Robbiate also laid to rest rumors that the Knights' refusal to cooperate with the Vatican is somehow rooted in tensions between Pope Francis and Cardinal Raymond Burke, Patron of the Order and one of four signatories of a letter asking the Pope to clarify five "dubia" regarding his apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia.
Robbiate explained that since the Order functions more like a State that has diplomatic relations with the Holy See, Cardinal Burke, who serves as a quasi-ambassador, "is not involved" in decisions made by their hierarchy.
"How would he be involved?" Robbiate asked, explaining that "like any other ambassador, the cardinal has no voice" on the internal decisions of their leaders. So opting not to cooperate in the Vatican investigation "has nothing to do" with Cardinal Burke, but was rather a decision made by the Grand Magistry without the cardinal's input.
In their latest statement, the Order spelled out the reasons why, according to their constitutions, they are able to refuse cooperation with the Vatican's investigative group on legal grounds.
Citing Article 4 of their Constitutional Charter, the Knights said the religious nature of the Order "does not prejudice the exercise of sovereign prerogatives pertaining to the Order" since it is it is "recognized by States as a subject of international law."
They stressed the fact that the Order has diplomatic representation to the Holy See which abides by the norms of international law, rather than having the relationship of a typical religious order.
This is backed up by the Holy See's Annuario Pontificio, the "Pontifical Yearbook" which lists the information for all dioceses and Vatican departments, and where the Order of Malta is listed "only once and not amongst the religious orders, but rather amongst the States with Embassies accredited the Holy See," the Order's statement read.
In regards to Boeselager's act of disobedience when asked to resign, the Knights noted that according to their Constitutional Charter, Second Class members who have made a promise of obedience "are only subordinate to their particular religious superiors within the Order."
Because of this, the Order said that, strictly in a legal context, a refusal to a command given in obedience "does not justify in any way the involvement of 'religious superiors,' all the more so as they do not all belong to the Order."
Not only is the involvement of superiors who don't belong to the Order "legally impossible," it is also "superfluous in terms of protecting members of the Order," the Knights' statement read, noting that should members want to appeal a decision they feel is too harsh, they can do so in the Order's Magisterial Courts.
The decision not to cooperate with the Vatican's investigative group, then, has "strictly legal grounds," and therefore it "cannot in any way be considered as a lack of respect" toward the Holy See or the group carrying out the investigation.
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