The Knights of Malta have elected Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre with the title of lieutenant of the grand master. He most recently has been the grand prior in charge of the order’s Rome chapter. The election was necessary after the former Grand Master of the order, Fra’ Matthew Festing was forced to resign after a dispute with Pope Francis over the attempted ouster of an official of the order.
ROME – The ancient Knights of Malta religious order on Saturday elected a temporary leader during a period of reform after the last grand master was effectively ousted by Pope Francis.
The secret ballot by 56 knights eligible to vote means the order will continue a period of Vatican-mandated reform before electing a grand master to replace Fra’ Matthew Festing, who resigned in January in a dispute with the pope over the attempted forced resignation of an official of the order.
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The new temporary leader is Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre with the title of lieutenant of the grand master. He most recently has been the grand prior in charge of the order’s Rome chapter.
The Knights of Malta are considered sovereign under international law, and have bilateral relations with 106 countries. It issues its own passports, currency and postage stamps with the Maltese cross insignia.
Knights garbed in black robes gathered for a Mass inside the order’s Villa Magistrale on Rome’s Aventine Hill ahead of the secret balloting. Knights eligible to cast ballots must choose a leader from a pool of people who, according to the order’s rules, must have taken religious vows of poverty, obedience and chastity and hail from noble lineage.
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