|Fra’ Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein|
The Sovereign Council of the Order of Malta has voted to accept the resignation of their current Grand Master, Fra' Matthew Festing.
They resignation had been ordered by Pope Francis.
The Council consists of ten members, including the Grand Master. According to Edward Pentin of National Catholic Register, there was only one dissenting vote.
UPDATE: Pentin would correct this a few hours later to "handful."
In addition, the Council acceded to the Pope's demand that all disciplinary decrees against the expelled Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeselager be immediately annulled. Boeselager is again Grand Chancellor.
The Order will be now be temporarily run by Grand Commander Fra’ Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein until a new Grand Master is Elected.
However, real power is expected to reside in a Special Delegate appointed by the Pope.
There had been some question as to whether the Order would accept the Special Delegate, but they appear to have done so, today.
From the Order of Malta, a few minutes ago:
The Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing resigns from office
Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein assumes the office of Lieutenant ad interim, Albrecht Boeselager resumes his office as Grand Chancellor
The Sovereign Council, the government of the Sovereign Order of Malta, met this afternoon in the Magistral Palace in Rome. On the agenda was the resignation from Office of Grand Master presented by Fra’ Matthew Festing, in accordance with article 16 of the Constitution of the Order of Malta. The Sovereign Council accepted his resignation from office. Conforming to the Constitution, the Pope has been notified of the resignation of Fra’ Matthew Festing, which will be communicated to the 106 Heads of State with whom the Order has diplomatic relations. In accordance with Article 17 of the Constitution, the Grand Commander, Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein, has assumed the office of Lieutenant ad interim and will remain the Order of Malta’s head until the election of the successor of the Grand Master. The Sovereign Council thanked Fra’ Matthew Festing for his great commitment during his nine years in office.
Subsequently, the Sovereign Council presided over by the Lieutenant ad interim annulled the decrees establishing the disciplinary procedures against Albrecht Boeselager and the suspension of his membership in the Order. Albrecht Boeselager resumes his office as Grand Chancellor immediately.
In a letter sent yesterday, 27 January 2017, to Fra’ Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein and the members of the Sovereign Council, Pope Francis reaffirmed the special relationship between the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Apostolic See. The Pope affirmed that the Lieutenant ad interim assumes responsibility over the Order’s government, in particular regarding relationships with other States. Pope Francis noted precisely that his Special Delegate will be operating on “the spiritual renewal of the Order, specifically of its professed members.” The Sovereign Order of Malta ensures its full collaboration with the Special Delegate whom the Holy Father intends to appoint.
The Sovereign Order of Malta is most grateful to Pope Francis and the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin for their interest in and care for the Order. The Order appreciates that the Holy Father’s decisions were all carefully taken with regard to and respect for the Order, with a determination to strengthen its sovereignty.
The Lieutenant ad interim together with the Sovereign Council will soon convoke the Council Complete of State for the election of the successor of the Grand Master, according to Art. 23 of the Constitution.