A papal delegate has told the former Grand Master of the Order of Malta to stay away from Rome for the election of his successor, due to take place this weekend.
In a letter dated April 15, the Pope’s special delegate to the Order of Malta, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, said that many in the order had “expressed their wish” that Fra’ Matthew Festing stay away for the election.
According to the letter, some members felt that Fra’ Festing’s presence would “reopen wounds” and prevent a return to harmony following a dispute between the Vatican and the order earlier this year.
Archbishop Becciu wrote that he had “shared the decision with the Holy Father” and that Fra’ Festing should cancel his trip as “an act of obedience”.
Writing in the National Catholic Register, Vatican commentator Edward Pentin said: “The news is surprising as sources inside the Order say Fra’ Festing, whom the Pope asked to resign in January, remains very popular within the Order and could even be re-elected … They claim this move is therefore an attempt by some who wish to take the order in a distinctly new direction to keep Fra’ Festing from having any influence in the election.”
In an interview with the Catholic Herald, Fra’ Festing said the Pope had told him that he would allow him to be re-elected Grand Master. He added: “If they re-elect me, I would have to consider agreeing to it.”
Fra’ Festing resigned in January after being asked to do so by Pope Francis. It followed a dispute within the Order after Fra’ Festing asked Albrecht von Boeselager to resign as Grand Chancellor.
Pope allows bishop to retire early to become a missionary
Pope Francis has accepted the early retirement request of Italian Bishop Gianfranco Todisco, who asked to be allowed to return to missionary work or to be sent “to the farthest, most disadvantaged” diocese.
The Vatican announced Bishop Todisco’s resignation as Bishop of Melfi-Rapolla-Venosa, southern Italy, last week. The bishop is 71, and the normal retirement age is 75.
In a letter to the people of his diocese, Bishop Todisco said he had made his request in November and received a letter from the Pope saying he would think and pray about it. A few weeks later, Pope Francis phoned and “asked me if I was still ready to leave. My answer was yes,” the bishop said.
The bishop said he was ordained to the priesthood as an Ardorini Missionary and that was the life to which he felt called. He accepted the call to become bishop of the Italian diocese in 2002 “because I always saw the will of God in the decisions of my superiors”.
But as years passed, he said, he felt “increasing unrest to return to the missions”. The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that the bishop already had a plane ticket to Honduras.
Cardinal applauds abortion veto
Cardinal Blase Cupich has praised Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner for taking a “principled stand” by promising to veto a Bill to allow taxpayers’ money to pay for elective abortions for Medicaid recipients and state employees.
“Abortion is a controversial issue in this country, but using public money to provide abortions should not be,” he said. It was predicted the Bill would result in an extra 12,000 abortions a year.
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund