This morning the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra’ Andrew Bertie, received the Speaker of the Italian Senate, Prof. Marcello Pera, on an official visit.
After a private conversation of 20 minutes in the Hall of Honour of the Magistral Palace, the Grand Master conferred on Professor Pera the Grand Cross pro Merito Melitense – Special Class, the Order of Malta’s highest decoration.
The Grand Master welcomed the second highest office-bearer in the Italian State as ‘an authoritative scholar, a highly esteemed representative of Italian institutions, but above all a friend of the Order of Malta.’ He continued: ‘I want once again to emphasise our gratitude to Italy for the generous and friendly hospitality offered to the Grand Magistry for almost two centuries now, a hospitality that has supported us in our charitable mission – an ancient but, we believe, very relevant mission today. As you well know we are not political, we simply serve people who suffer. In a spirit of humility and with reference to our religious vocation, we fully concord with the words of His Holiness Benedict XVI, which you quoted in your manifesto: ‘today the West no longer loves itself’. To overcome this crisis, more commitment and more courage are needed to address the issues of our civilization.’
In his reply, Speaker Pera declared that ‘The values and principles inspiring the Order of Malta are a heritage of humanity. They find concrete application in the humanitarian and spiritual mission that the Order is carrying out in more than a hundred countries all over the world to help men and women in need, without distinction of religious belief, race or ethnic origin. This mission is underpinned by values and principles of Christianity that are also universal: they are called the protection of rights, the freedom of conscience and religion, the equality of all human beings and the dignity of every individual.’
Following the ceremony the Grand Master offered luncheon in honour of the Speaker of the Senate.