The Latest: Knights of Malta call special session Saturday

AP News
Posted: Jan 25, 2017 9:40 AM
The Latest: Knights of Malta call special session Saturday

ROME (AP) — The Latest on the resignation of the Knights of Malta head (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

The Knights of Malta has summoned its top governing body for a special session to formally accept the resignation of its leader after the pope announced a takeover of the sovereign lay Catholic group.

The meeting is set for Saturday.

The Vatican announced it was taking over the order after the chief knight, Matthew Festing, openly defied Pope Francis in a public spat over condoms. Festing resigned on Tuesday and the Vatican announced it would name a papal delegate to run the order.

The Vatican's intervention is extraordinary given the Knights of Malta isn't a typical religious order like the Jesuits, but rather a sovereign entity under international law, one that has diplomatic relations with more than 100 countries, the Holy See included.


1:25 p.m.

The Vatican says Pope Francis will name a pontifical delegate to run the embattled Knights of Malta, effectively taking over the sovereign lay Catholic order after its leader resigned in a bitter dispute with the pontiff over condoms.

The move marks an extraordinary intervention of one sovereign state — the Holy See — into the governance of another — the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, an ancient aristocratic order that runs a vast charity operation around the globe.

A statement from the Vatican said Francis accepted the resignation of the order's grand master, Matthew Festing, which he had offered Tuesday.

The statement said the order's governance would shift temporarily to the No. 2 "until the pontifical delegate is named."


8:20 a.m.

The head of the Knights of Malta has resigned after entering into a public spat with Pope Francis over the ouster of a top official involved in a condom scandal.

Marianna Balfour, spokeswoman for the ancient lay Catholic order, told The Associated Press that Matthew Festing had met with the pope on Tuesday and offered his resignation.

In an email, Balfour said that "I can confirm this."

Festing had refused to cooperate with a papal commission investigating his ouster of the grand chancellor, Albrecht von Boeselager, over revelations that the order's charity branch had distributed condoms under his watch. Festing had cited the Knights' status as a sovereign entity in refusing to cooperate.