Investigation by the holy see?

Investigation by the holy see?

Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager during a visit to Africa (archive photo) © Malteser Press Office (KNA)

Albrecht von Boeselager continues to consider himself the "legally elected Grand Chancellor" of the Sovereign Order of Malta. "The procedure by which my removal from office was pursued lacks any legal basis," von Boeselager said.

The 67-year-old baron writes this in a personal statement distributed on Tuesday in Bad Neuenahr, which is available to the Catholic News Agency (Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur, KNA). He will turn to the order's court because of numerous violations of the rules, Boeselager continued. In addition, he expects that there will also be an investigation of the case by the Holy See, since the religious character of the order is also affected. Boeselager had been Grand Chancellor of the Sovereign Order of Malta since 2014.

Order determined successor

Last week, the order's grand master, Matthew Festing, made a surprise announcement that the grand chancellor's "mandate, which runs regularly until 2019, has come to an end". Festing justified the Entlang with "serious problems" that had arisen during Boeselager's time as hospitalier of the order, but which he had concealed. As a hospitalier, Boeselager was responsible for coordinating humanitarian aid from 1989 to 2014. Festing appointed John Critien (67), a native of Malta, to succeed the German.

Boeselager now argues that its removal constitutes a violation of the order's charter. So the Grand Master falsely claimed there had been a demand from the Holy See to resign. In the meantime, however, there was a written confirmation from the Vatican that such a demand had never been made. For the removal of a member of the Sovereign Council, there is also a separate procedure, which "cannot be circumvented by the Grand Master by invoking obedience," the jurist emphasizes. According to church law, the promised obedience "only applies within the framework of the catch, otherwise the door would be opened to arbitrariness".

Criticism of authoritarian approach of the Grand Master

Boeselager criticizes an authoritarian approach of the Grand Master in this context. Festing had advised all members who did not agree with the procedure to resign from the order. Anyone who publicly expresses criticism must expect disciplinary measures. "This seems to me unacceptable and more reminiscent of an authoritarian regime than of religious obedience," the baron writes.

Boeselager writes that he is accused of using condoms for AIDS prevention in a program of Malteser International (MI) in Myanmar. There had been three programs there with the distribution of condoms, which "had been taken up by the country manager without the knowledge of the central office.". Two had been stopped immediately after an internal audit. With the third one first a MI ethics commission had been switched on. Finally, the project had been stopped after a statement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Boeselager emphasizes that he has always stressed that he feels bound by church teaching and will accept decisions made by church authorities. It is absurd to use this case to accuse him of not recognizing the Church's teaching on family and sexuality.

The Order of Malta has 13.500 members and has the status of an international law object. Cardinal patron since 2014 is the American Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke (68).

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Christina Cherry
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