Pope names top official as 'exclusive spokesman' to Order of Malta

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis named Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Vatican substitute secretary of state,
as his special delegate and sole spokesman to the Sovereign Military Order of

the end of your mandate, that is until the conclusion of the extraordinary chapter,
which will elect the grand master, you will be my exclusive spokesperson in all
matters relating to relations between the Apostolic See and the order,” the
pope wrote in a letter to Archbishop Becciu Feb. 2.

The special
delegate, the pope said, also will work closely with Fra Ludwig Hoffmann von
Rumerstein, the chivalric order’s temporary head, to carry out “the
appropriate renewal of the order’s constitution.”

Released by
the Vatican Feb. 4, the pope’s letter to Archbishop Becciu came after several tense
weeks which led to the Jan. 24 resignation of Fra Matthew Festing as grand
master of the order.

The pope’s
letter made no mention of how Archbishop Becciu’s responsibilities would overlap
with those of Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, the current cardinal patron of the

The mandate
of the pope’s special delegate to the order has similar responsibilities to
that of the cardinal
patron, who officially
has “the task of promoting the spiritual
interests of the order and its members and relations between the Holy See and
the order,” according to the order’s constitution.

delegate to you, therefore, all the necessary powers to decide any issues that
may arise concerning the implementation of the mandate entrusted to you,”
the pope told Archbishop Becciu.

Echoing his
letter to members of the order Jan. 28, the pope said that as his special
delegate, Archbishop Becciu “will take care of all matters relating to the
spiritual and moral renewal of the order,” particularly its professed

Francis added that the Italian archbishop will work closely with von Rumerstein
“for the greater good of the order and reconciliation between all its
members, religious and lay.”

The Order of Malta is made up
of more than 13,500 knights and dames; about 50 of them are professed religious
who have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

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Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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