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Condom Distribution Dispute: Pope Francis Forces Head of Conservative Catholic Sovereign Order to Resign as Vatican Takes over Leadership

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VATICAN CITY, VATICAN – JUNE 23: Pope Francis meets Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta Fra’ Matthew Festing at the Apostolic Palace on June 23, 2016 in Vatican City, Vatican. Fra’ Matthew Festing is the second Englishman to be elected Grand Master since 1258, the first having been his immediate predecessor Andrew Bertie. 

Pope Francis has forced the head of an ancient catholic order – The Sovereign Military Order of Malta – to resign over an abortion dispute that started last year.

The Order is legally similar to a sovereign country, has its own passports and maintains diplomatic relations with 106 states, including the Holy See and the United Nations.

The Order’s mission is summed up in its motto: Tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum meaning “Defence of the (Catholic) faith and assistance to the poor”.


The Pope had ordered an investigation on December 8 2016, into the sack of Knights of Malta Grand Chancellor Albrecht von Boeselager over his involvement in the distribution of condoms by a charity organisation linked to the Knights of Malta.

One charge used against von Boeteslager concerned a program that the order’s aid group participated in several years ago to help sex slaves in Myanmar, including giving them condoms to protect against HIV infection.

An internal investigation was conducted and von Boeselager admitted he knew about the condoms, which were distributed by other aid programs, not his. The Vatican was informed, Malteser International’s participation in the program ended and an ethics committee was launched to ensure that future projects adhered to Catholic Church teaching

Albrecht von Boeselager had written a petition to the Pope, which led to the Pope constituting a 5-man committee to investigate the sack.

The Order, in December last year, had told Pope Francis that his decision to launch an investigation into the ouster of a top official over a condom scandal is “unacceptable.”

In an extraordinary rebuke of the pontiff, the group said the replacement of its grand chancellor was an “act of internal governmental administration of the Sovereign Order of Malta and consequently falls solely within its competence.”

After the investigation, Pope Francis refused to back von Boeteslager’s sack, but proceeded to ask his boss, Knights of Malta Grand Master Matthew Festing, 67, to resign.

According to CNN, Knights of Malta spokeswoman, Marianna Balfour said on Wednesday that Festing agreed to step down from what would normally be a life-long position, after meeting with the Pope on Tuesday.

In a statement Wednesday, the Vatican said a pontifical delegate will be nominated to govern the Order, which signals a temporary takeover of the group.

Story Credits: CNN | Crux Photo Credit: Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

8 Comments

  1. Frank teacher

    January 25, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Haba, the trump infection got to Rome?
    Ah-ah your coolness level just dropped on my radar, Sir Pope

  2. draken

    January 25, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    This is the biggest problem I have with religious adherence. The lack of common sense, empathy and most of all…..common sense. That the pope will rather see people infected with deadly diseases such as HIV and/or have unwanted pregnancies (which they can’t abort) than have access to condoms is tantamount to crimes against humanity. Yes, I said it…the Catholic Church is complicit in the death of millions of people. A crime that even radical Islam isn’t guilty of. People, the emperor has no clothes…..ditch the “biblical” teachings and please use condoms responsibly

    • Ajala & Foodie

      January 26, 2017 at 1:32 am

      The pope??? No I don’t think so. Read and comprehend people, before commenting. The pope is backing the individual that was fired for the condom program and requesting that the “boss” (Matthew Festing) that fired the individual (Albrecht von Boeslager) step down. I am no catholic but people should read and comprehend before pointing fingers.

    • the real ibinabo

      January 26, 2017 at 2:42 am

      Lol, I am guilty as well, I jumped to conclusions without reading the whole story. Thanks for the comment Ajala, it made me go back to read the whole story

    • EE

      January 26, 2017 at 4:23 am

      The sacked grand-chancellor has been reinstated BTW.

    • EE

      January 26, 2017 at 4:36 am

      Dude, your logic is faulty. The church would only be at fault if it encouraged people to commit acts that could lead to STDs and unwanted pregnancies in the first place, it does the exact opposite.

      Church rulings are in itself absolute, but the church is not the sole institution on earth. An orthodox Jew for example is prevented from labour on Sabbath, by your logic then, the Jews are to blame for every death on the Sabbath???

      If you took the time to read, you’d notice that the issue the Pope is rebuking is the former Knight’s firing of his subordinate over allowing other charitable organisations to distribute condoms.

    • The Real Oma

      January 26, 2017 at 10:32 am

      @Draken, you see your life? In your bid to discredit the Catholic Church, chai.
      Objectivity people. No matter how much you dislike a thing or a people, always keep an open mind, give them benefit of the doubt.
      Way to go Pope Francis. You are a man of deep compassion.

    • Tee

      January 26, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      Did you mean drunken? Please look for those who stupidly liked your comment 8 times because you don’t know how to comprehend but can write an epistle.

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