There was certainly a connection between what had happened in the Order and the conflict between hardliners and the pope, according to Albrecht von Boeselager, the reinstated Grand Chancellor of the Order of Malta.
By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, March 8, 2017
A leading official of the Knights of Malta has confirmed claims that hardliners opposed to Pope Francis over Church teaching, as well as the pope’s views on the world economy, were behind last December’s power struggle within the 12th-century equestrian order.
Albrecht von Boeselager – who was first ousted, but is now reinstated as Grand Chancellor of the Order of Malta – said he was reluctant to speak of a proxy war. He added, however, that there was certainly a connection between what had happened in the order and the conflict between hardliners and the pope.
In an interview published March 4 in the German daily Die Welt, Boeselager said it was quite obvious that there were hardliners in the Church who feared that Francis was watering down church teaching on marriage and the family.
They also rejected his stance on economic matters and the distribution of wealth.
“There is, for instance, a very powerful, ultra-conservative movement in the US which has links to the Evangelical Churches and to conservative economists, behind which there is a great deal of money,” he emphasized. “What the pope says about the world economy naturally angers them and they are very capable of making their voices heard in the Vatican,” Boeselager said. He insisted that the Order of Malta had been drawn into a controversy that did not really concern the order itself.“
“Only a few days ago Cardinal Raymond Burke once again underlined that anyone who had a high office in the Catholic Church and tolerated the distribution of condoms must step down,” Boeselager noted.“
The accusation that I distributed condoms or tolerated their distribution is simply untrue. But quite apart from that, Burke is not only slandering me but is also indirectly attacking the Holy Father for protecting someone who distributes condoms,” he charged.
The 67-year-old German knight flatly rejected the cardinal’s accusations that he had condoned a condom-distribution project in Myanmar some years ago. Boeselager insisted he had always kept to Church teaching. But he added that, while the encyclical Humanae Vitae discussed sexuality within marriage, the Church had never really discussed [editor’s note: other ethical issues pertaining to] sexuality outside of marriage, since it is forbidden in the eyes of the Church.
“I for myself definitely follow the Church’s teaching but aside from my personal view, that does not mean that as far as the condom topic is concerned, one could not give it further thought and reflect on what is sensible. I have observed a definite need for further discussion here,” Boeselager said.
He said he had a short conversation with Pope Francis in mid-February concerning the crisis inside the Order of Malta. The encounter was “absolutely private” and Boeselager would only say that the pope had offered him words of encouragement.