Europe

Pope gives delegate 'all needed powers' for Knights of Malta

  • A paper sheet with writing in Italian reading "Illigal Posting" covers an anti-Pope Francis poster in central Rome, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. On Saturday, posters appeared around Rome featuring a stern-looking Francis and questioning "Where's your mercy?" It referenced the “decapitation” of the Knights of Malta, Cardinal Raymond Burke's marginalization and other actions Francis has taken against conservative, tradition-minded groups. (AP Photo/Beatrice Larco)

    A paper sheet with writing in Italian reading "Illigal Posting" covers an anti-Pope Francis poster in central Rome, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. On Saturday, posters appeared around Rome featuring a stern-looking Francis and questioning "Where's your mercy?" It referenced the “decapitation” of the Knights of Malta, Cardinal Raymond Burke's marginalization and other actions Francis has taken against conservative, tradition-minded groups. (AP Photo/Beatrice Larco)  (The Associated Press)

  • A passerby lifts a paper sheet covering an anti-Pope Francis poster to read it, in central Rome, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. On Saturday, posters appeared around Rome featuring a stern-looking Francis and questioning "Where's your mercy?" It referenced the “decapitation” of the Knights of Malta, Cardinal Raymond Burke's marginalization and other actions Francis has taken against conservative, tradition-minded groups. (AP Photo/Beatrice Larco)

    A passerby lifts a paper sheet covering an anti-Pope Francis poster to read it, in central Rome, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. On Saturday, posters appeared around Rome featuring a stern-looking Francis and questioning "Where's your mercy?" It referenced the “decapitation” of the Knights of Malta, Cardinal Raymond Burke's marginalization and other actions Francis has taken against conservative, tradition-minded groups. (AP Photo/Beatrice Larco)  (The Associated Press)

  • A gust of wind lifts a paper sheet covering an anti-Pope Francis poster in central Rome, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. On Saturday, posters appeared around Rome featuring a stern-looking Francis and questioning "Where's your mercy?" It referenced the “decapitation” of the Knights of Malta, Cardinal Raymond Burke's marginalization and other actions Francis has taken against conservative, tradition-minded groups. (AP Photo/Beatrice Larco)

    A gust of wind lifts a paper sheet covering an anti-Pope Francis poster in central Rome, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. On Saturday, posters appeared around Rome featuring a stern-looking Francis and questioning "Where's your mercy?" It referenced the “decapitation” of the Knights of Malta, Cardinal Raymond Burke's marginalization and other actions Francis has taken against conservative, tradition-minded groups. (AP Photo/Beatrice Larco)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis has named a top Vatican archbishop as his special delegate to the troubled Knights of Malta and given him "all necessary powers" to help the sovereign religious order reform its constitutions and elect a new leader.

Archbishop Angelo Becciu is the No. 3 official in the Vatican's secretariat of state.

In a letter Saturday, Francis said Becciu would act as his "exclusive spokesman" with the order, confirming the marginalization of Cardinal Raymond Burke, the conservative American — and a critic of Francis — who technically is the papal envoy to the order.

Burke was instrumental in the government crisis that has convulsed the Knights over the past three months, resulting in the resignation of the order's grand master after he did public battle with Francis over a condom scandal and lost.