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Rome Reports

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Knights Of Malta Remain Neutral To Be Able To Help All

During a recent conference in Rome, Festing noted that religious organizations like the one he leads occasionally run into problems with local laws on separation of Church and State.Fra Matthew FestingPrince and Grand Master of the Order of MaltaOne of the previous speakers today was talking about the business of government legislation which may require hospitals to start, all of them, providing abortions. That?s a very good example of the way which we have difficulties with, because obviously as a Catholic organization, we can?t be party to going against the teachings of the Church. An important element of the Knight?s work is that the organization and its members remain politically neutral. That neutrality was a great benefit for them when they were providing assistance after a recent disaster. Fra Matthew FestingPrince and Grand Master of the Order of MaltaBecause we?re extremely careful to be non-aligned and non-political, one of the most interesting things we were able to do recently was to continue work in Myanmar, in Burma, where practically no other agencies, particularly if they were some way nationalist, or not nationalist but rather from a particular nation, the Myanmar authorities of course would not allow people in, whereas we in fact have been able to do quite a lot of very good work there. But even after a disaster or a conflict is over, that doesn?t always mean that the work of the Knights of Malta in a country is finished.Fra Matthew FestingPrince and Grand Master of the Order of MaltaVery often we have an initial intervention which is dealing literally with feeding people and providing basic medicines, and then as time goes on we find ourselves helping in different ways. So for example, I?ve just been to Latvia which for instance now wants help with probably looking after street children, and probably also maybe with old people, because they need to develop provisions for the elderly, so that?s certainly something which we?re looking at.What?s next for an organization with such a long and illustrious history? Festing says they plan to use their centuries of experience in aiding the poor, sick, and unfortunate to build on what they are already doing, and to be prepared for whatever challenges come their way.