April 25, 2012
Sex scandal rocks Order of the KnightsBy Richard Kay
... there is... an extraordinary schism at the heart of the Order of Malta, the world’s oldest order of chivalry. Its members, who include some of some of Britain’s leading Roman Catholics, have been rocked by a grubby story surrounding a 69-year old paedophile.
For there has been a mass walkout of the Order’s governing council, which has its headquarters in St John’s Wood, North London, from where it directs its charitable undertakings. Nine members, including Lord Guthrie, the former Chief of the Defence Staff, who is the vice-president, have resigned, I am told.
In addition, three members of the Order, known as knights, have been banned from entering the church of St John and Elizabeth in North London — based in the hospital where Emma Thompson and Kate Moss had their children — where the Order holds a Mass each week.
In another blow, the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England, is considering banning the Order from using the church altogether. Others who have resigned include retail heir Mark Brenninkmeijer, City fund manager Stephen Macklow-Smith, upmarket chocolate retailer Nick Crean, society party organiser Peregrine Armstrong-Jones’ wife Caroline, and publishing heir Adam Macmillan’s ex-wife, Sarah.
So, too, have the Duke of Norfolk’s cousin, Richard Fitzalan-Howard, financier Count Nicolas Reuttner and the organisation’s former hospitaller Tim Orchard. The knights have resigned because they are unhappy that the man employed as a sacristan and server for the charity’s Mass has been revealed as a paedophile. Vernon Quaintance was recently given a 40-week suspended sentence for possessing child pornography.
‘What we objected to was that the three members of the Order’s senior body, the Grand Priory, who should have known about this man’s background, did nothing,’ says one knight. ‘At the least they should have admitted their error of judgment.’
[And what did the circumcision-advocacy community know about this man's background?]
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