VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Members of the Knights of Malta about to elect a new permanent leader were asked instead to consider electing a lieutenant who would temporarily take the reins of the order.
The request was sent by the order’s leadership in an email reported by the National Catholic Reporter April 26 and confirmed by the order’s press office in Rome.
Electors representing members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta were to meet as the Council Complete of State beginning April 29 in Rome.
According to the order’s Constitutional Charter, a lieutenant is elected if the Council Complete of State fails to elect a grand master after the fifth ballot. The election of a grand master, who is elected for life, requires a two-thirds majority.
However, the email recommended that members forgo the election of a grand master and instead elect a lieutenant who would take charge of the order for a one-year period.
The knights press office, while confirming the email’s content, added that it was meant to be “an internal letter” and not a public statement.
The election follows a dramatic series of events that began in November with the removal and eventual reinstatement of Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, the order’s grand chancellor.
Weeks of public tension between the order and the Vatican ended when Pope Francis requested that Fra’ Matthew Festing resign his post as grand master Jan. 24. The pope then named Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Vatican substitute secretary of state, as his special delegate and sole spokesman to the Order of Malta.
Despite having most of his responsibilities transferred to Archbishop Becciu, U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke remains the cardinal patron of the order.
Although Cardinal Burke is often viewed as one of Pope Francis’ most vocal critics, in an interview, the pope said he did not regard the American cardinal as an “adversary” and that the decision to appoint “a delegate with a different charism than (Cardinal) Burke” was a question of “clearing things up a bit in the order.”
“The problem with the Order of Malta was more that (Cardinal Burke) was unable to deal with it,” the pope said in the interview with Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper published March 8. “I have not removed his title of patron. He is still the patron of the Order of Malta.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Pakistani archbishop: Increased security leads students to feel unsafe
NEXT: Practical Christianity: Pope emphasizes real help for those in need
Share this story