Knights of Malta head resigns amid spat with Pope Francis

The head of the Knights of Malta has resigned after entering into a public spat with Pope Francis over the ouster of a top official involved in a condom scandal.

Marianna Balfour, spokeswoman for the ancient lay Catholic order, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Matthew Festing had met with the pope on Tuesday and offered his resignation.

In an email, Balfour said that "I can confirm this."

Festing had refused to cooperate with a papal commission investigating his ouster of the grand chancellor, Albrecht von Boeselager, over revelations that the order's charity branch had distributed condoms under his watch. Festing had cited the Knights' status as a sovereign entity in refusing to cooperate.