really going on here?

  26. According to the homepage of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta a extrodinary session of the Sovereign Council is scheduled on the 28th of January by His Eminence Fra Festing to accept his resignation. My hope is that the Sovereign Council rejects the proposal of the resignation of the Grand Master and declares any Papal Delegate a persona non grata on the grounds that this is a major offense against the sovereignity of the order.

  27. Michael_Thoma says:

    What can the Papal Delegate do, and how can he be appointed?

    Can the USA appoint a Canadian PM-delegate?

    Maybe it’s closer to the Queen of England appointing the Governor of Canada??

  28. TWF says:

    Does the former Grand Master retain any honours or precedence as a “Grand Master Emeritus”? What becomes of him? Can he hold any other office in the Order down the road?
    I’ve now seen it reported in more than one place that yes indeed the Holy Father is appointing a Papal Delegate to run the Order until things “cool down”.

  29. VexillaRegis says:

    The battle hymn is, as usual, taken from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, the Witches’ chorus:
    Destruction’s our delight
    Delight our greatest sorrow!
    Elissa dies tonight and Carthage flames tomorrow.

  30. Austin says:

    When does the coordinated resistance to the pope’s wrecking agenda get started?

    I am a convert from the ruins of Anglicanism. The sudden push for radical change is drearily familiar. It started in earnest in various Anglican national churches in the late 1960s as radicals began to infiltrate colleges and organizations and to take over diocesan and national synods. By the time the faithful had woken up and started to fight back, we had lost the elements of traditional Catholic doctrine and practice that survived in Anglicanism, our institutions, and any say in how things would proceed in the future.

    I fear something similar is happening, very quickly, in the Church today as the pent-up frustration of the Vatican II radicals escapes the constraints enforced by our last two pontiffs. But we now have the means to expose, organize, and push back, thanks to information technology. How do we stop this before the damage is irreparable?

  31. TimG says:

    Definitely a takeover in progress. Edward Pentin has updated the title of his story;

    Order’s governing council must still vote to accept the resignation; Vatican says Pope will appoint a Papal Delegate to head the Order.

  32. John Grammaticus says:


    I am a free man, a proud son of the dales, and I will not bow and scrape at the feet of the likes of Matthew Festing, begging for scraps just to make them feel good. When my grandfather was in need 80 years ago it was not the likes of the Order that helped him, it was his brothers in the Catenians (roughly analogous to the KOFC) back when they were known as the Chums Benevolent association.

    And my thinking is not clouded, Merit, and equality of opportunity are the only ways forward, for how else are we to secure justice upon this earth?

  33. Filipino Catholic says:

    At the risk of singing too bold a tune, “will no one rid us of this meddlesome pope?”

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