April 27, 2017 Festing is not defying the Pope by going to Rome. The Vatican has reversed its decision, and sources inside the Order of Malta told Pentin that Festing's absence would have invalidated the election.
April 26, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The former leader of the Knights of Malta is allegedly returning to Rome for his successor's election, despite being ordered by a papal delegate to stay away.
Fra’ Matthew Festing was the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta until Pope Francis asked him to resign from his position in January. Festing led the Order when it ousted a high-ranking official who had been distributing contraception around the world through the Order's charity.
The Order of Malta is a sovereign state. Some of its members take vows of obedience to the pope.
On April 15, Archbishop Angelo Becciu – who at the Pope's instructions is overseeing the order during this interim period – told Festing to "not come to Rome" for the election of his successor, scheduled for April 29.
Reuters reported Wednesday thatFesting is heading to Rome anyway, and that the Order of Malta confirmed this to them.
A spokesperson for the Order said Festing "had informed the group that he would come to the meeting this Saturday at its headquarters in Rome."
Ed Pentin of the National Catholic Register reported that insiders tell him Festing remains very popular within the Order and could even be re-elected.
After Pope Francis asked Festing to step down, the Pope reinstated the fired condom promoter, Albrecht von Boeselager. Von Boeselager then said the Order's Patron, Cardinal Raymond Burke, was "de facto" suspended from his leadership of the organization. Burke has said Becciu is "the only person who can treat questions of the Order of Malta in the name of the Holy Father," even though Burke's title is still "Cardinal Patron."