By Linda Bordoni
The 80th Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta is Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto.
He was elected by the Order’s elective body on May 2nd, and he swore oath on May 3rd in the Church of Santa Maria in Aventino, before the Council Complete of State and before Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the Pope's Special Delegate.
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta was founded in Jerusalem around the year 1048. It is a lay religious order of the Catholic Church and a subject of international law. The Grand Master is elected for life.
Fra’ Dalla Torre will be responsible for continuing the reform of the Constitution of the Order of Malta started in 2017, to adapt it to the development that the Order has experienced in recent decades.
As the Grand Hospitaller of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Prince Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel, explained to Linda Bordoni, at the heart of the Order's activities is its mission to witness the faith and give assistance to the poor and the sick.
He also spoke of its outreach in the world today.
The Grand Hospitaller explained that today the Order of Malta is mainly active in health and social care and humanitarian aid, operating in 120 countries.
It counts over 13,500 members who are supported by 80,000 volunteers, with another 45,000 doctors, nurses and paramedics.
Those numbers, he said, are easily doubled if one counts the partnerships the Order has with its Protestant and Anglican confreres of the “Alliance” in the spheres of health care and social care.
Health care and social care
de La Rochefoucauld says that the Order of Malta provides high quality medical service in countries across the world, mostly in Africa, where it runs major hospitals.
He says it has also developed a thick network of services for the poor and for the homeless with shelters, soup kitchens and medical assistance.
Migrants and refugees
The Sovereign Order of Malta, the Gran Hospitaller explains, is also increasingly on the front line in assisting and accompanying migrants and refugees. It is currently engaged in the countries bordering Syria and Iraq to provide aid for thousands fleeing the conflict.
He says it also plays a major role in the search and rescue operations taking place in the Mediterranean together with the Italian navy and says that: “up to now, since 2008, we have helped over a million people”.
Natural disasters and forgotten emergencies
de La Rochefoucauld also speaks of the presence of the Order in emergency situations caused by natural disasters and climate change, and points out how it has become increasingly embedded in societies and communities which it assists, giving it unique tools and experience in supporting long-term development programmes.
de La Rochefoucauld concludes pointing out that the Order is deeply rooted in Christian values and at its core is the mission “to see through the needy the figure of Christ”.
He stresses that the Order never imposes itself on a community or a country and that it strives to become a partner for the good of humanity.
“It’s easier to manipulate and to instrumentalise religion than to live it on an every-day basis” he says, but what we do is try to live our faith on an every-day basis, to share what we have and strive to understand the other “and that really works out!”