The announcement comes after a Jan. 24 meeting between Pope Francis and Festing, during which the Pope asked the former Grand Master to tenure his resignation, to which Festing said yes.
Festing's agreement to resign follows a conflict between the Order of Malta and the Holy See over Boeselager's dismissal in December 2016.
Among the reported reasons for the dismissal was that under Boeselager's watch, the Order's charity branch had inadvertently been involved in distributing condoms in Burma to prevent the spread of HIV.
However, a senior official of the Order has said that while the incident was a contributing factor in Boeselager's resignation, the reasons – while confidential – are much broader.
The Holy See announced Dec. 22, shortly after Boeselager's dismissal, that Pope Francis had formed a group to investigate the matter.
Members of the group include Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda S.J., Belgian lawyer Mr. Jacques de Liedekerke, Mr. Marc Odendall and Mr. Marwan Sehnaoui.
On Jan. 10 the Knights issued a statement defending their decision, calling Boeselager's dismissal "an internal act of governance," making the group established by the Holy See to investigate the decision "legally irrelevant" given the Order's sovereignty.
The Holy See, in turn, reiterated Jan. 17 its confidence in its investigative group and indicated it was awaiting the group's report "in order to adopt, within its area of competence, the most fitting decisions for the good of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and of the Church."
The Order of Malta is a chivalric order which was founded in 1099, originally to provide protection and medical care to Holy Land pilgrims. It now performs humanitarian work throughout the world, and its two principle missions are defense of the faith and care for the poor.
It maintains sovereignty, holding diplomatic relations with more than 100 states and United Nations permanent observer status.
Festing had been elected Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta March 11, 2008, however, his resignation cuts short the lifetime appointment.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.