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Pope would permit Festing to be re-elected as Order of Malta leader

Pope Francis exchanges gifts with with Fra' Matthew Festing in 2016 (Getty)

Pope Francis has given the green light for Fra’ Matthew Festing to be re-elected as Grand Master of the Order of Malta, the Catholic Herald can reveal.

The Pope asked Festing to resign in January, after a period of turbulence in the order.

In an exclusive interview, Festing described his exchange with the Pope after he agreed to resign: “I said, ‘Can I ask you a hypothetical question?’ [The Pope] said yes. And I said, ‘Hypothetically, what would happen if I was re-elected?’ He thought for a moment, and said, well, that would be all right.”

Festing said that he had “no intention of running a campaign”, but that if he was asked to return as Grand Master he would “have to consider it.” The order will meet on April 29 to elect the next Grand Master.

In the interview, Festing discusses the satisfactions and difficulties of his nearly nine years as Grand Master, and the challenges facing the order today. He also opens up about his own vocation as a professed knight.

Read the interview in full here.