ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - In light of his suspension from the Knights of Malta, Henry Sire, author of the controversial Dictator Pope, is hitting back, claiming the suspension is illegal.
A press release issued Wednesday on the website of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta announced Sire's suspension, saying the Order "strongly condemns the vile attack against the Pope."
Following the press articles reporting the name of the author of the book The Dictator Pope, the Grand Magistry of the Order of Malta has taken the decision to suspend Henry Sire, author of the book and member of the Order of Malta. The provisional suspension from membership has immediate effect and an investigation is being launched.
The content of the book The Dictator Pope does not reflect in any way the positions and beliefs of the Order of Malta and the author is not speaking on behalf of the Order. In particular, the chapter on the institutional crisis in the government of the Order at the end of 2016 is based on a biased and one-sided reconstruction of events.
The Order of Malta dissociates itself from the positions conveyed and considers the content of the book a grave offense to His Holiness, Pope Francis.
Sire, however, is rejecting the suspension as illegal.
"It would be relevant to point out that the proceeding against me (of which I was notified yesterday) is wholly illegal," Sire said in a statement made to the press. "It has been initiated by the Grand Chancellor, with the consent of the Lieutenant of the Order. The laws of the Order stipulate that such a proceeding has to be initiated by my superior, who is the Grand Commander, and he has not been involved."
"Moreover, the superior has to initiate the process without communicating with the Grand Chancellor," Sire continued. "These requirements have been comprehensively ignored."
He added, "It is also ironical that these illegalities have been committed by the Grand Chancellor, who ousted the Grand Master a year ago by protesting at the supposed illegalities of his own suspension."
In January 2017, Fra' Matthew Festing stepped down as Grand Master of the Order after Pope Francis requested it — an unprecedented act, as the position of Grand Master is one of life tenure. Although no reasons were given for the pope's request, many understood it to be linked to Festing's actions in December 2016, when he suspended Grand Chancellor Albrecht von Boeselager for involvement in a condom distribution scandal involving Malteser International, the Order's charitable arm overseen by von Boeselager.
The affair prompted Cdl. Raymond Burke, former chaplain to the Knights of Malta, to express his sadness over the turn of events.
"I find it profoundly saddening that the grave scandal of the distribution of contraceptives and the advancing secularization of the Order which this immoral action represents are now minimized and, effectively, forgotten," he commented in May 2017.
Sire noted in his comments, "Christopher Lamb was of course tipped off immediately by Albrecht von Boeselager and has released the story."
The Dictator Pope was released last year under the pseudonym Marcantonio Colonna, and the author's real identity was not revealed until Monday by his publicist Regnery Publishing. Sire, educated at Oxford University, is author of six books on Catholic history and biography, including a book on the history of the Knights of Malta.