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Knights of Malta say leader's dismissal 'more complex' than condoms

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The reasons are confidential, says communications director
By Elise Harris

An Order of Malta volunteer. BCC file photo.

After former Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Malta Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager was dismissed in early December, many have pinpointed the decision to a contraception scandal related to a project he was overseeing.

But a senior official of the Order said while the incident was a contributing factor in Boeselager’s resignation, the reasons are much broader.

“The reasons for the dismissal are confidential,” but they are “more complex” than reducing it to just the contraception incident, Knights of Malta communications director Eugenio Ajroldi di Robbiate told CNA.

Problems initially arose when it was learned that under Boeselager’s watch the  Order's charity branch had inadvertently been involved in distributing condoms in Burma to prevent HIV.

Robbiate said Boeselager wasn’t initially aware condoms were being distributed as part of the project, and when he found out “he immediately stopped all the programs.”

While the incident was a factor in why the Grand Chancellor was asked to resign, Robbiate stressed the issue has been “poorly reported” by many news agencies and that the full picture, while remaining confidential, is “much more complex than just the point on contraception.”

Robbiate also confirmed that while Boeselager had been asked to resign, his refusal twice to comply with the request is what actually led to his eventual dismissal, since by refusing he broke the vow of obedience he had made as a Second Class member of the Order.

The Knights' Dec. 13 statement regarding the dismissal also noted that Boeselager's “subsequent concealment … from the Grand Magistry” of “severe problems which occurred during [his] tenure as Grand Hospitaller of the Order of Malta” was a factor in the decision.


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