Tomasi, he added, “requested our Grand Chancellor Albrecht von Boeselager to have the Lieutenant of the Grand Master overturn [the decree], threatening to intervene personally.” Senahoui described this as “a direct attack on the sovereignty of our order.”
Senahoui noted that, while Tomasi had refused to invite him to the Jan. 25 meeting, he had a “cordial” private audience with Pope Francis on the morning of Jan. 24, lasting 25 minutes.
Senahoui recalled that he asked the pope to “consider requesting the postponing of the meetings scheduled on Jan. 25 and 26 to a later date, as these will be held in an unhealthy and insufficiently prepared environment.”
He argued that “the majority of the people involved in the current commission do not have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the specificities of our order and activities.” So it was necessary “to provide the commission with additional information, necessary for the success of these reforms, after gathering the inputs of all our leaders around the world.”
When invitations to the two-day meeting were issued on the afternoon of Jan. 24, Senahoui was not among those invited. Szabadhegÿ attended the meeting, where he complained about Senahoui’s absence.
In his letter, Senahoui expressed astonishment at Paternò’s presence at the gathering and questioned “how and on what basis” the president of the Italian association was able to attend “without an official invitation.”
Szabadhegÿ left the meeting in protest at the refusal to invite Senahoui. The Lebanese official stressed in his letter that “under these circumstances, I consider that our order is not respected, that our dignity is violated and that our future is in danger.”
Despite initially announcing that he was going to step aside, Boeselager ultimately took part in the Jan. 25 meeting, thus accepting the delegate’s request.
The draft of the order’s constitution was due to be discussed at the Jan. 26 meeting. Leaks revealed that the new constitution would make the order a subject of the Holy See. Such a provision might jeopardize the order’s sovereignty and put at risk its bilateral relations with 112 states, as well as its permanent observer status at the United Nations.
Tomasi has insisted that the draft was not definitive and could be changed.
In a Jan. 24 letter that Tomasi wrote to convene the working group, he said he “thought it appropriate to reflect on some articles, which I have modified.”
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He added: “I, therefore, share with you the text on which we will be discussing today, confirming that, once further reflections have been gathered over these two days, a new draft will finally be sent to you, exclusively by this office, on which I await your comments and suggestions.”