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Order of Malta seeks homes for separated parents

2015-04-07

Nearly a thousand years ago, the Order of Malta was created to assist and defend pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. Today, they promote humanitarian work worldwide. Their motto is to protect the faith and serve the poor. They say that the idea of poverty has changed, especially in Europe today.

BAILIFF FRA GIACOMO DALLA TORRE
Grand Prior of the Order of Malta in Rome
"The Order of Malta goes out to meet the poor, where it is obvious, which is on the street, but also to the poverty of families. In recent times, we have noticed that there are two emergencies that have grown and are, paradoxically, poorly understood."

He says that the elderly and separated parents in large Western cities are often impoverished. Some are abandoned and others live in abject poverty. This results in them living on the margins. The problems for separated parents are becoming worse because of the economic crisis.

BAILIFF FRA GIACOMO DALLA TORRE
Grand Prior of the Order of Malta in Rome
"When a judge orders an estranged father to give his wife money to keep their child, it leaves him with nothing or almost nothing. They often end up sleeping under porches or in cars."

Given the problem, the Order is now working on a new initiative: finding buildings where separated parents can take their children for as long as a judge allows.

MARQUESS ANDREA NANNERINI
Grand Priory of Rome
"We looked at the possibility of shelters to pass the weekends, for a few days. FLASH. The idea came that the we had to invest in homes where the homeless can come to sleep and live."

BAILIFF FRA GIACOMO DALLA TORRE
Grand Prior of the Order of Malta in Rome
"The son will ask: 'Dad, can I go to your house?' And how will he respond? Do you take him to the car? Do you take him to the movies, even when you do not even have money to eat? Where does he take him?"

Each house will be divided into apartments, one for each separated parent with their child. They will always be under the supervision of a psychologist.

This is how the Order of Malta aims to respond to the "new poverty" of the 21st century. In just Rome they helped 3,000 people in need in 2013. 

JRB/ATO
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