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Knights of Malta reiterate stand against Vatican investigation

January 10, 2017

The Knights of Malta have indicated that they will not cooperate with the Vatican commission formed by Pope Francis to investigate a dispute within the order.

In a statement released on January 10, the leadership of the Knights of Malta emphasized that the ouster of Albrecht von Boeselager, the group’s chancellor, was “an internal act of the government of the Order.” Noting that the Order of Malta enjoys sovereignty, the statement said that the decision not to cooperate was based on a desire to “protect its sovereignty,” and that submitting to questions on internal governance could be seen as “limiting it sovereignty.”

The statement observed that the Order of Malta is recognized as sovereignty under international law, and the Vatican yearbook, the Annuario Pontificio, only mentions the Order once—“and not amongst the religious orders, but rather amongst the States with embassies accredited to the Holy See.”

In December, after Pope Francis formed the committee, the Knights of Malta had said that the investigation was “unacceptable,” on the same grounds that the group is independent and sovereign. In a separate letter to Pope Francis, the grand master of the Order, Fra’ Matthew Festing, alluded to the unique status of the group, saying that the Order of Malta “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.”


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