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Lourdes 8 May 2013
London 28 April 2013
In the February of 1113, an important document was released to the knights working in the hospital of St John in Jerusalem. The Papal Bull of Paschal II recognised them as an independent religious order with a mission to care for the poor and the sick. This significant document is still preserved in the National Library of Malta in Valletta.
To mark the historic occasion, some several hundred members of the Order of Malta in Britain, including representatives of the Order’s senior government in Rome, the Presidents of the national Associations of the Order from Ireland, France, Germany and the Lebanon, as well as the United Kingdom, the Grand Prior of England, and many guests, volunteers and friends joined His Grace Archbishop Vincent Nichols in his celebration of solemn Mass in Westminster Cathedral.
The Order in the world
His Grace, in greeting all in his homily, noted that the Order was commemorating an anniversary of nine hundred years – an anniversary no other religious charitable organisation can lay claim to. He referred to the Order’s works, which continue around the world today – with projects in 120 countries, hospitals, hospices, dispensaries, clinics, programmes to aid refugees, street children, addicts, the handicapped, the elderly. And he emphasised in particular the work and the infectious energy of the young members and volunteers here in Britain.
The Order in Britain
The President of the British Association, Richard Fitzalan Howard, thanked the Archbishop for his words of welcome and encouragement and pledged that the Order in Britain would continue to build on its projects to help those in most need. These include homes for the elderly, pilgrimages, a Dial-a-Journey project in Scotland, and soup kitchens in various cities; the eight regional groups of the Companions of the Order organise volunteering of their members to support these activities. The event concluded with a reception in the Cathedral Hall.
Rome 19 March 2013
Over 200,000 of the faithful gathered in sunshine in St.Peter’s Square to participate in the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis. The Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, who holds the rank of cardinal in the Catholic Church, attended, accompanied by the Order of Malta’s official delegation. More than 130 official delegations were present.
The Holy Father addressed the world, declaring the importance of: “Protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person.
“Let us never forget,” he said, “that real power is service…to the poorest, and the weakest.” Pope Francis chose care and protection as the key themes of his homily, stressing the need to show each other “loving concern for each and every one, especially children, the elderly, and those in need, who are often the last we think about.
We are the custodians of each other
“I would like to say to all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social spheres, and all men and women of goodwill: we are the guardians of creation, the plan of God inscribed in nature, the custodians of each other, and of the environment. Do not let the signs of destruction and death accompany the journey of our world! But in ‘guarding’ we must also look to ourselves,” said the Holy Father. “We should not be afraid of goodness, nor of showing tenderness.”
Following the joyous celebration, the Grand Master and members of the Sovereign Council of the Order of Malta paid homage to the new Pope, who greeted the heads of State assembled for the inaugural Mass in strict alphabetical order.
The Order’s First Aid Post in St Peter’s Square on standby
The doctors and nurses from Order of Malta’s First Aid post in St.Peter’s Square, which is kept busy all year round providing free medical care to pilgrims in need, were on standby and supervised the area around the Basilica, together with almost 700 volunteers. They were joined by 46 volunteers from the Italian Emergency Corps of the Order of Malta (CISOM) who also offered medical assistance, two ambulances and a specialised referral medical post.
Cologne 16 March 2013It is the second anniversary of the Syrian conflict. Over 70,000 lie dead, a million refugees have fled. The struggle for survival is desperate, particularly for mothers with small children. “Their needs, especially the children, increase every single day,” says Thomas Molitor, emergency coordinator at Malteser International, the Order of Malta’s humanitarian relief agency. “An adult can sometimes make do with less food. But infants need nourishment to grow – and they need it every day.”
Syrian refugees find a safer haven
Rome 14 March 2013
The meditation chapel used by the Pope was designed by a member of the USA Federal Association, architect Louis Astorino. Completed in 1996, the chapel serves visiting clergy, and it is where the College of Cardinals gathered and reflected before moving on to the Sistine Chapel to vote for the Argentinian Cardinal Jose Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis and Bishop of Rome.
Just 3,300 square feet on a triangular lot to echo the Holy Trinity, Astorino’s design echoes the history of the Vatican and exudes tranquillity by the use of a glass wall overlooking the Leonine Wall. The resulting space is both light and warm. Louis Astorino calls it his firm’s greatest work.
Rome 27 February 2013
Benedict XVI on popemobile
Over 200,000 people in St.Peter’s Square and the streets beyond demonstrated their support for the frail pontiff, and their empathy for his successor. There was applause and there were tears as Benedict XVI, in the last public speech he will ever make, thanked the crowd for their expressions of love and faith.
The 'sede vacante'
The jeep moved through the arches…and he was gone!
Benedict XVI leaving Audience
The Order of Malta, which runs a first aid post every Wednesday and Sunday at the Vatican, recorded a hectic morning, with numerous patients. The Order of Malta’s Aline Dobrzensky, a long-time volunteer at the Post, recounts: ‘A young American/ Italian couple came in with a two-week old baby, as the mother was feeling faint. When she recovered and felt better, they stood by the door of the Post, just as Pope Benedict was leaving after the Papal Audience in his white jeep. He turned and gave our whole team a lovely wave and a smile, to say farewell. The white jeep then suddenly stopped and the mother held up her baby to His Holiness. The Pope, who is a member of the Order of Malta, gently kissed the baby boy - who was called Benedict - on his forehead and gave us all such a lovely smile. Then the jeep moved on through the arches ... and he was gone!’
First aid post volunteer group
The Order of Malta’s First Aid Post in the Vatican has been running Wednesdays and Sundays since 1975. It is staffed by 85 members and volunteers, including doctors, nurses and trained first aiders. The Post is at the disposal of all pilgrims who visit St.Peter’s for papal audiences and Masses.
Rome 9 February 2013
The culminating moment at the end of the solemn Mass in St.Peter’s Basilica, celebrated by the Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone for the 900th anniversary since the granting of the Bull by Pope Paschal II (15 February 2013), was the address by Pope Benedict XVI to the packed congregation. Over 4500 members and volunteers of the Order from all over the world joined in celebration, led by the Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing. Also present were the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, representing the President of the Republic of Italy, together with the heads of state of the Principality of Monaco, Morocco and Jordan, the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, and many civic authorities, 170 ambassadors and diplomatic representatives, and a delegation from the Order of St.John.
‘This important event takes on a special meaning in the context of the Year of the Faith, during which the Church is called to renew the joy and the commitment of belief in Jesus Christ, the one Saviour of the world. In this regard, you too are called to welcome this time of grace, so as to deepen your knowledge of the Lord and to cause the truth and beauty of the faith to shine forth, through the witness of your lives and your service, in this present time.
‘And by faith, down the centuries, the members of your Order have given themselves completely, firstly in the care of the sick in Jerusalem and then in aid to pilgrims in the Holy Land who were exposed to grave dangers: their lives have added radiant pages to the annals of Christian charity and protection of Christianity. In the nineteenth century, the Order opened up to new and more ample forms of apostolate in the area of charitable assistance and service of the sick and the poor, but without ever abandoning the original ideals, especially that of the intense spiritual life of individual members.
‘Dear friends, continue working in society and in the world along the elevated paths indicated by the Gospel faith and charity, for the renewal of hope… These ideals are aptly expressed in your motto: Tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum. These words summarise well the charism of your Order which, as a subject of international law, aims not to exercise power and influence of a worldly character, but in complete freedom to accomplish its own mission for the integral good of man, spirit and body, both individually and collectively, with special regard to those whose need of hope and love is greater.’
In his address to the members of the Order, Fra’ Matthew Festing, recalled the mission, past, present and future, of the Sovereign Order of Malta: ‘We have carried out an important role in innumerable historical events, often dramatic ones. The Order of Malta has often been forced to abandon what it had set up, and to start again. The Order has weathered vicissitudes which threatened its very existence. But from the distance of almost a thousand years, we are still here. The mission is always the same: to continue our fight against poverty, sickness and suffering on every continent. It is a mission as necessary today as it was nine hundred years ago – to alleviate physical and spiritual pain, to promote peace and justice and to help those in great need.’
Rome 7 February 2013
The International Conference of the Order of Malta opened today in Rome, the first of two days of meetings around themes central to the Order – spirituality, communications, diplomacy. The Order’s heads of government attended, together with many of the Ambassadors, national leaders and representatives of international organisations.
Fra’ Matthew Festing, Grand Master, in opening the conference, declared that ‘We seize this opportunity to share experiences and to learn from each other.’
The objectives of the Conference, organised on the occasion of the 900 year anniversary of the granting of the Bull by Pope Paschal II to the Order of Malta, were to mark the many works and projects carried out by the Order in 120 countries where the Order has a presence, and to define the next steps in its humanitarian and spiritual development.
The Conference also created the possibility of valuable exchanges of information on experiences in the field, which the Grand Master noted: ‘Singapore, Sydney, North and South America are a long way from Rome. So we seize this opportunity to exchange information and ideas. An important aim for the future is to achieve a unity between objectives and actions, and a spiritual unity too, and to encourage and build the Order’s leaders of tomorrow.’
On Saturday 9 February 4,500 members, volunteers, and patients from the Order’s hospital in Rome, S.Giovanni Battista, will gather in St Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the special anniversary with a solemn Mass, where they will be addressed by Pope Benedict.
Rome 27 January 2013
leprosy patient in Cambodia
The Order of Malta has cared for sufferers from leprosy (Hansen’s disease) for almost a thousand years and still does so today. It runs care centres, early detection programmes and educational programmes in Africa and Asia.
The Order’s care for leprosy victims in Africa
Cameroon - patients and their families are cared for at the Roham Chabot Centre in Mokolo, the main city in the far north. The programme forms part of an extensive global leprosy programme run by Ordre de Malte France, MALTALEP. The Order also runs programmes for the detection and treatment of tuberculosis through 15 clinics and dispensaries.
Gabon - patients with leprosy are cared for in a hospital supported by Ordre de Malte France, in Eberigné.
Guinea Conakry - the Order continues its implementation of a national fight against TB and leprosy under an agreement with the state government. Patients are diagnosed and treated in public health centres. The Order has been operating in Guinea since 1986, when the first agreement was signed with the country for a national leprosy programme. Its Pita surgery operates as a logistics base for its national leprosy programmes.
Ivory Coast - clinics supported by the Order are involved in the treatment of patients with the disease, most of whom are children under the age of 15. Ordre de Malte France supports 19 clinics and dispensaries in the country, which include those treating leprosy patients.
Morocco - the Order continues its cooperation with the country’s healthcare programmes for leprosy.
Senegal - the care and treatment of leprosy sufferers at the Central Hospital of the Order of Malta (CHOM), in Dakar, is supported and funded by Ordre de Malte France. The speciality care has been established for many years.
Extended support in south east Asia
Cambodia - the Order of Malta CIOMAL Foundation focuses on giving support for leprosy detection and treatment, helps eradicate the stigma of leprosy and trains medical students and health personnel (533 in 2011) in specialist treatments and procedures, as well as running radio based education campaigns country wide and campaigns in regional communities. It supports the Cambodian National Leprosy Control Programme, and its teaching and rehabilitation centre, Kien Khlang in Phnom Penh, covers all aspects of the disease – detection, prevention, early treatment, and rehabilitation, both medical and socio-economic. In 2010, the rehabilitation centre received 249 leprosy inpatients and gave medical consultations to 1,250 outpatients. Programmes for social reintegration and microeconomics encourage former patients to become self-sufficient.
Modern treatment for the disease
The most effective treatment for leprosy is with multi-drug therapy (MDT), but patients need to be detected early for a successful outcome and local populations need to learn about the disease, how it can be prevented, and how its sufferers can be reintegrated into their communities. The fight against the disease is not over: the World Health Organisation (WHO) records almost 200,000 new cases detected in 2011*.
*WHO: Leprosy – new case detection 2011.
Cologne, 24 January 2013
As the crisis in Syria and its neighbouring countries intensifies and the numbers of refugees and displaced continues to rise, Malteser International is preparing an expansion of its emergency response in the region. According to the United Nations, nearly four million Syrians are currently in need of aid. Malteser International will give continuation to its winter relief operations and plans to provide emergency aid to an additional 10,000 people in Syria, Turkey and Lebanon. Further distributions of heating ovens, medication and school materials will focus especially on the needs of women and children, who are the most vulnerable among the displaced population.
“The situation of refugees living with host families, as well as of unregistered refugees, is especially troubling,” says Thomas Molitor, emergency relief coordinator at Malteser International, who is currently visiting Malteser International’s project areas on the Syrian-Turkish border and preparing further relief measures.
Working with local partners, Malteser International has already provided aid to more than 20,000 Syrians in Syria, Turkey and Lebanon. The relief packages distributed included winter clothing and heating stoves, as well as household and hygiene items, including blankets, mattresses, kitchen utensils, soap, diapers and baby ointment. In addition, Malteser International has provided free medical treatment for Syrian refugees at a clinic in northern Lebanon. The German Federal Foreign Office has signalled its intention to continue supporting the relief measures.
Malteser International is the worldwide relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta for humanitarian aid. The organisation provides aid in about 100 projects in more than 20 countries without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles of impartiality and independence are the foundation of its work.
Rome 8 January 2013
The Grand Master greets ambassadors