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New head of Knights of Malta to lead reform efforts

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Catholic News Service

ROME — The new lieutenant of the grand master of the Knights of Malta will lead efforts to reform the order following a tumultuous period that brought to light many of the ancient institution’s internal disputes.

Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, right, is seen during the oath ceremony at Santa Maria in Aventino in Rome April 30. He was elected April 29 to lead the Knights of Malta for a one-year period, and will work on a constitutional reform that "will address potential institutional weaknesses," the order said in a press release. (CNS photo/Order of Malta via EPA)

Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, right, is seen during the oath ceremony at Santa Maria in Aventino in Rome April 30. He was elected April 29 to lead the Knights of Malta for a one-year period, and will work on a constitutional reform that “will address potential institutional weaknesses,” the order said in a press release. (CNS photo/Order of Malta via EPA)

Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre, elected April 29 to lead the Knights of Malta for a one-year period, will work on a constitutional reform that “will address potential institutional weaknesses,” the order said in a press release following the election.

“The recent crisis has shown some weaknesses in the checks and balances in governance,” it said. “”The reform will take this into consideration.’”

Born in Rome, Dalla Torre has been a member of the order since 1985 and held several prominent roles in the order’s hierarchy. Following the death of the 78th grand master, Fra’ Andrew Bertie, he served as lieutenant ad interim prior to the election of Fra’ Matthew Festing. 

Dalla Torre’s election closes a difficult chapter in the order’s history and tensions that lead to Festing’s resignation Jan. 24 at the behest of Pope Francis, who had established a commission to investigate his removal of the order’s grand chancellor, Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager.

Festing refused to cooperate with the investigation and insisted the firing was a sovereign act outside the Vatican’s jurisdiction, although the knights take a vow of obedience to the pope.

Although Boeselager was reinstated as grand chancellor, the public spat drew unwanted attention to internal disputes rather than to the order’s priorities of providing humanitarian relief, encouraging dialogue and assisting migrants and refugees.

The Knights of Malta have 13,500 members, as well as 80,000 volunteers and 25,000 medical professionals providing relief and humanitarian aid in 120 countries.

Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel, current grand hospitaller of the order, said the crisis “has been troublesome for our donors,” many of whom “decided maybe not to help us anymore because they thought we were fighting against the pope, which is not true.”

“So now we have to restore this trust,” he said Feb. 2 following Boeselager’s reinstatement.

The reform now led by Dalla Torre, the Knights of Malta said, will “also focus on strengthening the order’s spiritual life” and on efforts to increase the number of its professed members.

“Consultations have already begun and all members of the order have been invited to offer their suggestions,” the order said.

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Knights of Malta update: Chancellor reinstated after grand master’s resignation

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Catholic News Service

ROME — The newly reinstated grand chancellor of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta said the crisis that led to the resignation of the order’s grand master will remain a footnote in history that pales in comparison to the suffering of refugees and the poor. Read more »

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Pope encourages Knights of Malta to continue path of renewal

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — As the Sovereign Military Order of Malta accepted Pope Francis’ intervention in their governance, the pope urged members to follow a path of renewal as they prepare to elect a new grand master.

Pope Francis talks with Fra Matthew Festing, grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, during a private audience with members of the order at the Vatican in this June 23, 2016, file photo. Festing has accepted Pope Francis' request that he resign following weeks of tensions with the Vatican over the dismissal of the order's former chancellor, Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager. (CNS photo/Maria Grazia Picciarella, pool) See FESTING-MALTA-RESIGN Jan. 25, 2017.

Pope Francis talks with Fra Matthew Festing, grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, during a private audience with members of the order at the Vatican in this June 23, 2016, file photo. Festing has accepted Pope Francis’ request that he resign following weeks of tensions with the Vatican over the dismissal of the order’s former chancellor, Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager. (CNS photo/Maria Grazia Picciarella, pool) 

In accordance with the pope’s wishes, the governing council of the order accepted the resignation Jan. 28 of Fra Matthew Festing as grand master and appointed Fra Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein to temporarily lead the chivalric order.

By “putting aside personal interests and dangerous ambitions,” members, volunteers and benefactors of the order can better dedicate themselves to the “noble and proven mission” of defending the faith and serving the poor, the pope wrote in a Jan. 27 letter to von Rumerstein, lieutenant ad interim of the order.

“The witness of an authentic Christian life makes accompanying the sick more accepted and effective, and charity toward the poor and vulnerable people of society more fraternal,” the pope wrote.

The Knights of Malta have 13,500 members, as well as 80,000 volunteers and 25,000 medical professionals providing relief and humanitarian aid in 120 countries.

Festing offered his resignation Jan. 24 at the behest of Pope Francis, who had established a commission to investigate his removal of the order’s grand chancellor, Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager.

Festing refused to cooperate with the investigation and insisted the firing was a sovereign act outside the Vatican’s jurisdiction, although the knights take a vow of obedience to the pope.

Pope Francis said he would appoint a special delegate who, in close collaboration with von Rumerstein. will “specifically take care of the spiritual and moral renewal of the order,” especially the 50 or so members who have taken religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

“The special delegate will have the task of being my exclusive spokesman during the period of your mandate for all that relates to the relationship of the order with the Holy See,” the pope wrote.

The pope’s letter did not clarify how the special delegate’s responsibilities would intersect with those of the current cardinal patron of the order, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke.

According the order’s constitution, the cardinal patron “has the task of promoting the spiritual interests of the order and its members and relations between the Holy See and the order.”

Following the acceptance of Festing’s resignation, von Rumerstein expressed his gratitude to him for “the many good things he has done for our order.”

“We are grateful to Fra Matthew in his generous response to the request of the Holy Father to resign his position for the good of the Order of Malta,” he said.

He also thanked the pope and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, for “their interest in and care for our order.”

“We are grateful to the Holy Father for all his decisions so carefully taken with regard to and respect for the order, with a determination to strengthen our sovereignty. In this and all matters, we will not yield in our loyalty to the pope,” von Rumerstein wrote.

 

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St. Mark’s theology teacher anticipates healing after pilgrimage to Lourdes

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Staff reporter

 

WILMINGTON – Mary Johnston sat on a plane at Baltimore Washington International Airport on April 30, prepared for a flight she knew would change her life. She was headed to Lourdes, France, where she was confident she would find healing for various health issues.

The long-awaited pilgrimage was nearly derailed, however, by an engine problem on the plane, but after a night in a hotel, Johnston was off to France. What she experienced there, she said, will affect her the rest of her life and was worth the one-day delay. Read more »

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