The recently installed head of the Knights of Malta directed Monday that all liturgical ceremonies within the community must use the ordinary, and not the extraordinary, form of the Roman rite.
“I have thus decided, as supreme guarantor of the cohesion and communion of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem of which Providence made me Grand Master, that henceforth all the liturgical ceremonies within our Order must be performed according to the ordinary rite of the Church (rite of St. Paul VI) and not the extraordinary rite (Tridentine rite),” Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre wrote in a June 10 letter to the order.
“This decision applies to all the official liturgical celebrations such as investitures, masses [sic] during our pilgrimages, memorial masses, [sic] as well as the feasts and solemnities of the Order.”
Dalla Torre was elected grand master of the Knights of Malta in May 2018, after serving as interim leader for a little over a year.
His appointment as interim grand master was part of ongoing reform of leadership after the Knights’ former grand master, Matthew Festing, resigned at Pope Francis' request Jan. 24, 2017.
Festing’s resignation in early 2017 had marked the end of a month-long back and forth between the Order of Malta and the Holy See, beginning with the forced dismissal of Grand Chancellor Albrecht von Boeselager from both his position and his membership in the order in early December 2016. Boeselager, whose brother Georg von Boeselager was appointed a member of the Board of Superintendents of the IOR in 2016, was reinstated after Festing was pressured to resign.
Boeselager had been dismissed because of allegations that under his tenure the order's charity branch had inadvertently been involved in distributing condoms in Burma to prevent the spread of HIV.
The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is a Catholic lay religious order originally founded as the Knights Hospitaller around 1099 in Jerusalem. Now based in Rome, it is present in 120 countries with over 2,000 projects in the medical-social field and more than 120,000 volunteers and medical staff.
Dalla Torre said that as religious superior, it is his duty to ensure that “the communion that unites all the members of our religious family” is “present in every aspect of our Order's life.”
“Among all the elements which constitute our spiritual life, the question of the liturgy to use in our celebrations has a particular significance.”
He wrote that “As you all know, Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificium, [sic] albeit leaving every priest the freedom to celebrate privately in an extraordinary form, nevertheless states that inside a religious institute the matter is to be decided by the Major Superior according to the norm of law and their particular statues (Summorum Pontificium, [sic] art. 3).”
Summorum Pontificum states that “If communities of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, whether of pontifical or diocesan right, wish to celebrate the conventual or community Mass in their own oratories according to the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, they are permitted to do so. If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to have such celebrations frequently, habitually or permanently, the matter is to be decided by the Major Superiors according to the norm of law and their particular laws and statutes.”
Dalla Torre asked that all members of the Knights be informed of the decision, in particular the head chaplains, so that it may be respected.