After the resignation of Grand Master Matthew Festing, left, the Order of Malta has appointed an interim leader and reinstated their former Grand Chancellor, Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager. CNS photo/Maria Grazia Picciarella, pool

Knights of Malta appoint interim leader, reinstate Grand Chancellor

By  Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News
  • January 30, 2017

VATICAN CITY – After Pope Francis asked Knights of Malta Grand Master Matthew Festing to resign earlier this week, the Order has accepted the resignation, named an interim leader and reinstated their former Grand Chancellor, Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager.

According to a Jan. 28 press release from the Order of Malta, their Sovereign Council - in an extraordinary meeting held Saturday to vote on Festing’s request to step down from office - “accepted his resignation” and informed Pope Francis of the decision.

They also announced the appointment of Grand Commander Fra' Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein as the new “Lieutenant ad interim” until a new Grand Master is elected.

Along with Festing’s resignation, the decision to annul the decrees establishing “the disciplinary procedures” recently taken against former Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeselager as well as “the suspension of his membership in the Order” was announced.

With the decision, “Albrecht Boeselager resumes his office as Grand Chancellor immediately,” the statement read.

According to media reports, the decision to reinstate Boeselager, who was dismissed in December, was requested by the Pope himself in a letter after meeting with Festing earlier this week to ask for his resignation.

In their statement, the Order of Malta said Pope Francis had written a Jan. 27 letter to Rumerstein and members of the Sovereign Council reaffirming “the special relationship” between the Order and the Apostolic See.

The Pope, it read, also affirmed that Rumerstein will assume the full responsibilities of Grand Master, “in particular regarding relationships with other States,” until a new leader is elected.

In his letter, Pope Francis made a point to emphasize that his special delegate, who has yet to be appointed, will be carrying out his role on “the spiritual renewal of the Order, specifically of its professed members.”

The Order ensured their “full collaboration” with the papal delegate, “whom the Holy Father intends to appoint” in due time.

The announcement comes after a Jan. 24 meeting between Pope Francis and Festing, during which the Pope asked the former Grand Master to tenure his resignation, to which Festing said yes.

Festing's agreement to resign follows a conflict between the Order of Malta and the Holy See over Boeselager's dismissal in December 2016.

(Story from the Catholic News Agency)

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