Knights of Malta Demand That Chancellor Resign

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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 5, 2018   

'We cannot have a Grand Chancellor whose truthfulness has been impugned by a court of law'

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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - As the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is welcoming its newly elected Grand Master, senior knights are calling for the Grand Chancellor to step down. Leaked documents obtained by Church Militant reveal widespread discontent towards Albrecht von Boeselager, after a German court judged him to be untruthful.

"We cannot have a Grand Chancellor whose truthfulness has been impugned by a court of law," said one senior knight. "He must resign. It is as simple as that."

An internal email dated April 30 sent to all members of the Order of Malta begins,

As the Order prepares for the forthcoming Council Complete of State and elections for a new leader, it is important that members of the Order worldwide understand the gravity of the judgment of a German court against the Grand Chancellor, Albrecht, Freiherr von Boeselager, in which he was effectively found by 3 judges to have been untruthful.

The judgment itself was handed down on June 6, 2017, the final result of Von Boeselager's lawsuit demanding that Austrian website Kath.net be silenced for what he claimed was false reporting.

Kath.net had reported that the chancellor knowingly oversaw condom distribution through Malteser International, the charity he previously oversaw — a claim von Boeselager denies. 

"However, the judges found that Boeselager's denial of knowledge about the condom distribution was untruthful and that he had 'knowingly procured' it with 'full knowledge and will,'" the internal email continues.


 

Meanwhile, fellow knights have given von Boeselager the nicknames Freiherr Albrecht vom Kondomlager ("Baron Albert of the Condom Store") and Freiherr Albrecht von der Bösen Lüge ("Baron Albert of the Evil Lie").

The court ruling confirms the outcome of the Order's internal investigation, completed in January 2017, which found that von Boeselager had with full awareness permitted the distribution of condoms through Malteser, a violation of Catholic teaching as well as of the Order's own policy and mission. It was this that had prompted the former Grand Master, Fra' Matthew Festing, to order Von Boeselager to step down — an order he defied, leading to his suspension.

"Members will recall that Boeselager was suspended by the Grand Master in December 2016 for, among other things, acting without the consent of the Grand Master or the Sovereign Council," the internal email reads. "He plunged the whole Order into its worst crisis for decades, if not centuries, by circumventing the Order's normal appeal procedures, seeking instead intervention by the Vatican Secretariat of State."

He plunged the whole Order into its worst crisis for decades, if not centuries, by circumventing the Order's normal appeal procedures.

Von Boeselager reportedly went to complain to Cdl. Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, who then exercised his weight to ensure the Vatican intervened. After a months-long power struggle between the Vatican and the Order of Malta, Pope Francis forced Festing to resign in January 2017, and Von Boeselager was restored to power the very next day.

Image

Grand Master Fra' Matthew Festing,

forced to resign in January 2017

The spiritual patron of the order, Cdl. Raymond Burke — who had supported Fra' Festing in his actions — was also effectively set aside, replaced by Special Delegate Abp. Giovanni Angelo Becciu  — whose mandate has just been renewed by the Holy Father.

"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," Cdl. Burke commented in May 2017.

Underlying the entire controversy was a major financial scandal involving collusion between von Boeselager, his supporters in the Knights of Malta, and Vatican delegates appointed to investigate the Order.

Following revelations of the court judgment against von Boeselager, "Many senior figures within the Order, which includes many German knights, now consider that Boeselager is deeply compromised and behaving dishonourably," reads the internal email. "They consider that it would be a disgrace to the Order and, indeed, his own noble family, if he were to remain in the post of Grand Chancellor."

 

The full email is reproduced below:

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO MEMBERS AND LEADERS OF THE ORDER OF MALTA

As the Order prepares for the forthcoming Council Complete of State and elections for a new leader, it is important that members of the Order worldwide understand the gravity of the judgment of a German court against the Grand Chancellor, Albrecht, Freiherr von Boeselager, in which he was effectively found by 3 judges to have been untruthful.

Boeselager brought a legal case, in the Hamburg District Court, against Kath.net, an Austrian Catholic news service, attempting to silence their reporting of condom distribution when Boeselager was Grand Hospitaller of the Order.

However, the judges found that Boeselager’s denial of knowledge about the condom distribution was untruthful and that he had “knowingly procured” it with “full knowledge and will”.

The 3 judges said in their judgment that theKath.net article gave

"… the compelling impression that the Applicant [i.e. Boeselager] had indeed been aware that aid operations were being used to distribute condoms within the UNHCR rescue packages…the impression given by the Kath.net article that the Applicant knowingly procured the distribution of condoms is, in fact, correct.”

The court further said that Malteser International continued to distribute relief supplies, including condoms, in a project in Myanmar on the border with China, and did so for a number of months after the condom revelations.

The court added that this was “undoubtedly…with the full knowledge and will” of Boeselager.

In his evidence to the court, Boselager had denied such knowledge.

A copy of the judgment of the Hamburg District Court is set out below, together with an English translation.

The court’s decision effectively confirms similar findings by the Order’s own internal report of January 2017, commissioned by the Grand Master to look into the condom affair.

Members will recall that Boeselager was suspended by the Grand Master in December 2016 for, among other things, acting without the consent of the Grand Master or the Sovereign Council. He plunged the whole Order into its worst crisis for decades, if not centuries, by circumventing the Order’s normal appeal procedures, seeking instead intervention by the Vatican Secretariat of State.

 Many senior figures within the Order, which includes many German knights, now consider that Boeselager is deeply compromised and behaving dishonourably. They consider that it would be a disgrace to the Order and, indeed, his own noble family, if he were to remain in the post of Grand Chancellor.

Said one senior knight: “How can he remain? A court has effectively found him untruthful. He claimed not to know, and the court said that he must have known. We cannot have a Grand Chancellor whose truthfulness has been impugned by a court of law. He must resign. It is as simple as that.”

Read the full court judgment.

 

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