The head of the sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta has been asked by Pope Francis to present his resignation, something the grand master has agreed to do. In recent weeks, Frey Matthew Festing had entered into a public spat with the pontiff over the ouster of a top official.
“He has resigned,” Eugenio Ajroldi di Robbiate, Communications Director of the order told Crux on the phone on Wednesday.
However, he added, Festing is still the grand master because he has to present his resignation to the order’s government, which Di Robbiate described as a “technicality.”
The governing council will meet on Jan. 28.
In a statement released on Wednesday afternoon, the Vatican confirmed that Francis and Festing had met the day before, that the grand master had presented his resignation and that the pontiff had accepted it.
According to the statement, the pope expressed to Festing his “appreciation and gratitude for his loyalty and devotion to the Successor of Peter, and his willingness to serve humbly the good of the Order and the Church.”
The short communique also said that Francis is going to appoint a “pontifical delegate” to temporarily run the order.
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