Grand Master writes to the Pope on World Day of Peace
Prompted by Pope Francis’ message for the 52nd World Day of Peace celebrated on 1st January, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto wrote to His Holiness.
Here below is the text of the letter.
Most Holy Father,
The very concept of the Message for Peace, that every year Your Holiness addresses to humanity and to government leaders, acquires a very particular relevance and strength in the current scenario.
Over the last half century, this year more than ever the rulers of the countries of what once used to be called the “Family of Nations” no longer seem, with some exceptions, to be working for peace and concord among peoples. At a time of great transformations and serious social and political challenges, not to mention the crisis of ideals, many among those responsible for the fates of their countries seem to have chosen to identify an “enemy” as a way of strengthening domestic consensus and their positions. By appealing to the need to increase security and blaming alleged adversaries, too many countries have launched authentic arms races. This undoubtedly occurs mainly in the hottest and most troubled areas of the world, but globalization has also affected security and strategic balances, making it difficult to imagine limited conflicts except for those, many around us, that mostly involve civilians.
The centenary of the First World War evokes phantoms of global conflicts, rendered even more destructive by the possession, by many, of weapons with an enormous ability to generate devastation and suffering. “Peace can never be reduced solely to a balance between power and fear” Your Holiness wrote in your message, for which I express my steadfast and profound support and that of the Order of Malta as a whole. And yet the world today seems to be advancing towards a precarious equilibrium based on military power and on fear. Perhaps only Your Holiness will have the moral strength and authority to persuade leaders to make choices that cultivate and propagate peace.
The Order of Malta has necessarily to limit its international action to the areas constituting its authentic raison d’être, some of which Your Holiness lists in the “contrary” paragraph dedicated to ”Political Vices”: xenophobia and racism… contempt for those forced into exile”. Meanwhile in other sectors the Order works alongside the Holy See in multilateral arenas and principally in that of the United Nations.
In an historical period in which human rights are being seriously challenged, the Order of St. John is trying to be a true “artisan of peace” within the limits set by its dimension and its resources. Fostering a more humane and dignified reception of refugees and migrants has become a key issue for us and is being tackled at a grassroots level in Lebanon, in Germany, in Italy and in many other countries. At an international level, a delegation led by the Grand Chancellor, in which the Grand Hospitaller also took part, played an active role in the Marrakesh conference for the adoption of the “Global Compact” on migration.
An “artisan” work, but performed with deep conviction and participation, whilst the Order’s Professed Religious component unites, in line with Your Holiness’s intentions and guidance, its prayer for peace and for good politics at the service of peace, in the hope that it can again take root in the five continents.
I have the honour to remain your Holiness’s most devoted and obedient child. Please accept my wishes for a rich new year, certainly in commitments, but also in progress and success in your supreme mission.
Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto