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"The Order of Malta is not about nobles or aristocrats, but about nobility of heart"

2017-04-30

Marwan Sehnaoui is the President of the Order of Malta in Lebanon. He is also one of the members of the commission appointed by Pope Francis to investigate the recent crisis that has struck the Order. He explains that the institution is not what it has been made out to be.

MARWAN SEHNAOUI
President, Order of Malta in Lebanon
"The order is not blush, red costumes. The Order is not about aristocrats, nobles, rich people. The order is different today. The Order is about nobility of the heart. About humility, about works, about youth, about being with the Church, as an instrument of peace.”

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller and Hospital Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta was born nine centuries ago. In what started as helping pilgrims en route to the Holy Land, it has since become a humanitarian power, with a core mission to help those in need. In places like Lebanon, it has a special function: To promote the coexistence amongst the 17 different religious denominations in this small country. 

MARWAN SEHNAOUI
President, Order of Malta in Lebanon
"People are very much anxious to live together. You know what separates people, it's not religion itself. It's what you do with religion. It's what you put in your way of talking about religion. It's the instructions that man gives to impose their power through religion. Or to give people the fear, through religion.” 

The Order of Malta has been working in Lebanon for 40 years, and has helped rebuild a country that was devastated by more than 15 years of civil war. With their projects, they also reaffirm the Christian presence in the very place where it began, and work towards one goal: that Christians should not be forced to emigrate.

MARWAN SEHNAOUI
President, Order of Malta in Lebanon
"The trust that the Order has created, every place it went, because he never slipped in the dirty business of parties or politics, we only have one important thing in our lives as a human being. They have trusted us, so they work with us. They work for us. We work for them. It's just one family.”

A true testament is the more than 30 projects that the Order has in Lebanon. They not only serve people of all religions, but also employ them. That is why it's not uncommon to see Muslim doctors or health professionals donning the cross of Malta with pride on their uniforms.

It is that face that the institution wants to be known for, a face far beyond the recent intrigues that have overshadowed their work. 

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