— Austen Ivereigh (@austeni) July 17, 2017
Documents released by WikiLeaks today shed light on a power struggle within the highest offices of the Catholic Church. Amongst the documents is a private letter written by Pope Francis. The existence of this letter, addressed to the papal envoy [of the Sovreign Military Order of the Knights of Malta] Cardinal Raymond Burke, has been the source of much speculation in the media . It is now published for the first time in full and with the Pope’s signature.
Letter - Sovereign - Military - Order - Malta
This letter concerns the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, also known as the Order of Malta or the Knights of Malta, originally founded in Jerusalem during the Crusades in 1099. As the name indicates, it has been widely recognised as a sovereign entity in itself despite theoretically being subject to papal authority as a Catholic institution.
This ambiguous status cuts to the heart of the dispute as it reached a fever pitch after Pope Francis forced the abdication of Matthew Festing as Prince and Grand Master of the Order in January 2017. A month earlier Festing had dismissed the Order’s Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager.
Reason - Dismissal - Boeselager - Health - Minister
The reason for the dismissal is said to be that Boeselager, who served as health minister for the Order, was held personally responsible for having approved funds for an aid mission in Africa that distributed condoms, amongst other things. This directly contravenes Church teachings on contraception and Festing was adamant that Boeselager be held responsible.
Boeselager, however, appealed to Pope Francis, who in turn deeply undermined the Order’s independence and sovereignty by appointing a papal commission to investigate the matter and report back to the Holy See. Boeselager was subsequently reinstated at the same time as Festing was ousted. The papal letter, published by WikiLeaks today, shows the Pope was aware of and involved in the dispute since...
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