The Lieutenant of the Grand Master Fra’ John Dunlap, together with members of the newly elected Sovereign Council and the participants in the Extraordinary Chapter General, were received this morning in audience by His Holiness Pope Francis. Also present were Cardinal Silvano Tomasi, the Pope’s Special Delegate to the Order of Malta and Cardinal Gianfranco Ghirlanda.
The audience takes place the day after the conclusion of the Extraordinary Chapter General, during which the new Sovereign Council, the Order of Malta’s government, was elected. It will remain in office for the next six years.
After expressing gratitude to Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, for “all he has done as his special delegate over recent years” and to the Lieutenant of the Grand Master for his “expressions of fidelity and hope”, Pope Francis said that “the path to follow is the one directly indicated by Christ, so that we may be ever more united to bear witness to our faith and to our membership in the Order of Malta and to the octagonal Cross that you so proudly wear. The time has come to dedicate oneself devotedly and fervently to the Christian mission,” the pontiff said, indicating that the works “must be a sign of Christ’s charity”.
“I bless you all, your families and your charitable works in all the existential peripheries,” concluded Pope Francis. “Do not forget to pray for me, for my work is very difficult”.
The Lieutenant of the Grand Master thanked the Holy Father “in the name of the entire Order of Malta for the benevolence and paternal love with which he has followed the Order of Malta in these long months. We can now set out again with confidence and with new eyes looking to a future full of hope,” continued Fra’ John Dunlap, espousing the Pope’s exhortation: “Hope is the virtue of a heart that does not close in the dark, does not stop in the past, does not simply get by in the present, but knows how to see tomorrow”.
At the end of the audience in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, also attended by representatives of the Grand Magistery, the Holy Father greeted all those present one by one.
Photo-credit: © Vatican Media