GERMANY, September 18, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A German court has reversed a cease-and-desist order initiated by the Order of Malta against a Catholic news outlet that had been reporting on the Order’s scandals, stating that the outlet’s reports were, in fact, accurate.
The Austrian Catholic news outlet Kath.net received a cease-and-desist order at the end of 2016 from lawyers representing the Maltese charity over its reports on Albrecht von Boeselager and his role as Grand Chancellor of the Order.
Last year, an investigative report from the U.S.-based Lepanto Institute showed how Boeselager was allegedly involved in contraception-spreading programs while overseeing the Order’s international charitable arm, Malteser International.
On top of Kath.net reporting Boeselager’s involvement with distributing contraception, it also reported on his suspicious handling of millions of dollars.
Kath.net received its cease-and-desist order after it quoted a report from another news outlet, BILD newspaper, that said Boeselager, who comes from a powerful aristocratic family, “accepted a donation of 30 million Swiss Francs, the origin of which is dubious.”
“Kath.net has been confronted with a judicial cease-and-desist order initiated by the Order of Malta, and this was done with regard to a report of the BILD newspaper. The BILD newspaper had reported that Grand Chancellor Boeselager accepted a donation of 30 million Swiss Francs, the origin of which is dubious; kath.net merely quoted from the report of the BILD newspaper,” the news outlet stated in a report about the ruling. The report was translated from German by Dr. Maike Hickson of OnePeterFive.
Roland Noé, editor of Kath.net, speculated that the Order’s decision to not confront BILD (the original source of the quote) with a similar cease-and-desist order could be interpreted as the Order’s “intentional ‘strategy of intimidation’ against Catholic media” for reporting on the Order’s scandals.
Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn said he was happy the court sided with the news outlet.
“In January, I focused my podcast on explaining how Boeselager's stories were inconsistent and conflicting,” he told LifeSiteNews. “Happily, the Courts of Germany see the same thing we saw, and concluded that Boeselager had been lying about what he knew regarding the distribution of contraception, and sided with the journalists on this issue.”
In December 2016, Albrecht von Boeselager was removed from his post as Grand Chancellor of the Order on the grounds that he violated his promise of obedience. He hadn't submitted to his superiors' request that he resign after it was revealed he had overseen the distribution of contraception in the developing world. The Catholic Church teaches that contraception is intrinsically evil.
As LifeSiteNews previously reported, Pope Francis personally stepped in. He asked Grand Master Matthew Festing, the order's highest-ranking official who had removed Boeselager, to resign. Festing complied.
The Pope nullified Festing's previous actions, thus reinstating Boeselager to his former position.
This was unusual because the Order of Malta is a sovereign state.
The pontiff then appointed a “papal delegate” to run the order.
In April 2017, the order elected an interim president, Fra' Giacomo dalla Torre.
Throughout this turmoil, defender of Catholic orthodoxy Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Cardinal Patron of the Order of Malta, was essentially stripped by Pope Francis of his power and influence in the Order.
Kath.net outlined in its report that the court’s ruling in its favor has implications that go all the way to Pope Francis and the way he strongly intervened in the Malta affair.
“With the court order of Hamburg, now this development of events [regarding Boeselager’s removal by Festing] is de facto being called into question. Was the pope wrongly informed? Was Festing right and thus unjustly forced to resign? Is Boeselager as Grand Chancellor of a Catholic order still tenable?” the report states.