Perfect harmony between the Holy See and the Order of Malta, loyalty and fidelity to Pope Francis
by Fady Noun

Behind the resignation of the Grand Master, the false invocation of a papal order. A commission of five people named to shed light on the affair. The exception of "sovereignty" raised by former Grand Master inadmissible. The reform promoted by Francis in line with the renewal of the Church.


Beirut (AsiaNews) - The resignation of the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra Matthew Festing, was provoked by  the false invocation, by the latter, of an order issued by the Holy Father.

This was clarified yesterday by a source close to the Lebanese Knights of the Order of Malta, in Beirut. To remove the Grand Chancellor (Treasurer) from office, the Grand Master stated that his resignation had been "imposed by the Holy Father." Something that was entirely false.

After the news was made public, Pope Francis was forced to counter this argument made in his name with an official denial. At the same time, the pontiff announced the appointment of a commission of five members to clarify the matter. These include the president of the Lebanese Order of Malta, Marwan Sehnaoui.

According to the source quoted above, the exception of "sovereignty" raised by former Grand Master to oppose the appointment of a commission of inquiry is inadmissible. There is no interference, the source added, in the sovereignty of the Order in this matter. This is a matter of a disciplinary nature. The Pope would never have become involved if the Grand Master had not lied to the Chancellor ensuring him that the Pope had called for his resignation.

The source continues that "it is unthinkable to say that the sovereign Order of Malta, as an institution of pontifical nature and whose constitution is approved by the Holy See, can go against the Pope. Instead, the Order has always been and will always be faithful to Papal authority. " "In the context of the latest crisis - adds the same source - only a few prominent personalities and in the minority in the Order, including the Grand Master, were opposed to the Holy Father's decision to appoint a commission". "That in itself, moreover, that the spiritual reform of the Order promoted by the Pope is in line with the general project of the pastoral renewal of the Church. It is not an attack on its sovereignty. The authors of anonymous billboards that make fun of the Pope, placed on the streets of Rome,  should in no case be related, in the public eye, to the Order".

Finally, it is important to stress that the true face of the Order is independent of the fate of some of its members. The humanitarian needs which it meets far outweigh the individual financial capabilities; the Order lives exclusively from donations, and these come both from private individuals and from public associations. Its agenda is the protection of human dignity -  without the slightest discrimination of racial, ethnic, political or religious nature-  through its works, to serve the poor, the sick, the elderly, the disabled, refugees in the spirit of Christian charity.

The Order of Malta's humanitarian activities are carried out in 120 countries worldwide. This network of institutions is based on the services of about 100 thousand people, including volunteers and professional workers in the health sector.

Of the three great orders of chivalry only the order of St. John of Jerusalem, founded in 1048, and now known as the Sovereign Order of Malta, has been able to adapt to the times and circumstances, returning to its original function: the practice of Christian charity through the works of assistance. In fact, some say the Order of Malta is a precursor of the Red Cross and is the oldest humanitarian institution in the world. Today it fulfills this vocation thanks to its care facilities all over the world and, secondly, through the mobile medical units (bus, train and air ambulances) to bring relief to victims of disasters and populations involved in conflicts . Obviously, the Order of Malta is a subject of international law on the basis of a decree (the papal bull) and whose prerogatives, privileges and honors are mostly nominal. Moreover, this "sovereign" order has neither state nor citizens, nor territory, but emits stamps and can also print money. Finally, while affirming its sovereign character in the first article of its charter - the current founding charter was approved in 1936 - it remains as a Catholic religious order under the spiritual authority of the Holy See.