This Saturday, April 29, 2017, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMoM) is going to elect its new Grand Master. As preparations are being made for this election, anonymous sources within the Order have provided us with documentation, giving some depth and clarity on how it all came to this, who is behind it, and what it’s all about.
Since December 2016, there have been rumors, accusations, firings, suspensions, investigations, and outright lies regarding the SMoM. It all began when the Grand Chancellor, Albrecht von Boeselager, was suspended for refusing to resign his post, due to his part in the distribution of contraception by Malteser International.
Von Boeselager takes his case to Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, who appoints a commission to investigate the matter. Nearly two months later, Fra Matthew Festing, the Grand Master of the SMoM, is summoned to Rome where he is forced by the Pope to resign. Four days later, Albrecht von Boeselager is reinstated.
During this time, there are stories about a search for Freemasons, a conflict of interest among the investigating commission, and a mysterious financial deal in Switzerland.
After sorting through the new documentation, several facts can be absolutely established:
- Eyewitness testimony clearly identifies Albrecht von Boeselager as defending Malteser International’s distribution of condoms and oral contraceptives.
- Boeselager began colluding with Marc Odendall, one of the Knights on the investigating commission, since the day he was elected Grand Chancellor.
- Emails from Marc Odendall prove that the investigating commission was primarily composed of knights involved with the financial entanglement in Switzerland.
- Everything seems to point back to Cardinal Parolin and the Vatican Bank.
The first document we will examine is an account of the October 2014 Asia Pacific Order of Malta conference. During this conference, a priest listened to a talk given by Ingo Radtke, Malteser International’s Secretary General, who promoted the use and distribution of both condoms and oral contraceptives. Immediately following Radke’s speech, the priest stood up and defended the Church’s condemnation of contraception. As the gathering broke up, the priest was approached by Boeselager, Dominique de la Rochefoucauld (the Grand Hospitaller), and Radke.
In the account of the confrontation, Boeselager defended Malteser International’s distribution of contraceptives, saying that it’s a “matter of life and death” that women in these certain circumstances receive contraception. He said, “If we don’t give them the condoms, they will die.”
Bear in mind that this comes from eyewitness testimony of a priest who heard these words come from Boeselager’s own mouth in 2014.
Of particular interest to this matter is that Boeselager has claimed that he had no knowledge of the condom distribution, and that as soon as he learned of it, the distribution was brought to an end. However, in 2015, Fra Festing commissioned an investigation of Malteser International’s involvement in the distribution of condoms and contraception as a result of the confrontation Boeselager had with a priest at the end of 2014. The report was submitted in January of 2016, and provided multiple quotes from official Malteser documents indicating Malteser’s policy on the distribution of contraception and condoms, even as late as 2015. As one example, beginning on page 28 of the commissioned report, excerpts are taken from MI documents showing an organizational willingness to promote and distribute contraception and condoms.
From the MI document titled, “Formal Endorsement of the Policy: Bioethics – Basic principles on Birth Spacing and Reproductive Health (issued and signed 17 July 2015), it says, “Provision of contraceptives will never be undertaken systematically to broad target groups, but only in exceptional cases, on a strictly individual basis and under medical and ethical supervision.”
The commissioned report regarding Malteser International’s provision and promotion of contraception and condoms can be read here.
In addition to Boeselager’s public defense of Malteser’s distribution of contraception and the findings of the investigative report commissioned by Fra Festing, we have also received copies of emails between two employees of Malteser International regarding a policy shift on condoms in 2013. In these emails between Birke Herzbruch (MI’s country representative in Myanmar) and Maren Paech (MI’s Senior Desk Officer in Myanmar), it is quite clear that MI’s standing policy was to be directly involved in the distribution of contraception and condoms. Ms. Herzbruch complains bitterly about the change in policy, ending the distribution of condoms, saying:
“what matters is what Malteser believes is part of a comprehensive HIV package. And in this sense Prevention through condoms is mandatory and not negotiable. Honestly, I cannot believe we are having this discussion. For the time being and until the new HIV Aids Policy of Malteser is applicable, I suggest to proceed as planned with the EMDG, again this is the last year. Condoms are being distributed through partners for the time being at least throughout 2014.”
All of the information regarding Albrecht von Boeselager’s leadership over Malteser International, and its distribution of contraception and condoms, established a very clear impetus for his dismissal from the Order, in full accord with the Order’s code of conduct. There never should have been any need or desire on the part of the Vatican to investigate whether or not proper protocols were followed in Boeselager’s suspension.
So the real question is why this investigation was launched at all.
It seems that Boeselager plays a key role in a very shady financial deal, directly connected to the individual knights who were on the investigating commission.
On 8 June 2014, Marc Odendall (a financial counsellor who is a member of the Knights of Malta and also on the board of the Vatican Bank) submitted a briefing note to the new Grand Chancellor (von Boeselager) regarding the Caritas Pro Vitae Gradu Trust.
In this document, Odendall explains and establishes several points as fact. Bearing in mind that Odendall’s timeline of events were carefully crafted to build his case, he establishes the following:
- In 2009, a French resident whose identity is undisclosed in the document (a report by Dagospia identifies as Jehan du Tour) approached Ariane Slinger to move a Lichtenstein foundation to a New Zealand Trust.
- The Trust is to be disbursed to two individuals and two Catholic organizations in allotments of 15%, 35%, 25%, and 25%.
- The French donor dies in 2011.
- Slinger, in order to avoid French taxes, transforms the Trust into a Charitable Trust.
- Slinger approached the Order of Malta at the end of 2011, but is unable to establish a real donation scheme until she meets Odendall in October of 2012. This is some of the murky water regarding the Trust because if the intention was to donate the funds according to the request of the donor, then a simple disbursement of the funds should have sufficed. This apparently led to a confrontation between Odendall and the former Grand Chancellor Jean-Pierre Mazery, who was uninformed of the donation disbursement plan until after Odendall had taken the initiative to mediate it himself.
- In December of 2012, Mazery enlists the legal assistance of Arago, a law firm in Paris, to investigate the actions of Slinger and creation of the Caritas Pro Vitae Gradu Trust.
- Odendall then begins to build a case that the disbursements should be made because the money is intended to help the poor.
- Throughout the rest of the document, Odendall identifies several other individuals who work with him in attempting to change the course of things so that the lawsuit is closed and payments are disbursed. Those he identifies are: the Papal Nuncio to the UN and International Geneva, Monsignor Silvano Tomasi, Marwan Sehnaoui, and Cardinal Parolin.
At this point, it is important to remind the readers that after Albrecht von Boeselager was suspended and removed from his position, Cardinal Parolin arranged for a commission to investigate the matter, and the commission was made up of five individuals, including Monsignor Tomasi, Marc Odendall, and Marwan Senhaoui.
In Odendall’s document on the Caritas Pro Vitae Gradu Trust, he is clearly very desperate to get the Order of Malta to accept some of the disbursement money. But what sources within the Order of Malta tell us is that the reason for this is that Ariana Slinger was very close to being prosecuted for illegal actions regarding the Caritas Trust and would have gone to jail, but … if the Order of Malta had accepted a disbursement of any of the Trust money, the lawsuit would have been dropped, immediately.
Once Boeselager was elected over Mazery to be the next Grand Chancellor in 2014, it must have seemed to Odendall that there was a glimmer of hope for his scheme. Two days after Odendall wrote the report on the Caritas Trust, he sent a private email to Boeselager indicating a desire to operate with him in private on his scheme to have the lawsuit brought to an end. Considering the clearly outlined intention to operate within the shadows, one wonders if Odendall implemented a similarly shady strategy in his dealings with Slinger. If so, perhaps this is why Mazery was so upset with him, and why the investigation and lawsuit was launched to begin with.
In the email to Boeselager, Odendall said:
Thanks, Albrecht, for taking the time so soon after your election. It was important to restore trust and project a vision for the future.
You may count on me, thank you for your confidence, but not in an official role if anybody suspects me of collusion. I do not believe it matters at all if I can obtain more than our legal claims in court, but I do not like it. In a discreet role, active as you wish, but not official, with pleasure. I believe time is of the essence. It does not mean to rush things, but to do them right, and in the right orders. And with the right professionals. This Arago irrevocable assignment looks like a threat to is, I do not like it at all.
Thanks for your confidence. I can do a lot of those things for you in discretion, no need to go in the open.
From both the email to Boeselager and the briefing note, what is most obvious is Odendall’s insistence that the SMoM accept disbursements from Slinger. But Fra’ Festing was extremely hesitant to accept the money because he could not confirm its origins. A German newspaper investigated the origin of the donation, finding that the funds were put into foundation before the Second World War:
The Grand Chancellor told Bild he had had lawyers check that the trust, which is now registered in New Zealand, was clean, and subsequently the Order’s government unanimously approved of the fund. He said he did not know details about the donor, Mr. Latour — only that the money came from a wealthy French family, and that the funds had been put into a foundation before the Second World War. “Since then there has been only investment, that’s all that I know,” he said.
“We really do not know the details because our donor is the CPVG trust and not ‘Mr. Latour’ personally,” Boeselager said — adding that the donor, so far only known as Mr. Latour, had “demanded anonymity from the trust and we had to accept that.”
Asked by Bild if it could be dirty money, Boeselager said: “To the best of our knowledge, no.”
Quoting Boeselager, the National Catholic Register provides clarity on the Order’s policy of refusing “dirty money.”
According to Boeselager, the Order has a policy for rejecting “dirty money,” and said it has turned down two donations from Switzerland, and one from the United States. “If money is dirty, we will not take it,” he said.
According to a report written by an insider Knight, Fra Festing blocked attempts to have the knights receive the money. From the article:
In July 2014, Odendall prepared a detailed report, with assistance from Sehnaoui, whom he met in May 2014 during a pilgrimage to Lourdes. A busy email interchange began between Odendall, Boeselager, Sehnaoui and Tomasi. Slinger addressed Archbishop Tomasi as “Dear Silvano”. It seems that even the Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, was part of the communication circle. This is not surprising given the prospect of unsavoury revelations about the finances of the Vatican, and high prelates within it, being revealed, if Ms Slinger did not get the deal she wanted. That would certainly be something that the Secretary of State would not want to see reported adversely in the media.
However, the Grand Master declined any such transaction. He was clearly concerned about the source of the money being gifted to the Order. Any responsible charity must take care to know what is the source of any money that it receives, lest it unwittingly receive money that has been laundered or which might be the proceeds of crime or the proceeds of other forms of exploitation. This applies particularly to any international Catholic relief agency.
Thus the Grand Master was simply acting with proper and responsible care and caution. Others, however, were much less cautious.
The day following the suspension of Boeselager, two high officers of the Order asked the Grand Master for authority to sign the transaction with Slinger.
Grand Master Festing again declined.
Panic now began to set in because Slinger was starting to make threats. She knew some of the internal financial deals and workings of the Vatican, including we must presume, some that were not entirely straightforward. She was, it is now believed, indicating that, if she continued to be sued, or was prosecuted, she would tell the world what she knew about those internal Vatican financial dealings and would not hesitate to publicize the names of certain high-ranking Vatican officials and their connections with the transactions and deals.
The only way to prevent such revelations was to agree to the deal but the Grand Master had now become an obstacle to that agreement. Vatican officials and the Secretary of State were now, it seems, becoming seriously anxious, not least as to what Ms Slinger might reveal.
Now, bearing in mind that Odendall was one of the investigating knights that helped get Fra Festing removed from his post, and Boeselager reinstated as Grand Chancellor, and that Odendall was the one who brought Boeselager, Tomasi and Senhaoui into the financial situation with Ariana Slinger, it’s abundantly clear that Odendall, Tomasi and Sehnaoui had no business being on the investigating commission.
I am told by another Knight that he personally confirmed that, after Festing was forced to resign, the lawsuit against Slinger was dropped and a disbursement of €30 million was deposited into a Vatican Bank account under Cardinal Parolin. If this is true, then Parolin’s role in the entire endeavor merits a closer look.
It is noteworthy that the majority of the members of the investigating commission were members of the Vatican Bank. Those same members, including a Papal Nuncio in a high-profile role to the United Nations, had clear connections to the questionable Trust in Switzerland. From all outward appearances, the members of the investigating commission had a vested interest in putting an end to the lawsuit against Ariana Slinger. And all of this, to varying degrees, comes back to Cardinal Parolin.
The fact of the matter is that Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, is the point of contact and source of information in every incident related to the crisis in the Order of Malta. It was Cardinal Parolin who appointed the members of the investigating commission. It was Cardinal Parolin who spoke on behalf of Pope Francis in a letter to Fra Festing on December 12, expressing his disappointment at the “unpleasant and perilous turn taken by events.” Speaking on behalf of Pope Francis in his letter, Cardinal Parolin said, “His Holiness asked that dialogue be the approach used to address and resolve potential problems. He never mentioned, conversely, expelling anyone.” Most interesting of all is that since the announcement of the commission, Pope Francis is never quoted anywhere, but only ever spoken on behalf of by Cardinal Parolin. In a timeline of events provided to us by insider Knights of Malta, Cardinal Parolin is clearly in control the entire process.
On Dec. 22, 2016 the Cardinal Secretary of State wrote to Card. Burke and forwarded to him a copy of the letter of Pope Francis, dated on December 21, 2016, along with a letter of his own from the same date. In his letter, the Holy Father asked the Grand Master to simply accept decisions in regards to the Order as they were announced in the letter by the Cardinal Secretary of State. Card. Burke was not consulted in the decisions made.
Despite multiple attempts by the Cardinal Patronus to be heard in this case, he has hitherto not been informed of any development in the Order. Before Christmas and after the announcement of the special inquiry into the issue by the commission, Card. Burke sent an urgent letter to the Holy Father and asked him for a private audience. He received no response. After hearing news on the results of the meeting of the Sovereign Council regarding the stepping down of the Grand Master, he called the office of the Holy Father on January 28 to ask one more time for an audience. There he received the brusque answer that his wish was communicated to the Holy Father. He has not heard anything since.
Of course, aside from allegedly receiving a €30 million payday, one has to ask why Parolin would go to such lengths. The answer may very well lie in a March 2, 2017 article indicating a possible push to remove Pope Francis or urge him to resign, with the suggestion that Cardinal Parolin would then become the next successor of Peter.