The Order’s Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, offered his resignation to the Pope on Tuesday
The Vatican says Pope Francis will name a pontifical delegate to run the embattled Knights of Malta, effectively taking over the sovereign lay Catholic order after its leader resigned in a bitter dispute with the pontiff over a condom scandal.
The move marks an extraordinary intervention of one sovereign state — the Holy See — into the governance of another — the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, an ancient aristocratic order that runs a vast charity operation around the globe.
A statement from the Vatican said Francis accepted the resignation of the Order’s Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, which he had offered on Tuesday.
The statement said the Order’s governance would shift temporarily to the No. 2 until the pontifical delegate is named.”
“Yesterday (January 24), in audience with the Holy Father, His Highness Fra’ Matthew Festing resigned from the office of Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta,” the statement said.
“Today (January 25) the Holy Father accepted his resignation, expressing appreciation and gratitude to Fra’ Festing for his loyalty and devotion to the Successor of Peter, and his willingness to serve humbly the good of the Order and the Church.”
It added: “The governance of the Order will be undertaken ad interim by the Grand Commander pending the appointment of the Papal Delegate.”