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The Pope has staged a coup in ‘Malta’!

News reaches us from the Telegraph of rumblings in Rome, where an expansionist Pope appears to have burst the bonds set up by Mussolini and, setting his sights on the smallest ‘state’ within Rome, persuaded the British head of the International Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Grand Master Matthew Festing, to resign. Unlike a previous situation of Argentine aggression against a small group of islands sitting peacefully in a deep blue sea, this has passed off far more peacefully and entirely within Rome.

The background to this dispute is, we are told:

Mr Festing and the Vatican have been locked in a bitter dispute since one of the order’s top knights, Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, was sacked in December in the chivalric equivalent of a boardroom showdown – ostensibly because he allowed the use of condoms in a medical project for the poor.

Is the article hinting that the ‘condoms’ issue is a bit of a stretch?

When Festing fired von Boeselager, he accused the German of hiding the fact that he allowed the use of condoms when he ran Malteser International, the order’s humanitarian aid agency.

Von Boeselager and his supporters say the condom issue was an excuse by Festing and Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, an arch-conservative who has accused the pope of being too liberal, to increase their power.

Well since neither the Swiss Guard nor the St John’s Ambulance have got involved, it all seems rather peaceful. But the Pope seems to brook no dissent, not even in his last satellite ‘state’.

Francis has said he wants the 1.2 billion-member church to avoid so-called “culture wars” over moral teachings and show mercy to those who cannot live by all its rules, especially the poor.

Perhaps this is the Pope’s version of the Brezhnev Doctrine?

When forces that are hostile to socialism try to turn the development of some socialist country towards capitalism, it becomes not only a problem of the country concerned, but a common problem and concern of all socialist countries.

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48 comments to The Pope has staged a coup in ‘Malta’!

  • Erik

    “The all-male top leaders of the Knights of Malta are not clerics, but they take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to the pope.”

    This doesn’t sound like a coup. This sounds like the exact opposite of a coup: someone who had taken a vow of obedience to the pope obeyed the pope.

  • he accused the German of hiding the fact that he allowed the use of condoms when he ran Malteser International

    Whereas the Frenchman who ran Global Snickers freely admitted to using them, but only with his mistress.

  • Mr Ed

    This doesn’t sound like a coup. This sounds like the exact opposite of a coup:

    I can see where you get that, but that is the Telegraph. It sounds like a coup to me, interference in the affairs of the Order by a foreign state. The individuals may be obedient to the Pope, but the Order is sovereign, so it is not legally subordinate to the Pope. The Pope has intervened in the internal affairs of the Order.

    Article 4 of the Order’s Constitution provides:

    ARTICLE 4
    Relations with the Apostolic See
    Par 1 The Order is a legal entity recognized by the Holy See.
    Par 2 Religious members through their vows, as well as members of the Second Class through the Promise of Obedience, are only subject to their appropriate Superiors in the Order. In accordance with the Code of Canon Law, the churches and conventual institutions of the Order are exempt from the jurisdiction of the dioceses and are directly subject to the Holy See.
    Par 3 In the conduct of relations with the Apostolic See, the acquired rights, customs and privileges granted to the Order by the Supreme Pontiffs are in force unless expressly abrogated.
    Par 4 The Supreme Pontiff appoints as his representative to the Order a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church on whom are conferred the title of Cardinalis Patronus and special faculties. The Cardinalis Patronus has the task of promoting the spiritual interests of the Order and its members and relations between the Holy See and the Order.
    Par 5 The Order has diplomatic representation to the Holy See, according to the norms of international law.
    par 6 The religious nature of the Order does not prejudice the exercise of sovereign prerogatives pertaining to the Order in so far as it is recognized by States as a subject of international law.

  • Andrew Duffin

    Remind me again – how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

  • Alsadius

    For those unaware, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is not the country Malta. It’s not even based in Malta – it’s headquartered in Italy, just across the river from the Vatican. The SMOM is a weird sort of non-territorial country-like thing – it’s the old Knights Hospitaller, but it hasn’t been an actual country since Napoleon kicked them out of Malta in 1798.

    Mr Ed: The key quote ther ewas in #2 – “the churches and conventual institutions of the Order are exempt from the jurisdiction of the dioceses and are directly subject to the Holy See.”

  • Mr Ed

    Well if we are to have the most obscure discourse in this blog’s history, and I feel duty-bound to sound forth and bore away as it was my post, I would venture that the Pope has no authority in law over the Order, but of course, if he were to make a suggestion to the Grand Master that resignation would be a way forward, it would carry the most persuasive weight. This is the exact opposite of the Turkish memo coup where the Armed Forces simply handed the government a memo to say that they were in charge, rather than send out the tanks.

    Alsadius: The churches and conventual institutions are the religious part, and simply do not answer to local bishops or whatever authority, but to the Bishop of Rome acting as the Holy See. The secular institutions would not be within that clause, as they are the lay part.

    Article 3, para. 2 states:

    Legislative, executive and judicial functions are reserved to the competent bodies of the Order according to the provisions of the Constitution and Code.

    Which is more sovereignty than the United Kingdom enjoys at present, given yesterday’s judgment in our Supreme Court at §61.

    it is unrealistic to deny that, so long as that Act remains in force, the EU Treaties, EU legislation and the interpretations placed on these instruments by the Court of Justice are direct sources of UK law.

    The Order is based at 68 Via Condotti, Rome. And as the Telegraph put it in an interview with the Grand Master’s predecessor, Fra’ Andrew Bertie ‘So long as he does not look out of the window, the Grand Master is Lord of all he surveys‘.

  • Hedgehog

    Francis has said he wants the 1.2 billion-member church to avoid so-called “culture wars” over moral teachings and show mercy to those who cannot live by all its rules, especially the poor.

    Moral relativism in the Catholic Church. Way to go, Francis. Screwing up yet another institution in the service of leftist dogma.

  • bobby b

    1. The Church has deplored the use of condoms since forever.

    2. This Pope has backed off on that, ruling that when condoms are used “solely” to guard against AIDs, they’re allowable.

    3. Festing and Burke hate-hate-hate the Pope’s stance on this matter, as it completely guts a central tenet of Catholicism.

    4. Several years ago, von Boeselager, while running Malteser International (the order’s charitable arm), allowed condoms to be distributed to sex slaves in Myanmar, where AIDs was rampant in the brothels.

    5. Festing and Burke saw this as the test case to poke the Pope over his liberal teachings.

    6. The Pope, while lacking the power to fire Festing, has authority over his position. So, instead of firing him, he asked him to quit. Which Festing was then all but required to do.

    The moral of the story is that condoms can also have a prophylactic effect on uprisings.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    At last, a dispute less important than those in Academe!

  • Hedgehog

    @ bobby b: AFAIK, the pope who backed off on the proscription of condoms is not this one (Francis), but his predecessor Benedict, who was no one’s idea of a liberal.

  • bobby b

    Hedgehog, agreed that Benedict first issued that ruling, but Francis, who is much more liberal, has voiced strong agreement with it and expanded it, to the dismay of the conservatives in the church.

    His pronouncement during the Zika crisis was considered somewhat revolutionary. (Okay to use condoms to avoid infection w/ Zika, just as 2010 pope said of AIDs.)

  • A cowardly citizen

    He’s not the pope. Benedict XVI is still alive. The Marxist imposter is as much the pope as Robert Mugabe is.

  • Paul Marks

    The antics of this Argentine Jesuit are not amusing. He is destroying a church that has lasted so many centuries.

  • Darin

    He’s not the pope. Benedict XVI is still alive. The Marxist imposter is as much the pope as Robert Mugabe is.

    Ann Barnhardt, it is you? 😛

    http://www.barnhardt.biz/2017/01/16/cutting-the-crap-31-questions-and-blunt-answers-about-the-catholic-church-and-antipope-bergoglio/

    (warning, one of the more crazy blogs I have in my list, and I am dedicated collector of the crazy)

  • Andrew Duffin asked:

    Remind me again – how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    Seven, of course.

  • Rob

    You can only avoid fighting the Culture War by surrendering. It isn’t an invite to play tennis, which you can accept or decline. You have about as much chance of avoiding fighting it as Poland did of avoiding fighting the Germans in 1939.

    It takes two sides to fight a war, but only one side to invite both to join.

  • MadRocketSci

    Why are religions obsessed with sex?

  • Alisa

    Why is everyone obsessed with sex?

  • Mr Ed

    Perhaps the key to a successful religion is to take enough control of its followers’ lives to make the followers feel lost without it, so that they cling to it (by and large). Hence making apparently pointless or tiresome demands on followers might actually habitualise them to the package, and keep them inside the tent, along with threats of damnation or violence as the case may be.

    i.e the more dogmatic the creed, the harder it is to shake off, or perhaps the less frequently that happens. Compare any major religion with Anglicanism. Or indeed Marxism with democratic socialism. Albeit for the creed to spread widely initially, it should not be too nutty or tiresome, e.g. The Jonestown socialism in 1970s Guyana with the self-evident flaw of mass suicide.

    So a religion obsessing with sex may be part of its ‘meme’ as well as a means of ensuring more adherents are born in due course.

  • bobby b

    “Why is everyone obsessed with sex?”

    Drugs are too expensive and give you hangovers, and rock and roll bothers the neighbors.

  • Thailover

    “When forces that are hostile to socialism try to turn the development of some socialist country towards capitalism, it becomes not only a problem of the country concerned, but a common problem and concern of all socialist countries.”

    Only because socialism is comparatively weak and pathetic. Socialism depends on tyrants, propagandists, the deluded and the power-hungry to maintain it.

  • Thailover

    “Why are religions obsessed with sex?”

    Because organized religions are about control of the masses, and the sex drive is one obstacle to their ability to effectively control people’s thoughts and behaviors from cradle to the grave. This is one reason virgins are often thought of as “pure”, and “carnality” is thought of as animalistic, dirty and “worldly”. Realize the common religious distinction between the worldly and the sacred.

    “Why is everyone obsessed with sex?”

    Evolution. Those not obsessed with sex no doubt had relatively few progeny to pass said characteristics on to, and those obsessed with sex had many progeny to pass on their sex-obsessed characteristics on to.

  • Thailover

    “He’s not the pope. Benedict XVI is still alive.”

    He’s holy and infallible by democratic council vote, LOL. What could possibly be hinkey about that?

    😆

  • Thailover

    Paul Marks wrote,

    “The antics of this Argentine Jesuit are not amusing.”

    I’m pretty amused.

    “He is destroying a church that has lasted so many centuries.”

    The ACTUAL meaning of the word catholic is broad-minded, liberal, as opposed to orthodox , dogmatic or doctrinaire. That “the church” has effectively INVENTED dogma and inflexible doctrine is self-mockery.

  • Thailover

    Hedgehog wrote,
    “Moral relativism in the Catholic Church. Way to go, Francis. Screwing up yet another institution in the service of leftist dogma.”

    Poor fucking backwards cult. Perhaps they would feel better if they burned a witch or twelve, or innocent 12yr old German redheads…same thing, right?

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    One of the meanings of the word ‘Catholic’ is ‘Universal, of interest to all’. Thus such a church should not be racist, for example. It should certainly not be broad-minded if it wants to survive, since if you stand for nothing, then nobody will stand for you. Having a fixed ideology will provide a point of reference in today’s choice-saturated world, and would be something some people need.

  • Thailover

    “Having a fixed ideology will provide a point of reference in today’s choice-saturated world, and would be something some people need.”

    Do you mean like mandating wives have unprotected sex with their AIDS positive buggering husbands and in-context, where condoms are a “sin”?

    What you call “fixed ideology” is what I call evil.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well … like most blanket statements….

    I mean, for example, Orthodox Objectivists certainly have a fixed ideology. But I’m not sure Objectivism is wholly evil…. ;>)

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    If you are Catholic, yes. I am not Catholic.
    If we lived in an ideal world, we would all be celibate until we were married, so there would be no AIDs or sexually-transmitted diseases. And in an ideal world, we would only want sex if we were prepared to have children, so condoms are evil. I believe in self-control, not self-indulgence. Sex is for pro-creation. This might seem hopelessly idealistic in today’s world, but aren’t Churches supposed to stand up for ideals? Or are they just supposed to provide you with arguments to indulge yourself? Instead of climbing mountains, why not level all mountains?

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    As for celibacy, I have heard the claim that meditation can give experiences much like sex, without the need for a partner, or for offspring.
    Re- fixed ideologies. Not having a fixed ideology sounds as though pragmatism is your guiding principle. Isn’t that a crime, in Objectivism?

  • bobby b

    ” . . . aren’t Churches supposed to stand up for ideals?”

    I thought churches were supposed to stand up for the revealed word of the Higher Power.

    If you’re trying to stand up for “ideals”, it sounds more like you’re seeking to craft a system of beliefs that best serve your personal morality. Probably a good thing, but why do you need a god for that?

    Way too many people seem to think that “serving good” means the same thing as “serving God.” It’s commendable to serve goodness, sure, but they don’t realize that they then have no more need of a god. At that point, the god’s only purpose is to provide argument from authority – “my morality is best because God told me so.” That’s when people start arguing about whether censing should be clockwise, or whether the latest pope was properly installed.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    They can stand up for both, since the Revealed word can lead to ideals. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” is both a revealed word, AND an ideal standard of behaviour.

  • Cristina

    The papacy is one and indivisible. Benedict XVI is a true Pope and still alive. Hence, Francis is not the Pope.
    BTW, the abdication of Benedict XVI, made under the stated “natural right of necessity” (an invention by Heinrich von Langenstein, those German Catholics!) is invalid.
    The two Decrees of the Assembly of Constance, known as Sacrosancta (AD 1415), are in error. Even more so it is the related Sedevacantist position.

  • Laird

    Mr Ed, thank you for starting this “most obscure discourse in this blog’s history”. I love this sort of thing: abstruse, convoluted, and of real concern to almost nobody. And I knew almost nothing about the topic going in. Perfect!

    Nicholas, I certainly wouldn’t want to live in your “ideal world”. (I’d put yours next door to Thomas More’s “Utopia”, thus making it easier to avoid both.) If sex were only for procreation it wouldn’t have evolved to be pleasurable. Clearly, from an evolutionary perspective, in humans it serves other functions than mere procreation. Indeed, I would argue that procreation is only a secondary function. YMMV.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    If sex were only for procreation it wouldn’t have evolved to be pleasurable.

    This makes no sense at all to me. Can you explain your reasoning please?

    I mean humans are obviously not rational – or at least not entirely rational. We are not robots. We use rational thought to help us achieve largely (perhaps even thoroughly) irrational ends. And, anyway, we like to do pleasurable things. I see no reason why sex being so very pleasurable necessarily means or even suggests that sex is not solely for procreation.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Cristina – since I may never get another Samizdata thread in which to post this without veering off-topic: four main questions if you would please indulge me on a subject on which I know less than I wish I did:
    1. What are your thoughts on SSPX?
    2. Do you subscribe to Sedevacantism? Why/why not?
    3. Who would you suggest I read to learn about Catholic theology and historiography?
    4. Gregory XII at Rome, Benedict XIII at Avignon and John XXIII – who was the rightful claimant and why?

    I value your perspective on these matters in particular more than almost anyone else I have ever interacted with virtually or in real life so any replies would be very appreciated.

  • Laird

    Shlomo, from an evolutionary perspective, if the only function of sex were procreation it would be pleasurable only when conception was possible: that is, when the female is in estrus. And indeed, that’s what you find in other animals. As far as I know that’s the only time other species engage in sexual intercourse. (I suppose some of the higher primates might be like us [I don’t know], but certainly other mammals aren’t.) And yet, here we are, going at it all the time, even after pregnancy is no longer physically possible. I suspect that the evolutionary purpose of that is to encourage males to stick with and protect females (who in humans tend to be smaller and weaker) and their offspring (who require much longer to achieve independence than do other species). That’s just a guess. But I stand by my original statement.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Laird,

    I think it’s funny that you are analyzing what a certain activity is “for” as if evolution perfectly explains what it’s for at any given moment – as if, you know, things aren’t changing constantly but too gradually for us to notice or for the effects of such changes to bear out in human experiende. Anyway even if we assume that your approach to this is teleologically sound, which i don’t think it is, there is in any case a such thing as vestigial organs; perhaps there may be vestigial emotions/feelings associated with certain actions? Why not? And if so – how can we mere humans figure out which of our emotions are vestigial and which the gawd of evolution intended?

  • Shlomo Maistre

    as if, you know, things aren’t changing constantly but too gradually for us to notice or for the effects of such changes to bear out in human experiende.

    Should read:

    as if, you know, selection pressures aren’t changing constantly but too gradually for us to notice or for the effects of such changes in what is selected for to bear out in human experience.

  • Darin

    If sexuality was “meant” only for procreation, then human sex drive is about 1000x stronger than needed. As if engineer put jet engine into lawnmower – no one sane would call it “intelligent design”. 😛

  • bobby b

    “If sexuality was “meant” only for procreation, then human sex drive is about 1000x stronger than needed.”

    Many developed countries are experiencing negative population growth. Mass immigration is a tool developed to buttress declining working populations. Birth control methods are more effective now than at any time in the past, and will likely become even more effective.

    If the human sex drive were 1000 times too strong for mere procreative purposes, we’d be a lot more crowded. As it is, we’re falling behind in many countries. Arguably, we need to have more sex, not less.

  • Cristina

    1- SSPX is in overt opposition with Pastor Aeternus (First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ), regarding the Primacy of Jurisdiction. Pius IX’s encyclical Quartus Supra further explain the importance of the Primacy of Jurisdiction, as does Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Satis Cognitum. Therefor, SSPX is a schismatic sect declared so by Pope Saint John Paul II’s motu proprio Ecclesia dei adflicta. They are heretics, to the surprise of even many traditionalists.

    2- I do not subscribe to Sedevacantism since its commanding principle, Conciliarism is a heresy. It’s clearly explained in the Bull Moyses vir Dei by Pope Eugenius IV and further specified by the Fifth Lateran Council. See also the Constitution Auctorem fidei by Pope Pius VI. By the same arguments used by the proponents of the current Sedevacantism, based on St. Robert Bellarmine’s writings, there is not legitimate elector body for the papacy anymore.

    3- Besides the Bible and as many encyclicals and all other documents written by the popes and theologians for tow millennia, I highly recommend St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae and Summa contra Gentiles; St. Augustine’s The City of God; Heinrich Denzinger’s Handbook of Creeds and Definitions; Ludwig von Pastor’s History of the Popes: From the Close of the Middle Ages; and The Catholic Encyclopedia among many more.

    4- Pope Urban VI, properly elected, was illegally “deposed”. The subsequent popes of the line of Urban VI (Boniface IX, Innocent VII, and Gregory XII, who resigned at the Council of Constance) are the legitimate popes. The antipopes are Clement VII, Benedict XIII, Alexander V, and John XXIII. That is so because only a pope may convoke a council and those antipopes were elected without the approval of the reigning pope through the period of thirty-seven years of the Great Western Schism.

  • Cristina

    I value your perspective on these matters in particular more than almost anyone else I have ever interacted with virtually or in real life […]

    If you say so.. 😐

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Laird, look up Bonobos. They are part of the chimpanzee family, but have a promiscuous, hippy, lifestyle, without the substance abuse.
    Christina, even if your arguments were correct, if the Pope is infallible, then his decision to retire is also infallibly correct, surely? And even if he is alive, since he has not disagreed with the decisions of Pope Francis, isn’t that a tacit endorsement of the policies of Francis?

  • Cristina

    Christina, even if your arguments were correct […]

    Are they not? Why?

    his decision to retire is also infallibly correct, surely?

    No, it isn’t. The Pope is infallible inasmuch as he is speaking ex-cathedra about matters of Faith. Any other pronouncement, decision and/or action is not infallible.

    […] since he has not disagreed with the decisions of Pope Francis, isn’t that a tacit endorsement of the policies of Francis?

    Yes, it is.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    They might be, but I do not know which books to look up to see if you have drawn the correct conclusions, and I am not a Catholic, so the whole point is not a grade-one priority for me. Papal ‘infallibility’ has always seemed as plausible as ‘the divine right of kings’, or the claim that the Mormon Prophets are only prophets when the Spirit moves them. (Which is why Joseph Smith had no idea that a mob was coming to lynch him.)
    My grade-one priorities would be anything which proves that we are souls in bodies, or that we have more than the usual abilities (i.e. people like Gordon Smith, a.k.a. ‘The psychic Barber’), or evidence of past civilisations and/or alien contacts, etc.

  • Erik

    My grade-one priorities would be anything which proves that we are souls in bodies

    The official view of the Catholic Church is that the soul is the essential form of the body.

    AFAICT, there is nothing to prove or disprove about this, only the decision to accept or reject this definition.