The Pope and the Order of Malta: a Pyrrhic Victory

¿Quién quiere disolver la Orden de Malta?

The resignation of Fra Matthew Festing, Grand Master of the Order of Malta, imposed on him by Francis on January 23rd, risks being a Pyrrhic victory for the Pope.

Pope Bergoglio has in fact obtained what he wanted, but had to use force, violating both law and common sense. And this is destined to have serious consequences not only inside the Order of Malta, but among Catholics from all over the world, increasingly perplexed and bewildered about the way Francis is governing the Church.

The Pope knew he hadn’t any legal title to intervene in the internal affairs of a sovereign Order and even less so to demand the resignation of its Grand Master. He knew also the Grand Master himself would not have been able to resist the moral pressure of a request for his resignation, even if illegitimate.

By acting in such a way, Pope Bergoglio has exercised an act of dominion openly in contrast with the spirit of dialogue established as the leit motif during the Year of Mercy. However, what is graver still, is that the intervention took place “to punish” the current in the Order which is the most faithful to the immutable Magisterium of the Church and support instead, the secularist wing, which would like to transform the Knights of Malta into a humanitarian NGO, a distributer of condoms and abortificants “for good reasons”. The next designated victim appears to be the Cardinal Patron, Raymond Leo Burke, who has the dual offence of having defended Catholic Orthodoxy inside the Order and of being one of the four cardinals who criticised the theological and moral errors of the Bergoglian Exhortation, Amoris laetitia.

In his meeting with the Grand Master, Pope Francis announced his intention “to reform” the order, that is to say, the resolve to alter its religious nature, even if it is precisely in the name of Pontifical authority that he wants to start the emancipation of its religious norms and morals. This is a plan for the destruction of the Order, which, naturally, will be able to occur solely by the surrender of the Knights, who unfortunately seem to have lost their militant spirit which distinguished them on the fields of the Crusades and in the waters of Rhodes, Cyprus and Lepanto.

In acting so, however, Pope Bergoglio has lost a lot of credibility not only in the eyes of the Knights, but of an increasing number of the faithful who see the contradiction between his captivating and mellifluous manner of speaking, and his intolerant and threatening way of acting.

From the centre we pass to the periphery, which however, is more important than the centre for Pope Bergoglio. A few days before the Grand Master of the Order of Malta’s resignation, other news along the same lines shook up the Catholic world. Monsignor Rigoberto Corredor Bermùdez, Bishop of Pereira in Colombia, by decree on the 16th of January, suspended a divinis the priest Alberto Uribe Medina, because, according to the communiqué of diocese, he had “voiced publically and privately his rejection of the Holy Father Francis’ doctrinal and pastoral teaching, most of all, as regards marriage and the Eucharist.” The diocesan communiqué adds that as a result of his position, the priest “has separated himself publically from communion with the Pope and the Church.”

Don Uribe therefore, has been accused of being a heretic and schismatic for having rejected Pope Bergoglio’s pastoral indications, which, in the eyes of many cardinals, bishops and theologians have the smell of heresy [about them], precisely for the reason that they appear to be departing from the Catholic faith. Which means that a priest who refuses to administer Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried or to practicing homosexuals is suspended a divinis or excommunicated, while those who reject the Council of Trent and Familiaris consortio are promoted to bishops, and perhaps nominated cardinals, as probably Mons. Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta is expecting, [he being] one of the two Maltese Bishops who authorized Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried, living together as man and wife. The name of this small Mediterranean island seems however to have a strange tie to Pope Bergoglio’s future, less trouble free than we can possibly imagine.

Who is orthodox today and who is heretical or schismatic? This is the great debate that appears on the horizon. A de facto schism, as the German daily Die Tagespost defined it, that is, a civil war in the Church, which the war going on inside the Order of Malta is only a pale prefiguration of.
*A Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way. However, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit.