Religion: The Knights of Malta

One of the anomalies of the modern world is the Roman Catholic military order of laity and "religious" known as the Knights of Malta. It specializes in modern medical relief in the manner of the Red Cross and operates a fleet of Italy-based ambulance planes; yet two of its three categories of membership are traditionally open only to the nobility. Moreover, the order is recognized as a sovereign state (with no territory, but with diplomatic representatives) by the Vatican and 13 countries.*

Last week five cardinals met in Rome, as a papal tribunal, to investigate the knights, and perhaps shear them of...

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