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What is the Order of Malta and how does one become a member?

2012-07-08

ALBRECHT FREIHERR VON BOESELAGER
Grand Hospitaller of the Order of Malta.

"The powerful have a voice everywhere, we try to be the voice of the poor and those without a voice.”

Over the centuries, it has lived up to this mission with a hands on approach. It has more than 13,000 members and its humanitarian work extends to about 120 countries. Roughly 95 percent of its work are long term, permanent projects.

ALBRECHT FREIHERR VON BOESELAGER
Grand Hospitaller of the Order of Malta.

"In Western Europe for instance, or in the developed world we run hospitals, homes for the elderly, hospices for the dying people, homes for several handicapped people.”

In the developing world,  the Order of Malta also carries out health care and emergency relief programs, in countries like South Sudan, Eastern Congo, Afghanistan, India and Sri Lanka.

For many, the main questions is, how does one actually become a member?

ALBRECHT FREIHERR VON BOESELAGER
Grand Hospitaller of the Order of Malta.

"That they have been active in some of the work of the Order, that they are devout Catholics and then they have to be proposed by members of the Order.”

Even though it doesn't have a territory, the Order of Malta has diplomatic relations with 104 countries. Aside from its humanitarian work, if requested, the Order can even act as a mediator to settle disputes.

ALBRECHT FREIHERR VON BOESELAGER
Grand Hospitaller  of the Order of Malta.

"We can talk directly to governments. It provides us with great independence. We are neutral, we are not political, so it facilitates very much our work.”

Even though it was founded in the 11th century, the Order has managed to combine its strong tradition with modern social work. Part of that comes from the legacy of its founder, Brother Gerard, who would refer to the poor and sick as 'lords' and would even challenge people to see the needy not as a burden, but as partners.


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