Home > News Area > Latest News

Latest News

Helping those in need - the Order's projects in Britain continue to grow
Latest news in the Hospitaller, winter edition 2017 (pdf)

News in year:

Pope Francis receives the Grand Master in Audience: “Go ahead with courage, you express spirituality through your works”

Grand Master Dalla Torrie in audience with Pope Francis
                                                       Grand Master Dalla Torrie in audience with Pope Francis

Among the many current works of the Order, Fra’Giacomo Dalla Torre spoke of the commitment to assist the thousands of refugees fleeing from wars and poverty along the Mediterranean Sea routes, and the search and rescue activities the Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps has been carrying out since 2008 on board the Italian authorities’ vessels.

His Holiness wanted to learn about developments in the Order’s projects in the Middle East and the Grand Master updated him on the work of the Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem which, besides accepting premature or severely ill babies, recorded some 4,000 births in 2017. The Order also provides healthcare in the regions bordering Syria, such as Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon, where a hospital and ten health centres guarantee medical treatment to displaced persons.

There are also the ongoing projects in Sub-Saharan Africa where forgotten wars are being waged, and the Order’s ssistance to children, which was a central theme of the meeting, carried out in atmosphere of great courtesy.

Pope Francis urged the Order of Malta to “go ahead with courage” in its assistance activities, a testimony to the spirituality that animates its over 130,000 members, volunteers and operators in the service of the poor, the sick, the elderly and the marginalised in 120 countries.

Another topic discussed was the reform of the Order of Malta’s Constitutional Charter, launched in 2017 with the aim of giving the Order a structure of rules that will enable it to face the current and future humanitarian challenges in a rapidly changing world. 

back to top

Annual celebration of the birth of St John Baptist, patron saint of the Order of Malta, takes place in London

Nurturing, protecting, giving testimony – care for those in need, inspired by Christian love

St John's Day, Brompton Oratory, London
                                                 St John's Day, Brompton Oratory, London

The glorious Mozart Coronation Mass rang out in the Brompton Oratory, London, yesterday, as members, friends and volunteers of the Order of Malta gathered to mark the annual celebrations for the Baptist’s birth. Similarly, ceremonies were taking place around the world in the Order’s 47 national Associations. 

In his homily, Dr. Fr.Michael Lang, Cong.Orat., said: ‘It is the nurturing, protecting and giving testimony, which the Baptist inspires in us, which makes the Order of Malta the special force that it is. Our Christian inspiration is the deepest motive.’

The Order runs projects in 120 countries and counts over 100,000 members, staff and volunteers carrying out its work worldwide. In Britain, the Order has soup kitchens, care for addiction addicts, and, with the Venerable Order, runs 70 residential homes in four counties, as well as 12 assisted living accommodations. Last year it saw 60,000 volunteer hours of service for those in need. 

back to top

Valencia: Order of Malta medical team in action aboard migrant ship

629 saved after five days at sea

Valencia - Order of Malta volunteers give aid on board ship for migrants
Valencia - Order of Malta volunteers give aid on board ship for migrants
Embarking at Pozzallo, Sicily, on Dattilo, the Italian Coast Guard vessel, as part of SOS Mediterranee search and sea rescue operations, Order of Malta medical volunteers accompanied the 274 migrants who were transferred from Aquarius to Dattilo, which eventually reached safe harbour in the port of Valencia. Almost a quarter were unaccompanied minors, braving the perilous journey in search of a life free from poverty. Dr Maria Rita Agliozzo, from the Order’s Italian Relief Corps (CISOM): ‘I saw the spark of hope in their eyes.’

Valencia - migrant ship docks
                                                                Valencia - migrant ship docks

Since 2008, the Order of Malta’s medical teams have been providing healthcare both on board Italian naval vessels and on the island of Lampedusa, from where the patrol boats leave to reach the targets signalled by IMRCC (Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) of the Rome Coast Guard.

Through its national Associations and relief corps, the Order of Malta is running many programmes for the reception and integration of migrants and refugees in Europe. In Spain, Italy and in other European countries, volunteers distribute food and basic necessities. In France, the Order gives legal assistance to migrants detained in prison and in Germany over 100 specialised centres offer psychological and social support.  

back to top

Guatemala volcano: Order of Malta first aiders at the scene

Three shelters and two mobile clinics on duty for so many displaced

Guatemala volcano - aid for victim in Order of Malta temporary shelter
Guatemala volcano - aid for victim in Order of Malta temporary shelter
The two eruptions of the Fuego volcano on 3 June sent searingly hot clouds of volcanic ash and gases into the air, and created pyroclastic flows – a deadly combination, resulting in the deaths of over 100, hundreds of injured or missing, thousands evacuated.

The Order of Malta’s Guatemalan Association intervened immediately and is assisting over 500 displaced persons. 
Guatemala volcano - the Order of Malta's mobile clinic
Guatemala volcano - the Order of Malta's mobile clinic 

In the diocese of Escuintla, the area most affected, the Order of Malta is now managing three of the 33 temporary shelters. Two of the Order’s mobile clinics are providing medical treatment and psychological support to those who have lost family members and homes; and essential supplies of food and hygiene kits have been distributed. It is estimated that the displaced will be in the temporary structures for nine to twelve months.

Malteser International, the Order of Malta’s global relief agency, is also providing emergency aid to victims and has started to raise funds. 

In a letter to the President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, and to the Order’s Guatemalan Association, the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre, has sent his deepest sympathy to the victims and the country. 

back to top

Monsignor Angelo Becciu is created cardinal

The Grand Master sends his congratulations on behalf of the members worldwide

Monsignor Angelo Becciu
Monsignor Angelo Becciu

The Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, has sent a letter of congratulations to Monsignor Angelo Becciu, who is the Pope’s Special Delegate to the Order, and also Substitute for General Affairs in the Secretariat of State.

Pope Francis announced that Monsignor Becciu will be created cardinal in the consistory convened for 29 June. The Grand Master wrote: “I would like to extend the heartfelt congratulations of the Grand Magistry, and my own personal congratulations, for your imminent elevation to cardinal, assuring you of our prayers for fruitful work in the service of the Holy See.'

back to top

60th International Lourdes pilgrimage led by newly elected 80th Grand Master

British Association among the 7000 pilgrims joining Fra’Giacomo Dalla Torre

The basilica, Lourdes
                                    The basilica, Lourdes
This is a special year in Lourdes – it marks the 160th anniversary of the Virgin’s apparitions to the 14-year-old Bernadette, it also marks the 60th anniversary of the Sovereign Order of Malta pilgrimages to Lourdes with their sick and disabled charges, and it records the first occasion that Fra’Giacomo Dalla Torre leads the pilgrimage as Grand Master. Elected on 2 May, he is the 80th Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

The contingent of members and friends of the British Association of the Order totalled over 200, including 57 sick pilgrims and 14 medical staff. For some, it was their first pilgrimage to Lourdes, for others, their 60th. And for all, the pilgrimage was a combination of work, whether carrying out duties in the hospice, or organising the annual picnic, or checking all the small but vital administrative details, or running the famed British shop. For all, it was a happy combination of devotion and commitment.
Fra'Giacomo greets a pilgrim
Fra'Giacomo greets a pilgrimLourdes-Via Crucis on the Prairie
Lourdes-Via Crucis on the PrairieCandles as commemoration

back to top

80th Grand Master of the Order elected

Fra'Giacomo Dalla Torre will be sworn in tomorrow

80th Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta
80th Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta

Rome, 2 May 2018 

Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto has been elected the 80th Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta. 
The electing body, the Council Complete of State, met in the Magistral Villa, one of the Order of Malta’s two institutional seats, in Rome. Elected head of the Order of Malta on 29 April 2017, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre is now elected for life as Grand Master. Pope Francis has been informed by letter of the election result. All the Order of Malta’s Grand Priories, Subpriories and National Associations around the world have been informed, as well as its diplomatic missions and those of the 107 countries with which the Order maintains diplomatic relations. 

 The newly elected Grand Master will swear his oath before the Pope’s Special Delegate to the Sovereign Order of Malta, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, and the members of the Council Complete of State tomorrow morning in the Church of Santa Maria in Aventino. 

back to top

Elections for Head of the Sovereign Order of Malta

The electing body meets in Rome 2-3 May

The Magistral Villa, Aventino, Rome
The Magistral Villa, Aventino, Rome 
The electing body – the Council Complete of State of the Sovereign Order of Malta - held in Rome on 29 April 2017 elected Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto as Lieutenant of the Grand Master. With the same powers of a Grand Master, the Lieutenant of the Grand Master remains in charge for one year. 

As that year now ends, on 2-3 May 2018 the Council Complete of State is convened in Rome to elect a Grand Master (the eightieth since its foundation more than 900 years ago) or a Lieutenant of the Grand Master. 

back to top

Spring tea party for the elderly attracts a full house!

Tea and company for many who are lonely

tea and company - the full house!
tea and company - the full house!
Every month, Order of Malta members, friends and volunteers provide tea and company for elderly guests in central London, especially those who are lonely or disabled. 

Yesterday, they catered to a full house! The group sang heartily and ate just as heartily on the sandwiches, cakes and fruit the Tea and Company Committee (run by Order of Malta Companions) had prepared. The guests voted it an uplifting afternoon. 

back to top

Key conference on Order of Malta action for migrants and refugees

Participants meet in Rome to exchange experiences from different parts of the world

the migration conference gets underway
The migration conference gets underway, Rome
A key conference - the second Migrant Conference, held at the Order of Malta's Magistral Villa, Aventine, Rome - met to discuss current projects and future plans to care for migrant communities in various parts of the world.
Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeselager explained that the Order's first arrival in a country is through emergency work, with support focussed on healthcare and clean water supplies. "We deal with the consequences" he said. 
In describing his organisation's work for migrants and refugees in many regions, t
the migration conference gets underwayhe head of the Order's worldwide relief agency, Malteser International, Ingo Radtke, warned "Refugees and IDPs are a global problem."

back to top

Author of “The Dictator Pope” Henry Sire suspended from Order of Malta membership

The Order of Malta dissociates itself from the content of the book and strongly condemns the vile attack against the Pope

Following the press articles reporting the name of the author of the book “The Dictator Pope” the Grand Magistry of the Order of Malta has taken the decision to suspend Henry Sire, author of the book and member of the Order of Malta. The provisional suspension from membership has immediate effect and an investigation is being launched.

The content of the book “The Dictator Pope” does not reflect in any way the positions and beliefs of the Order of Malta and the author is not speaking on behalf of the Order. In particular, the chapter on the institutional crisis in the government of the Order at the end of 2016 is based on a biased and one-sided reconstruction of events.

The Order of Malta dissociates itself from the positions conveyed and considers the content of the book a grave offence to His Holiness, Pope Francis.

Sire lived at the Grand Magistry Palace whilst carrying out research for a book on the history of the Order of Malta - The Knights of Malta: a modern resurrection- published in 2016. He was never appointed in any official role within the Order’s functioning bodies and had a research contract. He left the Grand Magistry in May 2017.

back to top

Syria seven years on: no respite, no peace

Malteser International, the Order of Malta’s relief service continues its support

                                                Syria under attack: a tiny victim

‘Syrian aid workers who have been risking their lives for the past seven years as doctors, nurses and midwives, are now in a state of total exhaustion,’ Janine Lietmeyer, Country Group Manager for Syria and Lebanon at Malteser International. ‘For humanitarian aid actors, the core mission is to bring help to millions of civilians who have been dependent on aid since the start of the war.’ 

The Syrian civil war has been described as the conflict with the largest flow of refugees, the most intensive bombardments of civil institutions, the most brutal war crimes, and the highest number of failed UN resolutions.*

Malteser International has been active in Syria since 2013, providing medical care and life-saving aid for displaced persons, in partnership with Syrian local organisations. Malteser International’s work in the country includes support for three basic healthcare facilities, a mobile clinic, and a maternity and paediatric clinic. Funded by the German Foreign Office, the organisation now plans to expand its aid in western Aleppo and Idlib. Around 440,000 people will receive hygiene packages and household items in the coming weeks.
*www.reliefweb.int (service from OCHA) 

For more information about Malteser International: www.malteser-international.org

back to top

The great cold in France

70 Order of Malta volunteer teams in action for the homeless

In Paris, dispensing hot soup to the homeless
In Paris, dispensing hot soup to the homeless
70 volunteer teams from Ordre de Malte France are distributing breakfast and hot soup during the winter weekends to the homeless and very poor in France’s big cities - Lille, Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Nantes, Strasbourg.... 
Many homeless are living on the freezing streets and their support organisations close at weekends. Temporary shelters are providing warmth and companionship over coffee and croissants to support the most fragile. Ordre de Malte France has close liaisons with local traders, food banks and associations who are helping in providing food and basic necessities.

back to top

In Belgium: ‘Le grand froid’

Order volunteers bring hot food and warm clothes to the homeless

In Brussels-carIng for homeless In the cold
In Brussels-carIng for homeless In the cold
Often isolated, occasionally in a group, the city’s homeless look for shelters, or construct them in the freezing weather.  

For the last three years, from mi- November to April, Order of Malta volunteers in Belgium have been seeking out Brussels’ homeless twice a week. They offer hot drinks, soup, warm clothes, shoes, and tell them about the Order’s La Fontaine day hospice, where they can take a shower, have clothes washed, have dental or medical checkups, a warm snack and a warm welcome. The aim is to offer a social link as well as basic necessities.  

back to top

In London: two soup kitchens try to beat the cold with comforting food and clothing

Order volunteers prepare hot drinks and food for homeless guests

London: the soup kitchen lIneup
In London: the soup kitchen lineup
As the cold continues to bite, and Storm Emma wreaks havoc, the Order’s two London soup kitchens are kept very busy, providing hot drinks and food as well as takeaway sandwiches and breads, and warm clothes and sleeping bags for those in need.

back to top

Highlighting the Order’s work for Syrian refugees in its clinics in Lebanon

Pope Francis receives Marwan Sehnaoui, President of the Order’s Lebanese Association

Pope Francis in discussions with Marwan Sehnaoui, President, Lebanese Association of the Order of Malta
Pope Francis in discussions with Marwan Sehnaoui, President, Lebanese Association of the Order of Malta
Marwan Sehnaoui, President of the Order’s Lebanese Association, in audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican, discussed the current plight of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and the Order’s support for them in its medico-social clinics around the country. Today, one in four people in Lebanon is a refugee and the strain on local infrastructure and economics is enormous*. Sehnaoui outlined the care provided in the Order’s 9 primary health care clinics and 4 mobile medical units and described a new project to improve the resilience of host communities and refugees in 28 villages around Baalbek. The first primary health care centre is already operational. Since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011, the Order has cared for over 100,000 refugees. 

Pope Francis and Marwan Sehnaoui
Pope Francis and Marwan Sehnaoui
From the north to the south, social activities - care for the underprivileged, for the elderly and for disabled children, as well as summer and winter camps to provide holidays and respite care for the disabled - goes on all year round. 
*UNHCR, 7 Dec 2017 

back to top

Commemoration of tenth anniversary of death of Grand Master Fra'Andrew Bertie

78th Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta died in Rome on 7 February 2008

Grand Master Fra'Andrew Bertie
Grand Master Fra'Andrew Bertie
A commemorative Mass was celebrated this morning in the Sovereign Order's chapel in Rome, for the tenth anniversary of the death of Fra'Andrew Bertie.

The celebrant was Prelate Msgr. Jean Laffitte, in the presence of the Lieutenant of the Grand Master Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre and members of the Sovereign Council, the Order's government.

The Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God Fra’ Andrew Bertie continues. Witnesses to his life are currently being heard by the Diocesan Tribunal of Rome.

back to top

The Order’s volunteers across France collect for World Leprosy Day

The Order of Malta in France supports clinics and research into the disease

France: Collecting for World Leprosy Day
France: Collecting for World Leprosy Day
On a wintry January Sunday in France, 160 volunteers set out to collect for the Order’s Leprosy Appeal in the country’s main cities. 

28 January, World Leprosy Day – this is the 65th - brings awareness that every year thousands of new cases of leprosy are diagnosed. In 2016, there were 216,108 and 9 out of every 100 were children*. Early detection and multidrug treatment means cure. 

Ordre de Malte France supports research into Hansen’s disease (the MALTALEP scientific project), and leprosy clinics in Africa (Benin, Cameron, Guinea Conakry, Madagascar, Mozambique and Senegal) and Asia (Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam) and collects for the cause on this day every year. In 2017, the volunteers collected 650,000 euro. 

WHO statistic, 26 January 2018

back to top

Syria: thousands flee violence in Idlib

Order of Malta emergency service, Malteser International,is on the ground

Malteser International partner puts up tents for refugees on the Syrian Turkish border
Malteser International partner puts up tents for refugees on the Syrian Turkish border

"More than 100,000 people have since fled the violence to seek refuge near the Turkish border where living conditions have become miserable as the civil war enters its seventh year,” reports Janine Lietmeyer, Malteser International’s Country Desk Officer for Syria.
Camps and reception centres on the Syria-Turkish border have run out of shelter to accommodate the new arrivals, some of whom have been displaced for the second or third time since the beginning of the conflict. 
Refugee camp on the Syrian Turkish border
Refugee camp on the Syrian Turkish border
Malteser International is providing cross-border assistance from Turkey. Around one thousand families in Idlib are to receive mattresses and blankets. Malteser International has been working in partnership with local Syrian organisations to provide medical care and life-saving aid for displaced persons since 2013.

For more information or to donate to the 'Refugees in the Middle East' appeal: www.malteser-international.org

back to top

Address to the diplomatic corps

Lieutenant of the Grand Master greets the diplomats accredited to the Sovereign Order

The Lieutenant of The Grand Master addresses The diplomatic corpsThe Lieutenant of The Grand Master addresses The diplomatic corps
Fra'Giacomo Dalla Torre today welcomed the Ambassadors for the traditional new year greetings in the Magistral Villa, Rome. His address:

Mr. Doyen, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome! I am very pleased to welcome you here today for the traditional exchange of New Year greetings. I warmly greet all present, and in particular the Ambassadors who have recently begun their valuable mission with us. This year’s audience is taking place exceptionally in the Chapter Room of the Magistral Villa because our church, Santa Maria in Aventino, is currently being restored.

I sincerely thank the Ambassador of the Czech Republic, H.E. Pavel Vosalik, for his encouraging words and for having been an important and attentive Doyen, who, during his diplomatic mission in Rome, regrettably soon to come to an end, has undertaken with dedication and passion admirable initiatives that highlight some of the tragedies of our time. I recall in particular the Conference on Child Victims of Armed Conflicts which took place on World Children’s Day last June. What we will miss about you, dear Ambassador, is your constant commitment to shared ideals and your personal humanity.

Today’s occasion gives me the opportunity to retrace with you a full and demanding year, in which the Sovereign Order of Malta has had to contend with great and unprecedented humanitarian challenges, bringing relief to the most vulnerable in very many parts of the world. Neutrality, impartiality, protection of the most disadvantaged groups in society – and care for our fellow man: these are the founding principles guiding our thousand year old mission. For our Order, the defence of human rights and the protection of the most defenceless – women, children, refugees, the disabled, the elderly, but also religious minorities – are a moral obligation that fully responds to and reflects our ancient Christian charisma.

 Faced with the great humanitarian crises occurring in many, indeed too many, corners of the planet, we are there with the victims, to provide medical, psychological and social assistance. In recent years, we have concentrated our actions on assisting migrants and refugees, on the fight against human trafficking, on support for dementia patients and development of new therapies, and on the fight against endemic diseases.

Our mission does not stop at the moment of the emergency but continues long after the cameras have turned away and the lights have gone out. Our only objective is to bring relief and comfort, helping in every way possible to re-establish a social fabric, to give hope to people devastated by wars, or by violence, persecution, or natural disasters. 

The humanitarian challenges of 2017 were grave. One has only to look at the number of victims worldwide, especially the children, who are the most vulnerable and the most defenceless. There are 535 million minors living in countries involved in emergencies caused by humans or by the devastating effects of climate changes. We think, too, of the bloody conflicts in South Sudan, and in Syria, where violence continues to rage almost seven years after the start of the civil war. We think of the victims of famine and bombing in Yemen, and of the crises caused by drought in Somalia, the worst ever recorded in the Horn of Africa.

The consequent migrations represent the most profound human drama of our time. While we consider the international conventions establishing the individual rights of refugees and asylum seekers as great achievements, which have to be safeguarded, we realize that these means are not adequate to deal with mass-expulsion and massive flights and exodus. New legal instruments have to be developed. Just as well it is not acceptable that the average duration a refugee stays in a camp is longer than 12 years. New resettlement policies have to elaborated.

Our task as an institution with a history of humanitarian assistance is to help, receive and support its victims, as well as to condemn every attempt to manipulate perception of this reality. When our volunteer doctors and nurses on the vessels of the Italian Coastguard and Navy in the Mediterranean Sea reach out to clasp the hands of desperate, exhausted and wounded people, they do not wonder if those hands belong to a political refugee or an economic migrant, or if the refugees are Catholic or Muslim. They concentrate on rescuing them and saving them from their inhuman suffering. This is a commitment that stretches back exactly ten years, as it was in 2008 that the Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps first began its life-saving services in the sea passage that separates Europe from Africa, a path that too often has become a death sentence for thousands of migrants.

 Despite some variations in the number of landings on the Italian coast, the flow of migrants leaving from North African shores, in particular from Libya, has not stopped and the pressure on Libya shows no signs of decreasing. The despicable business of human trafficking continues to grow, feeding on the hopes and desperation of migrants who, before their arrival in Libya, have crossed deserts and borders, falling prey to unscrupulous people. To tackle this terrible scourge, now achieving unprecedented levels of sophistication, we have recently appointed two Ambassadors with the specific task of keeping the spotlight focussed on this illegal transport of people. In 2016, these illegal transports involved some 20 million desperate human beings, over 70% of whom were women and children. Our Ambassadors are engaged in Nigeria – the departure point for many trafficking victims – and in Geneva. Their task is to raise the awareness of humanitarian institutions and to support the implementation of the United Nations protocol on the prevention, suppression and prosecution of human trafficking.

The situation in Libya is at the point of collapse, as we can see in the images coming from the detention centres spread around the country, many of which are illegal and inaccessible. The migrants we save every day and who recount the torture, abuse and physical and sexual violence are the witnesses. Our Libyan representatives, representatives of their institutions and civil society, tell us this too. For over two years, the Grand Magistry has been engaged in promoting dialogue on humanitarian topics in Libya with local institutions and international delegations. The latest in a series of meetings was held last November in Tunis and launched a lively debate on human rights violations and the need to achieve local, regional and international policies that place the protection of the individual at the top of their agenda. As well as the Order of Malta, led by Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeselager, representatives of the European Union, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations participated. The proposals which resulted from the meetings will be developed to form a concrete action plan for resolving the country’s current economic and social deadlock, which is progressively weakening the Libyan population and its infrastructure.

With the aim of strengthening the Libyan institutions operating under the aegis of the internationally recognised Tripoli government, our commitment continues under the banner of EUNAVFOR MED (the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean which is one element of a broader EU comprehensive response to the migration issue). Together with the Italian Coastguard, we provide ‘Search and Rescue at sea’ training courses for Libyan Coastguard personnel. Two sea rescue-training courses on board the ship Diciotti and in the Italian military base in Taranto have already been completed, attended by some 160 members of the Libyan Coastguard. Our Italian Relief Corps is currently preparing a third course.

It is clear that these initiatives are just a drop in the ocean of the atrocities and indignities to which our era bears witness, but we persevere in our attempts to relieve at least something of this terrible human suffering. Somewhere a family, a child, or a mother will perhaps be able to smile again, because of our efforts. This is what inspires our 80,000 volunteers.

Another aspect of our commitment is that of assistance and integration for migrants and refugees. In Germany alone, the Order of Malta can count on the tireless efforts of 5,000 volunteers and 3,000 staff who work in in this sector, active in some 100 facilities countrywide. With their 25 years of experience, our German volunteers have developed comprehensive social integration courses that have been very effective. These initiatives were recently illustrated in an in-depth report on migration by our German Relief Service, Malteser Hilfsdienst, which offered a cognitive tool based on scientific and numerical data rather than on emotional, non-scientific responses. A recent important recognition for the Order of Malta’s work in Germany was the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Sovereign Order of Malta, formalised with the official visit to Rome by the German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, in November.

The commitment of our volunteers does not recognise walls or geographic distances. Medical teams are deployed in the main theatres of war in the Middle East to cope with the devastating effects of the conflict in Syria. In Turkey, a hospital on the Syrian border guarantees immediate access to healthcare for displaced people fleeing from the atrocities. Our international relief agency, Malteser International, also supports projects for combating school dropouts among refugee minors, enabling them to access primary education. In Iraq, it runs mobile clinics which are able to reach refugee camps and to give first-aid to the injured.

In Lebanon, our eleven medical centres and our four mobile clinics provide daily health and social support to both Syrian refugees and the local population. The aim of our humanitarian interventions is not only to help the victims of tragedies and wars but also to support the host communities, which are often overwhelmed and impoverished. Our commitment was recently acknowledged by the President of Lebanon, Michel Naim Aoun, who last October received the visit of a delegation I led, during which he stressed the importance of our medical and humanitarian projects in his country.

Through our diplomatic network, which includes our missions to United Nations agencies, our Order is active in the United Nations Global Compact for Migrants and Refugees. It is the first inter-governmental agreement on this topic and is currently being set up under the aegis of the UN General Assembly. The Compact proposals will be adopted at the forthcoming international conference on migration before the end of this year, 2018. Another issue in the diplomatic sphere on which our efforts are focussed is that of the special role played by faith-based institutions in the theatres of war, in rescuing and assisting affected communities. Following the results of the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit we continue our efforts at recognition of these important works undertaken by religious organisations and institutions.

The range of action of our assistance and reception facilities also extends to Africa, and in particular Uganda, where the number of refugees from neighbouring South Sudan has exceeded a million. Present in the area for over 20 years, Malteser International is engaged in these countries in the fight against epidemics and food insecurity. The drought is worsening the living conditions of communities in North Kenya, and Malteser International is supporting a medical centre which distributes food to undernourished children and to some 2,500 families. In 2017, our centre in South Africa, which provides medical and social assistance to HIV patients and their families and runs an orphanage for children whose parents have died from the disease, celebrated its 25th anniversary. For the occasion, the Grand Hospitaller Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel visited last October and spoke of the Order’s long-term commitment to aid those in need. Another example of this involvement is at the Central Hospital of the Order of Malta (CHOM) in Dakar, Senegal, which in 2017 celebrated fifty years of aid and support.

In the recent visit the Grand Hospitaller paid to Moscow, aid in the Middle East and on the African continent was also on the agenda of the discussions with the Russian authorities. The 25 years of diplomatic relations between the Sovereign Order and the Russian Federation were recalled in a collaborative art exhibition in Rome and the display of forty splendid icons.

A few months ago, the destructive path of hurricane Harvey in the United States triggered landslides and destroyed the Texas coastal area, causing immense damage. The Order of Malta’s three American Associations coordinated rescue operations to bring aid to the victims. Following Hurricane Irma, which struck the island of Cuba, collaboration between the local authorities and Caritas-Cuba brought over 100 tonnes of food and medicines for distribution to the most stricken regions of the island.

And in Italy, after the earthquakes that struck the central regions, our volunteers intervened and still continue to meet the needs of the affected communities.

I want here to recall the encyclical letter Laudato si’, in which Pope Francis says: “I urgently appeal for a renewal of the dialogue on how we are shaping the future of our planet.” He exhorts us to consider the ethical and social aspects and impacts of the new paradigm of development and progress in the short, medium and long term. Our workers are well aware of the violent effects of climate change, and for this reason many programmes concentrate on prevention and preparedness of disasters such as drought, floods and cyclones. In Central America, our Associations and our Embassies continue to develop important health projects. It is impossible to list all the praiseworthy initiatives, so I will just cite here the medical mission in which 75 specialised doctors, supported by our Cuban and Dominican Associations, visited over a thousand patients in an impoverished area of the Dominican Republic in 2017. This is not a random project: for over 15 years, our Cuban Association, with headquarters in Miami, has been organising these missions, offering not only medical consultations but also distributing large amounts of free medicines. During Holy Week, our Association and Embassy in El Salvador, together with the Fondacion Barraquer of Barcelona, organised a medical campaign to operate hundreds disadvantaged patients with cataracts, whose conditions were risking blindness. And in Costa Rica, following the Cooperation Agreement we signed last July with the government, we undertake to develop and diversify our social, humanitarian and healthcare cooperation, focussing particularly on the areas of health, food security and disaster risk reduction.

 In Timor-Leste, one of the poorest countries in south Asia, through our Embassy the Order of Malta has recently opened a new primary healthcare centre, with particular focus on women and children. In a country in which one child out of six does not reach the end of their first year of life, killed by curable diseases and malnutrition, the polyclinic is a reference point to improve lives in the local communities. In Myanmar – still on the Asian continent – we have been present for over 15 years, assisting displaced people in the state of Rakhine, an important support for the many refugees who lead lives of desperation, as Pope Francis recalled when he visited the area recently. We have also signed a Cooperation Agreement for healthcare and medical assistance with the Indian Ocean Commission.

To demonstrate the Order of Malta’s growing commitment on the Asian continent, this year in Singapore we organised our first summer camp for young disabled in this area, attended by young people from Australia, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore. Besides the national camps we run in many countries, we also run our annual international summer camp for young disabled. The Order has been organising this event for over 30 years, each year in a different European country. This summer it was held in Austria in July. I have a very positive and joyful memory of that event, which I shared with the Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen on his official visit last November to the Magistral Villa.

 For 90 years, the foremost commitments of the Ordre de Malte France have been the fight against social exclusion, the support for the homeless in the urban outskirts, assistance to the disabled and the contribution to research for Hansen’s disease. As well as activities in France, it is present in West Africa, running numerous hospitals and clinics, and in south-east Asia, with projects in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Also in Palestine, our French Association provides an indispensable maternity service at the Holy Family Hospital, Bethlehem, where 4,000 babies were born in 2017. The facility, located a few hundred metres from the Church of the Nativity, also offers the region’s only neonatal intensive care unit.

Because of the range and variety of the projects we run in Europe, and the many partnerships and cooperative activities with States and organisations involved, it is impossible to refer to all of them here. But I wish to emphasise how gratified we are with the quality of the cooperation experienced with the respective countries.


The year that has just ended has been a complex one in the life of the Order. We have initiated a process of reform of our Constitutional Charter which requires time and commitment. As I indicated to Pope Francis during the audience he granted me last June, the process aims at being as inclusive as possible and its pillars are the reinforcement of our spirituality and the strengthening of our governance to keep pace with the times and to better face the current humanitarian challenges. A specific seminar on this topic will be held next month here in Rome. At the start of May, a Council Complete of State will be convened to elect the new Grand Master, or Lieutenant. This will take place before our traditional international pilgrimage to Lourdes.


Before concluding I wish to remember with appreciation Guillermo León Escobar, distinguished Ambassador of Colombia, who died recently. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. 


Dear Ambassadors, the Order of Malta’s humanitarian work is wide-ranging and comprehensive and would not be as effective as it is without the diplomatic actions of our Ambassadors and your invaluable input. On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I wish to thank you for the contribution you give to promoting the Sovereign Order of Malta’s humanitarian commitment.

 I extend my warmest wishes to you and to your families for a serene 2018, in the hope that this year will bring peace and blessings to humanity and that it can heal the wounds of all those who live with pain. 
Read more >

back to top

High quality maternity care on the West Bank

Order of Malta’s Holy Family Hospital, Bethlehem, welcomed 4000 infants in 2017

A new ArrivAl At the Holy FAmily HospitAl, Bethlehem                        A new arrival at the Holy Family Hospital, Bethlehem

By the close of 2017, the Order of Malta’s Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem had recorded the births of 4000 infants during the year, born in the maternity hospital which has been run by the Order of Malta since 1990.  

Situated a few metres from the Church of the Nativity, its high quality facilities include the only neonatal intensive care unit in the West Bank. In a country where there is no social security and no medical insurance, mothers and infants are cared for without regard to religion or national origin and patients pay only what they can afford.

The hospital recently organised the first neonatal symposium for paramedics, supported by the Order of Malta’s diplomatic representative in Palestine, Michèle Bowe, together with the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. 45 nurses from 10 local hospitals participated. 
For more information: www.holyfamilyhospital-bethlehem.org 

back to top