First two days of the Grand Master’s visit to Germany
Talks with Minister President Armin Laschet in Düsseldorf
Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto’s visit to Germany started in Duisburg, at the San Raphael hospice for the terminally ill. In this facility, run by the Order of Malta, the Grand Master met two patients in their rooms and was able to appreciate the efforts made by doctors and volunteers to alleviate the suffering and isolation that often accompanies these last years of life. ‘You incarnate the Order of Malta’s spirit of service,’ the Grand Master told the medical staff of the hospice.
Afterwards, still in Duisburg, he visited the Sant’Anna hospital, flagship for Malteser Deutschland’s healthcare facilities. Here 16 thousand in-patients and 37 thousand out-patients are treated every year.
Tuesday started with a visit to Malteser Hilfsdienst’s headquarters in Cologne, nerve centre of the Order’s numerous activities in Germany. Here the Grand Master attended Mass with employees in the chapel dedicated to Blessed Gerard. Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre then visited the Malteser’s Pulheim centre and “Pullheimer Tafel” which distributes food aid to the needier sectors of the population. After having personally handed out the food the Grand Master, moved, explained: “Our question is always: what do you need? What can I do to help you? This has been the meaning of the Order of Malta’s mission for 900 years”. In the afternoon the delegation also visited the Malteser Rescue Station in Cologne. The ambulance and first-aid service is the most visible activity, the one that more than any other marks the Order’s presence in Germany.
In Düsseldorf, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto met the minister president of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet. An hour of talks followed on the Malteser’s numerous health and social care activities in North Rhine-Westphalia and its asylum policy for migrants and refugees in Europe. Minister-president Laschet said: “Christian solidarity and charity are the main impetus for voluntary service and social cohesion and the Order of Malta has been defending these values for many centuries. The Malteser is also an important partner of the North Rhine-Westphalian government, not only in the health and welfare area but also in many other aspects of social life. We are extremely grateful for their indefatigable work in assisting refugees and asylum seekers.”
That evening, in the Commenda of Ehreshoven, the Grand Master expressed his great appreciation to the German association and its president Erich Prinz von Lobkowicz. “I am particularly impressed by the work of the Order of Malta’s German association. The range of activities and professionalism in Germany is unique in the family of the Order of Malta’s associations worldwide. All the personal meetings I have had,” Fra’ Giacomo continued, “have shown me that it is thanks to your dedication and untiring commitment to the Order’s mission that our work in Germany is so successful”.
On Wednesday 16h October the delegation, also including the Grand Chancellor, Albrecht Boeselager, and the Grand Hospitaller, Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel, went to Berlin. Here the Grand Master visited a centre for housing and integrating refugees where he met people from some 25 countries and ate lunch with the staff.
In the afternoon there was a meeting with Malteser Jugend, the under-18 volunteers, numbering over 7500 with 450 groups nationwide. In the evening the meeting with leaders, members and volunteers in the Order of Malta’s headquarters in Berlin.
Tomorrow the Grand Master will be received in Bellevue Castle, official residence of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and afterwards will meet Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble.