Pope Francis receives the Grand Master of the Order of Malta: Particular focus was placed on the refugee crisis
Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre described the Order’s most important current projects and aims in the medical, social and diplomatic fields
The Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, was this morning received in audience in the Vatican by Pope Francis. The meeting was the annual occasion for updating His Holiness on the principal medical and social activities, and the diplomatic commitments, of the ancient Catholic institution, which today is present in 120 countries.
The Grand Master recounted to the Holy Father some of the examples of help, testimony to the continuing commitment to help society’s vulnerable, which are carried out by the Order: interventions to help displaced persons (IDPs) – due to war, drought, or poverty, which this year affected 70 million people around the world – which are centred on support programmes, offered through mobile clinics which travel into hostile and remote regions, as well as many activities to bring aid to the elderly, the disabled, the homeless, and minorities such as the Roma in eastern Europe and the Yazidi in Iraq.
Pope Francis listened with close attention to Fra’ Giacomo’s information, encouraging the Order to continue along the journey of mercy and the commitment to society’s marginalised. He noted in particular the crisis in Venezuela, the help for refugees and for the local population in Colombia. Also of high importance in the discussions were the Order of Malta’s actions in the Middle East, and especially along the borders with Syria.
The Grand Master also outlined the work of the Order of Malta in international diplomacy and its active participation in the drafting of the United Nations’ Migration Compact, signed last December at the UN summit in Morocco. He mentioned, too, its growing participation in the fight against human trafficking.
The reform process of the Constitutional Charter of the Order of Malta, begun in 2017, with the aim of adapting its structure to today’s needs, because of the Order’s increased presence and activities in many parts of the world, was outlined.
At the end of the private discussions, the Grand Master presented the Pope with a medal depicting a doctor of the Order of Malta in Lebanon, aiding a Syrian refugee. In return, the Pontiff gave the Grand Master a mosaic, and several of his Encyclicals, including Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia.
At the conclusion of the private audience, Pope Francis received the new Sovereign Council of the Order of Malta (elected on 1 May) and the Order’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Antonio Zanardi Landi. Fra’Giacomo Dalla Torre then had discussions with Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.