The acting head of the Order of Malta has said that the organisation's Grand Chancellor was asked to resign by American Cardinal Raymond Burke, not the Grand Master, as had been reported previously, Crux says.
In an interview with an Austrian newspaper, acting head Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein said he was present at a meeting on December 6 in which the Grand Chancellor, Albrecht Von Boeselager, was asked to stand down. His refusal and eventual sacking on grounds of disobedience led to a week-long row with the Vatican, who demanded he be reinstated.
The Order's Grand Master, Fra' Matthew Festing, eventually resigned on January 24. The Sovereign Council reinstated Boeselager and named Hoffmann von Rumerstein as the Knights' Lieutenant ad interim.
The pretext for Boeselager's sacking was that the German reformer had years earlier been in charge of the order's humanitarian arm, Malteser International, which for a time funded organisations that used condoms in Aids prevention projects among the very poor.
Journalists' accounts that sourced the Cardinal have described Festing asking the German to resign, while Cardinal Burke sat silently present. Cardinal Burke has elsewhere denied Boeselager's account that the Cardinal invoked the Pope's authority for the dismissal.
But Hoffmann von Rumerstein presents a very different picture.
"The conversation took place in a normal conversation form," he told Der Standard. "Boeselager said no to Cardinal Burke's call for him to stand down. And I followed the Cardinal to the car."
Asked for the Cardinal's reaction, Hoffmann von Rumerstein said: "He shook his head. He was displeased, one could say. He would have expected Boeselager to resign."
Later in the interview, Hoffmann von Rumerstein confirms that the December 6 meeting "was actually a conversation between Cardinal Burke and Boeselager."
Sources in the order have long insisted that the Cardinal was behind the dismissal, but until now no one has claimed on the record that Cardinal Burke actually made the request, Crux notes.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Burke has been appointed to preside over the trial of a Guam archbishop accused of abuse, CNS adds.
Cardinal Burke presiding over trial investigating Guam archbishop(Catholic News Service)