Valentina di Giorgio
(ZENIT News / Rome, 15.08.2022).- Thirteen Official Associations of the Order of Malta , which includes 90% of the Order’s workforce, sent a letter to the Pope dated August 12, calling for a process of legitimate and effective reform to avoid the Order’s possible dissolution.
The Representatives explain to the Holy Father that they are “profoundly concerned about the future of our dear Order.” The reason they give is that “if the plan of the Constitutional Charter proposed by Cardinal Tomasi is kept in its present state, we believe that it will be very difficult to achieve this objective.”
The plan referred to in the letter implies removing from the Order’s organization and direction of work the 13,400 civilian members that deal with these matters at present to delegate them to the Order’s 36 Knights of Justice, namely, to the consecrated members who take vows. “We do not think it is possible that the work of more than 13,000 individuals, who have been working for a very long time, can be done by fewer than 40 people who do not have the experience or qualification to direct responsibly an organization of this magnitude,” states the letter.
Hence they ask the Pontiff to allow the current Lieutenant of the Grand Master, Fra John Dunlap, as well as the Papal Delegate, to have the Order meet and work “with all its memb ers of goodo faith to determine the most appropriate canonical structrure for the Order of Malta, in keeping with its Consgtitutional Charter and its Code, without arbitrary interferences.”
According to the signatories, this focus “will facilitate the creation of a new Constitutional Charter and a new Code that have the wide support of the Order’s members, while meeting the Church’s canonical requirements.”
In a letter of June 2022, the Holy Father himself acknowledged the tensions existing within the Order in the context of the whole reform process underway. Elected just last June was the first American leader in the Order’s history.
Here is an English translation of the original letter sent to the Pope.
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August 12, 2022
Beloved Holy Father, Dear Pope Francis,
We appeal to Your Holiness with a heavy heart. As Presidents of the National Associations of the Order of Malta, we represent 90% of the work carried out by the Order worldwide. We are writing to you because we are profoundly concerned about the future of our dear Order.
In 2017 You Holiness appointed a Committee, headed at present by Cardinal Tomasi, to address the spiritual renewal of the Order of Malta.
If the plan for the Constitutional Charter proposed by Cardinal Tomasi is kept in its present state, we believe it will be very difficult to achieve this objective. On the contrary, if the Order of Malta is reformed in the way suggested, it will suffer great harm and the Order’s work will run the risk of being compromised. We are referring to the work of some 80,00 volunteers and 42,000 fixed employees who serve the poor and the sick, the elderly and the disadvantaged, the marginalized and the refugees.
The Order’s work is organized and directed responsibly today worldwide by 13,4000 civilian members. The plan presented by Cardinal Tomasi proposes the removal of this responsibility of the civilian members and, instead, giving the organizational control to 36 Knights of Justice (men who have taken simple vows of chastity, poverty and obedience to the Grand Master). Although we acknowledge the merits of the Knights of Justice, we do not think it is possible that the work of more than 13,000 individuals who have been working for a very long time, can be carried out by fewer than 40 people, who do not have the experience or qualification to direct responsibly an organization of this magnitude.
Hence, we appeal to Your Holiness to allow Fra John Dunlap, Lieutenant of the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, together with the Elected Government and its Delegate, to have the Order meet and work with all its members of good faith to determine the most appropriate canonical structure for the Order of Malta in keeping with its Constitutional Charter and its Code, without arbitrary interferences.
This focus will facilitate the creation of a new Constitutional Charter and a new Code that have the broad support of the Order’s members, while meeting the Church’s canonical requirements. We firmly believe that this decision will make possible the spiritual renewal that we all desire profoundly and that corresponds to the Order’s original objective.
United in prayer, your devoted
- Belgian Association:
Count t’KINT of ROODENBEKE, President
- English Association:
Lady Celestria HALES, President
- French Association:
Count de BEAUMONT_BEYNAC, President
- German Association:
Dr Erich Prinz von LOBKOWICZ, President
- Hong Kong Association:
Desiree JEBSEN, President
- Hungarian Association:
Kristóf de SZABADHEGŸ de CSALLÖKÖZMEGYERCS, President
- Lebanese Association:
Marwan SEHNAOUI, President
- Dutch Association:
Joris A.M. Baron von VOORST tot VOORST, President
- Philippine Association:
Doña Josephine E. BANTUG, President
- Portuguese Association:
Dr Antonio Luis CALHEIROS de NORONHA de ALMEIDA FERRAZ, President
- Scandinavian Association:
Mrs Benedicta LINDBERG, President
- Singaporean Association:
Mrs Rose LU SOO YING, President
- Spanish Association:
Don Ramón ALVAREZ de TOLEDO y ALVAREZ de BUYLLA, Count of SANTA OLALLA, President
Translation of the Italian original by ZENIT’s Editorial Director and, into English, by Virginia M. Forrester