At the heart of the growing power struggle between the Vatican and the Knights of Malta is a German lawyer by the name of Albrecht von Boeselager. He's the son of Philipp von Boeselager, who took part in Operation Valkryie, the failed assassination attempt of Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944.
Although some are framing this controversy as a tug of war between the Pope and Cdl. Burke, it's more accurate to say this is the result of a slighted man taking advantage of the current climate of tension between the dubia cardinal and the Holy Father to stir up trouble and exact revenge on his order.
Albrecht von Boeselager, a member of the Knights of Malta since 1976, was officially suspended from his position as Grand Chancellor on December 8 after a meeting two days earlier where he defied the Grand Master's request to step down. The order clarified details in a December 13 statement:
In the meeting the Grand Master said that the situation called for Albrecht von Boeselager to resign as Grand Chancellor, which is especially regretful because of his service to the Order for so many years. After Boeselager refused this, eventually the Grand Master had no choice but to order him, under the Promise of Obedience, in presence of the Grand Commander and the Cardinal Patronus, to resign. Boeselager refused again. Thus, the Grand Commander, with the backing of the Grand Master and the Sovereign Council and most members of the Order around the world, initiated a disciplinary procedure after which a member can be suspended from membership in the Order, and thus all Offices within the Order.
His suspension was the result of a two-year long investigation revealing that von Boeselager had knowledge of Malteser International's distribution of condoms in Africa.
Von Boeselager has since fought his dismissal, claiming that the Grand Master and Cdl. Raymond Burke (patron of the order, who was present at his dismissal) said Pope Francis had supported his firing, when in fact he had not.
Cardinal Burke has since publicly repudiated von Boeselager's claims, making clear he never said what the fired Grand Chancellor claims he said.
Watch the panel break down the details in The Download—Power Struggle.