The Supreme Pontiff appoints a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church as his representative to the Sovereign Order of Malta, the “Cardinalis Patronus” (Cardinal Patronus), vested with special authority. The Cardinalis Patronus is in charge of promoting the spiritual interests of the Order and of its members, as well as the relationships between the Holy See and the Order of Malta. As of 8th November, 2014, the Cardinal Patronus of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is:
His Most Reverend Eminence Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke
Cardinal Burke was born on 30th June, 1948, in Richland Center (United States). His first studies were carried out at the Holy Cross Seminary in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and subsequently at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In 1971 he attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where he remained until his priestly ordination.
Pope Paul VI ordained Burke to the priesthood on June 29th, 1975, for the La Crosse diocese. In 1984 he obtained his PhD in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University. On 10th December, 1994, Pope John Paul II named Burke Bishop of La Crosse and subsequently on 2nd December, 2003, Archbishop of St. Louis.
On 27th June 2008, Pope Benedict XVI named Burke Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, of which he was already a member, and President of the Supreme Court of the Vatican City State. In the consistory of 20th November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI created him Cardinal and appointed him Cardinal-Deacon of Sant’Agata dei Goti.
On 8th November, 2014, Pope Francis named Raymond Leo Burke Cardinalis Patronus of the Sovereign Order of Malta, where he succeeded Cardinal Paolo Sardi who has performed this role since June 2009.