The Supreme Pontiff appoints a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church as His representative to the Order of Malta, the “Cardinalis Patronus” (Cardinal Patronus), vested with special authority. The Cardinal 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 from June 6, 2009 the Cardinal Patronus of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is:
His Most Reverend Eminence Cardinal Paolo Sardi
Born 1 September 1934 in Ricaldone, province of Alessandria, Italy, Cardinal Sardi was ordained a priest on 29 June 1958. After a licentiate in theology he graduated in canon law and jurisprudence at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. He taught moral theology in Turin until 1976, when he was called to the Vatican to work in the Secretariat of State.
In 1992 he was appointed Vice Councillor and on 10 December 1996, Apostolic Nuncio with special responsibilities and titular Archbishop of Sutrium. On 6 January 1997, Pope John Paul II ordained him bishop in the Vatican Basilica. On 23 October 2004 he was nominated Vice Camerlengo (chamberlain) of the Holy Roman Church.
Following the death of Cardinal Pio Laghi, on 6 June 2009 Pope Benedict XVI appointed Paolo Sardi, Patronus of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. He was created cardinal in the consistory of 20 November 2010. He is member of the Order of Malta with the rank of Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion.