After a long catholic church condom dispute involving the head of the Knight of Malta and the Vatican authority, Pope Francis has prevailed by having the Knight resign.
This has been confirmed by a spokesperson for the Rome-based Catholic chivalric and charity institution on Wednesday.
According to the spokesman, Grand Master Matthew Festing, 67, has resigned after Pope Francis asked him to step down at a meeting on Tuesday.
The ousting of Festing is coming after a long dispute which saw a top official of the order, Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager losing his seat in December after the charity allowed the distribution of condoms as part of a medical project for the poor.
Following his sacking by festing, Von Boeselager appealed to the pope, who appointed a five-member commission to look into the unusual circumstances of the sacking. Festing, however, refused to cooperate with the commission, claiming it to be illegitimate.
Festing drew the anger of the Vatican after he went ahead to form his own internal commission, which has been interpreted as disregard for the Pope’s authority.
According to Von Boeselager and his supporters, his sacking by Festing, was in fact, an attempt by the Grand Master and Cardinal Raymond Burke, a conservative who has not been happy with the Pope’s liberal stance to increase their power.
Burke who is the papal envoy to the order, has been one of the strongest critic of the Pope over his attempt to reform the teachings of the Catholic church on matters relating to the family, marriage and divorce. He and three others had signed an open letter to the Pope in 2016, regarding a law that allowed priests to decide whether divorced and remarried believers should be able to receive communion.
The Church condom dispute began after Von Boeselager closed two projects in the developing world when he discovered condoms were being distributed but left one open as he felt closing it would end all basic medical services to poor people.