Is spiritual fascism in retreat?
By Alcuin Bramerton
On Tuesday 6th December 2016, Albrecht von Boeselager(Germany) was sacked from his position as Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Malta. This was in direct defiance of the clearly-stated wishes of the Pope and the Vatican.
The Knights of Malta are Roman Catholicism’s oldest military and chivalric Order, dating from the eleventh century CE. The full name they give themselves is The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.
The row was presented as having something to do with the distribution of condoms in Africa and Myanmar. It was nothing of the sort. It was an engineered end-time row about conservative spiritual fascism (Festing and Burke) versus liberal and compassionate pastoral policy (the Pope) within Roman Churchianity.
Festing and Burke pretended that Boeselager’s sacking was in accordance with the wishes of the Holy See (Pope + Vatican). Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, wrote to Festing clarifying that the Pope did not want Boeselager sacked.
Because the Pope’s wishes were countermanded, the Vatican set up a formal investigation into the Knights of Malta. This investigation was led by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi who had a team of four people to assist him with his enquiries: Gianfranco Ghirlanda (former rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University), Marc Odendall (investment banker), Jacques de Liedekerke (lawyer) and Marwan Sehnaoui(President of the Order of Malta in Lebanon).
Matthew Festing told the Pope that the sacking of Boeselager was an internal matter for the Knights of Malta. The Vatican had no right to interfere because the Knights of Malta were a sovereign entity.
Festing was talking nonsense. The Knights of Malta is a Catholic religious Order. The leaders of that Order had each taken solemn religious vows to obey the Pope. The sacking of Boeselager was a naked act of disobedience. The Vatican had every right, after an investigation, to issue a ruling and define a remedy.
For the first three weeks of January 2017, Festing persisted in his view that a papal investigation into the matter was unwarranted. A new compliant placeman, John Critien, was installed as Grand Chancellor by Festing and Burke. Critien wrote to the Order’s membership telling them that they could not collaborate with the Pope’s investigation because it was judicially irrelevant. No member of the Order could give evidence which contradicted Festing’s decision to sack Boeselager.
Critien, like Festing, was talking nonsense. The issue of Boeselager’s sacking and the Vatican’s consequent investigation into that act was not about the sovereignty of the Knights of Malta; it was about disobeying the Pope and the Holy See.
At that time, exactly what the Vatican would decide to do was not immediately clear. There seemed to be five main possibilities:
(1) Do nothing. Sweep the whole thing under the carpet. Justify this on pastoral grounds by talking about a need to move on and allowing proper time for the healing of wounds. Forgive Boeselager and offer him a spectacular promotion elsewhere.
(2) Sack and/or excommunicate Festing and Critien. Move Burke to a sinecure elsewhere. Reinstate Boeselager.
(3) Sack and/or excommunicate Festing, Critien and every senior First Class Knight who supported them. Move Burke. Reinstate Boeselager.
(4) Dispense Festing, Critien and all their First Class allies from their religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. As many as thirty individuals might be involved. According to the Order’s rules, these thirty could not then continue in leadership placements because in Canon Law they would no longer be solemnly professed religious. Move Burke. Reinstate Boeselager.
(5) Appoint an external commissioner over the heads of Festing and Burke. Vatican takes control of every aspect of the Order’s administration, including appointments, management, documents, website, buildings, lands, treasure, finance and Constitution. Reinstate Boeselager. Express disappointment at the mass resignations from the Order which would follow this course. If Burke doesn’t resign, move him.
In the event, on Tuesday 24th January 2017, Matthew Festing had a meeting with the Pope. After this meeting he was asked to resign. Burke spent nearly an hour trying to dissuade him. Festing, however, did resign. There was deep dissatisfaction inside the Order with his leadership.
His resignation was formally accepted by the Sovereign Council of the Knights of Malta on Saturday 28th January 2017. During that meeting, Matthew Festing was heard to describe the Pope as his enemy.
In the view of many in the Order, Festing had become an anachronistic anti-Papal nuisance, hankering after a quaint return to 1950s-style Catholicism, the old rite Latin Mass and top-down autocratic leadership.
Matthew Festing’s interim replacement as Grand Master of the Knights of Malta was Ludwig Hoffmann-Rumerstein (Austria). Albrecht von Boeselager was reinstated as Grand Chancellor.
At the time of Festing’s resignation, the Pope also appointed a pontifical delegate for the Knights of Malta, who would act above and over the head of Raymond Burke as the Order’s chief liaison with the Holy See. Burke was still technically in office as patron of the Order, but was out of power.
The name of the pontifical delegate was not made public until Saturday 4th February 2017, when it became clear that Archbishop Giovanni Becciu had been designated. He was to be the Pope’s sole spokesman on all matters to do with the Knights of Malta. Beccui was also charged with the task of overseeing a moral and spiritual renewal of the Order with a special focus on the fully-professed knights such as Festing and Critien.
Within the Knights of Malta, there are only 55 fully-professed knights out of a total worldwide membership of 13,500. In recent times the impression has been given that this élite group has been using the charitable work of the Order as an expedient cover for geopolitical machinations and forced influence. Such behaviour seems to be signally at odds with the spiritual emphases of the group’s religious vows to obey the Pope. It also appears to be manifestly out of harmony with the culture of the lay majority in the organisation who do the visible public work.
A senior Knights of Malta insider, Erich Lobkowicz (Germany), said that the row had been a battle between all that Pope Francis stood for and a tiny clique of ultraconservative frilly old diehards in the Church; diehards who had missed the train in every conceivable respect.
The Pope himself was known to be wary of Catholic chivalric orders, which he worried could show signs of profligacy and spiritual worldliness. And the Knights of Malta, in particular, badly mishandled a child sex abuse scandal when Matthew Festing was in charge of the Order.
The Pope-given task of the newly-imposed pontifical delegate was to work closely with Ludwig Hoffmann-Rumerstein to ensure a spiritual and moral renewal of the Knights of Malta. Under Burke and Festing, spiritual formation processes for the fully-professed Knights had been insufficiently robust.
More Knights of Malta news background can be found here (04.01.17), here (05.01.17), here (09.01.17), here (10.01.17), here (12.01.17), here (13.01.17), here (16.01.17), here (17.01.17), here (25.01.17), here (30.01.17), here (03.02.17), here (04.02.17) and here(06.02.17).
There is, of course, a bigger picture on the reverse of this élite public portrait. It is an occult image. In attempting to block the gold-backed benevolence of the Asia-led global currency resets and their associated humanitarian and prosperity funds, the Order has hazarded its own survival.
At this fast-moving end-time moment, the Knights of Malta find themselves frozen on the wrong side of history, slow-cursed by ancient documents they can’t control. The more percipient among them will be aware of two geopolitical certainties: (1) Books will be opened; (2) The old centre cannot hold.
More Knights of Malta occult background can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. And more about the equivocal symbology of Western Churchianity can be found on our Cuba Crucifix page here.