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Cologne, 15 March 2015
The annual meeting of the Order of Malta’s leaders in the organisation’s health and social welfare programmes around the world took place this weekend, examining their global activities and putting a spotlight on areas of great concern. Speakers for Iraq, Lebanon, Ukraine and Russia outlined their current programmes, describing the suffering that these movements of peoples, of refugees and IDPs bring, both for themselves and their host countries, and the work currently in place to support them. The demand is great and in the case of large movements of refugees, such as those from Syria to Lebanon, it will not go away.
The Order of Malta is on the ground in all of these theatres of action, caring for the displaced, the traumatised, the bewildered victims of conflicts not of their making.
We cannot say tomorrow. Your name is today!
All these programmes aid those in urgent need. The need is now. The need is today.
In addition, actions to support the homeless and the very poor are being extended in the Western world and the Americas; support for famine-stricken populations in Africa include microfinance programmes and health and hygiene training. In central and South America, in Asia, in central Europe, programmes for disaster risk reduction are being stepped up with a special focus on psycho-social support and sustainable construction.
The Order of Malta is present in 120 countries. Its aim is to care for the poor and the sick, with complete neutrality.
Photo: (Copyright: African Visuals Media/Malteser International).
Rome, 8 March 2015
"There is a real concern for women caught up in areas of conflict and the related poverty which affects the local population. Eighty per cent of people living in poverty are women and children. In crisis areas one can say that a man with a gun is never starving. But for the women and children, the possibilities are very different. For this reason, the Order of Malta’s humanitarian agencies on the ground focus their assistance very much on the women and children. For example, many of the hospitals we run in Palestine and Africa concentrate on maternity and infant care.
One of the key projects the Order runs for women is in DR Congo - it is specialist care for the women. We have treated tens of thousands in recent years, in a region where rape has become a weapon of war. In the tradition of these cultures raped women are excluded from their society and their villages by their own people. Thus, the raping of the women means the destruction of their society and their social structures. Our assistance starts with medical care, and then we follow up with psychological care, as many of the patients are seriously traumatised. As their societies have cast them out, these women need support to help them earn a living, and so we set up microcredit projects, skills-based teaching projects and most importantly, social projects in the villages. This is to convince the village chiefs that it is better for the community not to exclude these women from their villages. The aim is to allow them to have a hut at the edge of the village - not in the centre, but at the edge - so that the children can still live with their mothers and be educated by their mothers. I have visited this project several times and I find it one of the most moving and challenging we organise.
Women and children at the core of our mission
Women and children are at the core of our mission in many countries. This is evident when one assesses our disaster preparedness projects. An example is the mangroves planting project we have created in Burma/Myanmar. Although the project aims to improve fishing for the local population, the original purpose was actually disaster preparedness, because if mangroves grow along the coastline, ocean waves from hurricanes or typhoons will not hit the country so forcefully. The mangroves provide protection. You cannot do this without the support and action of the women, because it is the women who are the real actors. If they do not accept the project you can forget it!”
Rome, 20 February 2015
As the bells of the Basilica of St John Lateran peeled out, 1300 members, friends and volunteers of the Sovereign Order of Malta, and the family of Fra’Andrew, joined the 79th Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing to celebrate the life and works of one its most distinguished sons. It is the first time in a thousand years of history that a Grand Master has been proposed for sainthood.
The Mass was celebrated by the Cardinal Patronus of the Order, Cardinal Raymond Burke. In his address Fra’ Matthew Festing recalled this ‘ exceptional man of profound spirituality’ – as a moderniser, a reformer, as a humane and spiritual guide – and that the vast congregation coming to honour and remember him was a ‘valid testament to vox populi’.
View the full address
Rome, 16 February 2015
The opening session of the diocesan enquiry into the Cause of the Beatification and Canonisation of Fra’ Andrew Bertie takes place this Friday, in the Archbasilica of St John Lateran in Rome. A thousand members and volunteers of the Order of Malta will attend the ceremony and the Mass to be celebrated by the Order’s Cardinalis Patronus, Cardinal Raymond Burke.
Fra’ Andrew Bertie was Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta for twenty years, from 1988 to 2008.
Paris, 25 January 2015
Rome, 13 January 2015
Rome, 9 January 2015