News 12 january — 14:16

Knights of Malta row with Vatican over condom programme

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A row has broken out between the Vatican and the Knights of Malta, an ancient Catholic order, after a top official was sacked over a contraception scandal, BBC reports.

It followed revelations that the Knights' charity branch had distributed thousands of condoms in Myanmar.

The order's grand chancellor, Albrecht von Boeselager, was suspended over the matter on 8 December.

The Catholic Church forbids the use of artificial contraception.

Mr Boeselager has said he did not know about the condom distribution programme, which was an anti-HIV and family planning initiative, and stopped it when he learned of its existence.

Now the 900-year-old order is refusing to co-operate with a Vatican investigation into his sacking, and warning members that if they speak with Pope Francis's team, they must not contradict the decision by the order to replace Mr Boeselager.

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