In a surprising move, Pope Francis’ special delegate to the Order of Malta has instructed Fra’ Matthew Festing, the Order’s former Grand Master, not to travel to Rome for the election of his successor.

In a letter dated April 15 (see below), Archbishop Angelo Becciu said that many of the Order had “expressed their wish” that Fra’ Festing not travel to Rome for the election on April 29 as they felt his presence would “reopen wounds” and prevent a return to harmony following the dispute earlier this year regarding the dismissal and later reinstatement of Albrecht von Boeselager as Grand Chancellor.

The archbishop said he had “shared the decision with the Holy Father” and that he should therefore forego his trip to Rome “as an act of obedience.”

The news is surprising as sources inside the Order say Fra’ Festing, who the Pope asked to resign in January, remains very popular within the Order and could even be re-elected. The Pope has also said he would accept his re-election. 

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 upcoming election.

More soon.

Lettera Festing 15-04-2017 on Scribd