Pope Francis reportedly tells Order of Malta leaders there is ‘no urgency’ to complete reforms

Pope Francis meets Fra' Marco Luzzago, the interim leader of the Order of Malta, on June 25, 2021. Pope Francis meets with the Order of Malta's Fra' Marco Luzzago on June 25, 2021. | Vatican Media

Pope Francis reportedly told leaders of the Order of Malta on Saturday that there is “no urgency” to make a final decision on long-awaited reforms.

Marwan Sehnaoui, the chairman of the steering committee for the constitutional reform process, said in a letter that the Feb. 26 meeting at the Vatican was focused on the sovereign order’s ongoing reform.

According to Sehnaoui, Pope Francis opened and closed the two-hour discussion by underlining that ultimately he himself would decide on the “critical issues regarding the order’s constitutional reform.”

“Pope Francis listened carefully to the presentations and interventions of both sides. After the exchange of views, the Holy Father said that there is no urgency in making a final decision. His Holiness also said that he wishes to gather and review more information and that he would probably convene another audience,” Sehnaoui said in his letter.

The papal meeting included the Lieutenant of the Grand Master Fra’ Marco Luzzago, as well as the papal delegate Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, who is overseeing the drafting of the new constitution.

In a statement following the Feb. 26 meeting, Tomasi said that the participants in the meeting had presented to Pope Francis how the proposed reform “maintains and better frames the order in its characteristic of a religious lay order and allows for the continuation of its charitable, diplomatic, and humanitarian action.”

Tomasi said that Pope Francis had granted the Order of Malta another audience, after which the pope will decide on the projects they have presented to him.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, as it is officially known, is both a lay religious order of the Catholic Church and a subject of international law. In 2017, Pope Francis ordered reforms of both the order’s religious life and its constitution.

The reform entered a decisive stage in January, when a leaked draft of the order’s new constitution appeared to reveal that the order would be made a subject of the Holy See — a provision that critics said could jeopardize the order’s sovereignty and its bilateral relations with 112 states, as well as its permanent observer status at the United Nations.

But after talks with a Vatican delegate, the order’s Grand Chancellor Albrecht von Boeselager said he had been assured that the order’s sovereignty and right of self-governance were not in danger.

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