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Top Knight of Malta reaffirms allegiance to Pope Francis

January 02, 2017

The grand master of the Order of Malta has written to Pope Francis, confirming his fidelity to the Pontiff.

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In a January 1 letter to the Pope, Fra’ Matthew Festing praises the Holy Father’s message for the World Day of Peace, which explores the theme of non-violence. He writes that the non-violence approach recommended by the Pontiff “is something rare and very valuable.”

The message from the grand master comes at a time when the Knights of Malta are at odds with the Vatican over the Pope’s appointment of a special commission to investigate the dismissal of the chancellor of the venerable order. The Knights of Malta have rejected the need for Vatican involvement, saying that the matter is a question of internal discipline for an independent and sovereign institution.

“In response to Your Holiness’ message,” Festing writes, “I offer my total support and that of the entire Order of Malta which, even in a difficult and complex time, seeks to render its service in closely adhering to the teaching of the Church and the directions which come from the Successor of St. Peter.”

In this letter the grand master reminds the Pope that the Knights of Malta are involved in many charitable projects to support the needy, in particular those who are victims of violence and oppression. He makes a point of mentioning the Order’s involvement in care for refugees. The Knights of Malta, he writes, are determined to “uphold the tradition which comes down to us through nine centuries of history and today finds new ways and new means to express its own convinced and shared spirituality.”

Fra’ Festing concludes his letter by underscoring his commitment, and that of the Knights of Malta, to the Roman Pontiff: “I beg Your Holiness to accept the expression of my devotion, and that of the entire Order of Malta, with the assurance of my constant prayers, as well as those of the community of the Grand Magistry and of all of the Order.”


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