Pope’s takeover of Knights of Malta brings chance for needed reform


Austen Ivereigh January 29, 2017

[Editor’s note: Today, Crux contributing editor Austen Ivereigh comments on the drama surrounding Pope Francis and the Knights of Malta. Tomorrow, Dr. Kurt Martens of the School of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America will provide another perspective.]

ROME – When it came, the skirmish was brief. Despite their aggressive shows of defiance, the rebels’ surrender was unconditional.

Following a tense standoff between the leadership of the Knights of Malta and the Vatican, its Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, agreed to resign last week following a report by a papal commission that documents serious claims about dysfunction in his leadership.

The report highlights the need for serious reform of the order’s tiny leadership clique, drawn from around 50 “professed” Knights, who take vows, and are traditionally drawn from noble European families.

The pope named another of the senior knights, its Grand Commander, Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein, as interim leader until his own legate was appointed.

Some speculated that the order’s ruling Sovereign Council might reject Francis’s intervention. But when it met on Saturday, the council bowed to the need for the change.

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