The order’s constitution states explicitly that its religious nature “does not prejudice the exercise of sovereign prerogatives.” Edward Condon, a U.K.-based canon lawyer, explains: “Inasmuch as the grand master owes religious obedience to the pope, this obedience cannot be compelled outside the provisions of the order’s constitution.” Which is why the Vatican committee investigating the firing insisted that it didn’t intend to “put into question the sovereignty of the order.”
Until it did. The pontifical committee continued its work despite the order’s objections. In a private meeting this week the pope invited Friar Festing to resign, according to a statement from the order. Although the knights historically selected their own leaders, the Vatican says that a deputy will take command “pending the appointment of a Papal Delegate.”
The Holy See has thus effectively destroyed the order’s sovereignty.
This is the end of the world as we know it.