Wikileaks, the tell-anything anti-secrecy organization, on Wednesday, Jan. 30, took aim at one of the world's most secretive institutions, the Vatican, releasing a small collection of documents about a power struggle involving Pope Francis, a leading traditionalist cardinal, and a medieval Catholic order of knights.
The documents offered little new about a fight that two years ago was widely covered in the media. Their contents seem especially paltry at a time when the Vatican is embroiled in full-fledged scandals on multiple continents. But the release represented the first time Wikileaks has turned its spotlight on the often-acrimonious internal affairs of the Holy See, and some Vatican watchers wondered whether more damaging secrets might start to escape the city-state walls.
"The fact itself, Wikileaks entering the internal affairs of the Vatican, is an alarm bell," said Marco Politi, a veteran Vatican watcher. "The subject itself is not interesting. These are old diatribes, old fights. But the important thing will be the next step. Will there be a subsequent Wikileaks [release] on something not previously revealed? Should Wikileaks pull out stuff regarding pedophilia or banking scandals, then we would be onto something new."https://wikileaks.org/popeorders/
Documents released by WikiLeaks today shed light on a power struggle within the highest offices of the Catholic Church. Amongst the documents is a private letter written by Pope Francis. The existence of this letter, addressed to the papal envoy Cardinal Raymond Burke, has been the source of much speculation in the media . It is now published for the first time in full and with the Pope’s signature.
This letter concerns the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, also known as the Order of Malta or the Knights of Malta, originally founded in Jerusalem during the Crusades in 1099. As the name indicates, it has been widely recognised as a sovereign entity in itself despite theoretically being subject to papal authority as a Catholic institution.
This ambiguous status cuts to the heart of the dispute as it reached a fever pitch after Pope Francis forced the abdication of Matthew Festing as Prince and Grand Master of the Order in January 2017. A month earlier Festing had dismissed the Order’s Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager.
The reason for the dismissal is said to be that Boeselager, who served as health minister for the Order, was held personally responsible for having approved funds for an aid mission in Africa that distributed condoms, amongst other things. This directly contravenes Church teachings on contraception and Festing was adamant that Boeselager be held responsible.
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