Matthew Festing held his first New Year's audience as Grand Master of the Order of Malta with the diplomatic corps. He took some time to remember his predecessor, Fra Andrew Bertie, who passed away last year.Fra Matthew Festing
Grand Master, Order of Malta
As Grand Master, he combined intelligence with dignity and authority, in this challenging chapter in the history of Europe. He fought against the growth of secularization and relativism.
Festing also praised Bertie's efforts at maintaining the Order's unique status: a religious lay order with independence and sovereignty under international law.
He also looked back on the Order's major achievements in 2008, including relief operations in disaster areas and war zones like Myanmar, Georgia, and the Congo. The Order now has diplomatic relations with 102 countries, and opened several new ones in the past year, including the Ukraine, the Bahamas, Sierra Leone, and Canada.
Of all world leaders, he only singled out the Grand Duke of Luxembourg during his speech. Fra Matthew Festing
Grand Master, Order of Malta I must here recognize the courageous act of the Grand Duke, in refusing to sign the legislation proposed in his country for the legalization of euthanasia. We greatly admire his action.
But throughout the Order's long history, Festing pointed out that their fundamental mission had remained constant.Fra Matthew Festing
Grand Master, Order of Malta Our hope is to build and maintain our spiritual mission as Knights Hospitaller. Our principal mission has been the same since the 12th century: the service to the poor and to the sick.
The Order will be holding an international conference in the next few days, at which 400 delegates from 47 national associations will be present. The goal will be to examine the Order's mission, and its spirituality in action.