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Quick Hits: a ‘mystery donor’ to the Knights of Malta, Pope’s questionable historical references

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 23, 2017

  1. The complicated struggle for control of the Knights of Malta has become even more mysterious, after Albrecht von Boeselager, restored to power as chancellor of the Order, spoke with the German journal Bild. The focus of the interview was a massive donation to the Knights of Malta charity, from an anonymous donor. “I do not know the donor,” Boeselager said. The National Catholic Register was reportedly threatened with a lawsuit if it even hinted at the donor’s identity. And the Knights of Malta charity had charged the donor with embezzlement—withdrawing that charge just in time to receive the funds. And if that weren’t enough to raise questions, when the Vatican set up a special commission to investigate the ouster of Boeselager as chancellor, three of the five members of the commission had close ties to the donor. Transparency, anyone?

  2. When Pope Francis says that Martin Luther did not seek to split the Church, or that Catholic missionaries in Asia did not understand the importance of inculturation, historian Bronwen Catherine McShea admits that “I wince at the Pope’s historical formulations.” In fact, she shows in a First Things essay, successful missionaries adapted readily to Asian cultural circumstances, and the Pope’s reference to “a hegemonic conception of Roman centralism” does not appear to fit. Nor, for that matter, does the concept of “inculturation,” a product of the 21st century. As for Luther, his original goal may have been reform within the Church, but he soon sought separation, enlisting powerful secular leaders to help with the process.

    By the way, McShea notes that Luther was famous for his “verve for name-calling and insults.”

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Retired01 - Mar. 26, 2017 9:47 AM ET USA

    Luther was famous for his "verve for name-calling and insults." Now we know who is Pope Francis' role model.

  • Posted by: shrink - Mar. 23, 2017 9:14 PM ET USA

    If the embezzlement charge were true, would that make Boeselager an accessory to money laundering? (irony alert) In some corners of the church, this could be a great boon for charity if there was money embezzled from Capitalists.