The official, Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, (based name) grand chancellor of the order (based title), had been accused of not managing properly some hospital center where it is alleged condoms and abortive pills were distributed, which apparently is still a no-no for Catholics.
The Grand Master of the Knights of Malta (sounds like the boss) ask him to resign.
Orders him to resign.
Uh oh, a Knight refused to follow orders, now THIS is bad.
So, the Grand Master deposes him.
The Vatican gets the news, and Pope Francis, which is apparently tolerant of everything but traditionalism, wants the decision to be reversed.
- the Vatican has jurisdiction over the Knights of Malta only on spiritual matters. This was a political, organizational decision
- Politically, the Order of Malta is sovereign and independent.
- The interface between Vatican and Malta is the patron, and Francis had appointed cardinal Burke as patron of the order of Malta, and this had been considered a demotion, a punishment. He cannot rely on him as a lapdog, then. Apparently, karma hits in the Vatican too.
So Francis pulls a… Francis and nominates a commission, skipping Burke, to investigate the matter.
Guess what the reaction is.
"The Grand Magistry of the Sovereign Order of Malta, in response to the activities being carried out by a Group appointed by the Secretary of State of the Vatican, considers it appropriate to reiterate that the replacement of the former Grand Chancellor was an internal act of the government of the Order.
Thus, considering the legal irrelevance of this Group and of its findings relating to the legal structure of the Order of Malta, the Order has decided that it should not cooperate with it. This is to protect its sovereignty against initiatives which claim to be directed at objectively (and, therefore – quite apart from its intentions – reveals it to be legally irrelevant) questioning or even limiting said Sovereignty.
Article 4 paragraph 6 of the Constitutional Charter is clear when it states that “the religious nature of the Order does not prejudice the exercise of sovereign prerogatives pertaining to the Order in so far as it is recognised by States as a subject of international law” and Article 4 paragraph 5 reiterates that “the Order has diplomatic representation to the Holy See, according to the norms of international law.”"
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