Church Militant has obtained a copy of an internal letter, dated Sept. 5, forbidding members from commenting publicly on making public statements about Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò's allegations that Pope Francis lifted sanctions from former Cdl. Theodore McCarrick, despite knowing the former cardinal is a serial sexual predator.
"It is not the mission of the Order of Malta to participate in the debate concerning the current crisis," the letter, signed by Grand Master Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre, asserts. "Therefore, official participation of members in the public debate regarding the aforementioned issues — beyond condemning abuse in general — is not helpful and could interfere with our work."
"Accordingly, public statements regarding this issue should be the sole prescript of the Grand Magistry," the letter continues. "Each entity of the Order and every officer of any of its organizations should be proscribed from making public statements and should refrain from making comments on behalf of the Order of Malta except for joining me in the invitation for prayer."
The directive has infuriated a raft of Order members. One anonymous member has described it as "an attempt by some within the leadership of the Order of Malta to force its members, on secret pain of being thrown out of the Order, to join in the conspiracy of silence that has, and is, causing the gravest of scandal to the Church, exposing its highest leadership as conniving in the cover-up of clerical abuse in the Church."
Late last month, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke resigned in disgust over the directive.
"I feel that I cannot remain silent and I no longer wish to be a part of a Catholic organization that is unwilling to take a stand on these issues," Judge Burke told Peter J. Kelly, head of the U.S. association. "I will continue to speak out about the need to investigate the underlying causes and conduct by the hierarchy in our Church that permitted these crimes to continue."
Though signed by Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre, the nominal head of the Order of Malta since May, insiders insist the letter is clearly the work of Grand Chancellor Baron Albrecht von Boeselager — said to be "the real leader" of the Order.
Thanks to the dictatorial high hand of Albrecht von Boeselager, members of the Order of Malta have been ordered to be complicit in that cover-up and in a way that could seriously and adversely damage the reputation of the Order of Malta, perhaps permanently.
"Sources inside the Vatican and the Order confirm that this is not language that would be used by the grand master and that he would never have issued such a letter," an anonymous member explained. "They also confirm that the true author is Boeselager and that it is he who is now in real control of the Order, despite never being elected grand master. He is merely using the grand master to serve his own purposes."
Reportedly, the baron is known to his German colleagues as "Albrecht von der Bösen Lüge" or "Albert of the naughty lie." The derisive nickname stems from his involvement in a massive scandal involving "the distribution of huge numbers of condoms by the Order under his supervision," and "the further cover-up of a fund of some 120 million Swiss francs, part of which has since come to the Order despite suspicions about the provenance of the funds."
Boeselager has assumed the mantle of Vatican enforcer inside the Order.
He is responsible for suspending Henry Sire, author of the bombshell Pope Francis exposé The Dictator Pope, from the Order, in spite of the fact that the veracity of Sire's case has not been challenged. Sire's supporters describe Boeselager's punitive proceedings as "an act of vengeance" and "a legal farce based upon entirely spurious charges."
The baron's critics inside the Order point to his role in other controversies, including orchestrating the overthrow of the previous grand master, Matthew Festing, who "challenged Boeselager's antics."
Festing's successor as grand master, Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre, "simply does what he is told by Boeselager and is clearly fearful of his chancellor," they say.
Critics accuse the baron of compelling Fra' Giacomo "to issue another letter which was designed to close down any questions or criticism of Boeselager's own earlier actions which had been challenged by the previous grand master."
On May 17, two weeks after his election as grand master, Fra' Giacomo issued a letter to Order of Malta members, warning: "Unfounded allegations raised anonymously against members and officers of the Order to discredit them — either verbally or via modern means of communication — must stop."
Though signed by Fra' Giacomo, critics allege the letter was authored by Boeselager himself.
"It is quite clear, given Boeselager's track record in summarily dismissing members from the Order, that the consequences will be expulsion from the Order," an anonymous member has warned. "Sources within the Vatican and the Order agree that Boeselager behaves like a dictator and a tyrant and will not brook any criticism of his dealings."
Now, he observed, the baron is using Fra' Giacomo's good name to "try to force members of the order to participate in the world-wide episcopal cover-up of clerical child abuse."
The baron is using Fra' Giacomo's good name to 'try to force members of the order to participate in the world-wide episcopal cover-up of clerical child abuse.'
"He is now using that control to try to silence members of the Order from commenting on, or challenging, the current cover-up by bishops and others of the clearly widespread clerical abuse within the Catholic Church," he continued. "In so doing, Boeselager is furthering the cover-up, worsening the consequences for the Church and gravely threatening the integrity of the Order of Malta by trying to fore its members to be complicit."
He added: "Thanks to the dictatorial high hand of Albrecht von Boeselager, members of the Order of Malta have been ordered to be complicit in that cover-up and in a way that could seriously and adversely damage the reputation of the Order of Malta, perhaps permanently."
Speaking anonymously, another member lamented that "the very last kind of person we need in charge of the Order of Malta, at present, is someone like Albrecht von Boeselager — and yet he is clearly in control."