Reader 01/31/2019 (Thu) 19:10:19 Id: f5606a No.13839 del
The Pope’s dramatic moves in January 2017 effectively abolished the sovereignty of the Order and have been described by its harshest critics as the annexation of one country (the Order) by another (the Holy See) [2]. Members of the Order even went so far as to challenge papal authority on the matter and refused to co-operate with the Vatican’s investigation [3]. This is seen by many observers as part of a larger power struggle between conservative and liberal elements within the Church, represented by Festing and Boeselager respectively (for example, [4]).

Adding yet more intrigue to the tale are rumours that some high-ranking members of the Order have also attended Masonic lodges or other organisations deemed suspect by the Church [5]. Some of this seems to be confirmed by the Pope’s letter, which is dated 1 December 2016 (over a month before Boeselager was reinstated and Festing dismissed).

In the letter Pope Francis states: “In particular, members of the Order must avoid secular and frivoulous (sic) behaviour, such as membership to associations, movements and organisations which are contrary to the Catholic faith and/or of a relativist nature.” He goes on to state that any members of such organisations need to be removed from the Order.