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Critics, former members blast Knights of Malta’s suppression of Latin Mass

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ROME, June 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― An international society for the preservation of the traditional Latin Mass says the leader of the Knights of Malta erred in his letter banning his order from celebrating the ancient rite.

The International Federation Una Voce (FIUV) released a letter yesterday informing the public that Fra’ Giacomo dalla Tore, grand master of the Order of Malta, had misrepresented the provisions of Benedict XVI’s motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, in his letter.

“Since this letter has become public, we would like to observe that it does not accurately present the provisions of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter, given motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum,” the FIUV stated. 

“Article 3, cited in the Grand Master’s letter, explicitly allows religious communities to have not only private but conventual celebrations of Mass in the Extraordinary Form, without reference to the Major Superior (in the case of the Order of Malta, the grand master or the prelate). His permission is required only in cases where the community ‘wishes to have such celebrations frequently, habitually or permanently’.” (Full letter republished below.)

Dalla Torre, in a letter so badly written that some believed that it was a hoax, had claimed that Article 3 of  Summorum Pontificum “states that inside a religious institute the matter is to be decided by the Major Superior according to the norm of law and their particular statutes.”

He used his particular understanding of the motu proprio to justify banning the celebration of what Benedict described as the “Extraordinary Form of the Mass” from all official liturgical celebrations of the Order.

This, FIUV believes, tramples on the rights of any group of Catholic faithful to request Mass in the Extraordinary Form, as enshrined in Article 4 of Summorum Pontificum. Article 5 asks “pastors and rectors of churches” to honor such requests. 

Dalla Torre is the replacement for Fra’ Matthew Festing, the first grand master to be removed as the sovereign of the Order by a pope when Pope Francis personally requested his abdication. The ensuing scandal caused no small amount of turmoil within the order, and dalla Torre indicated in his letter that he believed that banning the Extraordinary Form would ensure “cohesion.”

The FIUV believes that this concept of “unity” is “narrow” and does not justify neglect of the more ancient form of the Roman Rite.  

“The Federation would like to emphasise that the Extraordinary Form is a part of the liturgical patrimony of the Church which represents ‘riches’ for the Church, which should not be neglected or excluded, and certainly not on the basis of a narrow conception of unity which excludes the variety of liturgical expressions permitted in the Church,” the organization wrote.

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta, popularly known as the Knights of Malta, is the world’s oldest order of chivalry, having been founded in the early Middle Ages to protect and tend to pilgrims to the Holy Land.

The Order, best known today for its work on behalf of the sick, has been plagued by controversy since it was discovered in 2016 that one of its top officials, grand chancellor and German aristocrat Albrecht von Boeselager, had been implicated in the distribution of condoms in the developing world. Boeselager was removed from his post on the grounds that he had violated his promise of obedience and replaced by Fra’ John Critien as grand chancellor.

However, Pope Francis personally intervened; had Boeslager returned to his post; and, as mentioned above, requested the resignation of Fra’ Matthew Festing.

Historian Henry Sire, who was expelled from the Order for writing The Dictator Pope, recently told LifeSiteNews that he believes that the real force behind the banning of the traditional form of the Roman Rite was Boeslager.

“The first thing to understand about the Grand Master banning celebrations in the traditional rite is that its real author is likely Baron von Boeselager (reference, here), who has just obtained his re-election as Grand Chancellor for another five years,” he wrote.

Sire believes that Fra’ Giacomo dalla Tore is Boeslager’s “puppet.”

“The move is another step in the programme of revenge that Boeselager has pursued against the traditionalist party — who were strong in the Order's government until he forced Fra’ Matthew Festing out in 2017,” Sire continued. 

“The appeal to the rule about ‘keeping liturgical uniformity in a religious order’ is completely spurious,” he continued. 

“It would be understandable in a uniform order such as the Jesuits (although even they have priests who say the traditional Mass), but the Order of Malta has always been a very decentralized organization, in which each country was allowed to set its own way of doing things.” 

Sire added that Baron Boeselager dislikes this diversity.

“He wants an absolute dictatorship in the Order, and he has pretty well achieved it,” he stated.


Letter from the International Federation Una Voce

Rome, June 13, 2019

The FIUV notes with regret the letter, dated 10th June, from Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre, Grand Master of the Sovereign Military and Hospitaler Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta (the ‘Order of Malta’), forbidding the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass (the Extraordinary Form) in the context of the Order’s liturgical life.

Since this letter has become public, we would like to observe that it does not accurately present the provisions of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter, given motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum. Article 3, cited in the Grand Master’s letter, explicitly allows religious communities to have not only private but conventual celebrations of Mass in the Extraordinary Form, without reference to the Major Superior (in the case of the Order of Malta, the Grand Master or the Prelate). His permission is required only in cases where the community ‘wishes to have such celebrations frequently, habitually or permanently’.

The Grand Master’s letter also neglects the right of the faithful, from which the religious and lay members of the Order of Malta are not excluded, from requesting celebrations of Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Article 4). Celebrations in the context of special occasions such as pilgrimages are explicitly anticipated (Article 5 §3). Pastors and rectors of churches are directed to accede to such requests (Article 5, §1 and §5).

The Federation would like to emphasise that the Extraordinary Form is a part of the liturgical patrimony of the Church which represents ‘riches’ for the Church, which should not be neglected or excluded, and certainly not on the basis of a narrow conception of unity which excludes the variety of liturgical expressions permitted in the Church. As Pope Benedict expressed it:

‘These two expressions of the Church’s lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s lex credendi (rule of faith); for they are two usages of the one Roman rite.’ (Summorum Pontificum, Preamble)

Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce

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