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Declaration of the Sovereign Order of Malta on government priorities

Press conference outlines priorities

Rome, 3 February 2017

Rome - Press conference

Rome – Press conference

The government has restored leadership in line with the Constitution of the Order.

In a press conference today the government of the Sovereign Order of Malta outlined its priorities, following the resignation of Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing on Saturday 28 January. Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeselager stated: “Together with the Lieutenant ad interim we are governing the Order according to our Constitution, united and efficient.” 

The government emphasised the Order’s loyalty to the Holy Father and confirmed the Order’s willingness to collaborate with the Special Delegate. On behalf of the government, Boeselager thanked Pope Francis for his guidance, which helped end the government crisis. He observed that in all his decisions the Pontiff showed respect for the Order of Malta, while at the same time acknowledging in all his actions the sovereignty of the Order.

The government also thanked the members of the Papal Commission for the rapid delivery of their report. It regrets unfounded and baseless allegations of a conflict of interest raised against members of the Commission.
As the current crisis in the Middle East and the Mediterranean demonstrates every day, the work of the Order has never been more relevant, nor more needed. “We will not allow the recent distractions in the government of the Order to jeopardise our humanitarian and socio-medical work,” said Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel, Grand Hospitaller.

The resignation of the Grand Master opens a new phase in the life of the Order, and with renewed vigour the Order is concentrating fully on the enormous challenges in humanitarian diplomacy and the work on the ground.

Sovereignty and the Order’s diplomatic network play a pivotal role in the Order’s ability to serve people in need. The network, neutral and impartial, is an asset for the Catholic Church. A top priority for the Order’s government is the reinforcement of this network and the range of action of the Order’s current programmes. The government of the Order will remain focused on its cooperation and coordination with the UNHCR, the UN mission in Libya, the Mediterranean naval mission SOPHIA and the International Organization for migration, IOM. The government is currently assessing the evolving situation in Syria and is ready to increase its local engagement at the side of those in need, as soon as that becomes a possibility. One of the Order’s medical teams is currently involved in an important training mission on board the ship San Giorgio, part of Operation SOPHIA in the Mediterranean. The aim is to train Libyan coast guards and members of the Libyan navy in ‘Search and Rescue’ operations at sea.

The humanitarian activity of the Order of Malta is carried out in 120 countries around the world. The work of around 100,000 people – members, volunteers and medical personnel – continues unabated.

We are alarmed and concerned by the proliferation of discriminatory positions towards immigrants, not least, those based on their national origin. History has already provided us with many examples showing the dramatic and monstrous consequences of policies based on origin and race. Likewise, the Government takes a strong stance against the increasing disregard for the humanitarian laws encoded in the Geneva Conventions ratified by the family of nations.

Albrecht Boeselager: “Not only are the norms being increasingly ignored by State and non-State actors, but they are being publicly challenged and disputed. As an observer to the UN and other multilateral entities, we will continue to raise our voice in this context.”

The election of the Grand Master’s successor will take place within the next three months, as provided for in the Constitution of the Order of Malta. The Lieutenant ad interim, Fra’ Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein, will convene the Council Complete of State, the electing body, which is made up of an international representation of members of the Order. They will meet in the Order’s Magistral Villa in Rome. 

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The mission of the Order of Malta is inspired by its tradition of ‘Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum', to assist the poor and the sick, and bear witness to the Christian faith.


The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law. The Order - which is based in Rome, in via Condotti - has its own Government, an independent magistracy, and bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 countries.


The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. Present in Palestine in around 1048, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature.