FrankenPope Stacks the Deck for the New Election of the Grand Master of the Maltese Order

FrankenPope Stacks the Deck for the New Election of the Grand Master of the Maltese Order

Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Trans: Tancred

(Rome) On the following Saturday, 29 April, the Grand Council of Sovereigns of the Sovereign Order of Malta will gather in Rome to form the “conclave”, to elect a new Grand Master and Prince of the Order — the 80th. The election becomes necessary because Pope Francis, with a blatant act, forced the resignation of the reigning Grand Master without naming reasons and now intervenes massively in the election of the successor.
Pope has dismissed the Grand Master and now wishes a successor of his choosing

The circumstances that led to this conclave are no less surprising than the circumstances that led to the conclave that in 2013 chose Pope Francis. In both cases, a premature election has taken place, although both Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 as well as the 79th Grandmaster Fra Matthew Festing in 2008 were elected for lifetime.
During the sudden imprisonment of Benedict XVI, The pontificate of Francis made it possible, it was the Argentine pope, abruptly and radically terminated the office of Grandmaster Festing. Francis, too, now leaves no doubt of wishing a successor to be a grand master.
After forcing Festing to resign on March 24, he placed the Order under provisional supervision. To this end, he appointed Apostolic Special Legate, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Substitute of the Cardinal Secretary. He also showed Cardinal Raymond Burke, the official representative of the Pope, at the Order, the door. Officially, the US cardinal is still a Cardinal Patron of the Maltese, but this is only on paper, which as is known is patient. The reality is different. “At the request of Pope Francis, I have nothing more to do with the affairs of the Order,” the Cardinal himself stated in an interview. Burke had not been deported from the Vatican until the end of the first bishop’s synod on the family where he was a protagonist against the Kasperians who were supported by Francis.
Papal Intervention – Interdict against deposed Grand Master

On Easter Monday an unusual papal telephone call was made to one of his employees, who was on the road with some of the Knights of the Order. To them, it is thought, the call had a purpose and indicated that Pope Francis had made the choice of the new Grand Master.

Who will lead the Maltese dictatorship into the future and restore their sovereignty?

Two days before, on Holy Saturday, which was not known until Tuesday of Easter Week, Special Councilor Becciu had informed the deposed Grand Master Festing in a letter “in the name of the Pope” that his presence during the re-election of his successor in Rome was not desired. In order to ensure a “calm and harmonious” course of the election, he, “with the consent of the pope,” had decided that the ousted Grand Master, although a professed knight of the order, and thus a member of the First Estate, should remain outside of Rome come election day.
There are interferences upon interferences in the innermost affairs of an Order, which is actually a sovereign object of international law. The competences of the Holy See are limited to the religious life of the professed knights, but Pope Francis is currently on the verge of legal provisions, whether of Church or international law. He knows that personal policy is the real lever for “sustainable” and lasting interventions.
Papal invitation to Santa Marta

On the day of the Maltese Conclave Pope Francis will be in Egypt, where he wants to deepen “dialogue” with Islam in a two-day stay. On the eve of his trip to Egypt, April 27th, he invited a high ranking representative of the Order of Malta to Santa Marta at 7 pm. Among them is Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, who today is the really powerful man in the order, but at the same time also the bone of contention, over which, however, Grandmaster Festing was overthrown.
Festing had addressed Boeselager at the beginning of December 2016 because of the distribution of contraceptive means, which was carried out in auxiliary areas by the relief agency of the Order. The responsibility for these aid projects was with Boeselager, who before his time as a Grand Chancellor had occupied the office of the Grand Hospitaller. In addition, there was still an unclear donation in double-digit millions, which was apparently to be handled by a Swiss trustee behind Festing’s back. Festing accused Boeselager of a breach of trust and demanded his resignation, which the German knight refused. When Festing set him down, Boeselager summoned the Vatican Secretariat, who promptly and unusually resolutely intervened in his favor. In the sole personal conversation Francis granted to the Grand Master, he demanded the reinstatement of Boeselager as a Grand Chancellor. When Festing refused, the pope demanded his head.
An “adversary of the pope”

Such is the prehistory which led to the election of a new Grand Master on Saturday. Since then, a majority is being conjured up behind the scenes. There is also moral pressure, because anyone who denies the “Boeselager direction”, also called “German direction”, is suspected of being an “adversary of the pope”. In times of an accentuated autocratic regimen in the Vatican, no accusation is to be put away easily. It is not so clumsily put, but it is suggested.
The prohibition of participation for the dismissed Grand Master is obviously intended to prevent the background of the entire conflict from being placed on the table by the appointed side. Members of the Grand Council of State could ask Festing for clarification, which the latter could only gladly give. In the name of a dubious “unity” and “harmony”, however, the election should be in the desired direction.
The names of the 15 invited

The names of the illustrious circle of the 15 high-ranking knights, whom Pope Francis calls hand-picked in the run-up to the election in Santa Marta, was published today by the Vaticanist Sandro Magister and numbered according to rank:
Fra Ludwig Hoffmann of Rumerstein, Grand Commander and Governor ad interim;
Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, Grand Chancellor;
Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel, Grand Hospitaller;
János Esterházy de Galántha, Receptor of the Joint Treasury;
Erich Prinz von Lobkowicz, Chairman of the German Association;
Marwan Sehnaoui, Chairman of the Lebanese Association;
Jaime Churruca and Azlor de Aragón, President of the Spanish Association;
Thierry de Beaumont-Beynac, Chairman of the French Association;
Fra Giacomo Dalla Torre Del Tempio di Sanguinetto, Grandprior of Rome;
Fra Luigi Naselli di Gela, Grandprior of Naples and Sicily;
Clemente Riva di Sanseverino, Delegate of the Grand Priastrian of Emilia and Romagna;
Fra Ian Scott, Grandprior of England;
Fra Emmanuel Rousseau, Member of the Sovereign Council;
Jack E. Pohrer, Chairman of the American Association;
Monsignor Giovanni Scarabelli, Profect Conventual Chaplain.
Disseminated unrest in the Order

Officially, it is said, they were invited by the special legate, Becciu, but with the suggestion that Pope Francis also wanted to speak with them. The reason for the meeting is the same with which Becciu imposed the interdict on Fra Matthew Festing: this is to ensure that the election could take place “in a climate of peace and regained harmony.”

If Francis’ dismissal of Festing had already caused great disturbances in the order, the ban imposed on Festing aroused no less bewilderment and misunderstanding. “Some of this seems to be an intolerable abuse of office,” says Magister. Even opponents of Festing speak of an exaggerated harshness. This widespread disagreement in the Order was the occasion for the recent intervention of the Vatican: the invitation of the chosen professed knights to Santa Marta, which is to be used for calming, gaining (or intimidating).
In fact, the invitation “created new antagonisms in the Order instead of settling them,” says Magister. Not a few of the knights see a further, inadequate interference by the Vatican, and a pressure exerted by Pope Francis to influence the Grand Duke.
Postponement of the Grandmaster’s Election Possible

Whether the election of the 80th Grand Master happens on Saturday, however, is questionable. Boeselager, for example, can not become Grandmaster. He belongs to the Second Estate. According to the rules of the Order, the Grand Master must be a member of the First Estate. In the course of the conflict, Cardinal Secretary Pietro Parolin had already known, before Christmas, that Pope Francis wanted to “reform” the Order, which was already understood by some as a threat.
On Saturday, therefore, Grand Commander Hoffmann of Rumerstein could be confirmed in the office of a head of state, who has led the Order in the absence of a Grand Master. Magister also mentions the Grand Priory of Rome, Fra Giacomo Dalla Torre Del Tempio di Sanguinetto, as potential candidates for an interim society. The actual decision-making powers would thus remain with the Pontifical Commissioner. This is a situation which would be pleasant for neither Boeselager nor the Pope.
The head of state is appointed for one year. At this time the “reforms” mentioned by Pope Franziskus could be carried out, which – unpredictably foreseeable – will mainly concern the electoral order for the election of the Grand Master.
Even the confidants of Festing and the knights who were concerned about the massive pontifical intervention might be faced with a postponement of the Grand-Electoral election as a buffer. Things can often change quickly, as in the resignation of Benedict XVI. and the election of Francis.
Reform of electoral law and Grand Master election in one year?

The Grand Master must be a professed knight, for only these, among all knights, undertake the solemn vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. These are currently among the world’s 13,000 knights less than 60. They form a special class similar to the Cardinals in the Church, who alone are entitled to choose the Pope. The cardinals do not have to choose him from their own ranks, but they have not done so since ancient times. The Maltese are similar and yet different. The Second and the Third Estate, together with the First Estate, elect the Grand Master, but must choose him from the small circle of the “Monks’ Knights”. This is reduced to currently 12 candidates because, according to old custom, all four grandparents of the Grand Master must be of noble descent.
The latter regulation assures the Order its elitist character, but on the whole, the limitation of the candidates for the Grand Master office to the first class ensures, above all, its spiritual character. This has been and still is to prevent the ancient order from becoming a mere humanitarian NGO among others. The “German tendency” in the Order has for some years been said to make the Maltese Order such an NGO, which would surely be efficient, thoroughly organized with German efficiency and superior to all comparable NGOs because of the diplomatic immunity of the Order. They see the framework within the Order to build up therein the perfect humanitarian, international player and contact for governments and international institutions. Critics, on the other hand, argue that this is possible only at an unacceptable price: the loss of its identity as a Catholic order, if not the loss of its Christian identity. The main distinction between other humanitarian NGOs would no longer be the charism of the Knights ‘and Hospitaler’ Order, which in Jerusalem protected the pilgrims on their way to the holy places, who for centuries defended Christianity militarily and who always performed works of active charity with the works of the spiritual Charity.
“However, as we know, the internal conflict has far deeper and more serious reasons, not least the unresolved question of the mysterious 30 million euros,” says Sandro Magister. Not only does Boeselager deal with them, but another of the 15 invited, the Lebanese Marwan Sehnaoui. Sehnaoui was also a member of the Vatican Investigation Commission, which consisted mainly of Boeselager confidants, who also deal directly with the mysterious million affair at Lake Geneva. The Pope seems to care little. Whoever appeals to him, he defends unconditionally, whoever does not appeal to him …

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One comment on “FrankenPope Stacks the Deck for the New Election of the Grand Master of the Maltese Order

  1. [Will he “get his groove back”?]

    Fra’ Festing Rediscovers His Fight

    Steve Skojec April 26, 2017

    When Fra’ Matthew Festing abdicated his position as Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta — at the pope’s direct request — it left many scratching their heads. How could he allow himself to be pushed out so easily? How was it that his earlier resistance to interference in the sovereign order over which he presided suddenly seemed to evaporate? Festing is hardly a man without martial training or skill. Rather, he is an English nobleman whose father, Sir Francis Festing, served as Field Marshall of the British Army — the highest rank attainable in his branch of the service. The younger Festing himself also served in the Army, attaining the rank of colonel. In the 1990s, as Grand Prior of the English Knights of Malta, Festing would borrow a truck, load it up with food and medical supplies, and drive it across Europe into the heart of the war-torn Balkans to give it to those most especially in need. As his Aide-de-Camp, Jack Straker, related, Festing

    “would drive from his home in Northumberland, up to Aberdeen in Scotland where Shore Porters would lend him a truck.”

    “He would leave his car there, drive the truck back to his home and fill it with supplies he had gathered up. From there he would drive down south, picking up one or two extra volunteers and more supplies,” and then on, straight into one of the most dangerous war zones of the time.

    “He and his friends would drive through Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia, giving out aid and dodging shrapnel as they went along.”

    Fra’ Matthew did many of these trips for several years, sometimes twice or three times a year, until it became more efficient to collect money and fly out to the areas to give financial aid or purchase local supplies.

    In other words, he is a man with a spine, not put off by danger. A man who comes from fighting stock. A man who rose to the top of a complex and ancient chivalric order not through political calculation, but pure dedication and pluck.

    And today, we are happy to inform you that he’s returned to form.

    Last week, we told you that the papal delegate to the Order, Archbishop Becciu, wrote a letter to Festing with the approval of the pope, telling him not to come to Rome for the election of a new Grand Master — an election which he is very much entitled to attend. This, even though the pope told Festing he would not oppose his re-election — a re-election many within the Order favor. Yesterday, Sandro Magister took the story further:

    To some, the interdict brought down by the pope on the former Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra’ Matthew Festing, seemed to be going too far. To others, not far enough.

    The fact is that for 7pm on Thursday, April 27, on the eve of his journey to Egypt, Francis has convened at Casa Santa Marta a hefty representation of the members of the Order who have come to Rome to appoint their new superior general. To be exact, the following fifteen:

    – Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein, Grand Commander and Lieutenant ad interim;
    – Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, Grand Chancellor;
    – Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel, Grand Hospitaller;
    – János Esterházy de Galántha, Receiver of the Common Treasure;
    – Erich Prinz von Lobkowicz, President of the Association of German Knights;
    – Marwan Sehnaoui, President of the Association of Lebanese Knights;
    – Jaime Churruca y Azlor de Aragón, President of the Association of Spanish Knights;
    – Thierry de Beaumont-Beynac, President of the Association of French Knights;
    – Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre Del Tempio di Sanguinetto, Grand Prior of Rome;
    – Fra’ Luigi Naselli di Gela, Grand Prior of Naples and Sicily;
    – Clemente Riva di Sanseverino, Grand Prior Delegate for eastern Emilia and Romagna;
    – Fra’ Ian Scott, Grand Prior of England;
    – Fra’ Emmanuel Rousseau, member of the Sovereign Council;
    – Jack E. Pohrer, of the American Association;
    – Mons. Fra’ Giovanni Scarabelli, Professed Conventual Chaplain.

    Properly speaking, the one who called the fifteen to the Vatican was substitute secretary of state Angelo Becciu, who since February 4 has been the pope’s special delegate to the order, endowed with full powers. But in addition to him, it has been announced that Francis will meet with them too.

    The reason adopted in justification of the meeting is the one already indicated in the letter from Becciu to the members of the Order of last April 15: so that the “event,” meaning the election of the new superior general, “may take place in an atmosphere of peace and of restored harmony.”

    And this is the same reason with which Becciu, in the name of the pope, justified the obligation imposed on Festing not to take part in the upcoming conclave of the Order, which will open on April 29, and not even to be present in Rome during the days of the event.

    This unheard-of prohibition of the former Grand Master – already forced to resign by the pope in person on January 24 – had raised understandable dismay among the Knights of Malta. To some it had seemed an unprecedented abuse of power. To others, even among Festing’s opponents, an excessive action that therefore required a further act of correction and pacification on the part of the Vatican authorities.

    But there is a postscript on Magister’s report:

    Eighteen hours after this post was put online, the agencies Reuters and The Associated Press broke the news that former Grand Master of the Order of Malta Fra’ Matthew Festing has decided all the same to go to Rome – where he landed on Wednesday, April 26 – to participate in the election of the new superior general, defying the veto of Pope Francis.

    According to statute, the former Grand Master has the right to take part in the conclave of April 29, both by voting and by standing for reelection.

    Festing was a member of the Grenadier Guards. I hope he’s hearing their song.

    UPDATE: Edward Pentin has a report on the story indicating that the Vatican is now relenting on allowing Festing to participate. (One wonders what they could possibly hope to do if he insisted.) Pentin writes: “According to sources within the order, Fra’ Festing will be coming to Rome to vote in the Saturday election partly because his absence as a professed knight would have invalidated the ballot.”

    Pentin also makes note of a sordid internal struggle, as related by an anonymously written paper from a source presumably within the Order itself:

    In a lengthy paper obtained April 26 by the Register, an anonymous member of the order backs up what Fra’ Festing and others said were the main reasons for Boeselager’s dismissal last year, one of them being the former grand chancellor’s responsibility for allowing the distribution of contraceptives, including abortifacients, to the poor in parts of the developing world.

    The paper referred to an investigative report commissioned by the order and published in January 2016 which revealed that Boeselager had known that Malteser International, the humanitarian arm of the Order of Malta, had been systematically distributing and promoting the use of condoms, oral contraceptives and other birth-control drugs and devices expressly condemned as immoral by the Church. Yet he did not report on these activities adequately to the grand master and the sovereign council.

    The anonymously written paper also claims that the Vatican is supportive of Boeselager and the order’s wealthy German members partly because it is cash poor and relying on outside financial help.

    “The German bishops practically control the Vatican because they are so rich and the Vatican so poor,” the author stated. “Indeed, the Vatican is constantly in danger of becoming insolvent and is easily manipulated by the German bishops.”

    This is said to explain why the Vatican did not want Boeselager dismissed, formed a commission of investigation into his dismissal largely made up of people connected with a $118 million bequest to the order based in Switzerland, and had him swiftly reinstated.

    Another reason for the rush is said to be that the trustee, who had had dealings with Boeselager and members of the Holy See commission, was being prosecuted and threatened to make unsavory revelations about various figures in the order and the Vatican if the order did not withdraw criminal proceedings against her.

    I can confirm that I have also seen this paper, and the information it contains is extensive, the detail impressive, and the implications somewhat staggering, reaching all the way into the Vatican itself. It reads like an international crime drama, and makes mention of a number of lawsuits threatened against media outlets and journalists who attempt to tell the story.

    To borrow a cliche: the plot thickens.

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