He offered his gratitude to Festing for accepting the Pope’s proposal to resign, saying, “this has put the elective government of the Order back in a position where it can step up to its constitutional responsibilities and govern.”
“We are now working to reassure our members and to restore normality in the way we function,” he said, highlighting loyalty to the Holy Father as a second key priority for the Knights.
“Let me reassure our members, and everybody, that the government is and will remain as a service of the Holy Father,” he said, stressing that their devotion to Church teaching “is irrevocable and beyond question.”
The crisis the Order underwent “was a government crisis brought about by an act illegal under the constitution,” he said, voicing his gratitude to the Pope for offering guidance that led “to a swift solution.”
Pointing to allegations that the group investigating the Order on the part of the Holy See had a “conflict of interest” due to links between certain group members to a fund in Geneva, Boeselager said he regrets the accusations, calling them “baseless and unfounded.”
“We look forward to cooperating with the special delegate the Pope will appoint,” he said, voicing the Order’s full willingness to cooperate.
A third key priority the Grand Chancellor voiced is to keep the Order’s humanitarian and socio-medial work “at the center” of the government’s activity, saying the crisis in the Middle East and the Mediterranean are proof that their work “has never been more relevant and needed.”
He insisted that despite their current crisis, the Order “will not allow the recent distractions in the government of the order to jeopardize our humanitarian and social work.”
Pointing to a fourth priority for the Order, Boeselager said they intend to strengthen their diplomatic engagement, since their sovereignty and diplomatic network “play a vital role in the Order’s ability to serve peoples in need and is an asset to the Catholic Church.”
Boeselager said the Order also intends to place a strong emphasis on addressing the needs of migrants and refugees, and plans to “scale up projects” in needy areas.
“The priority for the order of Malta is to continue unabated its many humanitarian projects in over 20 countries worldwide,” he said, noting that “the needs of migrants and refugees has never been greater.”
A final priority highlighted by the Grand Chancellor was the firm condemnation of “discriminatory policies” toward migrants, and the need to advocate for “a strong reaffirmation of humanitarian laws.”
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“We are alarmed and concerned by the proliferation of discriminatory positions toward immigrants, not least based on their countries of origin,” he said, noting that “history has already provided us with plenty of examples showing dramatic and monstrous consequences of policies based on origin and race.”
In a question-and-answer session after giving his brief address, Boeselager addressed concerns that the Pope had somehow interfered with the Order’s sovereignty by asking for Festing’s resignation, as well as his mandate for reform under the guidance of his own personal delegate.
“The Vatican took care of the crisis, or started to, when it was made aware of the fact that the wish of the Holy Father was invoked when I was asked to resign,” he stated.
This turned out to be false, and “that’s the reason the Holy Father and the Vatican stepped in, so it has nothing to do with our sovereignty,” he said, and, pointing to the Pope’s Jan. 28 letter to the Order, noted that Francis himself said that “he will not interfere with our relations with states.”
Both Pope Francis and the Holy See are well aware “that our sovereignty is a service of the Church,” he said.
Boeselager also countered claims that Festing was essentially discharged by the Pope. “It isn't right to say the Grand Master was ousted,” he stated. “He was asked, I suppose – none of us were present, but – in a pastoral way, to consider resignation.”