Grand Master’s Christmas wishes to Order members and friends
Below is the text of the Christmas greeting video message from the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra’ John Dunlap:
Dear Members, and Friends of the Order
As we approach Christmas and the birth of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, I should like to share with you from the Grand Magistry in Rome my warmest wishes for a holy and Happy Christmas.
In every Christmas season, we have reason to thank God for the many blessings that He has showered upon us as individuals, upon the Order, and upon humankind around the world. Yet we also have reason to pray ardently and unceasingly to ameliorate the rampant suffering and horrific evils that beset our earthly existence.
Pray and work. For that is what the Order does, and what it has done for 1,000 years. We pray and work for justice and peace, and we care for the sick and poor around the globe. This year, there has been much for us to do and many tasks for us to undertake, in order to help bring about the kingdom of God.
In Christmastide 2023, as we cast our eyes towards the Holy Land, we are struck by the sad, ironic trail of violence on the very ground upon which once walked the Prince of Peace. On the borders of Eastern Europe, separating Ukraine from Russia, a bloody war enters its second year. On the frontiers of Venezuela and the border between the United States and Mexico, economic migrants are detained and held in unhealthy and marginal facilities. Migrants from Africa continue their relentless, dangerous crossings of the Mediterranean, only to find the doors locked and the windows barred. And around the world in many societies women have yet to achieve basic human rights.
The violence exempts neither women nor children. On the urban battlefield, no distinction is made between civilians and soldiers. No open arms welcome refugees seeking a better life for their families. No education, no profession, no rights under the law for rural women.
These are the injustices against which we toil. These are the wrongs we mean to right. These are the heartbreaks we seek to heal.
This year, the Order of Malta deployed tens of thousands of men and women and considerable resources to address these evils. Our camps for refugees and internally displaced persons, our healthcare facilities, our activities on behalf of the poor, the imprisoned, the forgotten and the marginalized – all are supported by our embassies, priories, associations, and relief corps – have made a real difference.
His Holiness Pope Francis himself has called attention to the predicament of so many millions of women around the world. He points out that the violence and exploitation of women are outgrowths of “prejudice, possession, and injustice.” The Holy Father’s words remind us of the longstanding work on behalf of exploited women undertaken by the Order, especially those trafficked, abused, and abandoned. They also call to mind the deep-seated, loving devotion the Order has displayed for centuries toward the Blessed Virgin.
As Christmas Day draws near, our thoughts and prayers begin to turn toward our families and our loved ones. And this is right and as it should be. But as members of the Order of Malta, we do not forget the forgotten. Rather, it is the richness of the Order that we stand alongside the poor, the marginalised, the weak and the sick. Always there. Hidden perhaps, but always there.
I wish each of you a very happy Christmas.
God bless you and your loved ones. God bless our lords, the sick and the poor, and God bless the Order of Malta.