Dear confreres and consoeurs, dear volunteers and supporters of the Order of Malta in the world,
the year we have lived has presented us with many challenges. The pandemic crisis that has gripped us for almost two years now – with its social, economic, psychological and obviously health implications – continues to affect us all. It is undeniable that despondency and fatigue sometimes prevail. We would all like to go back to our daily lives, embrace our loved ones, resume our habits without fear. And yet, even today, we live with restrictions that cause discomfort and social tension.
Some have lost a family member or a friend, some have lost their job, some have faced illness and are still suffering the consequences months later, some have not seen their relatives for years, some have had to turn their lives upside down to care for a sick parent. Every one of us has been touched by this pandemic. But the history of mankind also teaches us that pandemics are part of our world and have always characterised certain historical periods: from the Black Plague in the 14th century to the Spanish flu in the early 20th.
Science, combined with our conscience and sense of responsibility, helps us to face the present and will help us to overcome this enormous challenge. The worldwide alliance of the scientific community has enabled unimaginable results and is allowing us to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Although there are still many unknowns – and epidemiological data oblige us to continue to observe all preventive measures with rigour and prudence – the distribution of vaccines gives us reason to hope that the violence of the virus will be progressively weakened. This will only happen if we are able to help the less wealthy countries by providing them with vaccines and supporting them in their vaccination efforts.
The occasion of Christmas gives me the opportunity to sincerely thank all of you, members, volunteers and all the staff of the Order of Malta, who during the year have once again shown commitment and dedication in the face of complex and sometimes dramatic situations.
The work done in bringing assistance and aid to people in need in every corner of the world is commendable. I admire the professionalism and organisational capacity of the socio-medical projects carried out by the Order’s many entities. And I am deeply touched by the humanity I see in the eyes of those who, in the full spirit of the Order, extend their hand to their neighbour.
The world is changing fast, but with pride I can say that the values and principles at the basis of the Order of Malta’s work remain intact and firm.
Christmas offers us the opportunity to remember the testimony of Christ and urges us to awaken our hearts, calling each of us to be men and women of peace and justice. In this difficult period, we in the Order of Malta do not lose sight of the many other scourges that afflict humanity: from poverty, to social exclusion, to neglected diseases, and we renew our commitment to bring comfort to those in need.
I wish you all a peaceful Christmas, in the hope that 2022 may indeed be the year of rebirth.