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

Audience of Grand Master with Diplomatic Corps accredited to Order of Malta

Rome, 9 January 2024 – The role and relevance of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in the world, both as the architect of multiple humanitarian and health activities as well as a diplomatic actor in a vast international context, were the centrepiece of Grand Master Fra’ John Dunlap’s speech this morning to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the first since his election as head of the Order last May.

Addressing the large audience, the Grand Master proposed as key factor “the significant renewal that the Order has undertaken in the past year”, which led to “a reform-minded government” and to “a clear and dynamic acceleration in the Order’s international activity”. Hence also the objective pursued by the new government to establish diplomatic relations with other countries and regional organizations to respond more effectively to humanitarian crises. A diplomatic action that requires certain conditions as the Grand Master pointed out, stating that the Order of Malta “believes in an international order based on principles of human fraternity and solidarity (…), since “only an international system based on principles and rules and on mechanisms of mutual co-operation, mediation and peaceful resolution of conflicts can ensure the enjoyment of human rights and a decent life”.

Recalling that unhappily the areas of crisis and conflict are on the rise, starting with Ukraine and the Holy Land, Fra’ John Dunlap evoked the words of the Pontiff regarding “a piecemeal Third World War”. Through diplomacy, the Grand Master said, the Order of Malta “calls, in particular, for respect for International Law, International Humanitarian Law and the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations”. To achieve this goal, the Order strongly encourages “Religious Diplomacy” in international circles, since “religions are a powerful source of inspiration and motivation for many individuals and groups around the world”.

In his speech to the Diplomatic Corps, the Grand Master also illustrated the diplomatic and institutional initiatives that characterized last year, including the visit to the Holy Father in the Vatican in May, that to the Island of Malta (the Order’s home for almost 300 years) and the official visit in November to the Italian Republic. There were also numerous visits received at the Magistral Palace and Villa, including those from the Lebanese and Ukrainian Prime Ministers, as well as the many ceremonies for the Presentation of Credentials. Not least, the participation in the Munich Security Conference, for which the Order of Malta organized a specific event on religion and diplomacy. Finally, the organization of meetings with friendly countries with the aim of illustrating the Order of Malta’s mission and diplomatic and humanitarian activities.

As customary, the audience was opened by the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the Ambassador of Cameroon, Antoine Zanga, who offered his best wishes to the Grand Master and the Sovereign Council on behalf of all the ambassadors.