In a video report from the Lepanto Institute, new details emerge regarding the removal of a senior member of the Knights of Malta. On the 9th of December, The Tablet, a Catholic newspaper in Great Britain, published a story indicating that the Grand Sovereign of the Knights of Malta, Albrecht Boeselager, was removed from his post. According to the Tablet, “Sources inside the Order say his dismissal was over a row about condoms” while he was in charge of the Order’s charitable work.
From 1989-2014, Boeselager served five consecutive terms as the Order’s Grand Hospitaller, making him directly responsible for the Order’s international relief organization, Malteser International.
The Lepanto Institute had conducted its own investigation of Malteser International, finding that as early as 2005 Malteser had distributed condoms and oral contraceptives, and even now is promoting the use of condoms on its own website. At the end of November, we submitted the results of this investigation to the Order of Malta through the Cardinal Patron. Even though he clearly has not had time to study the findings of our report and respond, the recent action of the Grand Master has prompted us to publish what we found in order to give support to him and to the whole Order. As a highly respected Catholic institution with the duty of carrying out their noble charge of defending the Faith and caring for the poor, it’s very important that a clear case be made that Boeselager’s removal was completely justified.
In brief, what follows are a few of the most pertinent facts.
In a report produced by UNAIDS in 2005 on HIV/AIDS fighting programs in Myanmar, it is abundantly clear that Malteser International distributed tens of thousands of condoms. Page 29 of that report identifies Malteser International as having distributed 52,190 condoms.
A similar report by UNAIDS for 2006 indicates the same thing for that year. Page 16 of the report shows that Malteser was an implementing partner in an aspect of the project regarding “safe sexual behaviors.”
According to the chart labeled “Positive attitudes, safe sexual behaviours and practices in key populations” on page 16, the core indicator for this aspect included the promotion of consistent condom use.
And on page 51, UNAIDS shows that Malteser distributed 59,675 condoms.
Also in 2006, the World Health Organization produced a report on reproductive health stakeholders in Myanmar. Page 45 of the document provides a brief profile on Malteser International regarding its Reproductive Health activities (RH). Identified in this profile is “family planning,” “contraception,” and a future plan regarding “birth spacing.”
Page 91 shows that Malteser distributed oral contraception to 2,500 women in the one region of Myanmar.
In 2007, Malteser International was awarded a 4 year grant of $1.7 million from the Three Disease Fund for a project in Myanmar called “Prevention and treatment of STI – HIV/AIDS.” According to a report produced by the Three Disease Fund itself, Malteser distributed over 300,000 condoms to sex workers, truck drivers, uniformed personnel, and other male and female workers.
In 2012, Malteser International partnered with Save the Children on a grant from the Global Fund to Fight HIV and AIDS. The grant was for a project in Myanmar lasting from 2013-2016, and according to Save the Children’s description of the grant, Malteser was responsible for promoting and distributing condoms.
Even now, Malteser International’s website identifies male and female condoms among the only effective means of preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS.
All of the pertinent facts regarding the contraception and condom promotion and distribution conducted by Malteser International during Albrecht Boeselager’s tenure as its supreme head can read by clicking here.
Our hope is that this report provides clarity about what was happening under Boeselager’s leadership, so as to avoid the destructive in-fighting that could be caused by rumors and assumptions. In the meantime, we urge Catholics everywhere to pray in earnest for the Order of Malta and all involved, for a swift reform of one of the most respected institutions in the Catholic Church.