Pope Francis received the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, in audience today in the Vatican. During the meeting, the Grand Master illustrated the Order of Malta’s main activities in the humanitarian and diplomatic sectors last year.
These included 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. 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. Not to mention the projects in sub-saharan Africa where forgotten wars are being waged.
Assistance to children was a central theme of the meeting, carried out in atmosphere of great courtesy. The pope 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 that, besides accepting premature or severely ill babies, recorded some 4 thousand births in 2017.
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.