|Matthew Festing and Pope Francis, two years ago|
Just about the only people on earth that Pope Francis has warned might go to hell are members of the Mafia.
How ironic then, that Francis is being increasingly compared to a Mafia-leader.
In a bombshell development yesterday, Fra’ Matthew Festing, the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta submitted his resignation to the Pope.
This was a surprise because just a few weeks ago, the Knights had told the Vatican that it had no authority over their internal governing affairs. Festing may have based yesterday's decision on the fact that all Knights have made a vow of obedience to the Pope. But vow or no vow, four weeks ago, the Knights had in in effect told Francis to buzz off.
After the resignation is validated by the Knights on Saturday (most think it will be accepted), the Order will apparently be run by a Papal appointee. Edward Pentin writes that this "is a significant and controversial development in view of the Order's sovereign status."
In the Catholic world, Malta has fallen. One might say that the Pope succeeded where Hitler failed.
Cardinal Burke remains as Patron of the Order. But he has been rendered powerless, like some holdover from the old governing aristocracy in 1930's Germany. Indeed, it appears that Burke himself may have been tricked into escalating the set of events that led to the coup, with Pope Francis encouraging him to go after "Freemasons" in the organization and then cutting him off at the knees.
One Vatican insider, relating the comment of a friend, has called the whole thing a "Mafia-like transaction."
Die-hard Pope defenders will no doubt claim that this was a necessary action to assert control over a "conservative" element that potentially threatened his agenda. Many Pope opponents would agree with that from the other side. But the same Vatican source believes that there is another angle to it that is at least as important to focus on.
There is a boatload of money involved. And the Holy See will get control of it.The Church of Mercy rolls on.