In a world lacerated by conflicts, the medical and humanitarian actions of the Order of Malta, an institution which remains “in the hearts of all Italians” , are a valid reference point and a call to responsibility for the entire international community, declared the President of the Italian Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, on an official visit to the Order’s Magistral Palace this morning.
The Grand Master affirmed the special cordiality of the meeting which “is for us far more than a return of our visit to the Quirinal Palace four years ago. In the person of President Ciampi, we receive today the head of a nation which has a very special place in the history of the Order. For almost two centuries it has hosted its government seats, allowing the Order to maintain its sovereignty and, at the same time, ensuring the effectiveness of its mission of service to humanity in every corner of the globe – a mission which is both global and also Italian, diplomatic and humanitarian, but not political. And it is carried out above and beyond any possible barrier of race, religion or nationality.”
The Grand Master also spoke of Pope John Paul II. “On a personal level, I must stress a further point which we have in common: the respect and friendship cultivated over many years with John Paul II, whose first anniversary has just been celebrated. Pope John Paul was a Pontiff whom the world took to its heart, whom Italians loved and who into our hearts too has left a lasting impression.”
The Order looks to Italy in gratitude but also in a spirit of cooperation, he continued, recalling the important legal understandings created between the Order and Italy: the 2003 Health Cooperation Agreement, the 2004 Agreement for assistance to developing countries and the Agreement on postal issues; the authorisation in 2005 for the special plates for the Order’s ambulances; and finally, only a few days before this cordial meeting, the signing of the Framework Agreement for scientific research into neuromotor rehabilitation, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Understandings from which, the Grand Master noted, Italian citizens have been the first to benefit.
President Ciampi stressed in his reply the exemplary cohabitation, consolidated over almost two centuries, of mutual respect and a reciprocal cooperation, for which he hoped for further and equally significant developments. In conclusion, noting the Order’s extraordinary ability to adapt itself to the times, enriching “its noble traditions through new and effective initiatives”, the Italian Head of State asserted that the Order of Malta can be seen today as “a valid point of reference in the international community – not only for its humanitarian initiatives but also in the broader framework of fostering development”. Referring to the message of solidarity and peace which the Sovereign Order has always conveyed since its beginnings, the President sees it now as something more than a simple voice – in a world torn by crises, conflicts and inequalities it becomes “an appeal to the entire international community to place ethical principles at the centre of its action – the principles which are the foundation of any civil society”.