Sovereign Military Hospitaller
Order of St John of Jerusalem of
Rhodes and of Malta


International co-operation agreement to mobilise humanitarian action across the world

International co-operation agreement to mobilise humanitarian action across the world

An international Co-operation Agreement signed in Rome on 22 October between the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta and the Alliance of the Orders of St.John of Jerusalem aims at providing greater effectiveness in working for the sick and the needy across the world.

The Orders have come together to create a historic pact that will touch the lives of millions of people.

With an operational presence in more than 150 countries, thousands of donors, and the ability to mobilise close to half a million regular volunteers, a very sizeable, dedicated army of trained humanitarian aid workers now becomes internationally available. The Orders believe the powerhouse effect of such a large resource, trained and ready to move at any time, can provide enormous benefit to those in need.

Across the globe, the Five Orders of St. John run ambulance corps, relief services, hospitals, hospices, clinics, medical programmes, programmes for young people, care for elderly persons, the disabled, children, the homeless. They also provide first aid training and disaster and humanitarian relief worldwide.

With a tradition going back to the middle ages, when the care of sick pilgrims, and later any sick person, was carried out by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the Five Orders of St. John today continue to look after the sick and the poor under their emblem of the eight-pointed white cross. They share a Christian commitment, a mission for carrying out good works and for donating money to such works, and strict membership criteria.

The Agreement will operate at different levels in the organisations so that cooperative activities can be undertaken by the governing bodies, their humanitarian organisations, their members, and their volunteers and employees. At the same time, it will respect the different denominational allegiances of the Orders and their individual independence.

Over the coming months, representatives of the Five Orders will meet to set up the first practical applications of this historic Agreement, after last week’s defining Conference in Rome.

The official full names of the Five Orders:

– The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta

– Die Balley Brandenburg des Ritterlichen Ordens Sankt Johannis vom Spital zu Jerusalem

– The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem

– Johanniter Order in Nederland

– Johanniterorden i Sverige

Below is the text of the speech given by Fra’ Andrew Bertie, Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, to the meeting with the Alliance of the Order’s of St. John.


At our last meeting three years ago in Den Hague we created a common working group, with the task of elaborating papers about our common tradition and proposals for an improved cooperation. The members of this group have performed an enormous and sometimes difficult task, which will be presented to us today. I should like to thank the members of this group most heartily. I know how much work and effort is linked to such a job.

I also note with satisfaction that the links of confidence between our Orders are increasing through this work so that the relationships are becoming much stronger.

Following this meeting we shall sign a common document. I hope that by doing so we shall also come a little closer to our aim and reinforce our initiative to fight the numerous organisations that partly misuse our name and symbols in a malicious manner.

Together, we have an impressive operational presence in more than 150 countries with almost half a million people working under our cross.

In our preset times of hedonism and terrorism, where people are struggling between fear and the search for pleasure, we are called to dedicate our commitment more definitely for our Christian faith. Materialism, the disregard of the untouchable dignity of man from conception to his final destination – all that, which our Holy Father calls the culture of death – becomes a real threat for the world, especially for the still so-called Christian Europe. The legislation regarding abortion and euthanasia mark only the tip of the icebeg.

In the Order of Malta we reflected upon the question of how better to enable our members to be witnesses of our faith, during an international meeting at Malta, last January. The considerations concerning the preparation of new members and the continuous support for our members to deepen their religious knowledge and their spirituality were the focus of this meeting.

Without this base our charitable work too, will not witness the love of Christ. Under the eight-pointed cross there is no space for pure humanism, which is so often lead by erroneous ideologies.

Together we can form a strong ‘army’, spreading the good news of the gospel by active and efficient help to the sick and the poor in the name of Christ. This morning we have prayed together for the courage and strength to fulfil this duty. Let us remain together in this prayer.

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