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Order of Malta new leadership council pushes for 'humanitarian diplomacy'

2014-07-09

Soon after their election, the Sovereign Council of the Order of Malta met with Pope Francis. His words in favor of the marginalized have impacted the Catholic Church. But they clearly resonated within the 960-year-old Order.

As a sovereign entity with a huge humanitarian presence around the world, its newly-elected Council will emphasize another huge component.

ALBRECHT BOESELAGER
Grand Chancellor, Order of Malta
"One issue which is increasing is the need to care for homeless people or really poor people. So our activities in the Western states for homeless people is increasing, soup kitchens, shelter, facilities where they can wash their clothes and so on.”

The Order has ongoing aid projects in nearly 100 countries. They range from long-term disaster relief in Burma, to providing first aid to Syrian refugees found floating in boats along the Mediterranean. 

ALBRECHT BOESELAGER
Grand Chancellor, Order of Malta
"What we aim to do is help there where people are not in the limelight. For instance the elderly retired people in the former Communist countries, which receive very, very little pension. So they can't sustain their daily living.”

Boeselager said he has two growing concerns. First, a decrease in respect for humanitarian law, placing their members at great risk. Second, no end-in-sight for ongoing conflicts causing major influxes of refugees across the globe.

However, the Grand Chancellor said the Order of Malta has a big advantage in facing these issues. As a sovereign, it has diplomatic ties with 104 countries, so it can directly engage governments. It also works openly, to avoid misunderstandings.

ALBRECHT BOESELAGER
Grand Chancellor, Order of Malta
"For us it is most important that people know that we are totally independent and neutral so that we don't have a hidden political or economic agenda behind what we do.”

The Order of Malta is a Catholic lay organization. In tackling today's problems, they called for "human and Christian solutions,” that rely on respect and the dignity of each person.   


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