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Open war within the Vatican for control of the powerful Order of Malta

It is the only sovereign state recognized by the United Nations that has no physical territory to govern, yet has a lot of power, a lot of money, and also a lot of solidarity around the world. It has its roots in the First Crusades, when the Popes ordered the recapture of the Holy Land from an “infidel enemy” with the cry “God willing.” In fact, the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta, now known as the Order of Malta (SMOM), was born in Jerusalem and exercised its power for centuries on the small Mediterranean island until Napoleon expelled them in 1798. .

But above all, the group is a religious congregation that, as such, and although it does not want to, ultimately depends on the Vatican, which is in dispute over the control of the institution after the revelation of various violations and abuses of power. So much so that this week, Pope Francis, who has proposed re-establishing the organization, took an unusual step: dissolving the current sovereign council and approving a new constitution (valid since 1961), which the lords must begin to apply after an extraordinary congress ordered by Bergoglio next January.

In practice, this is the intervention of the organization, despite internal resistance, which interprets the changes as a threat to its sovereignty. With the decision, the Pope reminded the order that he cannot escape his vigilance, symbolized by one of Rome’s best-kept secrets, which is attractive to more and more tourists: the view from the keyhole of the villa highway, which is the place. Embassy of the Order of Malta in the Vatican, pointing to the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. And Rom is watching them too.

The measure Bergoglio took is unprecedented in recent church history, least of all for a pope with a reputation for reconciliation. Experts consulted confirm to that Francisco “had no choice”. And it is that for six years, the Pope tried to bring this institution under his heel and failed, which is why he took action on this matter after verifying a series of financial irregularities, management and control. Its members “have seen something few have seen in the recent history of the church,” these sources note.

The conflict between the Vatican and the Order of Malta began in late 2016 with the resignation (or dismissal) of then-Grand Chancellor Albert Freiherr von Boeselager, who condemned the free distribution of condoms at some medical centers run by the order. several countries. However, behind this complaint was a fierce struggle for control of the institution, which was divided into two factions: one led by the Grand Chancellor and one led by the Grand Master, Matthew Festing, which led to the intervention of Rome, creating a commission to investigate the reasons for Boeselager’s dismissal.

Festing did not recognize the Vatican’s interference and demanded full sovereignty of the Order of Malta. And it is that the conflict of authorities (something similar, with many nuances, that happens with priests who are members of Opus Dei, when there is a conflict between the organization and the local bishop) was one of the main reasons. Conflict with the Knights of Malta

Grandmaster Festing convened his own commission, and the Pope reacted by calling for his resignation. In April, Giacomo Dalla Torre was appointed lieutenant of the Grand Master, tasked with reforming the congregation, and a year later he was appointed leader of the order, although he died soon after under circumstances that have never been clear. Meanwhile, the Pope entrusted Cardinal Silvano Tomasi with an in-depth investigation into the “heart” of the organization, which culminated in a recommendation for the Pope to re-establish the Order of Malta, nearly a decade after its creation.

The group has approximately 13,500 male and female members (700 in Spain, most of them related to old European nobility), to which are added approximately 90,000 volunteers and 52,000 workers; They enjoy dual nationality, have their own currency (practically reserved for use by collectors) and state license plates. An observer member of the United Nations, the Order of Malta maintains diplomatic relations with 112 states, and although it describes itself as “neutral, impartial and apolitical”, its diplomatic involvement in international conflicts is widely recognized.

The battle seems to have done nothing but begin. The statement said the Order of Malta’s official response to the Vatican’s decision was to accept it with “satisfaction”. Posted on your site, which speaks of “the paternal actions of His Holiness, which prove his love for our Order.” And he continues: “In a careful study of the various proposals presented in recent months, the Pope has set a course that promises the future of the Order, both as a religious institution and as a sovereign entity.”

However, it is known that there is internal resistance within the order. In fact, just a month earlier, those responsible for almost 90% of the Council’s work had written to Rome warning of the consequences of any action that might violate the Council’s sovereignty. Will it be necessary for those sectors that do not see the Vatican’s intervention with good eyes now and in what direction?

The Pope’s decision was explained in a letter published last Saturday, in which he recalled that the Order of Malta “has always enjoyed the special protection of the Apostolic See” and made it clear that, in accordance with the action of Pius XII, “the inherent prerogatives of the Order […] as a subject of international law […]which is characteristic of sovereignty, […] They do not constitute in the order the set of powers and prerogatives that belong to sovereign entities in the full sense of the word.

In other words, that it is “a religious order approved by the Holy See” and therefore “depends on it, in its various articulations”. After emphasizing that in recent years he has followed the progress of the Order of Malta with “paternal care and concern”, the Pope notes “it is necessary to begin a profound spiritual, moral and institutional renewal of the entire Order, especially and not only Members of the first class, but also members of the second class.”

Therefore, he entrusted to the special delegate, Cardinal Silvano Tomasi, “this important work of reform”. And what happened?” In the words of the Pope, “many steps have been taken, but many other obstacles and difficulties have been encountered on the way.” Therefore, “the time has come to complete the process of renewal that has begun.”

The Pope thus ordered the “immediate entry into force” of the new constitutional charter, the abolition of his high offices, the dissolution of the Sovereign Council, and the formation of a Provisional Council with Fray Emmanuel Rousseau as Grand Commander. In addition, an extraordinary conclave coordinated by Thomas will be held next January 25.

All information is included

Source: El Diario





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